Sorrento Shame 2 : No Laughing Matter

No laughing matter

Ordinarily our lead picture would be the Foulkes’ Sorrento holiday snap which features on social media and has been forwarded to us. However after further consideration of the ‘Sorrento Shame’ story we feel the need to take a more sober approach (no pun intended) . Now is not the time for satire, sarcasm or caption competitions.

As you can see from the picture above hotel management  tried to pacify a distraught couple who allege they were subject to racial abuse on holiday and hope that one day they will find it ‘something to laugh about’. On seeing this letter it suddenly struck us that it took people from outside Wirral to point out how unacceptable some behaviours are. They’ve held a mirror up to us all and it doesn’t reflect well on any of us.

We say this , as to us and to many people, none of the allegations that have surfaced will come as a surprise. We’ve been forwarded many stories over the years which people have asked us not to publish. Frankly we’d rather not know. It’s just such a shame that people locally haven’t been prepared to speak up before now. We’re calling it the ‘Weinstein Syndrome’ – where ‘everybody knew’ about certain attitudes and behaviours but chose to succumb to pay-offs , legal threats or went along with a different kind of abuse of power because it was advantageous to their career. Additionally we understand that some people are frightened to speak up against powerful and influential people especially when they are protected by other powerful and influential people. And look what happens to those who do speak up!

Doesn’t it make you proud to live on Wirral?   But then we’ve long held that there is a dark heart at the centre of the local Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) where racism , harassment and bullying and lying by a tiny minority of local councillors is apparently tolerated and/or condoned because they’re part of  Frank Field’s ‘Inner Ring’ .

But it’s not just the Birkenhead CLP who go along with it – it’s Wirral councillors of all political parties (with a couple of honourable exceptions) who thought it was OK for ‘Foulkesy’ to become Mayor of Wirral in 2014, two years after it was exposed he was the leader of a basket case council that was rife with bullying , nepotism , incompetence and dishonesty (but then everyone knew that as well!) Of course there was the opportunity to prevent this appointment in 2013 but an unholy alliance of middle class charlatans and working class chancers went along with it – all in the hope of career advancement, financial gain or a front page exclusive. We can’t think of anywhere else in the country where the Wirralgate cover up would have lasted this long.

Wirral councillors then went on to  (deliberately?) miss the point of the Patricia Thynne Wirralgate investigations by a country mile. Who gives a damn whether Foulkesy was part of a plot to ‘smear’  Tory collaborator Jeff Green? It was the fact that he’d lied through an investigation which necessitated a further investigation costing us £17K and throughout which he again continued to lie. Perhaps instead of an apology to the collusive Cllr Green ,  Foulkesy was instead denied the opportunity to be a Wirral Council representative on outside bodies this might have represented a meaningful sanction.

However as John Brace’s excellent blog points out ‘Foulkesy’ has this past week been allowed to vote himself an annual £10,108  pay rise  (this is not including his remuneration for sitting on the Magenta Living board alongside ………yes you guessed it, Cllr Jeff Green !)

Holiday money

But then the likes of the Local Government Association (LGA) and consultants like Anna Klonowski and Anna Hutchinson at Labour North West and Merseyside Police are no better – pussyfooting around power abusers is so much easier than confronting sordid and difficult realities.

And then there’s what we’re calling ‘Shite Privilege’  where  certain people are allowed to hold the most reprehensible views and behave in the most appalling manner because of their local connections . Of course the precedent here is the Jack Nolan case (Jack being Elaine Foulkes’ -nee Nolan’s- son ).  A classic case of the the apple not falling far from the tree. Suddenly doesn’t his assault and affray conviction at Birkenhead Magistrate’s Court in 2015 seem tragically inevitable? We could almost, but not quite, forgive him. However what we can’t forgive is the high profile protectors who turned up to provide character references at the trial. This inevitably included council leader Cllr  Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies, who’s moral compass appears to be permanently pointed to hell.

What A Load Of Testimonials!

Now we don’t know about you lot but we resent someone is allowed the opportunity to finance him and his missus’s holidays in the sun so he can allegedly stand by and watch the abuse of innocent bystanders at our expense.  We should not be funding more opportunities to ruin not just other people’s holidays but other people’ s careers and lives. This is no laughing matter.

 

 

 

 

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Secret Chamber

york-council-chamber-guildhall-updated

Above is a picture of the rather splendid council chamber at York Guildhall.  The admirable  York Mix website tells us that it will be here next week that a group of senior councillors are challenging City of York Council (CYC) leader Cllr David Carr to publish  a ‘secret report’.

Secret Report

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our interest is piqued by the fact that we understand the report follows a Local Government Association (LGA) investigation into  what Stewart Halliday got up to before he landed a £200K +  ‘transformer’ gig at Wirral Council.

What also interests us is the sheer persistence of CYC councillors in pursuing this matter in the public interest. Can you imagine Wirral Council’s equivalent to CYC’s Audit & Governance Committee writing a cross- party letter to the leader of the Council asking for a report to published in the name of openness and transparency?

Indeed if they were doing their jobs properly there’s a particular ‘secret report’ that Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee should be asking to be published. The sad fact is that half of this committee don’t even know what report we’re referring to and the other half know exactly what report we are referring to and are choosing to sweep the matter under the Wallasey Town Hall carpet !

 

 

 

Local Government Association – Hand In Glove With The Glove Puppets

Glove Puppet
Today we have decided take the Trans-Pennine Express and visit our friends in York. Not only to update you all on Stewart Halliday affair but to enable us to vent about local government in general and the Local  Government Association (LGA) in particular.
Firstly we’d like to thank the excellent website York Mix for providing comprehensive coverage of the bounteous beneficence bestowed from Stewart to Stuart aka  ‘ The Goulden Showers’.
For those who can’t decipher this code might we suggest you read an introduction here : Transparency v Secrecy
Here you will find independent City of York (CYC) councillor Mark Warters showing up our supine Wirral councillors for the waste of space that they are and daring to ask pertnent questions in a CYC Audit & Governance meeting about a draft LGA report into the Halliday affair that has been with the council for some time :

 

“And according to the people who really run the council – the senior officers – this report, even after it has been sanitised between the council’s HR department and the LGA, is to remain secret. Are you as a committee willing to condone this state of affairs? He said the committee should insist on seeing the “full, unsanitised draft report”. Otherwise it would confirm the scenario “that elected members are merely the glove puppets of the senior officers riding the local authority gravy train”.

Further understanding on how things work in York, in local government and indeed closer to home can be found in the following report on the Supply Management website:

The Local Government Association (LGA) was called in to review procurement at the council in the wake of controversy over how consultancy services were acquired in the past.

The LGA said procurement was held in high regard internally, with “many solid achievements” and delivering “good quality services”, but it was “subject to heightened scrutiny in York due to past internal control issues”.

“There remains a negative external perception of council procurement, including among members of the public,” said the report. “This negative perception needs to be addressed if the council is to secure public confidence in its procurement processes and the wider corporate governance arrangements.”

A previous audit report by Veritau in November 2016 focused on the appointment of a communications consultant and their associated company between 2013 and 2016. One particular chief officer, who no longer works for the council, was found to be mainly responsible for employing and making payments to the consultant and the company. These totalled more than £174,000.

The audit could find no material to back up claims contract procedures were followed. “At best this represents a failure to be transparent and to retain all relevant procurement documentation,” said the report. “However, it seems likely that there was a failure to follow proper procurement processes, including obtaining written quotations, ensuring sufficient potential suppliers were approached and agreeing a formal contract.”

The LGA review, carried out in June 2017, said it was “reassured to find that the council has a good corporate procurement function and that the compliance issues are being addressed”.

“However, as the council itself recognises, there is more to do in regard to procurement’s enabling role within the council’s developing commissioning framework and to address the residual negative perceptions of historical procurement issues.”

Full article can be read here : Negative Public Image
Doesn’t the excruciating, bureaucratic language of the LGA make ya wanna puke? Unfortunately this wretched organisation is stuffed to the gills with highly paid nonentities who think that what goes on in local government can be anonymised, rationalised and sanitised as long as it involves one of their own.
Fortunately for the truth -seekers out there we understand that after the meeting Cllr Warters collared the LGA representative giving the public report into procurement at City of York Council (CYC) as he left the meeting and left him in no doubt that the Halliday/Goulden business will end up with the police.
Now this is the kind of local representation we are crying out for and reinforces our long held view that INDEPENDENT candidates are the way to go and that DIVISIVE PARTY POLITICS HAS NO PLACE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT and that the LGA ARE HAND IN GLOVE WITH THE GLOVE PUPPETS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT .
Even closer to home we are grateful that local resident Charles Nunn understands the issues at stake and comprehends that someone with apparently no understanding of even the most basic concepts of public procurement can wangle a near cool £200K + gig from long suffering Wirral Council tax payers :
I find it somewhat ironic that the major political upheaval in York is over dodgy contracts worth £175,000. Halliday, courtesy of the ever benevolent Wirral Council Tax payer, will be bunged about £50k more than that as a result of his contract extension.
Read it and weep.

Bank Holiday Bulletin Board

With His Lord and Ladyship still on what the latter lamentably calls a ‘vacay’ the faithful retainers at Leaky Towers have been asked to publicise the following in their absence.

Firstly we’ve been asked to give 2 local petitions some exposure:

https://www.change.org/p/wirral-council-stop-development-on-bidston-hill?utm_source=embedded_petition_view

The so called “LEISURE PENINSULA ” council want to sell off  land Bidston Hill for housing
The decision of no government funding to re-build NEW FERRY – central government may be selective when it comes to funding such disasters but from what we’ve seen we  have to say Wirral Council don’t seem to be cognizant about how such disaster funding actually works.
Secondly here’s a reminder and further news about the Defend Our NHS Wirral meeting on September 7th

Leaflet3 August 2017Dear friends of the NHS

This is to remind you of our public meeting in Birkenhead on Thursday 7th September.

We’re pleased to say that we will be joined by national campaigner Steve Carne talking about the STPs and NHS reinstatement.

The need to share information and alert the public is ever more urgent. Please circulate this message and the attachment. The NHS is on its knees and we need to fight desperately to save it.

Please see the revised notice for the meeting, which is attached, and this welcome news below from the Latest edition of Private Eye. The STPs are now called in true George Orwell style ‘sustainability and transformation partnerships’. ‘And’, by the way, is the only word in that title which does not mean the opposite of what it says:

·      ‘Sustainable’ = slashed budgets and services.

·      ‘Transformed’ = cut, demoralised and damaged beyond recognition.

·      ‘Partnership’ = developed in secret, operating in secret, condemned by local councils, a total lack of public/patient consultation, and the only happy partners are Richard Branson and a series of US ‘healthcos’.

 The STPs must be stopped, opposed, reversed and the damage undone.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting, to which ALL Wirral councillors and MPs are being invited.

Best wishes on behalf of DONHS

More about STPs? http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/home/4593142849

More about DONHS? https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

Leaflet3 August 20172

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.

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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!……