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’!

You’re The Only One, Joe

Hands across the Mersey

So Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip kiss and make up as the gruesome twosome appear in another  Liptrotsky – controlled Liverpool Echo  PR stunt.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/child-bus-fares-to-reduced-11391364

The momentous occasion is Pip’s endorsement of Mayor Joe’s Metro Mayor campaign. In the accompanying video for the pisspoor puff piece Mayor Joe helpfully confirms for us that another mayoral candidate , Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger , is in fact a woman. Thanks for that Joe.  Could it be his riposte to our comment that this picture of the Liverpool City Region “leaders ” was hardly a model of diversity ?.

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

Northern Outhouse

We just wonder whether Mayor Joe realises that an endorsement from Pip is the kiss of death.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/king-midas-in-reverse/

Who can forget his ringing endorsement of Tranmere Rovers  FC as  Ambassadors  for Wirral just before they almost immediately lost their manager and then sadly slipped into non-league obscurity ?.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/wirral-leaks-updates-lowdowns/

We warn you all now that there will be much more of this PR BS  before the Metro Mayor election in 2017 – not that we’re complaining as it gives us the opportunity to run our famous caption  competitions.

Readers are invited to send in their captions for the above picture . The winner gets a LUCIANA BERGER FOR METRO MAYOR t-shirt.

Northern Outhouse

Northern Outhouse

What leadership looks like : The Liverpool City Region Gang celebrate diversity by ordering a Chinese takeaway…..

My how we laughed at Leaky Towers at yesterday’s brouhaha and ballyhoo over the so called Devo Scouse Agreement launch.

As you can see from the agreement itself they seem to have ditched the cumbersome Liverpool City Region Combined Authority tag which appears to uphold our theory that this exercise has been nothing more than the Lord Mayor Joe’s Show all along.

Devo Agreement

Of course as casual observers of local political lunacy there was much to comment on – not least the curious local media coverage.

BBC1’s North West Tonight featured the obligatory appearance from Mayor Joe Anderson himself, the Lib Dem MP for Southport John “Who?” Pugh and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark – who befitting someone who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells maintained a rictus grin throughout media proceedings which seemed to say :

” I’m a Conservative Get Me Out Of Here……and preferably First Class” .

Surprisingly there was no show on TV from our very own Power Boy Pip Davies – the chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

However judged by his erring and erming in the Wirral Globe video covering the Devolution Agreement launch this may have been a wise move on the part of his political aide, Martin Liptrot(sky) to pull his charge from further embarrassing exposure across the Northern Powerhouse region.Indeed it appears the video has since been pulled from the Globe website – as unless we we were hallucinating previously we now can’t seem to find it.

Even the relentlessly upbeat Power Boy Pip had to concede that the powers and funding devolved by central government to – let’s face it , Liverpool  – was relatively pisspoor compared to the likes of the Manchester City Region.The agreement was not so much Northern Powerhouse as Northern Outhouse.

“This deal isn’t perfect, no deals ever are.” he whimpered.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14035923.What_the_devolution_deal_will_mean_for_Wirral__Council_leader_Phil_Davies_writes_exclusively_for_the_Globe/?ref=mmsp

Might this include sweetheart deals with whistleblowers who have the means to bring his political ambitions crashing down around him we ask ourselves?!.

However it must be said  – oxymoron klaxon alert – that sensibly , central government have resisted moves to put police powers and health funding in the hands of a group of so-called Merseyside leaders who couldn’t even agree on a collective name (and now seem to have had it thrust upon them).We can only wonder which ones will throw their hats into the ring to contest the “Metro Mayor” election in 2017 – which is currently  the most significant aspect of the Devolution Agreement?.Put it this way we won’t be offering any prizes for guessing!.

However we’ll give the last word to Wirral Lib Dem Councillor Phil Gilchrist who mixing his metaphors with a double entendre comments on the Devolution Agreement :

“This is a great opportunity, with strings attached. The strings and tools are now in our own hands.”

Judging by the motley crew pictured above no truer words have yet been spoken on the Devo Scouse debacle!.

 

Devo-Scouse ? – My Arse!

Featured imageDon’t say we’re judgemental here at Wirral Leaks….but it took until Eric Robinson’s 2nd address to Wirral Council before the penny dropped (or £48,000 in Wirral Council’s case) and we realised that there was yet another corporate-speak spouting spin merchant in our midst.

Let’s face it we couldn’t stand the last Wirral Council Chief Executive Comrade Burgesski from the word get go. The self interest! , the self promotion!  and let’s not forget the self abuse!.”What Really Matters” was his permanent contract and the Council credit card. But then even those tics and twitches  – which made it seem like the person in charge of Wirral Council was the love child of Frank Spencer and Jack Douglas didn’t put certain people off – but then they do say that power is an aphrodisiac!.

However all it took for Stressed Eric to mark his card permanently with us was the use of the dreaded phrase “Devo-Scouse” that’s doing the rounds.In his patronising ExecView missive Eric tells us that “ The Council Leader Cllr Phil Davies met with the Secretary of State to discuss ‘Devo Scouse’ and devolving more powers to the Liverpool City Region. “

And we’re telling you right here,right now Eric we aren’t buying this (or the golf resort spin) – you just about got away with telling us about your “passion” in your inaugural address but you’ve really crossed a line with this BS.

What’s more Her Ladyship concurs with our source –  that ExecView is not only a word blend from hell this edition has more photos than this week’s issue of Hello!.It seems that with Stressed Eric and his rictus grin we find ourselves once more in the realm of the cult of personality (minus the personality).

However there are some moments of of unintentional hilarity as Eric cheerily tells us what he’s been up to to earn his £165K per annum:  “Next stop was Woodchurch, where I talked to the Recycling team about their interesting work to reduce dog fouling….”.

It’s a crap job but somebody’s got to do it eh, Eric?.

Finally our LeakyView on Devo-Scouse  is this – here at Leaky Towers we wouldn’t trust Mayor Joe or Power Boy Pip to look after the class hamster during the school holidays.

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/28dc8b56d191c90e7216a3f5b/images/0f4b4cf5-d6c7-4916-9a56-1414a012da96.jpg

Devo