Tales From The Chamber : Chapter 1 – ‘The Elephant in the Lift’

BID pic

We understand that Wirral Council’s ‘Witchfinder General’ and Deputy CEO David Armstrong has been making less than discreet enquiries about who has leaking information to us .  So let’s help him with his enquiries and let him know it’s ‘Spartacus’. The thing he (and other local powerbrokers) need to understand is that when toxic and dysfunctional organisations treat people badly then those people who have inside knowledge as to what goes on within these organisations will sometimes seek an outlet to bear witness to what they’ve seen and heard . It was how Wirral Leaks came to be and we are honoured and privileged that people come to us ,  as where else would they go?

Whilst we have been receiving information about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (WCoC) from various sources for some time often people are reluctant for us to publish their compelling stories merely because they recognise the power of the local connections that WCoC have (and particularly with Wirral Council). That in itself is a damning indictment of the corrosive, insular culture’ that has been created on Wirral.  So as an antidote to last night’s meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee and the anodyne news in the Constituency Manager’s report about litterpicks and skip hire we provide an insight into what lies behind jargon such as this :

3.4 Birkenhead First Activity Update: 2018 Since May 2018, we have had two of our Town Hosts leave the team, this has opened up an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the strengths of the team and review where our strategic focus needs to be aligned in terms of moving the BID forward

Read full report here : Birkenhead Constituency report

Whilst the information should be of particular interest to Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) levy payers we also think that there is a significant public interest element to the first anthology of Chamber tales we’ve compiled below :

I will offer you some interesting facts. Why isn’t the expenditure of the levy money made public ? Why aren’t the accounts available to be scrutinised? Simply because it’s mis- managed. Ask the question – why was Mark Barrow ( Campaign Manager) paid his salary out of the levy money? Why have the Chamber paid £25,000 to The Hive to be a Patron ? Who paid for the lights within the gardens of Hamilton Square?  Who is behind the creation of the CIC Food village at Woodside ? Who are the board members and associates? – I’m sure you can guess! There is only ONE host remaining at Birkenhead – considering there was 4 – ask the question about a public document that was put out by the BID after their first year – in it states about extra cops in the town – think from memory it said 37 extra cops – a simple question where’s the paper trail of how those cops were paid for? How was it accounted for? Simple answer is ,  it’s a number plucked from the air . PP (‘Princess’ Paula Basnett – WCoC CEO) took it to (Wirral Council) cabinet and stood up and quoted it as fact.

The BID  money is about £370,000 per year. The first two years nothing was spent on the town other than planters and some money for alley gates near Sally Army. So where did the money go?  It went to prop up and pay for the Chamber – and its staff

Quite funny you should mention about PPs salary-  at some point PP and her chums salaries details were given out by mistake to staff. I think PP was on a substantial salary . Big red faces and emails directing people not to disclose.

Around mid 2017 the BID produced its annual report. Within that report was mentioned what the BID had done over the last 12 months – by and large most of it is inaccurate and misleading. This document was taken by PP to (Wirral Council)  Cabinet – who painted a picture of how great things were. Like all things official – it’s about showing to the public and in this case more appropriately the businesses in the BID area that there is credibility in the BID.

A system was believed to be in use to record Town Host activities. It was a system used by (Wirral) Council to track maintenance but it was used as a way by the BID to record activity. It would have been useful for councillors to ask the question as to which areas were subject of the 70 clean ups as stated in the published yearly report and ask WCoC to   produce the records of those clean ups.Who was involved? What was cleaned up? Where was cleaned up?

37 extra cops in the area? Ask the question as I’ve mentioned previously – it costs around £600 a day for a Police Officer – you pay not only for the officer but the supporting infrastructure. Ask PP to disclose the costs – I’m sure it would be recorded somewhere. NOT. To produce an Annual Statement that features inaccurate and misleading information surely can’t be right and should be brought into the public domain. As an organisation (WCoC) that advises new and existing business they run their own business in such a shambolic way. Disclosures that over 20 people have left over the last 18 months or more – if it’s that good, why do people leave. Do you know about the elephant in the lift at Pacific Road? More wasted money. Paid for by PP at a charity auction at Oxton cricket club. It’s a huge almost life size model of an elephant made of copper or something similar. But since all the work at Pacific Road it sits in the lift .And has done for some time. Cost of lights in Hamilton Sq gardens was about £50,000. I’m sure BID  levy payers in Oxton Road would see the benefit of that money being spent.

The four original priorities of the BID are falling short. Budget £100,000 – Safety and Security. Budget £75,000 – Marketing and Promotion. Budget £110,000 – Clean and Attractive. Budget £50,000 – Supporting Business. As can be seen in the Annual report this was the budget for each of the BID’s priorities. Once again ask the question – how is the money spent ? Surely as an organisation that advises and supports new and old business they keep ACCURATE records !!!! All this will show that the BID does not have any credibility. It needs to be brought out into the public domain – ie via your website/ social media platforms.

My final comment at the end of this extensive piece is that within the UK there are over 200 BIDs operating. As far as I’m aware there are NO BIDs that are set up like the Wirral BID – most if not all are stand alone companies. They invoice out and record all their expenditure – they are more likely to operate independently without any of the money being diverted to support another organisation. In this case the WCoC. The levy money is there to make a difference to the local business community – above and beyond what is already provided. But it’s clearly not.

I have to say there is a huge amount of good people in the chamber but sadly really, really badly led …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Wirral CoC Up!

Partners in Grime 004

The Power Boy Pip and Princess Paula Show 

The good people of Wirral have certainly come up trumps this week (insert own joke here ).We’ve just opened our email, checked out a few things and pressed the publish button.

It would seem the urge to leak is almost becoming something of a biological imperative for surviving the ways of Wirral Council and its parasitic offshoots.Talking of which news arrives of Wirral Council’s municipal mini-me – namely the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. According to our corroborating sources it would seem Wirral CoC(!) is but a scaled down (but more upmarket) replica of our dearly beloved council – the nepotism,the bullying,the dubious contracting arrangements etc;etc;

As emotions are running high we’ll forgive the flagrant use of emojis in the following messages!

You not only want to look into who the Chamber of Horrors are employing but the fact that around 30 staff have left there in the last year! Some made redundant ‘whilst’ they employed others to do the same job! 😡😡😡

Yet do you know there are no longer any Town Hosts (maybe a part time one lurking!) and therefore no one taking a wage from the business rates levy ….. sooooo what are they doing with the money?! Also Tourism gone back to the council? 🤔 Marketing Manager forced to resign? More investigation and light shedding on this! People need to know!

And another one :

Re your article about WCoC… A number of council staff who had been working for the council for several years, but paid by WBC, were actually TUPE’d across to WCoC last summer (with an additional 1 for good luck), in a 2 year 1 million pound contract (paid monthly if you check WBC expenditure tables)… Of the 7 staff TUPE’d one was made redundant by Chamber, 4 left, 1 is on maternity leave…. Only 1 remains at the chamber…one of the areas this contract was to cover was tourism… Apparently that’s been returned in house… You should check if the contract is still live or cancelled… But would Princess Paula walk away from half a million pounds? If still live presumably the million pound contract is paying existing staff or new staff… Council staff only have a home for life at the Chamber if their face fits. Ask Heather Heaton… Her arrival was much vaunted but I suspect her departure (allegedly not voluntary) will be less so. Or ask Mark Barrow… With his wife in a council role he has apparently taken redundancy. So that’s 4 redundancies in past 5 months, in amongst a recruitment programme of young ‘uns…. Let’s not mention the other 30 odd staff who have left voluntarily (or been forced out) in the past year….

You do realise, I’m sure, that The Lauries still has charitable status? It just made me wonder if they were fraudulently getting out of paying business rates…. It may be that a lot of the tenants would be exempt under the new rules, with the exemption thresholds, but suspect WCoC themselves wouldn’t be

It’s horrendous the way they are going through public money and also their treatment of staff. They need to be held to account.

These comments prompted the following exchange between Wirral Leaks and our source :

But who’s going to hold them to account ? Blogs can only do so much and we only scratch the surface – we need people to speak up. We’ve had a couple from WCoC come to us and then back out -knowing that behind the pretty frocks Princess Paula wields significant power. Frightening.

I know. Everyone has got so used to just doing as they’re told. I know a couple of people who have left the chamber and as you say… They left full of intent to let people know what was going on. Then decided a quiet life is easier. The stories I’ve heard have been terrible, of them bullying people who no longer fit the mould. We (people in general) need to stand up and be counted… 

 

Rising and Falling Stars

A-prick

It was three years ago that Wirral Council was named  ‘Most Improved Council’ at the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards and anyone receiving an email or a letter from Wirral Council will see they are still desperately trading on this tired and bogus accolade.

As you know we are deeply suspicious of awards and titles as they often serve to provide a veneer of credence to the least deserving. This is something we deconstructed when the LGC award was first announced. Read here : The Bamboozlers

Might we suggest that it would have been more appropriate – or at least in the interest of balance – to include ‘Rated Inadequate by Ofsted 2016′ on official Wirral Council correspondence. After all what would be more indicative of the true state of Wirral Council – a rigorous full inspection of Children’s Services by a team of qualified and experienced inspectors or a 20 minute presentation to a group of gullible local government gurus at Grosvenor House  ,London ? The LGC  judge’s comments from 2015 read :

This is a council that has broken the mould of old ways of working to deliver a dramatic improve to its governance. Under a sector-led approach it has gone from being an abnormal authority known locally as the ‘insular peninsula’ to an organisation that seeks help and inspiration from others and is working with residents in a way they have never done before with impressive results in terms of new jobs.

And yet one year later Wirral council gets slated by Ofsted. But then a LGC award is a notorious kiss of death. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to hear the full story about how Wirral Council got this dubious award . Maybe Jo Miller the CEO of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council -who were ‘Highly Commended’ by the LGC judges -will one day tell us about the backstage wheeler dealing that went on to ensure Wirral Council won the award. Apparently the judges thought “they’d had a hard time” . So it was the sympathy vote that won it. Bless. No wonder Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies looks so proud in the picture above. Read more here: Most Improved Council 2015

Is it any wonder that the ‘Most Improved Council’ award has subsequently become so discredited that as far as we understand there hasn’t been such an award since? This includes this year’s shit-glittering ceremony  which is to be held tonight : LGC Awards 2018

As you can see Wirral Council’s sole nomination this year is in the ‘Rising Star’ category and the honour goes to Sally Clark. Wirral Council’s pitch is as follows:

Sally Clark has recently been promoted to assistant head of communications but joined Wirral when it was undergoing major internal redesign. Her role was to help the council engage with employees to help communicate the challenges, the necessary redundancies and reshaping of services. She very quickly embedded herself across the organisation and her work on shaping how those messages were delivered had a huge impact on the final outcome and how the council was perceived. Ms Clark has been key to driving and maintaining pace in changing the way the council engages with staff, and has helped to set up new organisations that enabled Wirral to become a commissioning council.

We’ve got to admit that trying to improve how Wirral Council is perceived is a tough gig and it will be interesting to see whether Ms Clark fares better than last year’s Wirral Council  ‘Rising Star’ nominee, Strategy Manager Lucy Barrow , who we understand is now ‘all things culture’ . We also understand from a source that reclusive Wirral Council CEO  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson has a ‘special liking’ for Ms Barrow and “can’t stop singing her praises” . But then according to last year’s LGC award pitch “People at every level of the organisation rely on her advice,support and talent” . As no doubt does her husband Mark Barrow – who just so happens to be ‘Campaign Manager’ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ ! Proving once again to us that if you impress the right people and have the right connections on the insular peninsula you’ll go far. Is Wirral ‘s talent pool really that shallow? Sadly the answer appears to be yes! Read more here :  Rising Star- Lucy Barrow

Now we can’t comment on the merits and attributes of these ‘Rising Stars’  but we do think it is revealing about what kind of roles are valued and relied upon by Wirral Council  – salespeople and spin doctors.

However such is the mysterious workings of the universe it would appear that it is a truism that for every rising star there is a falling star. And apparently disappearing into a black hole is former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley who having being exiled by Wirral Chamber of Commerce to Egerton House as a glorified facilities manager, has we now understand, gone altogether . Perhaps he didn’t fit with the slick ,glossy image that the aspirational Chamber are promoting. As Her Ladyship said : ” I fear that burgundy cummerbund at the LGC Awards 2015 may have been the beginning of the end for him”  

Burgundy Cummerbund

Sue Perkins points to the offending item (take your pick as to what we mean by that)

If this is the case it’s lucky for Adderley that the £250,000 pay off he received from Wirral Council in 2015 will mean that (unlike others) he won’t have to darken the door of the DWP for whom he worked for 29 years. Perhaps he can give former Wirral CEO Graham Burgess a call to see if there are any jobs going within his burgeoning property empire (Torus /Bamboo Lettings etc;) …….on second thoughts, perhaps not.

But as the stars are going out

And this stage is full of nothing 

And the friends have all but gone 

For my life, my God, I’m singing