Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #12

Sunny 007

WHAT A WASTE

We’d like to thank the Wirral Leaks reader who sent us the above snapshot which is supposed to represent what Wirral life is like after you’ve made an additional payment over and above your council tax for Wirral Council to deal with your waste . It made us ask ourselves why we ever left Wirral and then we remembered amongst many other things that nepotism , undue deference and general subservience wasn’t for us.

Whilst it seems to be a case of ‘another week, another advertisement feature’ in Wirral Globe it really makes us wonder what made Wirral Globe so popular with Wirral Council all of a sudden – especially when they’ve got their own sewage outlet with Wirral View. Perhaps someone can enlighten us. Oh , wait a minute , they already have!

What’s more we were told :

It’s US-sourced stock photo library time again in Wallasey. This scene of glamorous young people at a barbecue in Tranmere is so typical of life round here.

https://mailchi.mp/wirral/wirrals-garden-waste-club-11th-april?e=c5e90571ae

Ain’t it just! We thought it was just us who didn’t buy the happy,shiny, ethnically diverse people malarkey! Lazy,unimaginative,insensitive and out of touch with reality – yes, that’s Wirral Council folks!

As for the comment on the right of our picture which reads ‘paper is inside’ shouldn’t that be ‘ paper is on the inside’ …….of the ‘Inner Ring’ that is. What a difference a tape makes! Just sayin’ !

SPRIGGS HAS SPRUNG

Keeping the seasonal theme it would appear that not only has spring has sprung so has Cllr Christine Spriggs – sprung into action that is after last week’s post where we questioned the lack of activity when it came to Wirral Council’s  Imagine Wirral programme. Subsequently a Wirral Leaks observer wrote to us to say :

Further strange odd coincidences… you will recall my email to you when I mentioned that there had been nil activity on the Imagine Wirral twitter account since its Feb 18th launch date….

And then of course (yesterday?) you posted a comment about Imagine Wirral – and asked a question to Cllr Christine Spriggs….

But then guess what? The Imagine Wirral Twitter account suddenly appears to have lots of activity on it… and guess who’s ‘tweets’ are very prominent?

Of course just an ‘odd’ coincidence…                            .

And here is another photo from elsewhere…from a couple of ‘election’ days ago.Haha

 

FROM A BANG TO A WHIMPER

We’ve been asked what questions you should ask those smiley people with rosettes (do they still wear rosettes?) currently interrupting your favourite TV programme. That’s up to you and what you feel is important to you ,your family and community – potholes? dog crap? litter? incompetence,dishonesty and corruption? However one reader has made the following suggestion :

My dear Lordship,

In this time of local elections I have been confused by silence. Only a week ago it was reported that the government were allocating a million pounds to the businesses of central Salisbury following the alleged Russian poisoning scandal. This was to support the local shopkeepers who had lost trade due to the tourists and locals steering a wide berth from the town centre.

I seem to remember there is another centre of a town on the Wirral that people are currently steering a wide berth from due to the fact, “It no longer exists, having been blown to bits”.

The good people of New Ferry are probably too shocked following the explosive nature of the incident to ask the question.

And what is the question you may ask?

Why is there no indignation from the local MP’s and councillors in regard to this matter. Or as in the case of a certain former Eastham school, is the land earmarked for a super housing development. Just asking your Lordship?

Regards

AND FINALLY…….. FROM INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTRE TO DEMENTIA CARE VILLAGE

Meanwhile it’s a case of another week, another artist’s impression!

East Germany

We still haven’t had a grovelling apology from Wirral Council about Wirral Waters and how they were duped by a Hong Kong bankrupt by the name of Stella Shiu and wasted thousands of £££££’s on far eastern jaunts in the hope of financing an ‘International Trade Centre’ . Instead it would appear we’re getting a ‘Dementia Care Village’ that is reminiscent of East German brutalist architecture from the 1970’s !

Whilst there is still a prize to be had for the person who tells us whatever happened to the portrait of Shiu that hung adjacent to the Wirral Council CEO’s office ,perhaps the Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Cllr George Davies can finally admit that Shiu was “ bloody useless….” . Or perhaps not!

 

 

 

The Repetitive Pains of Local Politics and the Lyndale School Tragedy

 

 

What You Allow 4

Let’s face it as soon as Julia Hassall stated from the outset of the consultation that Wirral Council was “minded” to close Lyndale School it was a done deal.

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves? – Wirral Leaks, December 2014

Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School 

Oh here we go it’s the Tories turn for the electioneering and political posturing  as Wirral Council Tory leader Ian Lewis wades in (shame it’s going on for being nearly 4 years too late) on the Lyndale School tragedy/travesty as the former school is set to be demolished and the site used for housing. Read here : Bulldoze Backlash

As for Julia Hassall the poor, no sorry, well paid, patsy who fronted this debacle ,we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again , for all their qualifications and fancy job titles it must be galling for the likes of Hassall, Burgess, Adderley, Degg ,Blott  etc etc etc – INSERT NAME HERE  – to be tossed aside like trash after having served their political paymaster’s purpose.  Somebody needs to get litter Hitlers Kingdom Security on the case, they’d make a bloody fortune! You never know it would probably pay for all the golden handshakes ! All those self serving, self aggrandizing , self absorbed serfs who played the corporate game and then became the metaphorical game for the cowardly lions we call the Wirral Council cabal.

On Wirral – the officers they may come and they may go but the politicians stay the same and its the docile electorate who vote for them who unfortunately give them the political legitimacy to do what they like – such as closing Lyndale School

It’s the same politicians ,some of whom – INSERT NAME HERE – who should not be in  a position to be making decisions about anything, let alone vulnerable people’s lives. Political legitimacy is one thing  but the moral authority – and at times – the legal authority is another. Cllr Lewis may want to discuss with his predecessor Cllr Jeff Green how he enabled such politicians to remain in office before he takes the moral high ground on this one.

However at times such as these we can only turn to the wise words uttered recently by the less than revered elected member Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes

“Having been a young man growing up in Birkenhead, you see the same faces, and it can get very repetitive.”  Read here : Student Flats

Can’t it just Foulkesy!

Which leaves to re – post in full the summary of our coverage and commentary on the Mystic Wirral Leaks and the Tragic Tale of Lyndale School

Way back in March 2014 we implored Wirral Council to “Tread Softly” when it came to the proposed closure of Lyndale  School.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/tread-softly/

And sure enough we learn today that in true Wirral Council style they took this advice on board and now plan to demolish Lyndale School and sell the land. Read Here : Demolish and sell

Sadly this should come as no surprise to those who read another Wirral Leaks post    prophetically titled “Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School” where we asked the following questions:

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves?

Seems that was the case all along – from the day Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall declared that she was ‘minded’ to close Lyndale School in November 2013 to the sham of a consultation to the demolition and sale of the site.

Lyndale parent Zoe Anderson displayed a firm grasp of how Wirral Council conduct such matters when she said: “We have always believed it is a foregone conclusion but we are glad that we got to say our bit and give our opinions in public.

“We are also pleased that the concerns we had about the consultation being open and transparent have actually been received and reassurances given to ensure that is the case.”

And who exactly gave Ms.Anderson reassurances about openness and transparency?.
Why none other than the chair of the meeting  who instigated the closure of Lyndale School – Councillor Steve Foulkes aka “Foulksey” – the former Leader of the Council whose lack of personal integrity when it comes to openness,transparency and truthfulness has recently been laid bare for all to see.Read here : Foulkesy the Fibber

Once again we commented with the foresight of a mystic seer  : “However we have to say we have to admire the sheer gall  – as earlier in the meeting he expressed the hope that the forum wouldn’t be used for “political points scoring” knowing what we know might we suggest that “Foulksey” needs to tread very,very carefully on the matter of “political points scoring” …. Read HereCold and Bureaucratic

Reading the posts back we presciently called out Foulkesy then and his sickening role in this tragic tale when we said :

Finally  we implore you to remember the names of the Cabinet members making the decision to close Lyndale School and particularly the one Councillor who we feel is simply not fit to hold public office , let alone make a decision significantly affecting the lives of people who he clearly regards merely as a means to pay his Council expenses.

We hope the people of Wirral are finally beginning to realise  where Wirral Council’s priorities  are – protecting the powerful whilst demolishing the dreams of the vulnerable.

 

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.

Homes Under The Hammer

FLOG-IT

A housing boom is coming to Wirral whether we like it or not – every piece of land and every building that remains standing seems to be up for grabs in the council’s everything must go slash and burn sale.

In an ingenious ploy to make money for  property developers , who must be rubbing their hands in venal glee ,  there goes the old Lyndale School site and we  presume the Girtrell Court site to follow shortly after. Indeed poor Saughall Massie looks set to become more concrete jungle than green belt – what with the fire station proposal and the residential development and barn conversion planning application for Diamond Farm :

https://planning.wirral.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_WIRRA_DCAPR_99836

The further desecration of the green belt for the benefit of property developers continues unabated with Wirral Council  ploughing on with Hoylake Golf Resort despite increasing local opposition . They are intent on speculating a further £600,000 of your money in an attempt to ensure this project doesn’t end up in the bunker . Although this particular Cabinet decision is subject to a Special Meeting to be held next week  we predict the call-in will end up like all others – with the ruling Labour group driving down the fairway and avoiding the rough  by using the biggest club they have  in the caddy – an overall majority . As we’ve said all along the only way the Hoylake Golf Resort stacks up financially is courtesy of the high priced executive homes. Indeed we think Hoylake Golf Resort should be more accurately described as a housing development with a golf course attached (or should that be linked?).

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=758&MId=5899

Meanwhile it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that the Wirral Waters project is finally no more. As Wirral Council goes chasing government Housing Zone money to try and build more residential properties on the Peel Holdings site it seems the piecemeal development of Wirral Waters looks set to continue – a Department of Education funded building here, a contact centre there, a housing development over there. Might we suggest that the infamous artists’ impression of ‘Shanghai On The Mersey’ might need a bit of re-touching.

Now that Neptune Developments plans for revamping Birkenhead town centre has been thrown overboard it would seem Wirral Council are attempting to avoid another Wirral Waters , where they were left floundering on the China Seas , by talking about setting up their own development company .

Cllr Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies today launched yet another plan outlining this particular proposal. This new 4 year plan is to help raise the cash to cover a £132 million hole in HMS Wirral Council before it sinks without trace.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14937580.Wirral_Council_plans_radical_reforms_and_warns_of_tax_hikes_to_cover___132m_budget_black_hole/

Unsurprisingly this further extension of  Wirral Council’s ‘New Operating Model’ will include the old standbys  ‘Improving Efficiency ‘, ‘Redesigning Services’ (aka  ‘Redundancies’ and ‘Privatisation’) and ‘Generating Income’ . The latter will inevitably include a Council Tax rise and ‘plans are also being progressed to increase how many new homes are built in the borough.’ As we can see above  , those plans seem to be well underway and so with the Labour Cabinet lead for regeneration being Cllr George Davies with his unorthodox way of doing deals , what could possibly go wrong?……..

 

 

Mystic Wirral Leaks & The Tragic Tale of Lyndale School

 

2014-Vauxhall-MAYORLDale

                                                The haves and have nots 

Way back in March 2014 we implored Wirral Council to “Tread Softly” when it came to the proposed closure of Lyndale  School.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/tread-softly/

And sure enough we learn today that in true Wirral Council style they took this advice on board and now plan to demolish Lyndale School and sell the land.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14719714.Wirral_Council_set_to_demolish_Lyndale_School_and_sell_the_land_after_winning_battle_against_parents/

Sadly this should come as no surprise to those who read another Wirral Leaks post   prophetically titled “Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School” where we asked the following questions:

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/crushed-the-closing-of-lyndale-school/

Seems that was the case all along – from the day Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall declared that she was ‘minded’ to close Lyndale School in November 2013 to the sham of a consultation to the demolition and sale of the site.

Lyndale parent Zoe Anderson displayed a firm grasp of how Wirral Council conduct such matters when she said: “We have always believed it is a foregone conclusion but we are glad that we got to say our bit and give our opinions in public.

“We are also pleased that the concerns we had about the consultation being open and transparent have actually been received and reassurances given to ensure that is the case.”

And who exactly gave Ms.Anderson reassurances about openness and transparency?.
Why none other than the chair of the meeting  who instigated the closure of Lyndale School – Councillor Steve Foulkes aka “Foulksey” – the former Leader of the Council whose lack of personal integrity when it comes to openness,transparency and truthfulness has recently been laid bare for all to see.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/wirralgate-foulkesy-the-fibber/

Once again we commented with the foresight of a mystic seer  : “However we have to say we have to admire the sheer gall  – as earlier in the meeting he expressed the hope that the forum wouldn’t be used for “political points scoring” knowing what we know might we suggest that “Foulksey” needs to tread very,very carefully on the matter of “political points scoring” ….

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/cold-bureaucratic-the-closure-of-lyndale-school/

Reading the posts back we presciently called out Foulkesy then and his sickening role in this tragic tale when we said :

Finally  we implore you to remember the names of the Cabinet members making the decision to close Lyndale School and particularly the one Councillor who we feel is simply not fit to hold public office , let alone make a decision significantly affecting the lives of people who he clearly regards merely as a means to pay his Council expenses.

We hope the people of Wirral are finally beginning to realise  where Wirral Council’s priorities  are – protecting the powerful whilst demolishing the dreams of the vulnerable.

 

 

Closure and Non-Disclosure

                               ClosureDisclosure

We think a Facebook post by Save Girtrell Court posted a couple of days ago needs highlighting as it further demonstrates the way things work with Wirral Council.

We’ve commented before on their relentless and ruthless  privatisation of public services .We will be returning to  the matter in time for the grand opening of new respite facilities in Tollemache Road now that we know the battle to save Girtrell Court has been lost and Wirral Council will now surely be planning to make a nice capital receipt out of the land to add to the real estate bonanza that will follow the sale of the Lyndale School site.

We note how Eric “Feeble” Robinson has finally fitted in nicely having been well tutored in the use of spin as carers/campaigners claim that he has misrepresented them in statements to the press. We also note the continuing tactic of browbeating people into keeping quiet by shrieking “confidentiality!” and thereby not so much manage the message but control disclosure.

Therefore can we advise the named carer representatives not to hold their breath waiting for an apology or a retraction from Stressed Eric or a Wirral Council media spokesperson.

Once again – read it and weep.

To all Supporters of Girtrell Court

Various officers of Wirral Borough Council have tried in recent correspondence to claim that the closure decision was made “in partnership” and with the support of carers. This is simply untrue and a fine example of “spin”.

It is true that I and other carers contacted through the Wirral Carers Association have sought repeatedly to convince council officers that their policy on Girtrell is wrong and unnecessary but you are all aware of council intransigence – they simply will not listen to logic or social justice arguments.

When all of our pleading fell on closed ears, the only option was to salvage the best solution for all of our loved ones from this train wreck. To this end, we have assessed the options being pursued by the council and have rejected the most unsuitable ones. The only potentially credible offering was Tollemache Road (over which there are still unanswered service questions) and so we have, with great reluctance, made the best out of the proverbial bad job.

I am sorry if you disagree with our actions but we were unable to “go public” due to council commercial confidentiality requirements.

Equally, if you feel that I and others have let you down then I am content to accept your censure but I assure you that I could not have tried harder for the result we all wanted SAVE GIRTRELL COURT.

The text of the email to Chief Executive Eric Robinson follows to set the record straight :-

Dear Mr. Robinson,

You have recently replied to Councillor Blakely regarding the future of Girtrell Court and its possible replacement service.

Your response is a clear misrepresentation of the position and of the involvement of parent / carers since it clearly indicates that users of the current service are content and have willingly collaborated with the council and its officers in agreeing the privatisation and closure of Girtrell.

This interpretation of events would be considered too far-fetched even for an episode of Yes Minister. It is best likened to an executioner claiming that the deceased committed suicide when he opted for execution by lethal injection instead of the alternatives of being burnt at the stake or fed live to a pack of ravenous wolves.

• Not one of the current users of Girtrell Court wish to see the current service closed and privatised;

• Parents and carers have not consented to, colluded with or supported the council voluntarily but continue to oppose the closure of Girtrell Court;

• It is only the complete and unremitting obduracy of Wirral Borough Council in railroading through the closure of a vital and valued facility against the wishes of its users, their hard pressed carers and the general public which has forced carers with great reluctance to assess the credibility of a number of proposed replacement options;

• Our motives in making these assessments have not been to assist in, collude with, sanction or otherwise underwrite this unwanted and mean spirited closure.

Rather our motivation has been and remains solely to ensure that our loved ones on whom this change is being forced by an uncaring council end up with the least worst of the proposed replacements. Never has the term “making the best of a bad job” been more appropriate;

• We were clear in advising Council Officers that potentially suitable accommodation was only one aspect of a complete respite solution and that we would not and could not underwrite any replacement respite service until we had clarity on the complete package on offer. The package remains incomplete – there is no information regarding :-

o the term of the proposed contract,;
o the staffing ratios which will apply;
o the nature and extent of activities available to service users;
o the arrangements for safety of occupants of the first and second stories in the event of fire (when the proposed lift will be out of action);
o confirmation that service users will receive the same time allocation:

all of which are legitimate concerns for parents / carers when being asked to entrust their loved ones to a third party. Merely identifying a possible building does not address these qualitative issues and your officers responses to these issues are awaited.

You cannot justify your council’s wilful refusal to listen to carers, to respect our concerns and to deliver a service in which we have confidence by claiming us as your political cover.

That you should now represent our act of desperation as proactive support for the closure of Girtrell Court and the redundancy of its magnificent staff is truly unworthy of you and adds to a catalogue of shameful behaviour of the council in this matter. Your statement that you “can therefore confirm that the decision to close Girtrell Court has been taken in partnership with carers that use the service” is a blatant misrepresentation and has caused us significant reputational damage within the Girtrell Court carer community.

We hereby go on public record as totally rejecting these statements and inferences contained in your response to Councillor Blakeley and require both a retraction and your apology for the distress caused.

Signed by the following as volunteer carer representatives:-

Meriel Balshaw
Bernard Halley
Angela Harrison and
Peter Linnane

 

Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School

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We implored Wirral Council to “tread softly” when it came to Lyndale School.
However reverting to type last night they decided to put on the bovver-boy boots and crush the hopes of pupils,parents,carers,teachers and supporters by deciding to close the special school.

Knowing what she was up against parent spokesperson Chrissie Woodland declined to speak at the meeting of Wirral Council’s Cabinet claiming that it was a “waste of time”.

Indeed it appears to us the whole consultation process was a completely stage managed farrago. We imagine the pre-meeting conversations went something like: ” Right Julia , Ann will ask the first question and then Bernie can ask the next one and then you give us your rehearsed answer and we’ll nod along pretending to be interested”.

Let’s face it as soon as Julia Hassall stated from the outset of the consultation that Wirral Council was “minded” to close Lyndale School it was a done deal.

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves?

Meanwhile the valiant parents have vowed to challenge the process which led to the decision and have it quashed at Judicial Review.

So before they bulldoze the sensory garden funded by £80,000 worth of donations from Wirral Globe readers Wirral Council need to be “minded” that the fight is far from over. We’ll be ringside hoping for a knockout blow in this David and Goliath battle.

“Cold & Bureaucratic” – The Closure of Lyndale School

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And so with heartbreaking and crushing inevitability comes the news that Wirral Council’s Labour Cabinet has voted unanimously to close Lyndale School.
A special school which taught and supported some of Wirral’s most vulnerable children who have a multitude of complex needs.

Remember the Council’s pledge to protect the most vulnerable in the wake of damning reports criticising how they treated disabled people? Remember the “What Really Matters?” consultation where the people of Wirral said they wanted the Council to protect our most vulnerable citizens?  Remember how Director of Childrens Services Julia “No” Hassall said she was “minded” to close Lyndale School last November?

The same Julia Hassall who claimed at the Cabinet meeting that compared to the desperate pleas of the parents and staff speaking on behalf of the children they loved and cared for she sounded “cold and bureaucratic”.

“Cold and bureaucratic” doesn’t come close to describing the sham of a consultation, the dragging on the usual highly paid “independent consultant” Lynn “Wrong &” Wright ,the shameless going through the motion of listening to parents and staff and petitions and the “we know best” decisions made behind closed doors.

In other words the usual “bureaucratic machinations” which have plagued Wirral Council for years and continue to do so – and all to the detriment of Wirral’s citizens and particularly when it’s concerned with the treatment of disabled children.

Finally  we implore you to remember the names of the Cabinet members making the decision to close Lyndale School and particularly the one Councillor who we feel is simply not fit to hold public office , let alone make a decision significantly affecting the lives of people who he clearly regards merely as a means to pay his Council expenses.

Tread Softly …..

LDale

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats

Having pledged to protect the most vulnerable people on Wirral the Council seem to have the usual “abnormal” way of going about it. Saying goodnight to Moreton Day Centre, puncturing meals on wheels,enforcing a 22% Council Tax hike on unemployed people (compared to Liverpool Council’s 5% ).

It seems to us they much prefer to pretend they’re more big business than a public service and so we see representatives jetting off to China and helping to set up the plush offices of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile the pupils ,parents, carers and staff of Lyndale are fighting to keep Lyndale School open. Wirral Globe reported : ” The heart-wrenching pleas of parents and teaching staff of a Wirral special needs  were not enough to convince councillors who tonight backed plans to consult on the school’s closure.”

SEE HERE

Following the meeting, Lyndale parent Zoe Anderson displaying a firm grasp of how Wirral Council conduct such matters told the Globe she was not surprised with the decision.

She said: “We have always believed it is a foregone conclusion but we are glad that we got to say our bit and give our opinions in public.

“We are also pleased that the concerns we had about the consultation being open and transparent have actually been received and reassurances given to ensure that is the case.”

And who exactly gave Ms.Anderson reassurances about openness and transparency?.
Why none other than the chair of the meeting – Councillor Steve Foulkes aka “Foulksey” – the former Leader of the Council whose commitment to openness and transparency is there for all to see in a series of damning reports ( well actually you can’t see because they’re redacted to incomprehensibility) but let’s just say there’s a good reason he was ousted from the leadership in a vote of no confidence.

However we have to say we have to admire the sheer gall of the future Mayor – as earlier in the meeting he expressed the hope that the forum wouldn’t be used for “political points scoring.”

Knowing what we know might we suggest that “Foulksey” needs to tread very,very carefully on the matter of “political points scoring” ….

And talking again of treading carefully you will notice in the picture of Lyndale School pupils and their supporters taken before the Council meeting published in the Globe that the stair treads behind them are bereft of carpets.

Indeed we hjave been reliably informed that the stairs,landing and round room are being re-carpeted at a not inconsiderable cost of £11,000**. How fortuitous that the ongoing gentrification of Wallasey Town Hall comes just in time for Foulksey’s  tenure as Mayor.

Meanwhile can we appeal to Councillors to carefully consider the consultation on the closure of Lyndale School to tread softly because they are treading on peoples dreams.

**UPDATE – According to the Globe the figure is even higher – over double our sources estimate in fact ? STORY HERE  –  Deep shag perhaps ? After all the resident’s and town hall footsoldiers of Wirral have been feeling screwed for years !

Wallasey councillor Leah Fraser said: “This must be some kind of joke” (and no, she wasn’t talking about Foukseys rent -a tent mayoral robes.)

“The council preaches austerity and belt-tightening for taxpayers, while at the same time squandering their hard-earned cash on sprucing up the town hall.“It is actually offensive.”