Where’s Wally?

Denial

Hopefully readers will be pleased to hear that Dr Robert B Smith is still on Wirral Council’s case. This time he’s trying to elicit a response from their CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson to queries he made via email over 6 months ago. Dr Smith has contacted all 66 councillors in asking whether Stressed Eric’s conduct was a) acceptable or b) unacceptable.

As far as we know the only councillor to respond was Cllr Walter Smith. We’ll leave you to read his email and Dr Smith’s meticulously researched riposte. However we would comment that as far as we’re concerned it’s a case of  ‘Walter by name , Wally by nature’. Indeed Cllr Smith has recently been observed on the campaign trail wearing a red fleece with his name printed on the back. Presumably to help him remember who he is if he get’s lost.  However if we were ever asked the question –  ‘Where’s Wally ?’ we’d have to say  : ‘In denial’……..

Dear Dr Smith,

I presume that there must be a reason for a failure to respond to your request. I suggest that you involve your local councillor. By the way WBC has never been better run than it is today. The officers do a good job, and we councillors have received the award of ‘The Most Improved Council’.

Kind regards,

Walter Smith.

Dear Cllr Walter Smith

It was my intention to circulate all Wirral Councillors with the results of my earlier survey, and reply  to you individually. I only asked for ‘unacceptable’ or ‘acceptable’ as a response. However, given your more expansive response to me, it would seem apposite to circulate my response more broadly.

Firstly, given your response, and the fact that you are a collective employer, why don’t you ask Mr Robinson what is his ‘reason for a failure to respond’? My assessment would be that he is unable to put anything in writing that would not seriously compromise his position.

Shall we take the latest development in the appalling situation regarding the Wirral Safeguarding Board, as a starting point?

The Government’s intervention by installing Eleanor Brazil to endeavour to address the numerous failings, speaks volumes regarding capability. As does Mr Robinson’s claim in the Wirral Globe given his background;

Eric Robinson, chief executive, said: “We have made some changes in terms of social care and I will now work with Julia Hassall”.
“My background is in Children’s Services so I will oversee the work”. (Wirral Globe 20 Sep 2016
)

The press coverage of the sentencing of Brothers Vinothan and Ilavarasan Rajenthiram, jailed for 40 years for grooming and sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls in Wirral, included the following comment – “Over a five-year campaign Ilavarasan and Vinothan Rajenthiram groomed and sexually abused vulnerable young girls from Wirral, all known to Wirral Council”. That would go back to 2012 and doesn’t support the assertion of your 3rd sentence. Actually, it also blows a considerable hole ‘, in the claims made in your 4th sentence as well as in the credibility of the fantasy ‘The Most Improved Council 2015′ award.

Now, with regard to ‘The Most Improved Council’ award. I have discussed this award, and its credibility with Dr Gill Taylor of the Local Government Association (LGA). You will remember her from the ‘LGA Improvement Board’. I have also corresponded with the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) and Government Ministers. It was actually a Local Government Chronicle Award, one of a range of local government awards given by a local government subscription periodical. This ‘Most Improved’ award was apparently never awarded prior to 2015, and it has never been awarded since – too many burned sponsors fingers, I suspect.

You may remember Graham Burgess? Yes, he who breezed into the ‘Improvement Board’ in 2012/13 as a peer reviewer (at the request of the LGA and Michael Frater). At the time Graham Burgess was CEO of Blackburn & Darwen Council (which incidentally had won the LGC ‘Council of the Year’ award in 2011).

The recruitment of Graham Burgess as ‘interim’ CEO of Wirral Council was an ‘interesting’ process. And as for the permanent position – 8 applications…1 successful interviewee?

Quite like self-proclaimed Labour activist Mr Liptrot and his published email thread to Cllr Phil Davies. Not to mention Mr Liptrot’s numerous conflicts of interest. It was fortunate that Mr Tour felt absolutely compelled to ‘remind him about’ occupying a ‘politically restricted’ post whilst it was reported he had several contracts across Merseyside. With Wirral Council’s plummeting reputation, and no Joe Anderson metro-mayor bandwagon to ride on, it appears that a side-step to promote unattainable investment ‘opportunities’ matches a mythical skillset. So we witness a frenetic appointment ‘crucial’ before the Cannes visit to MIPIM. Expedience which truly stretches credulity.
But back to Graham Burgess.
Wirral Council’s own press release described him as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA. He was also a regular contributor to, and endorser of the LGC. For the 2015 ‘Most Improved’ award, the ‘live panel’ presentation was made by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies to assessors comprising mainly LGA member Chief Executives. (Doncaster Council, the 2015 award runner-up is an interesting study. Even more so if you add WBC, LGA, SOLACE, ex-WBC staff and very low interest loans into the mix.)

It is a shallow exercise in massaging political egos, and self-promotion for the LGA (and the LGC) to promote the ‘LGA Sector-led Improvement programme’ and the ‘peer review’ mechanism. If you achieve some supposed ‘improvement’, by some supposed ‘measure’ or ‘other’ and provide the tea and biscuits, the LGA will bask in the glory, and parade an individual (in Wirral’s case Cllr Phil Davies) around the country, as a ludicrous example, of a ‘success story’.

It is evident that aspiring to mediocrity underpins the peer review process, and serial under-achievement is the benchmark of ‘improvement’. This is displayed in pyrotechnic fashion in Wirral Council, where documents by both the LGA and Anna Klonowski quote wording proclaiming ‘…in her report, of 2012 Ms Klonowski highlights how at Wirral Council “the abnormal has become the norm”.’

That is 5 years ago. The ‘LGA Improvement Board’ covered the period March 2012 until November 2013 and then, its job done, disbanded. The LGA produced a glossy brochure detailing Wirral’s ‘improvement journey’. The summary introducing the document makes interesting reading and includes this claim.

Eighteen months after Wirral developed and implemented their action plan with the LGA, the Improvement Board that provided advice and oversight of Wirral’s improvement journey reported that sector-led improvement had “transformed” the Council to one that was “stable, well-led, open and far more inclusive.” If you don’t recognise that description, and I certainly don’t, here is the link. http://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/wirral-councils-sector-le-40f.pdf

An interesting comment in the Liverpool Echo published 8th May 2013 from Cllr Harney at the time of establishing the ‘LGA Improvement Board’ Cllr Harney said the council needs “a great deal more openness and much more rigorous performance management”.
He added: “People, councillors, senior managers and the public, have not been aware of what has been going on.”

One aspect of the withdrawal agreement with the Improvement Board, was that Opposition Councillors would occupy the Chairs of Scrutiny Committees. Is that still the case Cllr Smith? No of course it isn’t. All scrutiny committee chairs were taken by Labour councillors in 2014. That casting vote, as required to achieve the prescribed outcome, is crucial to driving unopposed decision-making, but also negates independent scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

Coupled with other constitutional changes giving sweeping new powers to Cabinet members, and a forthcoming fallow year for elections in 2017, any prescribed outcome is attainable. Add to that heady mix the ruling group en-bloc voting and abstention regimes, and what results? Mythical resident’s surveys aside, and resident ‘information deficit’, party-political voting which mostly ignores constituents’ wishes e.g. Girtrell Court and Lyndale School thrives. As you will know, these deliberate changes effectively create the situation where power rests solely with Cllr Phil Davies. How would you describe that model of administration?

Graham Burgess’ apparently effortless ‘soft-shoe shuffle’ into Wirral’s CEO position preceded the 2015 LGC ‘Award’. The Guardian newspaper published, on 10 Apr 2014, the 3rd in the series ‘Public Service Tango’ – Headlined ‘One leader, one chief executive – and a joint vision for their council’s future’ – a far from enlightening piece by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies. A good journalist would normally extract a ‘riveting quote’, or an ‘earth-shattering insight’ from the article to draw the reader into this revelatory discourse.

This must be the best available. “Wirral council’s leader and chief executive attend each other’s meetings and welcome ideas from all employees”. An absolutely breath-taking insight you must agree – but does it actually matter? Well yes, and, no.

Actually it doesn’t in this specific case as one learns nothing, but of more interest is this extract from a paragraph beneath the published article.
Phil Davies is leader of Wirral council; Graham Burgess is the council’s chief executive. This collection of articles on the relationship between public managers and politicians is supported by SOLACE and is running on the Guardian Public Leaders Network from March to June 2014.

I know that you will be on the edge of your seat by now, Cllr Smith, but what happens next? You will take solace from what happens next.

The very, very low-key publishing of the November 2015 ‘peer review’ follow-up, of Wirral Council, by the LGA. You may not know the then-Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, but you should. His name is Mark Rogers – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-city-council-chief-executive-12625426

Mark Rogers was the CEO of Birmingham City Council, a member of the LGA and SOLACE, which if you don’t know is the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives. It is most likely that Eric Robinson (from neighbouring Staffordshire) and Graham Burgess, and Cllr Phil Davies would know him. Not only was he a member of SOLACE (supporting the Guardian article), but he was its President until October 2016.

Birmingham CEO Mark Rogers (LGA member and SOLACE President) was one of the ‘experts’ who undertook the ‘peer review’ of 2015 which unlike the ‘sector-led improvement journey’, and the farcical ‘Most Improved Council 2015’ award, was unleashed on an unwitting public without fanfare and illustrates regression, not improvement. I would imagine that even Mark Rogers would struggle signing that review off, with his background in children’s social care?

Does that look familiar, given Eric Robinson’s previous employment?
At this point, the question for me is where do I stop ‘joining the dots’?
I have only scratched the surface of the machinations of Wirral Council above, but you will get a flavour of why I have some difficulty taking your response seriously.

Wirral Council ruling administration is in serious trouble, and using great swathes of public money to defend the indefensible, is actually indefensible.

I look forward to receiving your response,
Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

ps I would be making these observations and comments whatever the political colour of any Council administration conducting itself in this manner.

Basket Case Review

Pip Resign 012

Even gormless Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies must know he’s in big trouble when the usually lazy and compliant  Wirral edition of the Liverpool Echo runs the front splash – Wirral Council boss ‘must resign’  followed by a double page spread headlined  ‘Five Years of Shame : How Wirral Social Services Failed Its Most Vulnerable’ and Leader Under Pressure To Quit Over Child Abuse Failings’.

Pip Resign 009

It comes to something when the most complicit agent of Wirral Council’s armoury of reputation management realises that artist’s impressions of the International Trade Centre on Wirral Waters just doesn’t cut it when a couple of miles away young girls are being groomed and abused in a tawdry cornershop.

And as for the mantra ‘ lessons have been learned’. Just cut it out. We don’t care if it’s Pip, new Cabinet member for Children’s Services Bernie Mooney ( Gawd’elp us) or the new Chair of Wirral’s Children’s Safeguarding Board – Dr Maggie Atkinson who use the dreaded phrase . Dr Atkinson in particular needs to realise the people of Wirral have been here many times before and we’ve had enough of the platitudes and the cliches and the soundbites.

Pip Resign 010

How we remember another so-called Doctor  – Dr Gill Taylor from the Local Government Association (LGA) who breezed in the last time Wirral needed an Improvement Board and then breezed out with plaudits and pay cheques for the LGA  and abolutely nothing for the people as she declared ,yes you guessed it, lessons have been learned.

I suppose we have to wait for the publication of the Serious Case Review in the summer before we can FULLY judge the failings of Wirral Council and other statutory agencies involved in the appalling Rajenthiram brother’s depraved exploitation of our most vulnerable.

Although we have to say a Serious Case Review (SCR) is a step in the right direction. The last time an Improvement Board was set up they’re wasn’t even a  SCR to consider when a vulnerable adult had been found dead after 13 hours after repeated warnings that his placement with an abusive organisation linked to drugs money laundering was putting him at grave risk.

Pip Resign 011

Finally can we say – fuck what Ipsos MORI tell us – the most disempowered members of our community, young vulnerable girls, do not need their ‘information deficit’ met by Wirral View .They need protection and support from the agencies that get paid handsomely to do their jobs.  Not much to ask is it?

ps  can we just hope you’re all tuning into ‘Three Girls’ right now  on BBC1

 

Reference Point 2 : A Halliday Hullabaloo!

Truth Sounds

There’s been yet another twist in the tale of the ‘Happy Halliday’ saga :

Happy Halliday  Nous Sommes Charlie Reference Point

Indomitable Wirral resident Charles Nunn has valiantly chased up queries about the appointment of controversial ex City of York Council (CYC) employee Stewart Halliday to Wirral Council and received this response from elusive (and gullible?) Wirral Council CEO Eric’ Feeble’ Robinson :

‘Thank you for your email  dated 13 March 2017 and follow up email on 26 March 2017. 

 The Council’s Human Resources Team has confirmed the following:
 
Mr Halliday is engaged via an agency through the Council’s contract with Matrix Ltd.  Under the process, Matrix require supplying agencies to supply references for the previous two years employment history.
 
These references were sent directly to the line manager recruiting the worker.  There is no requirement for our Human Resources Team to be involved in all such engagements.  The line manager also elected to seek an additional reference from the former Chief Executive of York Council and subsequently a further reference was provided to the agency by the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods still currently working at York.
 
We have been advised by Mr Halliday that he refutes all the allegations which are matter of ongoing dispute between him and his previous employer. It is not appropriate for Wirral Council to comment any further on these allegations.’
However  Charles ‘ trans-pennine contacts were having Nunn of it (geddit?).

Here’s a couple of responses from his contacts in York which have been judiciously edited , not that we doubt the veracity of some of the statements , but we know how delicate the sensibilities of our highly paid public servants are and we don’t want to prompt another outraged response from’Blotto’! . The first goes something like this :

‘I’m utterly gobsmacked at the response from the C.E.O. of Wirral Council, but, knowing how these organisations work, perhaps I shouldn’t be? ……….The Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods was Sally Burns at the time Halliday was there, but, she has also now left…..Judge for yourself – here are the dynamic duo in action (do try not to fall asleep whilst watching their spell-binding performance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_C47mc1m1U

It is laughable, and outrageous that Halliday refutes the allegations…….

The front this man has, beggars belief…
Halliday hasn’t “refuted” anything.
He has “denied” it.
There is a big difference in the meaning of these words.
There is NO ongoing dispute twixt Halliday and CYC.’
The second comment is no less compromising :

‘The  current holder of the grandiose title of  Director of Communities and Neighbourhood did NOT provide a reference. I am certain, as are no doubt you, that it was a previous post holder Ms. Burns who, like (Kersten) England furnished a glowing testimonial.

In order to “refute” something one must put forward evidence and argument to conclusively demonstrate that the allegations are invalid.  Halliday has NOT done this.  Indeed he cannot. 
We know for an indisputable fact what the procurement rules are – and also for a fact that he has failed to comply with them.
Ergo – he is guilty as charged.
His denials are worthless; but he is hardly likely to openly admit wrongdoing is he?  Or accept responsibility for it all? ‘
In an attempt to resolve the matter CYC Councillor Mark Warters has waded in (geddit?) in an attempt to address the discrepancies seemingly raised in Stressed Eric’s email and has asked current CYC CEO Mary Weastall the following questions :
Dear Mary,
Following the receipt of an FOI response forwarded to me from a concerned Wirral resident penned by the Wirral Council CEO that Stewart Halliday is in “ongoing dispute” with CYC;
Please confirm that Mr. Halliday is in “dispute” with CYC and what the nature of the dispute is.
Please also confirm the origin of the second reference provided to Wirral Council from the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods “still currently working at York”, I assume that was the former Director Sally Burns who departed under a reorganisation some time ago.
If this was the case why was the reference provided from this directorate as Mr Halliday was working for the Chief Executives Directorate.
I understand that a reference was obtained from former CYC CEO Kersten England, was a reference ever sought from the CYC CEO at the time, I assume that was Steve Stewart?
I look forward to the LGA investigation into the 22nd February A&G meeting and wonder in relation to the “ongoing dispute” with CYC if the LGA brief should be extended to cover all aspects of this sorry saga including the procurement fails at CYC, the relationships between CYC officers, including Mr. Halliday and the external communications ‘consultants’ and Mr. Halliday’s subsequent employment at Wirral Council.
I am sure the LGA would be keen to operate across two local authorities to get to the bottom of these matters if only to prevent further reputational risk to member local authorities.
Thank you in anticipation of your assistance in these matters.
To which we at Leaky Towers would’ve been ready to heartily cheer ‘here!,here!’,  if only the Local Government Association(LGA) were not involved!
However I’m sure we’d all like to know who’s telling the truth don’t we ? – place your bets now on the ‘Stewart Halliday Sweepstakes’. Which is a bit like this week’s upcoming ‘Grand National Sweepstakes’ which involves the public losing a lot of money on something that should have have put out to grass a long time ago.

Time for an Intervention

 

intervention

Wirral Council are increasingly reminding us of an old soak who’s in denial about their drinking as they stumble from mishap to crisis .

The latest stumble being the failure of their 2015/16 accounts not being signed off pending an investigation of their taking out of some dodgy looking loans : https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/wirral-councils-201516-accounts-will-not-be-signed-off-before-30th-september-deadline-heres-why/

This must be why a Wirral resident is calling for an urgent intervention and what a compelling case they make for detox.

Dear Marcus Jones MP – Minister for Local Government; and, Sir Eric Pickles MP – former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Author of ‘Securing the ballot: review into electoral fraud’.

Further to my email of yesterday (pasted below for completeness) regarding the Demand For Government Intervention regarding Wirral Council.

The concern is not only a serious issue for the public. I am not mistaken as to the gravity and critical nature of the issues in Wirral Council, as can be seen by a letter sent by 3 Wirral opposition Councillors, who are virtually marginalised in exercising any influence whatsoever, by the changes the ruling group have made to the Council constitution and scrutiny committee composition, amongst others. Many comparable examples can be provided from virtually all aspects of Wirral Council’s governance, conduct, legislative compliance and delivery.

I insert here a copy of the Councillors letter, to your colleague Edward Timpson MP, which has been published in full in the media (link below), and urge you, and your colleagues to act immediately, while there is something that can be salvaged from the wreckage of democracy in Wirral. Intervention is long overdue, in order to reassure a cowed electorate, that accountability, transparency, honour and integrity still matter in local government, and public service actually matters.

http://m.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14761154.Council_leader_defends_trip_to_China_amid_Wirral_s_child_safeguarding_crisis/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/the-big-lie-gets-even-bigger/

For all of the 8 links I have provided, a fuller picture is painted by scrolling to the very bottom of the feature articles and reading the public comments.

Contrary to Greg Clark MP and his statement that the Minister does not have the power to intervene, the Government does have powers to intervene in local authorities. The specific legal power is in Local Government Act 1999, s.10, as modified by Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, Sch 10, para 2 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/2/schedule/10/paragraph/2

I have provided the link to save time for you, given the critical state of Wirral Council and public disquiet.

————————————————————————–
DEMAND FOR GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION (sent initially on 23.09.16)

Dear Marcus Jones MP – Minister for Local Government; and, Sir Eric Pickles MP – former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Author of ‘Securing the ballot: review into electoral fraud’.

DEMAND FOR GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

I have corresponded with the previous Minister for Local Government Greg Clark MP, regarding my serious concerns relating to the conduct, behaviour and questionable decision-making by Wirral Council, on Merseyside. I assume that correspondence has remained on file, therefore you will know my background.

I will keep this demand for intervention brief for the following reason:-

You will read all of the content…

I provide only 6 weblinks (the tip of a very large iceberg) at the foot of this demand, which are damning in themselves for any accountable authority, never mind the recipient of the LGC’s ‘Most Improved Council of Great Britain 2015’ award, after being ‘on the brink of intervention’ in 2012, and the imposition of an LGA ‘Improvement Board’ until 2014. That questionable ‘award’ is only about 18 months old…, and now Wirral Council sees its standing as “From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government.” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council; recruitment statement September 2016)

From the weblinks you will see a snapshot of the level, or ‘pinnacle’, at which Wirral Council functions…Marcus Jones MP will already know about the very costly Wirral Council proposed monthly ‘newspaper’ – a trivial matter by comparison. Sir Eric Pickles may not be aware that Wirral Council has also been reported to the Police and Electoral Commission for suspected election fraud at the May elections, and to the Police regarding other issues of theft and fraud.

The framework within which local government exists, functions, and the responsibilities of which are discharged by holder’s of public office, and their employees, are governed by the Laws of the Land, Acts of Parliament, and policies, procedures and constitutions of each authority. If the Government can intervene directly on the strength of a monthly newspaper, I would see it as a dereliction of your public duty (much as I see Wirral Council in this light), if, as the Minister responsible for Local Government, you fail to place Wirral Council into special measures. If Wirral Council’s ‘benchmark’ standard of ‘most improved’ local government behaviour constitutes ‘acceptable’ standards of governance and conduct in public office, we are all in serious trouble.

I put you Mr Marcus Jones and by virtue of her delegation to you, the Prime Minister Theresa May, on notice that you have now been advised of the critical situation facing Wirral residents as a result of the implosion of Wirral Council. The Council has a total disregard for the democratic process, the wishes of many of its residents, and no longer appears to manage its finances for the benefit of the Wirral population. Serious governance deficiencies exist, and incompetence in the tendering and procuring processes, coupled with an almost total absence of due diligence, are now systemically ingrained. Wirral Council now enjoys a deplorable reputation in both providing direct services, and commissioning third-party services to be provided by the private or voluntary sector.

You will see from the weblinks below that I ‘draw a line’ for you from which to make a long-overdue intervention into the machinations of Wirral Council. If you fail to do so the responsibility for the ongoing failings of Wirral Council will fall on your shoulders for ignoring this warning.

The response I received from Greg Clark MP was that the Minister did not have the power to intervene in the day-to-day business of local authorities. Marcus Jones MP has intervened in the day-to-day running of Wirral Council with regard to its cavalier attitude to non-compliance with Government guidelines regarding the monthly publication of a Wirral Council 32 page ‘newspaper’.
Given the range of issues that are of concern relating to Wirral Council, and I have an encyclopædic archive of research, the publication of a monthly newspaper, whilst being important, and a potential illegal act in direct contravention of Government guidelines, pales into insignificance when judged against the appalling situation that exists between Wirral Council (the duty of which, and raison d’être, is to serve its public) and the Wirral public.

I view the ‘newspaper’, and dissemination of information, as ‘day-to-day’ Council business, which is now subject to direct Government intervention, as the proposal ignores and locally overrides Central Government guidelines and legal provisions.

On the basis of the corrosive corporate culture which pervades Wirral Council, its ruling councillors, and the senior management of the council, a corporate cancer exists which is destroying public services. The concept of public service has been effectively erased from Wirral Council’s leadership, with a self-serving political collective, and individual isolationist consolidation, now making numerous political decisions at will. Many dishonestly pre-determined decisions run counter to, and ignore the expressed wants and needs of great swathes of the Wirral population, many ‘window-dressed’ through the manipulation of resident’s surveys ‘interpretation’.

The concept of the democratic process, transparency and accountability no longer exists in Wirral local government. A large number of councillors no longer represent their constituents, and democratic government has been replaced by a dictatorship under the guise of the LGA ‘strong leader model’ of local government.

Total power is now held by the Council Leader after a number of recent changes to the Council’s constitution, and the replacing of scrutiny committee chairs with ruling group members to ensure the casting vote, should it be needed, achieves the ‘correct’ outcome. Replacing the chairs of scrutiny committees effectively removed any opposition to the ruling group’s ‘steamroller’ mentality. Due to the ruling majority’s ‘party-political’ en-bloc voting and abstention regime, Wirral Council, as an organisation, now primarily serves the interests of a number of politicians and senior managers.

Government intervention is neither an option, nor an inconvenience, it is a necessity.

It is also a necessity to intervene, with totally independent agents, without the interference of the Local Government Association, and without the interference of Frank Field MP, who is the MP for Birkenhead only, not the entire Borough of Wirral as he seems to believe.

Wirral Council ruling councillors, and senior managers, are not capable of resolving the Council’s mostly self-inflicted problems. Collectively they have conspired to systematically drive out highly-skilled and experienced, dedicated staff. If the current Councillors and senior managers had the wherewithal to resolve the massive problems that exist in Wirral and Wirral Council, they would never have allowed them to develop in the first place. Nor would they employ a press office of around 27 staff, and feel the necessity to also employ a self-proclaimed ‘reputation manager’.

 

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14751802.Updated__Ofsted_report_into_child_safeguarding_failures_sends_shockwave_through_Wirral_Council/?ref=mr&lp=12

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14759476.SPECIAL_REPORT__Council_leader__whistleblower_and_outspoken_critic_give_their_views_on_Wirral_s_child_care_crisis/?ref=mr&lp=3

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14761154.Council_leader_defends_trip_to_China_amid_Wirral_s_child_safeguarding_crisis/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14733919.74_people_have_died_in_Wirral_while_under_care_of_drugs_and_alcohol_support_charity/

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14657040.BOMBSHELL__Minister_s_warning_letter_to_Wirral_Council_over_its_newspaper_plan_was__concealed_from_public_/

intervention-2

 

Room at the Top

Comrade Burgesski laughs in the face of austerity…..

Following on from our report about the further adventures of ex-Council legal boss Bill Norman we bring you news of another prominent former Wirral Council officer doing rather well for himself hitching a ride aboard the public service gravy train.

We’re talking about none other than the former head honcho himself ex-Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess (aka Comrade Burgesski) as it would seem that the sly old silver fox has gone back to Blackburn. A place he describes as being “close to his heart” – somewhat like his bulging wallet.

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/13754337.Ex_council_boss_to_take_on_leading_health_role_in_Blackburn/?ref=twtrec

We were surprised to see no mention of his appointment that followed directly on from his so called “retirement” from Wirral Council . As we reported in November 2014 :

“And so to the surprise of absolutely nobody we hear that outgoing  Wirral Council chief executive G-man Burgesski – has with indecent haste after announcing his alleged “retirement” – revealed he’s got a lucrative new gig as chairman of a newly-formed Northwest housing group called Torus. SEE HERE  

Burgesski cheekily says :“The size, scale and vision of what I have seen so far are really impressive.”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/sindy-says/

Was this a case of Torus – the bullshit ? – or is greedy serial retiree Burgess job sharing?

However Burgess was and remains a puzzle to us at Leaky Towers. Sources have always insisted that his tenure as Wirral council’s CEO was a put up job by central government via the Local Government Association (with the initial approval of Birkenhead MP Frank Field) .This is supported by the fact that in quick succession Burgess went from being a specially invited guest from Blackburn on the Wirral Council/LGA Improvement Board which was set up the circumvent local government commissioners being sent in to run the show to acting CEO and within the blink of an eye to permanent CEO of Wirral Council.And just to square the circle he ends up back at Blackburn !.

For the life of us we can’t identify what Burgess brought to the party other than some useful contacts and his only lasting legacy will surely be the tarting up of Wallasey Town Hall.

Of course his days were numbered when ,how can we put this delicately? , certain  “distractions” got in the way and he was also proving to be an obstacle to Frankenfield’s plans to box off the Wirralgate scandal.

However if nothing else old Comrade Burgesski proves once again that there is always room at the top for those with the right connections.

Q & A

Power Boy Pip sitting next to super-sub CEO  proudly announces Wirral Council has been nominated for some awards or other at this weeks Cabinet meeting. We think the word "Bottom" displayed prominently on the case to the right of the screen is an apt commentary on proceedings as we think Pip is talking through his arse.

Power Boy Pip sitting next to super-sub CEO proudly announces Wirral Council has been nominated for some awards or other at this weeks Cabinet meeting.
We think the word “Bottom” displayed prominently on the case to the right of the screen is an apt commentary on proceedings as we think Pip is talking through his arse.

One of the attractions of this blog is that not only does it provide an outlet for people who’s grievances would not otherwise be aired but we also get enquiries from people trying to make sense of the three ring circus that is Wirral Council. So in our role as a Public Interest Service Broadcaster we’d like to impart the benefit of our observations through beady eyes and answer some questions that have been posed this week by some of our devoted readers : JG asks: “They really are a laugh a day. Their local propaganda rag. Local authority shortlisted for most improved council award…… who knows what is going on?”

SEE HERE

Well JG what is going on is what is known in the trade as “Reputation Management”.These are awards where councils nominate themselves…and of course Wirral Council being The Council With No Shame has nominated themselves in 4 categories ( Cover Up of the Year,, Staircase of the Year,Greatest Local Authority In The Entire History of The World – Ever! Award and Batshitcrazydeludedfools of the Year ).
Take no notice JG – the Local Government Chronicle is the trade paper of the Local Government Association (LGA).The LGA has had more money off the council than corrupt,incompetent council officers exiting out the back door after they’ve been found out. Consequently Wirral Council will be a shoe-in for an award and no doubt they’ll thank LGA for all the help they’ve had and the symbiotic ,parasitic, backslapping,money-making merry- go-round will continue ad nauseum

PG asks: Just wondering what you thought of temporary appointment, for no extra money, of D. Armstrong as acting Chief Exec?
We think David “Who?” Armstrong is nothing more than a corporate journeyman. He’s no doubt done a Howard Cooper. Remember him ? – Frankenfield wasn’t too keen which guaranteed him an OBE- .Cooper was the poor sap who inherited the basket case that was the council’s social services department in the fall out of various damning reports.He agreed to take it on as long as he could exit swiftly on favourable retirement terms and we suspect Armstrong will do something along the same lines. He’ll be around long enough to sign the hush money cheques to “The Group” whilst Frankenfield hovers over his shoulder.
Quid Pro Quo (with emphasis on the Quid bit.)

PG asks (again) : Also IT roll-out outsourced to SCC, which would lend to the idea that they would take over support for IT throughout the council ???

We’re not exactly au-fait with this interweb stuff but we are familiar with the phrase “outsourced” and we suspect that SCC (whoever they are) will soon be the ones advising council staff having IT problems : ” Have you tried switching it off and switching it back on again?” for BIG money.

PG asks (further) : Or the validity of social services personnel being given 2K to stay in Wirral with essential mileage perks ??
2K?? We know everyone has their price but talk about selling yourself cheap.But then Wirral social services is notoriously cheap and nasty…….

And finally…

PM :Whilst I cannot prove anything, news reached me today that X had to leave as he got caught with his trousers down with a woman called Y at HQ and she was already having an affair with someone else. ! I bet he was another leaving with a big pay out.Disgusting. Hope you can dig something up

We’re sure that such shenanigans would never go on in the cesspit that is Wallasey Town Hall and I’m afraid that Wirral Leaks would never indulge in such scurrilous enquiries…..mainly because we don’t have to – we’re sat sitting here in the sitting room just waiting for it to come to us!……

The Poisoned Chalice

A-Chal

Question : What’s the difference between “leader” (lol) of  Wirral Council Phil” Power Boy Pip” Davies and a supermarket trolley?
Answer : A supermarket trolley has a mind of it’s own !

Accordingly our so-called “Leader with Special Powers”  has decided to further line the pockets of external consultants Penna and LGA from a seemingly bottomless pit of public money. This time it’s to give advice on the appointment of a new Chief Executive to follow in the footsteps of Comrade ” I’m a non-entity get me out of here”  Burgesski.

This week saw the unedifying spectacle of an Employment and Appointments Committee where nodding dog Labour deputies  Cllr Ann “McCrackers” McLachlan and Gorgeous George “Downfall” Davies  fearlessly backed Pip in his mission to attract a top-notch Chief Executive on a top-whack salary.

 “We need a reality check and get in the real world” implored Cllr McLachlan , somehow managing to keep a straight face as she endorsed a £175,000 golden hello for another doubtless self-serving shyster.

Let’s face it whoever they appoint to the top job their task is to simply make people redundant and close down public services and take the flak whilst Pip blames the Tories (whilst failing  to mention that if they are elected at the next General Election Labour intend to carry on regardless with the self-same “austerity measures!” ……..)

Indeed a quick glance at the Penna website tells you everything you need to know about what kind of candidate Wirral Council are looking for:

“Enhanced efficiency and seeking to do more with less in the face of ever growing demands and more exacting financial pressures whilst trying to maintain the current welfare state benefits means that current paradigms need to shift.
In the current economic climate there is increasing pressure for public services to run efficiently. Driving forward public sector reform will help the UK emerge stronger and faster from the global downturn. Learning from those already making efficiency savings is the next challenge for public services”

Which translates as : ” Yes we love public services so much we decided to work in the private sector and make lots of money advising public servants to hire people like us”…..which makes us at Leaky towers want to tell Penna where exactly they can shift their bloody paradigm.

And as for the LGA ( L’Oreal Government Services – ” Because we’re worth it…”)
Haven’t the people of Wirral paid you lot enough already – and for what exactly?

We noticed that both consultants still failed to point out in their unconvincing deliberations that a) there is a particular perk that the past three Chief Executives have enjoyed and  b) whosoever does take the job the first criteria must surely be whether they meet Frankenfield’s approval ….

So finally our advice to prospective candidates is that it might be wise to check out Wirral Leaks to know exactly what they’re really letting themselves in for before considering how they intend to spend their miserly £14,500 A MONTH paycheck……..

Halloween Special – House of Horrors – Keeping It Clean

GOOLIES

Despite Her Ladyship’s suggestion that we need to widen our target audience to include the lowest common denominator , we would never stoop so low as to publish the torrent of scurrilous gossip and rumour currently pounding our inbox. But dearie,dearie me what a hotbed (ahem) of intrigue Wallasey Town Hall is turning out to be…..

For example we understand that the letter of resignation sent to Power Boy Pip from another Director running for the hills before they are forced to compromise their integrity is an eye-opener and lays bare the fact that Comrade Burgesski’s tenure as Chief Executive of Wirral Council has been one of IGNOMINIOUS FAILURE.

Remember Burgesski’s rebutting justified and ancient whistleblower Martin “Mad” Morton’s claim that the culture of Wirral Council hadn’t changed and that’s why he wouldn’t go back to work for them ? – and we understand the specifics of why he wouldn’t go back promises more gobsmacking revelations .However Burgesski bleated back that the Council had changed because the LGA (Lapdog Government Association) had said so – so there ner ner ne ner ner! …..

We think that all Burgesski achieved was to lay a thin veneer of gloss over a stinking cesspit.If only he was prepared to strip the varnish back as he had done with his office doors –  which sources now describe as washed out and characterless (which seems most appropriate).  However this superficial  makeover was clearly enough to dupe the LGA who seem ever reluctant to lift the carpet and to see the mound of detritus that Burgesski has shovelled there or in the darkest corners where the dirt and the filth festers away.

And to think that the LGA will be advising yet another set of consultants about the appointment of a new Chief Executive!
Er …. thanks but no thanks! SEE HERE

It seems to us that Wallasey Town Hall doesn’t need any more consultants it needs steam cleaning. Indeed ,we hate to blow our own trumpet , but we now realise just how prescient last years Wirral Leaks Halloween Special was:

SEE HERE

“We began to wonder on this All Hallows Eve just how much has the Wirral Council horror-show been transformed since the arrival of Comrade Burgesski and the expensive window dressing that is the Improvement Board ? – A bit of expensive window dressing that calls itself voile but its basically a net(work) curtain to stop people knowing what’s really going on. By the way we’d leave this particular gig off your CV if we were you Ms.Redfearn and don’t worry we’re not going to ask for a big fat  LGA-sized consultancy fee for telling you that.

After considering a series of calamitous headlines, damning reports,botched investigations and the departure of various Chief Officers and senior staff we are minded to recall a scene from the classic spooky movie “Poltergeist.”The clip belwo especially resonates with us at Leaky Towers because we all agree that it’s no use moving the headstones from the cemetery when the bodies remain buried. If they’re not put to rest the skeletons will simply keep on rising up until they bring the house tumbling down.

We suspect that until there’s a decent burial it’ll be some time before get anyone declares that  “This house is clean…” especially when burial is confused with denial…..”

So Happy Halloween leakers …. and here’s a somewhat salient tune, if you’ve heard some of the toe curling stories we’ve been privy to of late. Watch this space

 

 

Flying Down To Rio

Flying_Down_to_Rio05

It came as no surprise to us at Leaky Towers to hear that a small delegation of Wirral Council bigwigs had taken flight (especially when we heard it involved The Deadly Davies Duo, Pip & George)

What did surprise us is that the airborne jaunt landed in the pensioners paradise that is Bournemouth for a Local Government Association conference. Why one can almost hear the ‘chink’ of bone china tea cups as Pip and Gorgeous take centre stage

SEE HERE   

Comrade Burgesski provided unequivocal evidence that his recent irony by-pass operation had been such a success when he declared that their attendance was an “opportunity to showcase Wirral’s achievements and good practice on this national platform.”

Subsequently Wirral Council spokesperson Dee Niall has refuted rumours that the expedition will next be flying down to Rio to advise FIFA’s World Cup officials on hospitality beanos, pay-offs and sweetheart deals……

As our new Brazilian maid Dolores Del Rio said : “Fala sério!…………….”

When The Sweet Smell of Success Stinks Like A Brown Bin

LGABullshit-Stamp

At first we didn’t know quite what to make of the Local Government Association (LGA) report titled ” Self-Serving or Self-Centred?” (or something like that anyway). It was recently published without any fanfare, no doubt in the hope was that it would pass under the radar without any further comment. This is especially surprising as Wirral Council is described as a “success” story. SEE HERE

Thankfully it was picked up by Wirral Globe who reveal how startlingly close that Wirral Council came to being taken over by government commissioners just like that other local government basket case Doncaster Council. SEE HERE

We also note from the Globe article that veteran whistleblower Morton still hasn’t run out of breath (oh how the Council must wish that gag was tied a bit tighter so that he was permanently deprived of oxygen).

What troubles us here at Leaky Towers is not so much the revelation about the Council near- takeover by outsiders but the bullshit industry that seems to have flourished in the wake of abject failure and the Council’s so-called “turnaround”. Talking of which does anybody know what happened to the Council’s  topnotch “Turnaround Team”?.

From reading the report we have a sense of a group of consultants performing a PR exercise on behalf of the LGA with the message :

Don’t send in commissioners to a Council in crisis , send in the crack LGA team and based on no evidence whatsoever they’ll pretend everything’s tickety-boo in no time. Their competitive  daily rate includes their own “no case to answer” rubber stamp and an unparalleled collection of patronising  platitudes such as “you’re doing jolly well – now keep it up chaps and chapesses”
 
The authors of this LGA promotional pamphlet concludes that : “We have already recorded that after close to two years, Wirral has made a significant recovery. Although our brief is not to conduct a detailed evaluation, there was a consistency and honesty in the interviews that gives us confidence in reaching this conclusion.”

This conclusion of course flies in the face of the evidence that we report week in,week out on this blog that Wirral Council has not returned to anything like resembling normality. It appears the fanciful conclusion was reached by interviewing no-doubt handpicked “stakeholders” guaranteed to be “on message”.
We can only assume the responses went something like this:

” The constant threat of redundancy ensures I keep my nose to the grindstone and say whatever I’m told to say to visiting consultants…”

” Power Boy Pip visited our office the other day.I felt as though I was in the presence of greatness and he left me feeling treasured and with a warm fuzzy glow .”

” I’m just so grateful I longer have to manage a team as they’ve all been made redundant…being a team player is so much easier when you’re the only one in the team”

” My working conditions have improved for the better now that I know that in the unfortunate event of a fire I can waltz town the shiny new staircase like a fairytale princess”.

Meanwhile back in the real world and not the LGA – fantasy version we have further examples that seems to indicate that the basket case’s return to full recovery may be somewhat premature.

First there is the news that nearly £400K has been squandered – SEE HERE
on what we identified was a hopelessly misconceived and ridiculously -named proposal called Co-Socious. SEE HERE

This proposal was meant to lead to sharing services with the 2 Cheshire Councils – which of course was promptly ditched when Power Boy Pip  espied a more compatible and prestigious hook-up with the Peoples Republic of Merseyside. SEE HERE

Meanwhile  more pungent example of continuing concern about how the Council conducts it’s business arrives in the form of a Brown Bin.

Apparently those experiencing delay in receiving their garden waste tag have been advised that because of the backlog of applications BIFFA have been told to empty all garden waste bins ( even if people have not paid) for the first collection in June! This apparently is because  the Council doesn’t have enough staff to handle the applications due to cutbacks in Streetscene. So Wirral Leaks advises, at the height of the grass cutting season, that everyone fills their boots and fills their brown bins……….after all it’s an ill-(smelling) wind that blows nobody some good.

We were also told that as Pest Control have had a 50% reduction in staff that if you find yourself singing: “There’s a rat in my kitchen what ‘amma gonna do” that as you are likely to wait another 2 weeks for any assistance. This is unfortunate as when Wirral Council are deemed to be a “success” many people automatically smell a rat !……