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’ :
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!
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.