Hot Flush

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Firstly , thanks go out to fellow Wirral blogger John Brace who generously tipped us off about a Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) decision made earlier this year which was published this week:

http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/education/school-transport/15-020-236?cn=bWVudGlvbg%3D%3D

Serendipitously it coincided with our regular leaks direct from Wallasey Town Hall and combined together they tell you everything you need to know about Wirral Council’s warped priorities.

As you can see the notoriously stingy LGO ,  who are rammed with local government failures , ruled in favour of parents who had made complaints on behalf of their disabled children who had been denied transport by Wirral Council. The LGO financially penalised Wirral Council accordingly. Well ,when we say Wirral Council, we really mean us ,the long suffering Wirral council taxpayers, as let’s face it, the people responsible for this injustice never pick up the tab – we do!

Compare and contrast this decision with the fact that a disabled super-toilet has been installed on the ground floor of Wallasey Town Hall. When we say a super-toilet we mean a toilet equipped with a heated seat and a douche facility. As let’s face it we all know the most prominent inhabitants of Wallasey Town Hall are full of crap!

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Meanwhile another leaker provided pictures of new chairs being delivered this week to the Treasury Building on two consecutive days . We can’t help feeling that both leaks serve as a perfect metaphor for Wirral Council  – as they appear to be forever protecting their own arses!

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Under the circumstances we can only suggest that Wirral Council employees wanting to climb the slippery pole press the ‘Turbo’ button. The symbol represents your tongue kissing someone’s arse. This may mean the people who pay your wages evidentially don’t get a decent service but hey! what do you care ? –  you get to pay your mortgage and pretend you’re a pillar of the community.

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The Sorry Story of The Lauries : Chapter Two

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We knew we were opening a can of worms – or tapeworms as we’re talking about parasites here –  when we delved into ‘The Sorry Story of The Lauries’ :

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/the-sorry-story-of-the-lauries/

This has been reinforced by a couple of people who’ve been in touch to tell us about the dubious machinations of the indivisible Wirral Council / Wirral Chamber of Commerce connection which is basically shaping up to be a Paula Basnett Family Benefit Society and/or a safe space for Wirral Council failures (at our expense).

Our first correspondent tells us :

I having just read your piece on the Lauries centre it confirms what everyone knew that the Lauries name was poached in order to receive building grant. In 2011 work started on a so called Craven Street/Paterson Steet regeneration scheme. It quickly deteriorated into chaos and the work done shambolic. I soon came into conflict with the architect ( his credentials are suspect) and Wirral Council who put me on to Councillor Kenny who seemed cowed by the builders and architects and did not put forward anyone’s complaints at the meetings held in the Methodist Hall.  Wirral Council eventually signed off the bad workmanship against my wishes even though Councillor Kenny was well informed of the damage and unfinished work to my home. I have tried to go to arbitration in order to get the work finished on the grounds that my home has been devalued by thousands in comparison to similar homes in the area . I also attempting to put together a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding Frank Field and Unite union. 

Whilst we implore you to support the gallant Philip Barton’s  ‘ Retake the Lauries’ Crowdfund campaign below can we just say that the response so far is indicative of the apathy that infects the insular peninsula when it comes to local politics and therefore it seems the local electorate is ripe for the picking  when it comes to picking up the tab!

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/RetakeTheLauriesLtd?utm_id=1&utm_term=zQQ2nGpMV

The Lauries Community Centre in Claughton Road, Birkenhead, was built in 2003 using millions of pounds of tax-payers money secured from European Union and UK Government regeneration funds. It was a community-led project designed to provide much-needed community space in what is one of the most socially and economically deprived wards in England.

A company limited by guarantee, The Lauries Limited, was incorporated to run the centre, with public accountability assured by the inclusion as directors of two elected Ward Councillors. This company has members who elect between 5 and 11 directors at each annual general meeting to run the centre, which is leased from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council for a peppercorn rent.

However, on 31 May 2015, all of the existing directors resigned and were replaced by two private business people who are not publicly accountable. Local residents were concerned to find recently that the building is no longer open to the public and it appears that The Lauries Limited is not being operated in accordance with its own articles of association – not least because there are now only two directors rather than the minimum of five.

This campaign seeks to re-establish public accountability for the running of this much-needed community centre in what is one of the most deprived parts of England and to restore control of the appointment of directors of The Lauries Limited to members of the company.

We are likely to encounter resolute resistance from the two directors of the company and need to establish a fighting fund to pay the substantial anticipated legal costs that we are likely to incur in wrestling control away from the current directors and bringing the company and the community centre back into democratic community control.

Oh No ! – It’s The LGO!

 

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An interesting and disturbing case has arrived at Leaky Towers via a source on Twitter which we think gives a telling insight into how Wirral Council’s Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) still works when it comes to the way they treat people with disabilities  – despite their repeated cries of ‘lessons have been learned’ ‘transformation’ and ‘ choice’

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) made a ruling on a case involving a disabled woman from Wirral in February of this year. Publishing the report on their website some time later they found that :

The Council was at fault in reducing Ms B’s care hours without a reassessment of her needs. It has now agreed that she can receive care again from her previous (preferred) provider, and will restore her care hours to the previous level assessed to meet her needs. The Council agrees to reimburse Ms B’s representatives for the costs they have incurred in paying privately for care for some hours she has missed, and make a payment to them in acknowledgement of their time and trouble in pursuing the complaint. It will also offer Ms B a payment in acknowledgement of the distress this matter has caused her, which will equal the cost of the care hours she has missed.

http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/adult-care-services/other/15-003-163#point1

This is a particularly significant ruling and testimony to the perseverance and determination of those seeking justice in this case. We stress this as it should not be under-estimated just how hard historically it has been for a complainant to get a ruling of maladministration from the LGO . Written evidence submitted by LGO Watch and Public Service Ombudsman Watchers to the Communities and Local Government Committee in 2012  is particularly critical of the LGO’s poor record on rulings in favour of complainants and cites Wirral Council as a case study. Although we do need to acknowledge that this was 4 years ago and it was the year that saw the publication of the damning Independent Review of Wirral Council , unfortunately there is very little to suggest that the conclusions reached about how Wirral Council operated then are any different now (see below).

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmcomloc/431/431vw12.htm

Talking of which we were particularly interested to see the reference in the LGO ruling to Wirral Council having to make a payment amounting to £500 for the ‘time and trouble’ of the complainants. The phrase reminded us of a story we published earlier this year where we made reference to the Wirralgate complainants being offered a much more generous £3,000 (presumably x 4) by Wirral Council for their ‘time and trouble’ despite the fact that there has been no published report upholding their complaints.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/time-and-trouble/

Surely this begs the following questions : Firstly, if the Wirralgate complainants were not happy with a 3 grand bung , why weren’t they advised to take their complaint to the LGO ?  and secondly ,  why instead did they get a bespoke inquiry which is seemingly concerned primarily with a potentially even larger compensation payment?.

We suppose the answer to these questions  brings us back to the conclusion submitted in written evidence to the CLG Committee referenced above : No wonder councils like Wirral can get away with cover-ups and maladministration for years….until of course someone else does the LGO’s job and exposes council cover ups and maladministration.

 

 

 

Route 666

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What is it with Wirral Council and contracts?. We understand their procurement department has been having a bit of bother with a transport tender exercise held earlier this year and a bit like a taxi queue – it seems it was rank.
Council insiders tell us there has been a simmering dispute with 4 companies who have been going through hell because they were left out a tendering exercise to provide transport routes for Childrens Services.
Apparently due to a technical glitch  on the electronic tendering system some essential documents failed to upload.  Due North – the company responsible for the system on behalf of the council-  maintain that there was no defect in the system which would explain why this happened. As there was no trigger to alert tenderers that information was missing from their bids , the first time that these 4 companies found this out was when they were told their tenders had “Gone West” and not Due North.
Wirral Council could have used their discretion under the Public Contract Regulations to request the incomplete and missing documents . They could have done this with a quick phone call. But- no . This is not how Wirral Council roll
However the result is that with 4 companies excluded from the bidding process  it’s highly likely that the cost of the transport routes will have increased and consequently there are small numbers of children being taken to school in mini-buses instead of more appropriate taxi vehicles. What’s more  we understand Wirral Council have already stated that they will use the option to extend the new contracts for another year even though in the interest of fairness they could just run the procurement exercise again next summer.
Further it is alleged that the company that got the majority of the minibus work have  a prominent new recruit who was previously a council employee and whom had access to all the prices of the contracts for the past two years . This particular company share premises with another company who also did well out of the 2016 contracts in the absence of 4 companies from the bidding process.
Now we’re not suggesting untoward – but under the circumstances and with Wirral Council’s track record there are surely legitimate questions about systems , procedures and propriety that need to be answered.
We understand those questions are with the Local Government Ombudsman – so the meter is still running on this one.
Finally we have contacted someone who’s business has been affected by this fiasco and they told us : “I think it’s shocking that they have no concern about ratepayers money but I guess this is what happens when there is no consequence to their actions .They just can’t get it right it’s shocking, if this was a private company they’d all be sacked.”