Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #11

Apologies for the late edition of our weekly dispatch. A bit too much pastis over le weekend – that’s the French spirit and not the Gregg’s delicacy obvs !

MARKS OF EXTINCTION

Marks 004

So farewell then to Birkenhead’s Marks and Spencer. And what a sorry sight you leave behind. No more sourdough bread and sturdy gussets. Even the intervention of Birkenhead MP Frank Field couldn’t save it from extinction. Is Frankenfield losing his touch ? After failing to get ‘Sir’ Philip Green stripped of his knighthood  and as yet not succeeding in getting car parking for nurses at Arrowe Park Hospital scrapped he’ll have to go back to getting his own way with Wirral Council and DWP .

However the good news for the down town trackie-clad denizens of Birkenhead is that they will be well served by JD Sports moving to larger ,refurbished premises.

USING OUR IMAGINATION

Imagine Wirral

Although being a contributor to the cultural life of Wirral (!) we unfortunately couldn’t attend the February launch of the Wirral Council programme Imagine Wirral which apparently is about celebrating culture,creativity and ideas. Other than the re- branding of ‘The Leisure Peninsula’ and the website there hasn’t been an awful lot going on at #ImagineWirral since its launch so we’re left using our imagination as to what it’s all about – other than promoting established events and gegging in with a bit of opportunistic branding. If Wirral Council leisure guru Cllr Christine Spriggs could enlighten us further we’d appreciate it……

POTHOLE OF THE WEEK

So with the news that central government has allocated some money from its £100 million pothole fund to Liverpool City Region out of which Wirral Council gets a whopping £184,000 (which judging by the state of Wirral’s roads we all know won’t go very far), especially when we consider this example sent to us from Tranmere :

Pothole 002

HUB OF THE WEEK

Excellent work here from the Peel Group. There are so many buzzword bingo boxes ticked with our headline of the year so far:

 

Exciting new ‘pop up’ leisure hub for Wirral Waters

 

As an added bonus there’s the obligatory artist’s impression :

 

Float on

Find it in all its glory here

and finally….. HOLE OF THE WEEK

Yes – we’re sure you’ve all seen the guy having sex with a hole on the Brackenwood golf course. As this is a family blog (!) we’ll leave you to find the footage on Youtube for yourself. But when it comes to leisure and celebrating culture,creativity and ideas on Wirral perhaps we can expect find it , er,popping up on the Imagine Wirral website soon!

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Making Plans For Wirral

Javid letter 010

Following yesterday’s masterful Masterplantastic story we bring you an immaculately timed letter from  Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing , Communities and Local Government which tells us what happens when a council has ‘visions’ rather than ‘plans’ !

As you may remember last November we brought to your attention Wirral Council’s failure to produce a ‘Local Plan’ and Javid’s warning that there would be government intervention if Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies couldn’t get his house in order : Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail .  Wirral Council was one of 15 council’s who received such a warning with  Javid making this sabre rattling statement :

…today is the day that my patience has run out.

Those 15 authorities have left me with no choice but to start the formal process of intervention that we set out in the white paper.

By failing to plan, they have failed the people they are meant to serve.

The people of this country who are crying out for good quality, well-planned housing in the right places, supported by the right infrastructure.

They deserve better, and by stepping in now I’m doing all I can to ensure that they receive it.

Now it would appear that Wirral Council has excelled themselves by being one of only 3 remaining councils who now face intervention for “persistent failure over many years to get a Local Plan in place”  For further details : Three councils

The full shameful letter from Javid to Pip can be read here :

Wirral Plan

Meanwhile a Wirral Leaks commentator going by the name of ‘HeadBallRoll’ writes to us to say :

After a series of mealymouthed excuses as to why highly paid council officers and their political paymasters couldn’t actually cut and paste something resembling a Local Plan by 31st January 2018 – as they were too busy hiding behind their 20/20 Vision and pledges rather than meeting a statutory requirement by which they can be held to account . Maybe the chosen few were too busy scoping golf courses, closing children’s centres, farming out council houses to private property developers … or simply not paying attention? So it’s been around a while, ending up with 15 councils warned by the angry Slaphead Javid.  But even nearly three years’ notice wasn’t enough for the senior, blind, bumbling incompetents shuffling around lost, bumping into each other, muttering, tripping over files, in the dusty, unused Wirral planning office.

And let’s face it, 33 months is  nowhere near enough notice to get their shit together (after 13 years of not having a ‘Local Plan’ !)  Presumably the other dozen LAs scraped through because they had enough about them to focus, gather the remnants of good practice and apply the last surviving vestiges of planning nous into cobbling some crappy document together in time.

But not here.  It seems they’ve sat around, twiddled their thumbs and hoped the horrible Tories would either go away, forget, or not go through with it.

Despite the BIG proclamations, the BIG egos, the BIG senior salaries, they’ve messed up BIG style.  It’s one BIG cock-up.

This being Wirral though, where abject failure and disaster have long become customary bedfellows, like night follows day, or falling off a log, it doesn’t soften the blow.

But hey, as long as those bumper salaries are not cut off and continue to come in on pay day, where’s the incentive to do your jobs, lol?

So chaos is now expected and planned for at ‘most improved’ Wirral. (Who remembers the Children’s Services OFSTED catastrophe that overpromoted social worker and CEO Eric Robinson  knew about months in advance, only to dive under his desk, head in hands, dribbling and doing bugger all to stave it off?)

And what of the grafting junior staff of the Planning Department, doing their utmost to at least be professional and hold the fort?

Monday morning will arrive, and they’ll find themselves intercepted, scapegoated, placed into the line of fire and reaping the consequences of years of failure by their bosses and councillors – who will have had just enough prior notification to give it all a timely body swerve…. That’s the type of ‘planning’ they’re very good at. Avoidance measures, whilst junior bods and lackeys are left to pick up the pieces. 

So it’s not just Children’s Services, Social Services, Highways Services that have collapsed into an abject, irretrievable mess.We can now add the Planning Department to the long list of shame.

Of course the upshot of all this is that Wirral’s ‘Local Plan’ could now come under the auspices of the Liverpool City Region as Javid warns in his letter:

 

My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting the Combined Authority for the Liverpool City Region to prepare a Local Plan for Wirral and on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.

Could this have been part of  Pip’s ‘Masterplan’ all along ?  To evade accountability for an unpopular ‘Local Plan’ and subsequent planning decisions – ” It wasn’t us who approved a golf resort etc;  – it was the Liverpool City Region!”

 

Bamboo- zled – The Future of Social Housing?

We received a cryptic reply to our House of Bamboo post from someone called ‘Frank’ ( ha! ha! ) who asked :

Are you bored? 

And to which we replied :

More weltschmerz than ennui.

Why do you ask?

We used the word weltschmerz because it is a feeling that emerges from the realisation that things could be and should be better. This feeling is particularly aroused when it comes to  housing ,and specifically social housing on Wirral . For the moment we’ll  resist commenting on Wirral Waters and the Hoylake Golf Resort when it comes to Wirral Council’s approach to affordable housing and return to the worrying story of Bamboo Lettings.

Fortunately we’re not the only ones who regard the annexing of social housing for profit and personal gain to be deeply concerning. What makes it worse for us is that it involves some Wirral Leaks old timers who would no doubt justify their actions when it comes to social responsibility and just like Wirral Council blame ” Tory cuts”. Once again ,if only it were as simple as that…………….

Firstly our thanks go to Chelsea Guy who reveals on her Facebook page :

Bamboo Chelsea

Magenta Living’s attempt to “explain” Bamboo in their Spring 2018 magazine.

“In order to help fund existing services and build new affordable housing we looked at other ways to bring income in to meet the shortfall” – so essentially, denying people suitable housing when they’re in need of it, in order to build new “affordable” housing, to then pass it on to Bamboo and charge twice the rent in comparison to AFFORDABLE SOCIAL HOUSING.“Properties are spread across Wirral”.. but they fail to mention it’s only the more affluent areas, three properties in Eastham alone in the last 4 weeks. Along side the fact they take what should be SOCIAL HOUSING and make it; no housing benefit, working tenants only, and slap on all the fees like admin fees, application fees.Let’s just remember that Magenta own 50% of Bamboo and bring in 50% of all profits, yet fail to tend to issues their own tenants are having such as the mould in my property.Seems like a bit of a coincidence that a fuss was kicked up about Bamboo and now it’s featured in their magazine.

Isn’t it just Chelsea?

For an even more in depth analysis of what’s going on we once again guide you towards Joe Halewood’s peerless SPeye blog . The title of his latest post is  No DSS in council housing and social cleansing approved by Labour councils     where he writes :

In summary Labour councillors in Wirral – which includes the constituencies of Frank Field as the chair of the all party parliamentary working group on DWP matters and the new Labour Shadow DWP Minister in Margaret Greenwood – have voted for a policy of No DSS and a policy of social cleansing to take place by Magenta who have around 70% of all social housing in Wirral.

Even Tories in Wirral voted against this and even Tory voters would be ashamed of this social cleansing that the Labour council voted to allow.

In housing terms we see Magenta, Torus and by extension Liverpool Mutual Homes being the antithesis of the social landlords they repeatedly claim to be and then again we can add Liverpool City Council itself to that list as they are too setting up their own private sector landlord company called Foundations which will rent out at affordable rents and full market rent levels and without irony or shame called this an Ethical housing landlord!

It’s an SPeye opener!

So with so many outstanding questions and with Wirral Council’s representatives on Magenta Housing board  – Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Jeff Green and Cllr Stuart Whittingham –  either unwilling or unable to ask them and with the various bodies below being exempt from the provisions of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) we thought we’d publicly pose the following questions :

a) Three years after Golden Gates Housing and Helena Housing formed the Torus group are senior managers planning on collapsing the group and merging with Liverpool Mutual Homes?
b) Will this see the end of local companies Golden Gates and Helena Housing?
c) Will the customers who own Golden Gates and Helena Housing be asked to vote to see if they agree with these changes ?
c) Will the control of Torus pass to the senior managers in Liverpool Mutual Homes?
d) Will the plan be good news for only a small number of people such as Rob Young CEO of Torus (and former Assistant Director of Housing at Wirral Council) who could retire with an enhanced pension package just as the CEO of Golden Gates did when Torus was formed three years ago?
e) Will the plan also be good news for the CEO of Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) and his senior team who will take over a much bigger Torus with a huge pay rise just as Mr Young did when Torus was formed three years ago?
f) Will the current CEO of LMH be appointed not because he is the best candidate for the job after a rigorous selection process but because his company was selected by his old friends Rob Young and Graham Burgess?
g) Will it be good news for Graham Burgess Chair of the Torus Board who having ‘retired’ as CEO from Wirral Council once again becomes a big player in the Liverpool City region?
For everyone else – social housing tenants and staff included – the answers to these questions may not be so good . Meanwhile it’s all very reminiscent of that Carl Sagan quote we’ve used before : “One of the saddest lessons of history is this : If we’ve been bamboozled long enough we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth . The bamboozle has captured us…”

 

Brickie On Tour

Brickie pic

The poppies, the wristbands……. all he needs is the CND logo tattooed on his forehead. And no right thinking person would think he means any of it. Not for a single second.

Whilst we all gaze adoringly at our favourite brickie gazing into the middle distance below are the details of Metro Mayor Steve ‘the Brickie’ Rotheram’s  tour of the Liverpool City Region as it reaches Wirral’s shores.

He was a brickie by the way, just in case you missed that in his lowest common denominator electioneering.  “I’m a brickie. I’m one of you”  No, you’re not you’re a career politician , and a particularly phoney one at that. 

Metro Mayor’s Question Time 

Needless to say anyone residing at Leaky Towers will be screened out during the application but if one of us was there one question we’d like to ask him is about the ongoing Merseyrail dispute.

The rather wonderful Confidentials website has an excellent analysis of the situation which you can read here : Mayors to blame

Whilst Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden highlighted the issue in the House of Commons last week and  blamed the  government decision to cut the city region’s train’s budget by millions of pounds the Rail Minister Paul Maynard pointed a finger of blame at the city region’s Labour decision makers.

He told Carden: “As Labour members will know, they have a multiplicity of local Labour politicians to discuss this matter with, including the chair of Merseytravel (Cllr Liam Robinson), the elected city Mayor in Liverpool (Joe Anderson) and the elected city region Mayor (Carden’s predecessor Steve Rotherham), all of whom have stood behind this decision. If we truly believe in devolving transport powers, we have to respect the decisions that are taken.”

It emerged during the debate that the Dutch state-owned co-operator of Merseyrail, Abellio, puts guards on its trains in Holland, but proposes to run a service without them on its Mersey franchise.

Those local Labour politicians from Wirral who influence decision making on this matter include Cllr Jerry Williams , Cllr Ron Abbey and ( God help us) Cllr Steve Foulkes – so let’s face it we’re doomed . Therefore we implore the people of Wirral – if you care about employment rights and your personal safety sign those petitions demanding that guards remain on Merseyrail trains . If that doesn’t work  – remember there are local elections on Wirral next year ,and putting party politics aside, it would be good to remember exactly who trashed over local rail travellers.

 

 

Any Old Ion

Regen 010

Currently awaiting artist’s impression.

Have you noticed how the supposed grand plans for the regeneration of Wirral (and Birkenhead in particular) are being disseminated in the the press in exactly the same incoherent , opportunistic and uncoordinated  way.

For example we’ve already covered how the charisma free zone that is Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson chose the trade press Inside Media (who?) to tease us about future major land and property deals Double Dealers

Subsequently there then followed  an announcement in the Liverpool Echo that there were plans to convert Wirral Council’s former finance building into student flats under the title ‘ Hamilton Hub’ (groan ). Here we learned that Liverpool-based developer YPG wants to convert these offices in Cleveland Street into an ‘apartment complex’ for 200 students. Hamilton Hub

Sze Ming Yeung, managing director of YPG, said: “Our research tells us there is a real appetite for this kind of student and key worker accommodation in the centre of Birkenhead, partly because of the city region’s excellent cross-river transport links.

Since YPG were set up in 2015 have been busy  helping turn Liverpool city centre into ‘Studentland’. It also won’t surprise you to read  HERE that Asif Hamid’s  Contact Company and YPG have teamed up on the controversial Monarch’s Quay development in Liverpool about which we commented on here :  Asif Attack

Well it would now appear that another one of these landscape changing deals is now out in the open. As apparently the developer behind the controversial Lime Street redevelopment in Liverpool has bought the site of an old Birkenhead railway station – and has vowed to use the land to transform the town. Into what?  Reno? Or has that desert mirage faded before our very eyes too ? We can hardly wait for the artist’s impressions !

We learn from the Liverpool Echo that Ion Property Developments has bought the site of the former Birkenhead Town station, off Tunnel Road between Borough Road and the Rock Retail Park. Ion, formerly known as Neptune Developments, has not yet revealed what it plans for the land. But it says the site is “in a strategic position for the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre”. Read the fully story here : Old Site

Wirral Leaks readers may remember that Neptune Developments had exciting plans to redevelop Birkenhead town centre and which included (gasp!) a drive-thru McDonald’s .  Mysteriously Neptune’s plans were kicked to the kerb by Wirral Council only to be replaced by new plans for  ,er,  a drive -thru Maccy D’s !

So now that Neptune Developments have had a re-branding and changed their name to Ion Property Developments could Managing Director Steve Parry be getting in on Asif Hamid’s act and is acquiring land and sitting back and waiting for the grants of public money to enable them to develop a bit of particularly undesirable piece of derelict land ? Of course Ion don’t quite have Hamid’s position of power and influence as chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board . We await developments (pun intended) with interest.

Meanwhile Wirral Globe are gamely still referring  to ‘the Wirral Waters regeneration project’ in a story about an ‘art installation’ on the site of what perhaps should have been an ‘International Trade Centre’. Forgive us for being so cynical but after the Stella Shiu debacle we feel we’re in for a continual series of piecemeal , ad-hoc developments being heralded as part of the ‘Wirral Waters regeneration project’ rather than the comprehensive transformation we’ve been sold . As a highways feasibility study tender issued last week demonstrates it would seem that there is still a long and winding road to travel before the Wirral waters regeneration project’ becomes a reality.

Regen 021

As an aside an interesting aspect of this story Wirral Waters  was the accompanying picture which included  ‘Community Arts Facilitator’ Cathy Warren alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field. Could Ms Warren be in any way related to Frankenfield’s favoured report writer and former Judge Nicholas Warren?  I’m sure all of you who know how things work round here will know the answer to that one. 

Praise for Wirral Waters' art installation

Pic : Wirral Globe

Finally a concerned correspondent from over the Mersey has been in touch to provide us with a salutary tale and timely reminder as to what can happenwhen Due Diligence is sacrificed in favour of headline grabbing developments .

According to the Department for International Trade, ‘The UK continues to attract record levels of inward investment and remains extremely attractive to foreign investors.’ In fact George Osborne went to China with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson to promote the ‘Northern Pitchbook’, with the £200 million New Chinatown development in Liverpool being the ‘centerpiece’ development 
In terms of Cash Only/Investor development investments, this is fast becoming a national scandal, which will have a very negative affect on UK/Chinese relations, and will seriously limit inward investment into the Northern Powerhouse. 
FACT 1 – Record numbers of Chinese and Hong Kong investors have been putting their money into northern developments, especially student accommodation and city apartments .Investors have to put 75% cash up front and the developments are usually ‘off-plan’. This means, in many cases, that not even the foundations have been built. 
FACT 2 – This has attracted the very ‘worst!’ of developers, which can be seen from the following information: 
[1] Angelgate Development- Manchester – which was developed by Pinnacle MC Global and went into liquidation in April 2015, leaving the development unfinished [foundations only]. By August, the developer told buyers the project had been “seriously undervalued” by around £14 million (HK$140.04 million), requiring additional funding in order to complete. The developer gave Angelgate [mainly Chinese/Hong Kong] investors two options: contribute more money to complete the project, or handle the construction themselves.According to a solicitor’s update from Pinnacle, a total of £13.2 million went to commissions and fees, with £7.9 million spent on “overheads, running costs and profits. [this begs the question: how can developers take profits when the development hasn’t actually been built]”An Angelgate investor said an estimated £32 million (HK$330 million) had been paid in deposit money from the buyers in the steering committee and they had filed reports with local police and fraud action groups.

 The Angelgate project was a scam and investors felt helpless, she said. One of the men involved in this development, Tony Freeman, has been arrested by the police. 
[2] Investors from around the world say they will never put money into Liverpool again after their experience of dealing with a city “landlord from hell”.

 They have been bombarding council chief executive Ged Fitzgerald [this man has also been arrested by the police for suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and intimidating witnesses.]with complaints about Nigel Russell, who runs a number of student properties around Liverpool. Investors say that if the council had carried out Due Diligence then they and fellow investors from as far away as Canada, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines may not have had to endure what they called years of hell.

 They had to endure months without any payments, and some had put their life savings into buying units from Mr Russell. Nigel Russell has been arrested by the police 
[3] £200 million – New Chinatown development – The companies involved in this development were given ‘preferred developer ‘status by Liverpool City Council without any proper Due Diligence being carried out. There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. With only the foundations completed, two of the construction companies involved have gone into liquidation and the development is at a halt.

[4] Baltic House – The companies involved in this development are on the point of liquidation. There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. With only the foundations and a small amount of the construction completed this project is at a halt. 
[5] The Paramount – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The development is only half built with 140 Chinese students living in the built half. This building is probably dangerous and building is at a halt

[5]Berry House – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The company involved is close to liquidation-no building work completed at all.

[6] North Point – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The company involved is close to liquidation-very little building work completed .

[7] St James Court – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

[8]Metalworks – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

[9] Eldon Grove – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

It is clear from the above information that Manchester and Liverpool City Councils [as just examples] are not carrying out Due Diligence and are leaving investors prey to criminals. It is quite evident that this is going to lead to a significant reduction in the number of foreign investors in the North West [Northern Powerhouse] and a deterioration in the Chinese/UK economic relationship. 

 

Old Boy’s Network – No Girls Allowed

Northern Outhouse

Rotheram’s lot = Not a lot of ladies!

We note Liverpool Echo are late to the party yet again – as they suddenly raise questions about the newly announced male dominated Metro Mayor cabinet.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/who-metro-mayor-steve-rotherams-13110884

Not only was this picked up elsewhere beforehand

http://www.ybnews.co.uk/regional-development/metro-mayors-men-women/

but Wirral Leaks picked up that it was testosterone-a-go-go when it comes to Liverpool City Region politics a long time ago. November 2015 to be precise. Clearly the newly installed Metro Mayor Steve ‘The Brickie’ Rotheram thinks that ‘Diversity’ is a dance troupe from Britain’s Got Talent.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/northern-outhouse/

However we had to laugh that Rotheram has confirmed that Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies will be his cabinet member for ‘Economic Development and Culture’.

Although Pip seems incapable and/or unwilling to tackle the toxic culture afflicting Wirral  Council no doubt the appointment will help Pip in his attempt to box off the Hoylake Golf Resort scheme!

Needless to say a place was found in the Cabinet for  (M)Asif Hamid, who is the chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) . So that’s at least one diversity box ticked !…..

Tourist Trap

Demolition 014

It seems as though that the demolition of this infamous Borough Rd eyesore in Birkenhead has taken as long as the construction of the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

You may remember an excellent report which we published earlier this year which questioned Wirral tourist figures which were being bandied about.

Tourism Awards : Wirral-style

Our knowledgeable contributor has undertaken further analysis and apparently according to the figures Wirral has the same lure for tourists as Barcelona (hence our picture and comments above).

Therefore the moral of this story is , as we’ve often said :  question everything !

Wirral Tourist Figures – Fake News?

As a rule I hate banging on about things, but, in this case I’m going to make an exception and bang on about the Wirral Tourism figures!

I apologise for the length of this item but I am truly dumbfounded that the people who are supposed to be running this Borough believe the figures.

Power Boy Pip and our very own tourism champ Tony ‘The Hoff’ Jones have both quoted the figures.

Wirral Chamber of Horrors, Wirral View, the Liverpool Echo, VisitWirral.com and various other outlets have fallen foul of the scourge of the internet age, copy and paste (ad infinitum). Nobody questions the figures because they are on the internet, therefore they must be true! Everybody believes them.

Well after contacting Lord Leaky a few months ago I got to thinking about the figures and did some deeper digging. I have come to the conclusion they are a load of spin. Should I be surprised? Probably not.

Were they used to ‘woo the Shiu’? Or are they to reinforce the case for a golf complex? Maybe they are just to say what a wonderful job the council and our esteemed Chamber of Horrors are doing in promoting this green and pleasant peninsula? Whatever the reason, they’re rubbish!

Its difficult to present the full picture succinctly so I shall use round figures and as few as possible.

Links to the documents are scattered around if you really want to read them???

The figures quoted for Wirral are:

8 Million visitors

£385m income

Over 5000 jobs

That equates to 22,000 visitors per day each spending £48 each! Do you believe that?

Lets put this into perspective. Barcelona is introducing legislation to limit tourism as they are overwhelmed. They had 8.3m tourists in 2015. (About the same as Wirral. Ha Ha Ha Ha)

Now at this point dear reader you are probably thinking ‘I’ve read this before’ but please bear with me. (You don’t need to read all the figures below, just look at the total.)

Figures from North West Research, Tourism Data Summary published July 2016.

Top Events Attendance 2015

Top Free Events

Three Queens – 1.2m

Mersey River Festival – 220,000

Transatlantic 175 – 200,000

International Music Festival – 161,000

Africa Oye – 80,000

Top Paid Events

Grand National – 142,500

Southport Air Show – 80,000

Creamfields – 70,000

Southport Flower Show – 54,000

Musical Fireworks – 35,000

Top Free Attractions

Museum of Liverpool – 747,000

Merseyside Maritime Museum – 662,000

World Museum – 658,000

Tate Liverpool – 626,000

International Slavery Museum – 460,000

Top Paid Attractions

Mersey Ferries – 607,500

Pleasure land Southport – 500,000

Beatles Story – 250,000

Haydock Racecourse – 203,000

Aintree Racecourse – 173,500

Total attendance for all these events held in the Liverpool City region 5,395,500!!!

That means more people visited Wirral than went to all of the above attractions and events (and some). Yeh!

Are you starting to see where I’m coming from with this?

The World Tourism Organization defines tourism as people “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”

(Acronym alert!!!!)

The figures are compiled using the STEAM model, (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) by http://www.globaltourismsolutions.co.uk on behalf of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

Well, I don’t know how they do things in Scarborough but it don’t work in this neck of the woods!

Their beautifully illustrated pdf is available here

And this document gives the game away. https://www.liverpoollep.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/wpid-digest-of-tourism-statistics-12-2013.pdf

Section 1.5 tells us that:

A key component of the way in which STEAM works is its definition of ‘day visitors’; this is

defined as a person travelling to a district other than that in which they live, for a non-

routine purpose, with a stay of over 3 hours. Thus, someone making a trip to Southport Pier from Liverpool could be classed as a day visitor, but not someone making a

similar trip who lived in Formby.

Now I understand. These aren’t visitors to the Wirral, they are visits within the Wirral by people who live here. Hardly tourism or even visitor numbers.

Do you now see how useless these figures are?

So there you have it. Fake news!!

http://wirralview.com/news/wirral-enjoys-fresh-boost-visitor-economy-0

And yes, I did lose my bet on The Wro winning bar of the year 2017. They weren’t even nominated so I suspect they were asked to withdraw this year to give someone else a chance!

Demolition 012

Sagrada Familia it ain’t – but at least it’s a start.

Election Selection : Week 1

Brickie 2 015.JPG

Wirral has its own NHS – who knew?

After this week’s call for a snap election we thought we’d set up a weekly report on the local political hustings fun , campaign fails and General Election jiggerypokery. Accordingly we’d like to invite our readers to send in any of their electioneering snippets and general observations on the madness of modern politicking.

The Usual Crap

First off – we’ve been forwarded the Prenton edition of the ‘Brickie to stand for Metro Mayor’ campaign leaflet first reported here : Purdah Palaver

It would seem the local Labour group are riding on the coat-tails of the Metro Mayor election and inserting information about their local wards in the middle of the glossy 4 page propaganda piece . The Prenton edition  (see above) is particularly inept featuring as it does a regurgitated press release about the Liverpool City Region by Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and the compulsory piece about dog crap – because as we know that’s all the Wirral electorate care about according to former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox.

However what is most galling is the gurning features of Cllr Angela ‘CGL’ Davies and Cllr Tony ‘Tight-fit” Norbury holding a ‘Care For the NHS’ placard. The doublethink going on here is mindblowing.  Once again these mindless hypocrites are quite happy to campaign to keep the NHS from ending up in private hands – started by the Labour Party under Tony Blair , lest we forget – but are quite happy for Wirral Council services to be farmed out to the lowest bidder. Of course Cllr Angela Davies cares for the NHS so much because not only does it pay her a good wage but when the service she worked for was outsourced to Change! Grow! Live ! (FFS!) she didn’t much like it and bolted back to the warm bosom of public service. Shame she doesn’t afford that opportunity to Wirral Council employees facing redundancy and/or less favourable employment contracts in the private sector. Just sayin’!

May Day

Tip-top local blogger Wirralinittogether (geddit?) clearly doesn’t need to go to Specsavers as he counted not one, not two but three local at Tory leader Theresa May’s election launch in Bolton .

Tory Voters in Wallasey and beyond. You’re being taken for fools

All we can say the Tory councillors must’ve felt at home in Bolton at their Labour led Council is another one that thinks it can do what the bloody hell it likes with public money! Last year Bolton Council were heavily criticised for giving £300,000 of public money to a private law firm – like you do!

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/14925029.Lawyer_to_report_Asons___300_000_grant_deal_to_national_watchdog/?lp=6

Moonlighting for Margaret ?

These must be trying times for Wirral Council’s renaissance man Martin Liptrotsky. Policy advisor, business guru and political campaigner – is there no beginning to this man’s talents? Having helped Margaret Greenwood win the Wirral West for Labour seat at the the last General Election we have to wonder with Liptrot being appointed to a politically restricted post at Wirral Council who Greenwood is going to get to do her ‘dirty work’ this time round? Now we were no fans of previous Wirral West MP Esther McVey but the Liptrot orchestrated campaign at the last election was perhaps the most vicious and nasty in recent memory. And we’re not talking about the abusive graffiti , we’re talking about “Lord” Prescott’s appearance on West Kirby beach and Labour deputy leader John McDonnell endorsing a comment by a local Labour activist to ‘hang the bitch’ . So much for Labour leader Jezza Corbyn’s call for ‘kinder,gentler politics’ !  Needless to say any reports that Liptrot is moonlighting for Margaret during the latest campaign will be gratefully received!……………..

 

The Common People

rich-pickings

Rich pickings for the Basnetts and friends.

Now you all know we are totally non-judgemental at Leaky Towers so when we refer to the common people we are talking more about some of the people we discussed in yesterday’s post  who seem to have a lot in common.

They call it partnership working / networking – we call it cronyism and empire building at the expense of the ‘little people’ .The rich enriching themselves and their friends by accessing scarce public resources …..and with Grant Thornton being the common denominator when it comes to auditing there is very little chance of any awkward questions being asked.  We note that the late-to-the-party Daily Mail follow up their own concerns on the matter by belatedly bringing to their readers attention the Peel Group and particularly group director Robert Hough.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4003918/Ban-fat-cats-secret-deals-says-MPs-demand-action-Mail-exposes-old-pals-club-doles-public-money.html

Fortunately our own consultant Dr Robert B Smith has been able to remedy any ‘information deficit’ our readers may have when it comes to the following local contacts and connections that have increasingly caused us so much concern :

Board Games (of recent times)

Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority committee members

ex-Chair Cllr Phil Davies; Leader Wirral Council -, now committee member
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – committee member

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

Chair

Robert Hough; Peel Group (previous Chair until end of June 2016)
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – previously Vice-Chair, now Chair

Board members 

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company
Neil Sturmey; Head of Office & Partner, Grant Thornton

Mark Basnett; LCR – LEP (Executive Director in attendance)

Mark Basnett additional company directorships:

Merseyside Special Investment Seed Fund Ltd.
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Mezzanine Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment (Small Firms) Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Small Loans For Business Investment Fund Ltd
Small Business Loans Ltd

Wirral Council

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Kevin Adderley; ex-Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment

Paula Basnett; ex-Investment Manager
Independent Auditor, Grant Thornton

Wirral Chamber of Commerce (WCofC)

Chair

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO

Board members

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO (ex-Investment Manager at Wirral Council; ex-head of Invest Wirral; ex-Manager of Egerton House; ex-Wirral Business Partnership CEO).

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kevin Adderley; WCofC Group Managing Director (ex-Wirral Council Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment)
Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College
John Syvret; CEO, Cammell Laird (Peel Group)

Wirral Investment Network (Management) Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

Egerton House (Wirral) Community Interest Company

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

The Lauries Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Secretary

Lauries Events Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Wirral Metropolitan College – Governors

Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO
Richard Mawdsley; Director of the Peel Group
Grant Thornton (Auditors in attendance)

Join the dots

The Hive – Wirral Youth Zone

John Syvret; Chair (CEO, Cammell Laird [Peel Group])
Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce
Phil Garrigan Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Saughall Massie Fire Station proposal

Could this be the trade-off for the Birkenhead site for The Hive/Wirral Youth Zone between Wirral Council and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service…?

Wirral Waters

Peel Group
Wirral Council

Egerton House (WCofC)

Pacific Road (WCofC)
The Contact Company 26.03.2015 Liverpool Echo – The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Wirral Chamber of Commerce have also provided Asif Hamid’s company with additional support. (£11m reported costs, at least 75% reported as public funding)

Wirral Metropolitan College Wirral Waters campus for Construction and the Built Environment (£8m public funding)
Tower Road ‘A’ & ‘C’ Bridge replacements to service Ro-Ro Ferry £7.12m all public funding incl £712k from Wirral Council – Peel £0

Now join more dots…..

Who was ‘instrumental’ in the failed £175m International Trade Centre as part of a move to kick-start the £4.6bn Wirral Waters project.

Who went to China to meet Stella Shiu?

Who met Stella Shiu when she visited Wirral?

Who went to Reno?

Who went to the Isle of Man?

Who was responsible for administering and investigating the Business Investment Grants (BIG), Investment Start Up Scheme (ISUS), and Working Neighbourhoods, schemes?

 

The Sorry Story of The Lauries

the-lauries-2

As you know we’ve long thought that the Wirral Council/ Wirral Chamber of Commerce/ The Contact Centre hook up was way dodgy.

And we’re gratified to find that we’re not the only ones!. As we’ve previously reported the Wirral Chamber of Commerce seems to have been set up to support pulchritudinous Paula Basnett and her family, friends , pets and ex- Wirral Council reprobates.

However our focus of attention on this particular occasion is ‘The Lauries Centre’ which has received funding from all over the place including Wirral Council.We understand this funding runs into hundreds of thousands. We also understand it was a place for many a Labour Party gathering and a favourite place for Matron McLaughlin to meet. However as one of our sources comments :

“Cafe closed, no front entrance open anymore and trust me it’s grim around the back which a notice on the door says you can use.”

The Wirral Network seem to have picked up on ‘The Lauries’ situation  on their Facebook page with this status :

So, from the available information, it appears that the Lauries Centre is still a public asset, owned by the Council.  However, the resignation in May 2015 of Cllrs Kenny and Stapleton as directors, means that there is no longer any direct political accountability for the way the building is run.  Was enough done to investigate whether a different form of public control would work before deciding to hand over control of the companies to private individuals over whom the public has no direct political oversight at all?  Would it have been possible for a coalition of community and voluntary groups to take over the running of the building on the same generous terms (i.e. a “nominal peppercorn rent”) now enjoyed by Paula Basnett and Asif Hamid?  How are the charitable objects of the company being delivered now?  According to the memorandum of association of the company (also a charity, apparently), the objects are: “to promote any charitable purpose for the benefit of the community within Birkenhead and areas surrounding (the area of benefit) and in particular the advancement of education, the promotion of good health and providing focus for development and regeneration”. The ways in which this object would be delivered include: “To promote and assist in the creation of [sic] continuing operation of new enterprises which are owned and controlled by employees or which are operated by and for the benefit of particular communities which suffer from economic disadvantage…To provide a means whereby the business community can contribute to the wellbeing of areas in need of regeneration…To promote the interests of those living or working in such areas…To develop, market and deliver community services including services of an educational, leisure, sporting, artistic, community safety, childcare or for the creation of employment services…To procure grants and funding from third parties and to assist others to do the same…”  

Further to this observation a deeply valued commentator adds :
“Funds/Grants to Contact Centre….interesting that Paula’s husband is a board member of the above…cosy night time chats maybe? “

Apparently Mark Basnett is  :  “A Guarantor Director for Liverpool LEP, Mark was formerly the Director of Investment at the Mersey Partnership which has now transitioned into the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (Liverpool LEP) where he is Executive Director for key Growth Sectors.

Mark’s role here is to drive forward the economy’s key growth sectors working closely with businesses, education and government.”

Ain’t that impressive?. Especially the transitioned bit which makes the Liverpool LEP sound like the Caitlyn Jenner of regional grant funding – a confused travesty of what they they used to be and desperately seeking approval. Roughly translated that means Mark Basnett is a richly rewarded bullshit merchant on the public payroll.To which Wirral Leaks would like to comment  : Enough already of this jiggerypokery  with Euro-money and being prepared to kiss the arse of Brussels bureaucrats and name a bus station in a town dying on it’s arse  ‘Europa Boulevard’! .

Finally , as we’ve already noted, the cafe in The Lauries is closed.
As somebody else commented to us : ” CAFE !…now isn’t that right up someone’s street?”
Could they be referring to the proprietor of the failed enterprise that was the recipient of various grants – ‘The Spotty Blue Teapot’?.
Although we have  to say we do have our reservations as to how twee teashops would work in downtown Birkenhead. Perhaps a rebranding to ‘Smack and Snack’ is the way to go?. Just sayin’!