Advent Farewell 9 – Out of Sight , Out of Mind

Maddox & Morton 2

Two Deputy Lieutenants of Merseyside are of one mind.

From time to time we like to check up on the progress on some of the Wirral Council charlatans and chancers that have (dis)graced our pages over the years in our special ‘ Where Are They Now?’ feature.

Whilst we readily acknowledge that we featured former Wirral Council CEO  Steve ‘ Mad Dog’ Maddox in such a post earlier this year we feel the original post needs enhancing mainly because we believe that in many ways it is most instructive on the ways of Wirral.

If ever there was an example of how to evade accountability and manage your reputation then Maddox is the ultimate case study. He saw the writing was on the wall when so called independent investigator Anna Klonowski was brought in by the Tories to find out what whistleblower Martin Morton was blathering on about . On the very day Maddox was due to meet with Klonowski  , Maddox took the coward’s way out and suddenly announced he was going to spend more time with his long suffering family. This followed over two years of Wirral Council senior management covering his expansive arse . Of course Maddox didn’t even need to work his 3 month notice period and swiftly pissed off to the golf course with additional pension payments made up to when he would have retired – about which we can only ask – why?

The panicked leader of Wirral Council at the time Cllr Steve Foulkes provided this farewell quote :

“Steve is essentially a self effacing and modest man who probably has no idea of the very real and extensive legacy he will be leaving behind.We know, and are grateful for it. I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he will continue to be involved with the people of Wirral, for whom he has always been an eloquent and passionate advocate.” Steve 2 Steve

This translates as Maddox did as he was told and his greatest quality is that he could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on .  But oh what a legacy he left behind!  Whilst Maddox secured himself a tidy six figure bung , collected the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral to add to his OBE and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside to stand alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field, his swift departure meant his hapless and hopeless sidekick Jim ‘Wee Willie’ Wilkie was to reap the wild wind of what his former boss had created – a toxic,corrosive culture of bullying,incompetence and deceit which was soon to be (partly) revealed in the Independent Review in  January 2012 . Needless to say shortly after Wilkie ended up being escorted from Wallasey Town Hall premises a broken man.

What’s more when the furore over the Independent Review had died down Maddox reappeared on the local scene and within the year was appointed as a Director of  mental health organisation Wirral Mind in December 2012 .

This appointment has always intrigued us ,  primarily because it is with some irony that Wirral Mind were seemingly gifted the management of the learning disability service that was a significant feature of Morton whistleblowing case that led to the Independent Review that in turn was the impetus for  Maddox’s ‘retirement’ !

It has long been thought that Wirral Mind, with no significant track record of supporting people with learning disabilities, were rewarded  the contract for keeping a lid on the unlawful charging scandal when they were appointed as advocates on behalf of those who couldn’t speak up for themselves when the scandal blew up . Unfortunately this ‘advocacy’ service didn’t actually extend to advocating on behalf of those who had been financially abused.  An appalled Wirral Leaks reader once recalled attending a  Wirral Council meeting  where Sandra Gilbert Wirral Mind CEO , said that the tenants who had been financially abused ‘lived in the lap of luxury’ . Perhaps if  we put aside the issue of illegality and equality Ms Gilbert might appreciate that if she had £100 + a WEEK taken out of her salary over a number of years she might have fought a bit harder on behalf of disabled people instead of leaving it to Morton and others.

All the Independent Review report had to say on the matter was that there was

” a need for the Council to refresh its contractual arrangements with (Wirral Mind) in the context of EU procurement requirements.”

Funny how Frank Field wasn’t jumping up and down about this proven case of Wirral Council flouting EU procurement regulations isn’t it ? Or getting Merseyside Police and the Serious Fraud Office involved as he did with the Highways contract complainants that apparently he is still ‘gallantly’ supporting 9 years after their alleged whistleblowing exploits !

Since our report we note that in August 2017 there was a  cessation of Maddox  being ‘a person with significant control’ of Wirral Mind  August 2017.   However he still remains a Director – presumably because of the lustre and prestige that someone with his impeccable track record brings to an organisation.

 

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Video Nasties

Psycho Sullivan 009

One of the advantages of the nights drawing in is the opportunity to hunker down under the duvet and review the prolific output of esteemed local videographer John Brace.

What will we do when Wirral Council start filming their own meetings next year and we can no longer view the unedited, unexpurgated and unrehearsed proceedings that ,laughably, are held in the name of local democracy?

Talking of laughing, my how we laughed at Leaky Towers at the sight of the chair of the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee , Cllr  Michael  ‘Wild-Eyed’ Sullivan, having a pop at fellow Labour councillor Ron Abbey  (and Cllr Jerry Williams) for contemptuously putting his coat on, throwing his agenda in the bin and walking away before this particular meeting had finished.  Of course we know that Cllr Abbey is a graduate of the Cllr Harry Smith Charm School so we expect nothing less from this bellicose bruiser. However it’s a high five from Wirral Leaks to Cllr Sullivan, who Her Ladyship describes as a looking like a ‘ Dapper Psychopath’ , and that’s a compliment by the way. You can view the hilarity here from 6:38 – Sullivan v Abbey spat

On a rather more serious note we’d like to ask Mark ‘ Nodding Dog’ Niblock   (astonishingly) Wirral Council’s Head of Infernal Audit  – do you think it is appropriate to give Robin Baker the thumbs up when it is announced by  Cllr Adrian ‘ Welsh Windbag’ Jones , the chair of the Audit & Risk Management Committee,that the Grant Thornton external audit contract has been renewed for another 5 years  – for ‘services (not) rendered’. Niblock and Baker – a sweetheart contract made in hell. And unfortunately we’re paying for it!

The full googly-eyed horrorshow can be viewed here at 0.50 –  Grant Thornton Thumbs Up

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And at this juncture we’d like like to ask Niblock – ‘ It worked out well for you but are you proud of being David Garry’s bitch?’  Just sayin’ !

And finally here’s Cllr Moira ‘ Matron’ McLaughlin chairing the latest Adult Care & Health Overview Scrutiny Committee

Video Nasties 020

Don’t have nightmares.

An LRJ Reaction

Internal Audit frontsheet

Apparently Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) is appealing. Well , we suppose there’s a first for everything!

However in this particular case when we say appealing we mean that yet another disgraced Wirral councillor is proving once again that taking responsibility for their actions is an alien concept.

As ,yes indeed, according to Liverpool Echo  LRJ  is appealing against the recent sanctions imposed against her by a Wirral Council Standards Panel.

Sanction Distinction

We note that Wirral Leaks gets its first mention in the Liverpool Echo as a ‘local news site’ courtesy of Liam Mk II (Liam Thorp) . Of course Liam Mk I (Liam Murphy) wouldn’t give us the oxygen of publicity as he was too busy dancing to Wirral Council’s ruling administration’s tune despite apparently being ‘outraged’ by how they carried on. So outraged was he , he made a covert recording of a covert recording , played it to his oppo in Wirral Council, later claimed he couldn’t take part in an investigation exposing corruption as he was protecting the confidentiality of his sources and thus allowed a corrupt regime to carry on abusing their power. Thereby proving once and for all that Liam Murphy was to investigative journalism what Larry Grayson was to Rugby League!

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/councillor-sent-texts-saying-could-13292419

Among the damning evidence made against LRJ are texts released during a Code of Conduct investigation include : “They don’t seem to realise I’m at the top of the pecking order ” and referring to the investigator : “She doesn’t scare me and a little councillor involved might just shut her up.”

Listen folks , all we can say is that we know we’re all in big trouble if LRJ considers herself  ‘top of the pecking order’ . However what can we expect when local Labour politicians consider themselves to be untouchable and have been acting with impunity and without consequence for years? Let’s remember the only reason that LRJ’s adversary and convicted criminal Cllr Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree was suspended by North West Labour was down to Wirral Leaks ! So we’d  like to know what their Regional Director , Anna Hutchinson, is going to do about this latest disgrace. It’s all a bit embarrassing (yet again), isn’t it Anna ?

As you can see from the extracts from the leaked Wirral Council Internal Audit report the evidence against LRJ was ‘compelling’. And again you know you’re in really big trouble when even the complicit and compliant Internal Audit come to this conclusion (and yes we’re particularly looking at the Chief Internal Auditor – googly-eyed brown-noser Mark Niblock) . The information we have in our possession (and have had for some time ) is eyewatering and leaves us wondering why it takes 2 years for it to reach the public domain.

Internal Audit 2
Internal Audit 1
We understand the reason that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) didn’t proceed with prosecution because the money was ‘recoverable’  and it was not possible to prove who had fabricated the invoices.  Moreover we understand that Wirral Council have been trying for over a year to retrieve sums relating to this case amounting to £16.5 K (out of the infamous £19K that Crabtree referred to in his malicious phone call to LRJ) .
CPS
Strangely it would appear Wirral Council have been unsuccessful in retrieving the money to date. Can you imagine if any of us owed them £16.5K? We’d be hauled right down Wirral Magistrate’s Court.
But then we’re sure Wirral Council (and particularly the ruling Labour administration) wouldn’t want any of this heard in open court.
Which is why Wirral Leaks will continue to publish – in the public interest – the continuing developments in this case two years after we first gave the heads up on this increasingly complex and particularly sordid story.

A Return to Greed

Pigs 2

There’s a particularly intriguing story that keeps returning to our radar .

So we set Verity off in pursuit of  various leads in an attempt to get to the truth of the matter. First port of call was the ever informative What Do They Know website. My goodness !, there are some interesting Freedom of Information (FOI) requests concerning Wirral Council on there – but one that particularly caught our eye and appears to have disappeared under everyone’s radar was an FOI request made by perennially returning Tory councillor Ian Lewis.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/payments_to_the_returning_office

Now why would Cllr Lewis be especially interested in knowing about historical information held by Wirral Council concerning the role/responsibilities/returns of the Returning Officer ?

Could it be that his interest was piqued by a couple of posts on Wirral Leaks or does he know something we don’t?…..

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/standard-procedures/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/big-returns/

There’s certainly some interesting information to be had about the role of the Returning Officer during elections. It seems to us that this role basically involves bossing council staff to do all the running round whilst the already massively remunerated council CEO picks up a big fat fee just in case there’s an electoral cock-up and the government need someone to blame.

It’s interesting to note that between 2006-2010 the Returning Officer Steve Maddox donated all Returning Officer fees that he was supposed to receive to charity. It’s just such a shame he wasn’t so charitable when it came to bullying his own staff and setting the tone for a bullying culture at Wirral Council. His successors as Returning Officer – Bill Norman, Graham Burgess and presumably the latest incumbent Eric Robinson obviously don’t believe in such generous largesse as they are seemingly some of the greediest little piggies in local government (and that’s saying something as this a particularly crowded trough).

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https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/356355/response/869178/attach/4/FOI%201087924%20Councillor%20Ian%20Lewis%20Payments%20to%20the%20Returning%20Officers.pdf

The sums on offer are eye-watering and frankly in this age of austerity, absolutely obscene. This year alone the current Wirral Council CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson has picked up just short of £30,000 on top of his £175,000 + salary for the Local, Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the EU referendum.

Verity’s forensic eye was particularly drawn to details of the Returning Officer statutory fee  of £11,362 for the 2012 Police and Crime Commissioner election , paid presumably to the then Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess (aka Burgesski) . However she has discovered the alarming anomaly that Burgesski was also the Returning Officer for the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner election in 2012 !.

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https://www.blackburn.gov.uk/Lists/DownloadableDocuments/NoticeOfElectionAgentsNamesAndOffices.pdf

How curious we thought and we’re left wondering whether Burgesski  could have picked up two fees amounting to £22, 724 in one day ?.   Now that would be beyond obscene!.

I think we should be told !  – but who to ask?.

Burgesski himself ? – we suspect the Great White Shark , former union firebrand and now champagne socialist would like to put his Wirral Council  , ahem, ‘experiences’ behind him.

Internal Audit ?- or rather Infernal Audit under the guidance of Internal Chief Auditor Mark Niblock? . Are you kidding us?. This one learned his trade under his predecessor , the disgraceful David Garry.

External Audit ?- Grant Thornton and their predecessors the Audit Commission have a shameful track record of not biting the hand that feeds them and have produced more fudge than Devon in the name of protecting a lucrative income stream.

Monitoring Officer ?- I’m sure Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour would be able to clear this one up for us as he should be well versed in the legalities and correct procedures involved.  We’re sure that Tour ,in the absence Bill Norman Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer who was suspended at the time , would have ensured that everything was above board and that those who were entitled to Returning Officer fees were paid correctly and made to the people who were properly entitled to them!………unless of course somebody knows different!.