Where’s Wally?

Denial

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

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

Dear Dr Smith,

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

Kind regards,

Walter Smith.

Dear Cllr Walter Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to receiving your response,
Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

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

Basket Case Review

Pip Resign 012

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

Pip Resign 009

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

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

Pip Resign 010

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

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

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

Pip Resign 011

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

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

 

Reference Point 2 : A Halliday Hullabaloo!

Truth Sounds

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

Happy Halliday  Nous Sommes Charlie Reference Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wirral Council Scoundrels : Five Years On

We couldn’t let this momentous day pass without mentioning it is the 5 year anniversary of the publication of  the ‘Independent Review of Allegations Made By Martin Morton ( & Others)’ aka AKA report .

We remember how in a blaze of bad publicity we all thought it was a bright new dawn for Wirral Council as the then council leader Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  went on TV to say he’d apologised to whistleblower Martin Morton for his appalling treatment for bravely pointing out that Wirral Council was a basket case. Investigator Anna Klonowski had recorded what Morton had told her (but strangely enough not the really damaging stuff) and pocketed £250,000 of public money for doing so . She proved to be  the first of many parasitic consultants who got paid for pointing out the bleedin’ obvious before pissing off back down south with a swag bag of public money.

Although it must be said Morton tells us he must have been in a coma at the time because he has no recollection of ever receiving an apology from ‘Foulkesy’. Which as far as we’re concerned kind of set the tone for Wirral Council for the next 5 years – shameless dishonesty over truth and media manipulation over a true reflection of how Wirral Council operates . No amount of bogus awards or the callow complicity of the Local Government Association or appointment of  so -called ‘policy advisors’ or publishing your own newspaper can disguise the dark,dark heart at the centre of Wirral Council.

This week’s  Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree court case provided but a brief glimpse into this heart of darkness. We have forthcoming tales of incompetence , bullying,pay-offs , fraud , thefts , dishonesty and seediness that prove to us that ‘no lessons have been learned’ in the past 5 years – other than you need to add several coats of expensive veneer if you want to fraudulently present yourself as the ‘Most Improved Council 2015′ . To which all we can say to Wirral Council is this : It’s 2017 now guys and nobody bought that shit then and they certainly ain’t buyin’ it now!

Indeed as a special request to commemorate this day we’ll leave the final word on the matter to the author C. S. Lewis who many years ago prophetically published this insight into how  ‘The Inner Ring’ at Wirral Council operates in a volume titled ‘ The Screwtape Letters’ ( not to be confused with  ‘The Wirralgate Tapes’!)  :

And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

The Big Lie Gets Even Bigger……

It’s been a week since we published our heartfelt preview of what was then the upcoming Ofsted inspection report of Wirral Council’s Children’s Services

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

And now in the aftermath of the publication of the latest in a long line of damning reports it would appear Wirral Council are adopting the timeworn tactic of denial and damage limitation.

As an antidote to these machinations we’re bringing you our further thoughts on the Ofsted report and subsequent developments.

 

china4

China Crisis 

Once again Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies demonstrates his renowned strong leader powers and makes plans to bog off to China with his new BFF  – Metro Mayor reject Joe Anderson  – in the aftermath of the Ofsted report crisis. At least his predecessor as council leader Steve Foulkes , who was not renowned for his political insight or indeed renowned for anything , had the good sense to abandon plans to jet off to the far east when the  equally damning Independent Review threw Wirral Council into chaos in 2012.

However it seems Power Boy Pip is undeterred by the fact his leadership is in question and the Council is yet again in turmoil as he embarks on yet another junket. What we’d like to know is what exactly is his “number one priority” – small children or big business?  and what have any of these many trips achieved for the people of Wirral?. Perhaps Pip can also tell us whether the Wirral Chamber of Commerce Queen Paula Basnett and  Contact Company King Asif Hamid are also on the trip and if so – why?.

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

Walker Walks

We think the first casualty (and we hope not the last) of the Ofsted inspection was Bernard Walker the ‘independent’ chair of  Wirral Safeguarding Boards for both adults and children . Walker must have known the writing was on the wall and walked out when Ofsted walked in (allegedly at the end of his “tenure”). Subsequently Ofsted judged Wirral Safeguarding Children Board as “inadequate” and that it was “not discharging all of its statutory functions ….and the running of board business are not sufficiently independent of the local authority”.  As we know from the Standards & Constitutional Oversight Committee  an ‘independent’ person for Wirral Council is usually a safe pair of hands who won’t rock the boat and won’t ask any awkward questions . And at £500 a day for Walker’s services it would seem it’s the usual consultancy trick of taking the money but not taking the flak. Seems like Walker could talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. Under the circumstances might we suggest to Bernard that in the light of the Ofsted report findings that he may want to tinker with his LinkedIn profile – just sayin’.

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernard-walker-3333713b

Self Improvement 

“From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council).

So in the light of the Ofsted report how is that statement standing up Eric? . It’s all sounding a bit hollow isn’t it?. An empty Martin Liptrot -penned soundbite. Ain’t it a shame that the people of Wirral are not buying what you’re selling? . Although they are being asked to stump up another £2 million to help put things right!.

Unfortunately though the supine Department of Education suits think Wirral Council can be entrusted to set up their own improvement board and everything will be tickety-boo in no time. Of course long suffering Wirralians know better as we’ve all been here before . It is less than 3 years ago that the Local Government Association – led improvement board made a premature evacuation .

We all knew at the time  that Wirral Council was nowhere near being “improved”. Self improvement is not the way forward with this lot- we all know that Wirral Council has long needed external intervention.

“Oh but they’ve got an action plan……leave them alone” bleats Frank Field . To which we’d like to say to him – “You , sunshine have a lot to answer for – it was you who stopped the Local Government Commissioners intervening in 2012 . You must be so proud of your politically motivated control-freakery. This Ofsted report is part of your legacy Frankenfield – so please that’ll be no more  headline grabbing , fake- emoting over the plight of starving mites in Birkenhead from you thank you very much!……”

 

 

The Gaslighters : Silent but Deadly

Lying

Wirral Council will be holding the most significant meeting in their history today.

What do you mean you haven’t heard about it?…… details are right there on their website. Oh no sorry they aren’t are they ?!.

Of course they’re not as Wirral Council’s gaslighting* of the masses continues unabated.

So what are we banging on about you might ask yourselves? – today (and possibly) tomorrow if the meeting is adjourned , in a room somewhere in Wallasey Town Hall , the details of the second (and hopefully more factually accurate ) Thynne Inquiry will be laid bare before a select few. A select few who have been sworn to secrecy and silence.

Not surprisingly we’ve made the comparison to the Chilcot Inquiry before –  delays, bureaucrats protecting their political masters, and the Maxwellisation of the process as politicians bleat about how they’re being picked on and it’s all so unfair.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/the-maxwellisation-of-wirral-council/

The only difference is it looks like The Chilcot Inquiry will actually get published very soon and discussion will take place in public . We even live in hope that there may actually be some sort of belated accountability for the Iraq war debacle.

But oh no not the Thynne Inquiry – what could possibly be so incendiary that it wouldn’t be allowed to see the light of day?. Could it be the truth about how some of the most senior politicians on Wirral conduct themselves and have been conducting themselves for many years ? . Destroying the lives and livelihoods of those who dared challenge their wrongdoing so that they could  maintain their reputations and positions of power – and what’s more using YOUR MONEY to do it!.

As we’ve said before it is the poison that has infected the body politic of Wirral for far too long. An infection that the likes of the Local Government Association and various consultants have diagnosed (for a big fat fee)  but chose to walk away from saying  to Wirral Council : physician heal thyself!.  The physician in this case being Harold Shipman.

Of course the Thynne Inquiry is just one half  of this sordid tale. Does anyone know if the Nick Warren Review (allegedly completed in April 2015) will  ever see the light of day?. No – thought not!. Whilst we might know that both of the reports from these investigations are different sides of the same sordid ,moneygrubbing coin known as Wirralgate –  why is it that  the people of Wirral aren’t allowed to know ?. Is it because they’re just considered to be the mugs kept in perpetual ignorance  and yet are expected pick up the tab for covering up corruption in high places.

Therefore we ask is it too much to expect that Wirral Council communications tsar Martin Liptrotsky should be enlightening rather than gaslighting the press about today’s momentous meeting?.

 

*Gaslighting

Peer Less

Peer review

Let’s make a declaration of interest from the outset  – we fundamentally object to peer reviews. Local government gurus glad handing  their well-paid peers and telling them that they feel their pain (for a fat fee  minus VAT) .

No thank you.

What we need is someone who has never worked in local government and preferably never had to climb that greasy pole like a pole dancer in a pin stripe suit.

No doubt their report would be somewhat more succinct and read :  ” WTAF!”.

So imagine our cynicism when we learned that the report about the latest Wirral Council peer review co-ordinated by the Local Government Association (LGA) had been not so much released as escaped  under the banner : Council Improvement Continues ( no laughing at the back).

We suspect even the Liverpool Echo weren’t buying that bogus headline.

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/news/10-03-2016/council-improvement-continues

The review  was led by Mark Rogers, Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council. The same council who have hit the headlines because their plans to cut care for disabled was ruled unlawful and is the leading case when it comes to cuts in social care.

Mr.Rogers tells us :

It is important to stress that this was not an inspection. Peer challenges are improvement orientated and tailored to meet individual council’s needs. You asked the peer team to explore:  The council’s capacity to deliver the Wirral Plan 2020  The council’s approach to partnership working  New models for service delivery

So basically Wirral Council controlled the show . But the cracks are there. So let’s a shine a light on them because that’s what we do best.

First of all –   BS bingo fans will be reassured that besides the obligatory pie chart there are the following  favourites:

Interdependencies ✓

Integrated commissioning hub ✓

Transformation agenda ✓

Pledge driven ✓

Personality proof ✓

Holistic ✓

Joined up conversations ✓

We particularly liked that reclusive  Chief Executive  Eric “Feeble” Robinson is described as ‘a breath of fresh air’  as this is basically a bit of bitch-slap for his predecessor Graham Burgess.We liked that. We liked that a lot.

Furthermore we liked the following sly dig :

However, the Senior Leadership Team is not currently giving adequate corporate leadership and this needs to be much stronger if the Plan is to be delivered effectively

Which may explain why Super Duper Directors Clare Fish and Joe Blott are on the way out. Initially we had a degree of sympathy for these two – way out of their depth and caught up in other people’s corruption and then we remembered their six figure salaries and all sympathy evaporated.

They also do a fine line in stating the bleedin’ obvious :

The peer team also had a concern at the current high use of consultants and interims

You don’t say !.

Meanwhile the naivete is staggering :

The delivery of the Wirral Plan and pledges and the role of scrutiny may be enhanced in the longer term by offering opposition members a leadership role on the Policy & Performance Committees.

Scrutiny ?. By opposition members?. Can we have some of what the LGA are on?.

However this was our favourite observation:

The council and its partner agencies recognise that they want to form a different relationship with residents in the future. There is general recognition that relationships with local communities has been negatively impacted by the past challenges the council has had to deal with. The new relationship will be based on a clearer Wirral narrative, a greater ability to listen to resident’s issues, making better use of the data and intelligence the council gathers across the Wirral and greater use of channels use as digital and social media. 

Somebody from the LGA needs to tell Wirral Council  that they simply need to follow Wirral Leaks……but then they already do that !. But unfortunately it is a “new relationship” over which they have no control…….and we all know how they love to be in control!. Therefore we predict that this is one relationship that will continue to be fraught!.

Dark Night of The Soul

dark night of the soul

 

And so yet another astonishing exchange of emails are leaked which shed further light on the heart of darkness within Wirral Council .

The full tawdry story is set out below but essentially it concerns a possibly tired and emotional soon to be ex- councillor  Jim “Crabby ” Crabtree sharing his views with valued Wirral Leaks contributor Dr. Robert Smith about the alleged refurbishment  of offices at Wallasey Town Hall (including apparently Liptrotsky’s).  As Crabby saw fit  to contact Dr.Robert at 2.35 in the morning to describe costs as “absolutely disgusting ” (like you do) we can only presume that the soon to be ousted councillor was having a “dark night of the soul”.

That’s if  Crabby does indeed have a soul. Which frankly based on what we know about the Faustian pacts that prevail at Wirral Council we rather doubt. Therefore forgive us for questioning the motivation behind the late night rant. As Dr. Robert comments in his eloquent response below that as the Chair of the Audit  & Risk Management Committee if Crabby had any concerns about excessive and unnecessary council expenditure he would’ve been in an ideal position to raise them before now and in a more appropriate way.

Whilst we can understand why Crabby might be bitter at being cast aside like a piece of trash as have been so many before him we are less than sympathetic as to his predicament as a) he brought it upon himself and b) was quite happy to be part of the poisonous culture at Wirral Council when it suited him.

However if you nest with vipers you must expect venom. And that remains the problem with Wirral Council . The opportunity to change the culture of Wirral Council  once and for all when they had their own organisational dark night of the soul  in 2012 was lost. Reputation management triumphed over redemption and with the support of corruptible consultants and the complicity of the Local Government Association seemingly nothing has changed.

For now anyway …… as it says above the dark night of the soul comes just before revelations. We believe those forthcoming revelations will indeed finally bring new life to Wirral Council and it is just what is needed for the good of everyone who lives on Wirral.

And based on the number of people who leaked the following email exchange to us you all know where to come for revelations !………………

On 2 March 2016 at 02:35, Crabtree, James A. (Councillor) <jamesacrabtree@wirral.gov.uk> wrote:

You need to ask how much it cost the council tax payer for the building work on the Members Room not just labour party members but tory and liberal members room for lip trots room refurbishing? absolutely disgusting

Dear Cllr Crabtree

Thank you very much for your email of 2.35am this morning, which I have just picked up. I fully understand the urgency of your request, and apologise for not dealing with it sooner.

The costs of this refurbishment is of great concern, as you say, notwithstanding the serious issues and costs regarding the process of recruiting and employing Mr Liptrot? However, I am willing to act as your Proxy in making this request for information on your behalf, and, as soon as I receive a detailed reply, I will send it on to you.

I am a little perplexed, however, as you are the ex-Chair of the Wirral Council Audit & Risk Committee, I would have thought that you would have that information to hand, or have raised it directly in your capacity as Chair/Councillor? But obviously not.

As a number of Senior Council staff, and the Leader should be suspended/awaiting dismissal for contravening any number of codes of conduct, I will make this request to ‘whoever is left’ ie All (remaining) Wirral Councillors, and whoever is covering the CEX, Strategic Director Joe Blott (Dep Monitoring Officer), Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer), Tony Williams (HR), Mr Liptrot’s and Cllr Phil Davies’ positions.

To Wirral Councillors and Officers

The question I have been asked to pose to Wirral Council as Proxy for Cllr Crabtree is as follows:-

“You need to ask how much it cost the council tax payer for the building work on the Members Room not just labour party members but tory and liberal members room for lip trots room refurbishing? absolutely disgusting” (Cllr Crabtree’s opinion, I act independently, but on this occasion, I have to agree)

I will be pleased to receive a detailed account of the cost to the public purse, in order to satisfy this request, as soon as possible, as I act on behalf of a Councillor. I assume also that due to the timing of the email (2.35am) that this information is required urgently, and is needed prior to the Council meeting tomorrow evening, or any investigation.

I look forward to hearing from somebody/anybody, asap.

Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith

The Bamboozlers

A-prick
“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. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”- Carl Sagan
As we predicted Wirral Council becomes a Local Government Chronicle (LGC) award winning Council by the simple expedient of steering loads of work the way of the Local Government Association.
The Local Government Chronicle is of course the trade paper of the Local Government Association and giving an award to an organisation you’ve allegedly helped move from “abnormal to inspirational” is clearly good for the business – so we’ll let you join the dots. SEE HERE 

Of course the business we’re talking about is here bamboozling – the ancient art of fooling some of the people all of the time……of course any sussed and sensible person who lives on Wirral is clutching their sides in mirth at the thought that Wirral Council could win a “Most Improved Council” award.

But then we must remember they were starting from the deepest depths of dysfunctionality (we’re talking the Marianas Trench here) and as Her Ladyship said about the “Most Improved Council” tag :” It reminds me of how many years ago and in less enlightened times I was at primary school and those deemed less gifted were left at the back of the class with a colouring book and when it came to prize giving day there was a “special prize” for the pupil who best managed to colour in between the lines “.

A clearly giddy Power Boy Pip described the glittering award ceremony in that there London as the “Oscars” of local government ….and in some ways he’s right about the similarities – the over-privileged and over-paid who stick to the script and smile for the camera…..but let’s not mention the casting couch.

We understand the Wirral delegation at the ceremony included such luminaries as Council “Leader” Pip, Joint Deputy “Leader” Ann McLachamindofmyown, the prodigal son, that irritating chap who’s sole job seems to be nodding his head at public meetings and making press statements defending the indefensible and that call centre owner chappy who seems to go everywhere with the Wirral Council posse.

We were shocked to discover that the other Deputy “Leader” Gorgeous George Davies wasn’t there – he’d have been such an asset – if all else failed he could have offered the prize giving panel a nice little incentive to make sure things went Wirral’s way as that seems to be his modus operandi.

Our final note to this glorious accolade is to send our heart-felt (or should that be gut-wrenching) congratulations from Leaky Towers with the following caveat :

We’d ask all those loyal to the cause to finally acknowledge “the bamboozle” – it’s simply no good shaking your heads and reassuring yourself that a dodgy award somehow negates what your so called leaders get up to or that certain abuses are out of your control and you’re more interested in serving your constituents than a) yourself or b) power crazed bullies.
If you give the charlatans power over you – you become part of the problem – floating in an amoral netherworld where abuse of power festers like a putrid sore….. and as you know Wirral Leaks is ever ready to prick that putrid sore.

Q & A

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

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

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

SEE HERE

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

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

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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