Half the Story and Double the Average

Bernie 004.JPG

In a classic case of getting your retaliation in first and prior to tonight’s Wirral Council meeting Cllr Bernie ‘ The Bruiser’ Mooney has been all over the press bemoaning the fact that children’s services is at ‘breaking point’. Needless to say it’s all the Tories fault.

And whilst indeed there are some government austerity measures which are nothing short of heinous Mooney needs to get real and tell us the full story.  Her version of the ‘breaking point’ story slipped out yesterday on a sleepy Sunday afternoon on the Wirral Globe website.

Breaking Point (Wirral Globe)

The story was updated today with comments from Ian Lewis the leader of Wirral Council’s Tory group. Needless to say Liverpool Echo gave the Bernie’s bleatings the full front page splash – though rather spoiled Bernie’s carefully prepared narrative by mentioning that damning Ofsted report and how the authority failed to halt a campaign of child sexual exploitation by the Rajenthiram brothers which are two things that Wirral Council’s ruling administration can’t pin on the Tories.

Apparently Bernie wants £25 million of extra funding from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to meet “increased demand for our services”. Good luck with that one !

Bernie 007.JPG

A spokesperson for the Chancellor said : ‘the cheque’s in the post ‘

The most shocking aspect of  Mooney’s moans was the revelation that the number of Wirral children is 120 per 10,000 of the child population . This is DOUBLE the national average ! DOUBLE!!

Bernie struggles to look around for a plausible reason for this and comes up with national figures concerned with cuts in early intervention and family support services. There is no mention of the specific impact on local services and more significantly no mention of one of Frank Field’s pet projects – the discredited Troubled Families Programme (TFP) into which millions have been poured down the drain.  As one of our valued contributors ‘ The Professor’ pointed out earlier this year Wirral Council taxpayers should bear in mind that our council are taking part in the useless,discredited TFP phase 2 at a minimum cost to us of £6 million to 2020.

The Miracle Workers

So enough already of this Bernie blather , surely she now knows what we’ve known for a long time – that children’s services locally are indeed at ‘breaking point’ and it’s not just about funding it’s also about Wirral Council’s toxic culture of denial which has built up over a number of years and under various administrations.

We think that Mooney finally realises the extent of the problem she’s inherited with children’s services and knows there are more bad news stories on the way . So what better way of keeping the Ofsted ‘improvement journey’ show on the road by playing the overplayed austerity card and asking the people of Wirral to docilely accept half a story ?

 

 

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Songs of The Labour Movement : Two Tribes

 adrianjonesprotest
Our interest in the rising tide of Corbynism is, of course, how it impacts on local politics.  And you can say what you like about Jezzamania but it has at least shaken up (or a least slightly stirred) the moribund and complacent cabal at the heart of Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP).  Frank Field, having decried the Labour leader at every opportunity prior to this year’s general election, has been awfully quiet on the Corbyn front lately hasn’t he?
However where the impact has been most felt has been in the Wallasey CLP.  Ever since Wallasey MP Angela Eagle’s doomed Labour leadership challenge there have been deep divisions within the local CLP…..and it would seem from a leaked email from Cllr Adrian Jones sent to ‘Momentum Comrades’ – which somehow made its way to us – there clearly still are!
We’ll spare you the full text of the email as it’s more Citizen Smith than Councillor Jones. Suffice to say it’s as long-winded and self righteous as his council speeches and sets out his long-standing Corbyn – supporting credentials.

The genesis of all this rift was a bitter CLP meeting on 24th June 2016, when Cllr Bernie Mooney (now Joint Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Labour Group ) was voted out of her position as secretary of Wallasey CLP and replaced by lefty Kathy Miller.  Paul Davies was voted in as co-vice Chair ( Cllr Paul Stuart was the other co-Vice Chair.)

The CLP voted to back Corbyn in his leadership bid.  Eagle got wind of this and was presumably an ‘Angry Bird’!  She hadn’t yet said she was going to run for leader… and didn’t until early July.

Meanwhile the CLP was suspended by the Labour NEC at their London HQ and remains suspended to this day.  Indeed the CLP only realised they’d been suspended when they read it in the Liverpool Echo!

This suspension was done on the ‘strength’ of bogus allegations that were lodged with the press (not the police, where they should have gone – but that presumably would have risked counter charges of wasting police time) saying that some members at the above meeting had engaged in bullying of others, intimidation and ‘homophobic acts’ against Eagle, who was not even present.

Reputedly, it was Cllr Stuart who was the ringleader of 17 people alleging bullying, intimidation and homophobia.  Angela Eagle christened them “whistleblowers”, sullying the name of genuine, good faith whistleblowers everywhere, and whatdyaknow?  the likes of the Liverpool Echo and The Guardian were there, ever eager to fuel the fire.

Throughout all this nothing was heard from Cllr Adrian Jones, the huge “Corbyn fan”, as his hero was pilloried in order to push Eagle’s leadership chances.  And whaddyaknow?  Both Jones’s Mr and Mrs and Cllr Stuart can be seen in the photos attached to this tweet, supporting Eagle.  This was in the run-up to the 2017 election, 9 months after the CLP suspension and #Brickgate.

Ultimately the allegations went nowhere, but the damage inflicted by the media coverage had been done. We understand one CLP member still has a charge hanging over them, whilst those making bogus allegations have been strangely passed over for any disciplinary action.  Is it any wonder the rifts persist and that there are plenty of angry left wingers in Wallasey CLP who feel betrayed?  After being expected to tramp the streets in support of Angela Eagle during the general election campaign , some are suspecting that deals will now be done behind their backs rather than the embedded enemy within faced head on and challenged.

 

Meanwhile, Cllr Paul Stuart who’d nailed his colours to the Eagle mast has,  since Corbyn’s unexpectedly strong performance in the general election,  had a bit of a rethink and now wants the world to know, via the leaked Jones email , that he is supporting Jezza. But the idea that Cllr Stuart would now also be backing Corbyn is outrageous when you can find him on the internet posing for photos outside the smashed window of #Brickgate.  Along with Cllr Stuart , Eagle diehards Cllr Mooney, and Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy were immediately on hand to be interviewed on TV and press suggesting that Corbyn supporters were behind the brick through the shared stairwell window ….which apparently wasn’t Eagle’s constituency office window anyway! You can get a flavour of the furore here 
Moreover, Merseyside plod calmly intoned six months later that the constituency office window was never reported to them as being damaged !  But you wouldn’t know this if you picked up any national or local newspaper because they wouldn’t touch it !  And by that time, the whole sorry circus of MSM dissemblers had left Eagle’s “busy summer of lies” unretracted, and moved onto the next emerging #FakeNews bombshell needing their undivided attention….
Meanwhile only time will tell whether Cllr Stuart proves to be as an effective shape-shifting politico as Cllr Jones,

 

To quote from the latter’s email…

Comrades, “Now is the time” to stop acting like a “Party within a party” – and even like a “Momentum within Momentum”.

It is time to grasp that the mainstream (often called the “Left”) has won back the heart and soul of the Labour Party.  I do not know of a single member of the Seacombe Branch who has not fully supported my own declarations for Corbyn on the two websites or who does not support him now.  So why introduce friction where there need be none? Let’s try now to be a single Labour Party in Seacombe Ward.

Some comrades will remember that we also, for a while, held “Songs of the Labour Movement” musical evenings in the Park View Social Club – an opportunity for comrades to perform – or just listen and rub shoulders informally.  But, since then, we have had the difficulty of the Party being suspended so long that many of us don’t even know each other.

Under the circumstances can we suggest that any future CLP sing-a-long  starts off with a rousing rendition of  “Two Tribes” ?

 

 

Strange Boutique

Now that Wirral Council and Wirral Globe seem to be cosy all of a sudden ( Hmm – we wonder why?) it seems that the (piss) poor Liverpool /Wirral Echo have to make do with scraps off the table. Wirral Council is such a fickle mistress –  even though fickle mistresses always seem to get them into trouble.

Last week the Echo published a ludicrous puff piece in advance of Monday’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting where the headline screamed :

New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel

Of course if you read the report to which the article refers to – there are no such plans.

Birkenhead Town Hall – Boutique Hotel

However there are pictures of Birkenhead Town Hall with crocuses in the foreground. “What a crocus of shit….” said our butler Eldritch. And who are we to disagree?

The report itself is grandiosely titled ‘ Strategic  Regeneration Framework’  (SRF) presumably because it’s no longer good enough to have a strategy , you have to have a ‘framework’ to go with it – which of course justifies the inflated salaries of those spewing out this nonsense.

Strategic Regeneration Framework

As Wirral Council seem to be so very keen on ‘ reality checks’  lets get the Leaky Towers crew to break it down for them :  Hamilton Square is magnificent. So is Birkenhead Town Hall. And they’re wasted in Wirral Council’s hands.  So having failed to turn Hamilton Square into a glorified roundabout U-Turn On Roundabout = Dead End  

Wirral Council are now hoping that investors are going to flock to them with an open cheque for a boutique hotel .So let’s take a look around –  God bless the Station Hotel. They really, really tried to bring artisan bread to Birkenhead. Unfortunately they didn’t realise that their customer base were more interested in Frank Field getting their housing benefits sorted out. You won’t be surprised to hear they’ve since closed down because those on the breadline don’t choose artisan bread.

Boutique 009

Perhaps the model Wirral Council should be following and to which they should be lowering  their aspirations somewhat and align themselves to is a skanky drug den such as the Central Hotel.

Boutique 012

Just sayin’

Strange Boutique

 

Wirralgate : 4 x 4

4x4

It was 4 years ago that Wirral Leaks first broke the Wirralgate story.  Read how the story began with the first 3 chapters from September 2013 :

Wirralgate 1

Wirralgate 2

Wirralgate 3

However little did we think that 4 years later we would still be waiting for the biggest scandal ever in Wirral politics to be fully exposed. Call it our spectacular naivety in underestimating the power that 4 politicians hold locally but it is astonishing to us that this particular 4 x 4 is still on the road. So , for those of you unfamiliar with the Wirralgate story , which for a start off means you’re not a regular reader of Wirral Leaks , we’ll break it down for you. It goes a little something like this :

4 Wirral Council complainants have a recorded telephone conversation involving the Deputy Leader of Wirral Council where he uses a racist slur to describe a senior council officer and offers the complainants what they themselves call a ‘ sweetheart deal’ . They are asked to hand over a document smearing Tory leader Jeff Green and their suspect claim for compensation will be sorted without the necessity of all those bothersome legal processes. They hand over the document which was written by one of the complainants (and just for clarity was NEVER in the files of the former head of law Bill Norman, as was claimed by former leader of Wirral Council , Cllr Steve Foulkes.) Foulkesy subsequently hands over the document to Liam Murphy – the political editor of the Liverpool Echo. Murphy later makes a covert recording of the covert recording (!) and when later outed by Emma Degg the former Wirral Council head of communications to whom he played it, suddenly Murphy  is no longer the political editor of the Liverpool Echo ! Go figure!

Council Leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies later claims that the 4 complainants were using the recorded conversation to settle their compensation claim . The complainants record a meeting they had with Pip listening to the Cllr George Davies telephone conversation. Pip asks of one of the complainants whether he is recording the meeting. He wasn’t – but another of the complainants was. So now they have a recording of Cllr Phil Davies, the leader of Wirral Council listening to a highly incriminating recording his deputy! BINGO! Pip is heard to say on the recording :

” I can’t defend this” 

But of course he has to –   George Davies is not only his deputy but Frank Field’s electoral agent and confidante. No wonder Pip agrees to a bogus ‘inquiry’ by long time Field associate Nick Warren which was nothing more than a means of securing the complainants more than the £3,000 they’d been offered for their ‘time and trouble’ and a sum of public money much more in line with what the incriminating recordings are worth to the big 4 – if not to Wirral council taxpayers.

 

Of course Frankenfield, Power Boy Pip, Foulkesy and Gorgeous George wouldn’t have got away with the cover up for so quite long without the passive local political ‘opposition’, the complicity of the local press , Merseyside Police and senior council officers past and present,  the compromising of other investigations where Cllr George Davies and Cllr Foulkes were allowed to get away with persistently lying and where the complainants refused to take part ( hey, wasn’t there a cheque in it for you guys or something?) and, most pertinently,  the failure of the complainants themselves to ‘go public’ with the recordings despite the fact they’ve played fast and loose with local media for 4 years  – and  it must be said , even us , but you may have noticed we gave up on them doing the right thing a long time ago. Wirral Leaks is NOT and never will be a bargaining tool. The irony being that whilst the complainants were more than willing to go public with allegations that they could never properly evidence they have withheld incontrovertible evidence proving that the big 4 are utterly corrupt. Draw your own conclusions ££££££££.

Ultimately to us this is just an example of Frankenfield’s feudalism – getting his own way and doing exactly what he wants and knowing he’ll never be challenged. Another example was his backing of last night’s EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons , thereby defying Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who asked Labour MPs to vote it down. Could this be the same Frank Field who voted for EU enlargement and the accession of Eastern European countries in 2003?

Frank also seems to be labouring (!) under the misconception that people in his Birkenhead constituency voted to leave. We’ve got news for you Frank  – 51.7% voted to remain. But then Frank’s not one to let facts or truth get in the way of his one man mission which is the greater glory of HIMSELF – and it seems Wirralgate musn’t be allowed to get in the way of that amoral juggernaut.

An LRJ Reaction

Internal Audit frontsheet

Apparently Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) is appealing. Well , we suppose there’s a first for everything!

However in this particular case when we say appealing we mean that yet another disgraced Wirral councillor is proving once again that taking responsibility for their actions is an alien concept.

As ,yes indeed, according to Liverpool Echo  LRJ  is appealing against the recent sanctions imposed against her by a Wirral Council Standards Panel.

Sanction Distinction

We note that Wirral Leaks gets its first mention in the Liverpool Echo as a ‘local news site’ courtesy of Liam Mk II (Liam Thorp) . Of course Liam Mk I (Liam Murphy) wouldn’t give us the oxygen of publicity as he was too busy dancing to Wirral Council’s ruling administration’s tune despite apparently being ‘outraged’ by how they carried on. So outraged was he , he made a covert recording of a covert recording , played it to his oppo in Wirral Council, later claimed he couldn’t take part in an investigation exposing corruption as he was protecting the confidentiality of his sources and thus allowed a corrupt regime to carry on abusing their power. Thereby proving once and for all that Liam Murphy was to investigative journalism what Larry Grayson was to Rugby League!

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/councillor-sent-texts-saying-could-13292419

Among the damning evidence made against LRJ are texts released during a Code of Conduct investigation include : “They don’t seem to realise I’m at the top of the pecking order ” and referring to the investigator : “She doesn’t scare me and a little councillor involved might just shut her up.”

Listen folks , all we can say is that we know we’re all in big trouble if LRJ considers herself  ‘top of the pecking order’ . However what can we expect when local Labour politicians consider themselves to be untouchable and have been acting with impunity and without consequence for years? Let’s remember the only reason that LRJ’s adversary and convicted criminal Cllr Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree was suspended by North West Labour was down to Wirral Leaks ! So we’d  like to know what their Regional Director , Anna Hutchinson, is going to do about this latest disgrace. It’s all a bit embarrassing (yet again), isn’t it Anna ?

As you can see from the extracts from the leaked Wirral Council Internal Audit report the evidence against LRJ was ‘compelling’. And again you know you’re in really big trouble when even the complicit and compliant Internal Audit come to this conclusion (and yes we’re particularly looking at the Chief Internal Auditor – googly-eyed brown-noser Mark Niblock) . The information we have in our possession (and have had for some time ) is eyewatering and leaves us wondering why it takes 2 years for it to reach the public domain.

Internal Audit 2
Internal Audit 1
We understand the reason that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) didn’t proceed with prosecution because the money was ‘recoverable’  and it was not possible to prove who had fabricated the invoices.  Moreover we understand that Wirral Council have been trying for over a year to retrieve sums relating to this case amounting to £16.5 K (out of the infamous £19K that Crabtree referred to in his malicious phone call to LRJ) .
CPS
Strangely it would appear Wirral Council have been unsuccessful in retrieving the money to date. Can you imagine if any of us owed them £16.5K? We’d be hauled right down Wirral Magistrate’s Court.
But then we’re sure Wirral Council (and particularly the ruling Labour administration) wouldn’t want any of this heard in open court.
Which is why Wirral Leaks will continue to publish – in the public interest – the continuing developments in this case two years after we first gave the heads up on this increasingly complex and particularly sordid story.

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 !…..

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.

Bernie The Bruiser Plays The Blame Game

Bernie in White

Bernie’s glare makes grown men weep.

The latest instalment in the scandalous Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case which is mainly being played out by press release to the Liverpool Echo involves the new Cabinet lead for Children’ Services and also the new- frighteningly – Deputy Leader of the Council, Bernie Mooney.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/warning-more-heads-roll-wirral-13054956

Anyway Bernie the Bruiser has gone all gung ho on us and told us that she ” will leave no stone unturned” in finding out how opportunities were missed to protect young girls from abuse and “if that means heads will roll ,so be it”

Oh give over,love, we all know that’s never going to happen with Wirral Council’s senior managers . As we can see from the ‘resignation’ of  Director of Children’s Services, Julia Hassall . Now in the real world ,if someone resigns , they resign and go on to ‘greater challenges’, ‘spend time with their long suffering family’ or take up gardening/golf/alcoholism  and that’s the end of it. Not with Wirral  Council . Oh no – ‘resignees’  get a pay off to make sure that none of the culpability for myriad failures can lead back to the self serving power elite. Somewhat like a slug trail. Yes, best put the stone back in place and keep the slugs out of the glare of the sun. Has anyone noticed that after all the high profile departures in the officer ranks these past few years (and at our expense) that the same old incompetent,dishonest and corrupt councillors are still running the show?

And as for the claim that ‘heads will roll’  – that caused our eyes to roll.  Because if Bernie the Bruiser was true to her word she’d have her Labour colleague Cllr Moira McLaughlin’s head on the chopping block for starters. We have to await the publication of the forthcoming Serious Case Review into the CSE horror story to find out where agencies and which particular personnel let abused girls down.

However we know already that there has undoubtedly been a failure of scrutiny by Wirral Council. We also know that the Serious Case Review goes back to a time when their governance arrangements were found to be wanting  and which contributed to a series of damning reports involving Adult Social Services. So what did subsequent administrations decide? – give the scrutiny of BOTH Adult Social Services and Children’s Social Services to the political lead previously responsible for failing vulnerable adults. Step forward Matron McLaughlin! You really couldn’t make this shit up!

Told You So

Accordingly might we suggest that Bernie the Bruiser needs to go easy with the threats for now because if she’s  prepared to  batter already battered staff into submission and play the blame game she needs to ensure that the stone she’s unturning doesn’t get chucked back at her.

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.

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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

 

Child Sexual Exploitation – No Alarms and No Surprises, Please.

No Alarms

An horrific Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case in Birkenhead finally hits the headlines. The case involves lengthy jail sentences for two Sri Lankan brothers found guilty of the systematic  rape and abuse of girls aged 14 and 15. The full story can be found here :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15287059.Brothers_jailed_for_40_years_for_child_sexual_exploitation_of_vulnerable_young_girls_in_Wirral/

Now, as we know, the culpability for these vile acts lies with the perpetrators. However we have to ask ,once again, where were the various agencies responsible for safeguarding vulnerable children ?

The fact that Cabinet lead for Children’s Services Cllr Tony Smith has been relieved of his position ( nobody gets ‘sacked’ at Wirral Council) and Julia Hassall – Head of Children’s Services has resigned, suggests that as far as Wirral Council are concerned there are questions to be answered (aren’t there always?)

But do you know what makes us want to bite our knuckles in sheer frustration and anger is the way that rampant reputation management rules all at Wirral Council!

Wirral Council knew (as did we) that there was every likelihood that reporting restrictions would be lifted on this case today. So what is their first priority? –  that’s right get the Liverpool Echo to run a story on Sunday afternoon that council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies had used his ‘strong leader powers’ to suddenly oust Cllr Tony Smith from his Cabinet. So Cllr Smith takes one for the team and is the fall guy ,the patsy for this latest horrorshow. This was followed today with the long overdue resignation of Head of Children’s Services, Julia Hassall.

Of course this all goes back to the publication of a damning Ofsted report last September which had us apoplectic here at Leaky Towers . With our usual prescience we wrote at the time  –  ‘And inevitably what we have witnessed today is the first instalment of an exercise in damage limitation and reputation management for which Wirral Council is so well known  with a carefully controlled ‘leak’ to the Liverpool Echo.’

You may also recall that Hassall claimed there were ‘no surprises’ in the Ofsted report.

What? – did you think Ofsted wouldn’t notice or if they did you could dupe Wirral councillors that everything was hunky dory – for as we know that’s what council officers have been doing for years.

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

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/the-pain-of-failure/

We have expressed the view that the Council’s No. 1 priority is the protection of vulnerable people (and particularly children).  They have failed us and more importantly, the vulnerable, time and time again.

This is, among other failures, a monumental failure of scrutiny (another thing we’ve been banging on about for years) .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/told-you-so/

We can recall the denial when opposition councillors tried to ask questions about CSE on Wirral and being soothingly reassured by Wirral Council’s Safeguarding Lead ‘ Simpering’ Simon Garner that they need not worry themselves as they’d got it covered. We can also recall the ‘faux outrage’ from councillors whenever comparisons to CSE in Rochdale or Rotherham were mentioned. Consequently the approach from council officers is not to  alarm the councillors as they might get a bit upset that there are sexually exploitative people out there!

We assert  that the denial of the problem by agencies responsible for safeguarding is a major contributor to the continuation and prevalence of CSE. Perhaps Wirral’s Safeguarding Board would do well to check out  ‘Three Girls’ a 3 part series running this week Tuesday-Thursday on BBC1 at 9pm which covers the Rochdale CSE scandal. They might actually learn something.

Finally  we’d like to go back to our original ‘ The Big Lie’ post where we called for the resignation of CEO Eric Robinson  , Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall , Corporate Safeguarding Manager  Simon Garner ,  Council Leader Phil Davies ,Children Services Lead Cllr Tony Smith, People Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chair Cllr Moira McLaughlin

Two out of six ain’t bad  (although we should have added Hassall’s manager Clare Fish into the roll call of shame) – but it’s not enough.

The vulnerable people of Wirral deserve better. Indeed, we all do.