The Leaky Awards 2017 – the Grand Finale

Fireworks

And so we finally reach the grand finale of the Leaky Awards 2017 and taking our cue from the #TimesUp  contingent at the Golden Globes we’ll be wearing black. The clock may been ticking down for us but may it also do the same on the abuse of power – wherever it takes place and in whatever form.

Times Up

However we’ll spare you the dreary , self-righteous speeches – it’s on with the show and our first award of the evening…….

Campaign of the Year

Winner – Defend Our NHS (Wirral)

The local branch of the DONHS have throughout the year provided us with information about future plans for the NHS  and particularly about Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) that should concern us all  , especially as Wirral Council are a key strategic player via the Clinical Commissioning Group.

davies

Runner Up – Wirral Needs

If only for the chant ” Labour Council listen to the people”. Our advice to them after  7 years of banging our head against a brick wall is that they won’t so you’ll  have to make them ! The only way they will be forced to listen is at your local constituency party meetings and in the run up to the local elections this May.  After that it’ll be the same old,same old – personal interest and political ambition taking precedence over the public interest. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!

Wirral Needs

Campaign Fail of the Year

Winner – Wirral Labour ‘Keep Wirral Green’ campaign

alternative-facts-3-013

How Wirral Labour reconciled this campaign with proposals and developments for assaults on the Green Belt at Saughall Massie, Hoylake and Thornton Hough etc; we can only hazard a guess but full marks for the sheer PR chutzpah .

Runner up  – Frank Field/Wirral Globe nurses car parking charges at Arrowe Park Hospital (aka Wirral University Teaching Hospital – WUTH )

Whilst it was undoubtedly a worthy campaign we noted how  WUTH CEO David Allison received the petition from Field, gave some bland assurances and then promptly disappeared in a cloud of controversy.We suspect that any incoming CEO will have their work cut-out just keeping WUTH afloat and car parking charges won’t be a priority . Meanwhile  we note that Field is strangely silent about more wide reaching proposals for car parking charges across Wirral that are set to be introduced by Wirral Council. And once again we have to ask is this the only income generation scheme that Wirral Council can come up with and is it even legal?

 

Allison field

David Allison : Yeah whatevs Frank I don’t need this right now. But love your tank top .

Comeback of the Year

Winner Esther McVey, MP for Tatton

Back from the dead

The former MP for Wirral West returns to high office as Work and Pensions Secretary in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle . Somehow this cat on a hot tin roof always manages to land on her kitten heels . And for all her talk of female empowerment we think that McVey is the quintessential beneficiary of modern day political nepotism , where ambition exceeds talent .  The only contribution of note to the local political scene when she was a Wirral West MP was when she hijacked the Martin Morton whistleblowing case for personal and political advantage at Prime Minister’s Questions (apparently Morton knew nothing about it) . What happened after she raised the issue with David Cameron is a particularly worrying episode but alas we won’t be able to do it justice here. Perhaps one day the full shameful tale will be told. 

Runner Up  Stewart Halliday – the economic migrant/consultant from York who crossed the Pennines escaping infamy to make his fortune on Wirral with his two consultancy stints earning him circa £200K. So will Wirral Council kindly tell us whether he’s still around and what exactly we got for our money?

smug-halliday

This man can do a powerpoint presentation and bullshit at the same time ! Therefore Wirral Council must give him as much money as they can.

Comrades of the Year – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) and Cllr Steve Foulkes (Foulkesy)

foulkesy-lrj-012

 

Were LRJ and Foulkesy separated at birth? Whilst they share so many characteristics none of them can be found in the Nolan Principles! See for yourself :

LRJ Standards Panel investigation report : The  Panel found the evidence of Cllr Louise Reecejones to be inconsistent,vague and misleading. The Panel did not therefore find Cllr Reecejones to be credible.

Foulkesy Standards Panel investigation report : I found it difficult to get Cllr Foulkes to be precise or detailed . His responses were vague,inclined to be evasive and I found them ‘economical with the truth ‘ and unconvincing. 

Yes, just the kind of low lifes we want making decisions about our lives,eh?

Accessories of the Year  –

Winner – Paula Basnett ,CEO Wirral Chamber of Commerce for those shoes.

Shoes

These understated little numbers were considered suitable daywear to shortlist nominees for yet another awards ceremony and did not in anyway reinforce our perception that Ms Basnett and her organisation are all about flash presentation and very little else.

Runner up All Wirral councillors wielding ‘Show Racism the Red Card’placards as a virtue signalling accessory. But especially the local Labour group who tolerate  racists in their midst. But can anyone spot Deputy Leader Cllr George Davies in the picture?

Screenshot_20171113-164701

Best Picture of Unwanted Copies of Wirral View

Winner 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Runner Up

wirral-view-twister-010

Whilst appropriately enough both pictures position copies of woeful Wirral View next to their final destination –  a bin – we’d like to think the winner of this category contributed to the dumping (no pun intended) of the original Liverpool -based distributor of Wirral View. Unfortunately a £750,000 3 year print deal with Trinity Mirror means we’re burdened with this lumbering white elephant for the forseeable future. Compare and contrast with Wirral Leaks which has cost council taxpayers of Wirral £0 and we would argue has been more effective in addressing the ‘information deficit’ of local people, particularly when we’ve been providing information that Wirral Council don’t want you to know about!

Wirral’s annual entry in Rotten Boroughs Awards 2017

Winner  Ex- Wirral councillor Jim Crabtree

Crabtree PE 012

Crabtree PE 009

Included in Private Eye’s  Rotten Boroughs 2017 ‘Quotes of the Year’ is this fine example of ‘doublespeak’ from former Wirral Councillor Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree. It’s a year to the day that Crabtree pleading guilty to offences under the Communications Act 2003 and it’s frightening to think that his well deserved fall from grace might never have happened if his increasingly appalling conduct hadn’t been reported on Wirral Leaks. As a quote from one of our Labour sources testifies when they raised concerns about Crabtree’s fitness to be a councillor    – “The comment from George Davies was ‘better the devil you know’ while Frank (Field) thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread” –  the local Labour group were reluctant to rein him in . Furthermore we understand that they failed to address allegations made by a whistleblower about grant monies which Crabtree allegedly should have paid back to Wirral Council.

Leaky awards   Leaky awardsLeaky awards

 

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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.

 

Advent Farewell 5 – Wirral Leaks Goes To The Movies

This is the time of the year for endless repeats of heartwarming movie classics. The only difference is that our video excerpts below come with the Parental Advisory label. So those of a nervous disposition – you have been warned (though if you are of a nervous disposition we do have to wonder what you’re doing here) .

Movie buffs will recall the infamous  “Downfall trilogy”  classics were the work of Wirral Leaks collaborator Cecil B. De Mented and featured scripts penned by our own pottymouthed butler Eldritch.

DASS Bunker is concerned with the aftermath of the publication of the “Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton ( and Others)” aka the ‘Klonowski Report’ which did indeed lead to the then Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve  Foulkes’ very own downfall when he was later ousted in a vote of no confidence.

The sequel Destination Effluence chronicles the short-lived hapless attempts of a ‘Turnaround Team’ to help Wirral Council on its ‘improvement journey’ under the title ‘Destination Excellence”. This was a classic case of  Wirral Council being beyond satire and of the script writing itself.

All In It Together is the final instalment of the trilogy and covers a prominent episode that took place during Graham Burgess’s tenure as CEO of Wirral Council and is concerned with his Wallasey Town Hall bathing arrangements. Once again – you couldn’t make it up , although we did give an involuntary shudder at the thought.

Finally to end on a festive note , there is a Christmas special which celebrates Burgess’ s achievements during his tenure as CEO . It’s a very,very short film as he finds himself becoming not so much part of the solution but part of the Wirral Council problem.

Pass the popcorn and the port and join in with your favourite lines. But only when your elderly relatives are safely snoozing on the couch after their sherry and mince pie binge.

 

 

 

The BIG Issue

Bank of Money

We understand that Dictionary.com have just decreed that ‘complicit’ is the word of 2017. Therefore it is most appropriate that we  publish whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro’s audit of the BIG fund. A definitive account (thus far) of auditing failures written by someone who believes in public accountability and protecting the public purse about people who profit from the lack of both. 

THE BIG FUND Audit

Voluntarily and, for no pay, I have performed an audit of the BIG fund. Although I was one of two whistle-blowers I am going to trace what I would have done had I been in receipt of the data as a Council Internal Auditor.

I imagine that the Peer Improvement Board take Councillor Davies at his word, that WBC is open to learning from other councils. They arrange that a Bolton Borough Internal auditor job- swaps for a short period to bring objectivity to an investigation that, as per Cllr Philip Davies “was not fit for purpose” when performed by WBC’s own Internal Audit Service. Clearly it was not fit for purpose as both Beverley Edwards’ 350 page report, and David Garry’s 33 page report were riddled with partisanship, the main drive being to exculpate their colleagues. I am not shown their reports, let me imagine, just the gist of them lacking independence. As an internal auditor I very much welcome the freedom of not being obligated by ties of colleagueship and passage of years with any of the WBC staff I will be engaging with.

On receipt of allegations from two qualified and mature employees of a subcontractor working on a council project, I would have commenced by performing a type of SWOT analysis-Strengths Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This SWOT analysis was demanded of every application for council funds whether BIG or Intensive Start Up Scheme (ISUS).

Pictorially the matrix is represented below. I would outline in words why such fractions were given.

What are the risks to the whistle-blower’s livelihood if he be lying-100%; and if he be truthful given the hoops he must go through at an Industrial tribunal, well very significant. Thereby I have analysed his risk to livelihood, irrespective of his truth or otherwise, as being 80%

If the whistle-blower is correct then what profit might he make? The answer is very small, if any, as the Council does not pay any bounty to a whistle-blower.

If the whistle-blower be correct what threat is there to a council officer? Given the unions within the council, given the dissemination of responsibility within the council, there is little threat to any individual council officer. This operates to enhance the possibility of lying by council officers as the penalty is much mollified by group responsibility, lack of punishment and the council’s desire to keep gross error from public view. In this case already some councillors and the press’ reportage has unmasked WBC Internal audit as “unfit for purpose”.

Examination of the history of the Martin Morton case and the Colas whistle-blowers gives a trust rating very high to the whistle-blower and correspondingly low to the officers.

first chart

My preliminary conclusion therefore is that I give credence to the whistle-blower. I examine his claims with a view to progressing further, anticipating systemic failure.

I ask for a contract with wirralbiz for the BIG fund work on which they might be paid up to £1,500 per case. All six of the files examined by the whistle-blower were prepared by wirralbiz.

Since it is clear that the files were concealed from him for a long time I presume they were a random sample. His access was to them was swiftly closed down after pressure from Invest Wirral. He has shown me emails to that effect.

I ask for a full list of BIG recipients notated as to wirralbiz prepared, and as to those independently prepared.

The contract for services re BIG is unsigned! which increases the factor of systemic risk.

There are 49 recipients of which 25 were prepared by wirralbiz.

Having received the arguments of the whistle-blower on the six files he examined I retrace carefully his logic.

Lockwood Engineering Ltd –    Evidence of a criminal offence of phoenixing the company assets into Harbac UK ltd. The transfer of £30,000 worth of equipment part funded by the council, with the Head of Regeneration’s consent, raises dramatically the risk of officers being deceitful.

Prima facie the whistle-blower is correct in that the liquidation of the company could have been predicted as high risk if very significant liabilities had been included within the cashflow given to the council.

M L Engineering Ltd  –    conclusive evidence of fraudulent representation by either the Fieldcrest ltd or by the business itself. If the latter, the contractor of wirralbiz is at the very least guilty of gross negligence. Negligence  is compounded because a prior claim already had been dismissed with the claimant presenting as a sole trader, but now presenting as a limited company.

I chose the above two as the whistle-blower had made claims thereon which imperilled himself, and, his having been proven correct,  requires me to compile a new SWOT. This incorporates the fact of the skimpy and unsigned contract which must have governed up to a maximum of £500,000 of Working Neighbourhoods money, and of the criminality involved in the first two wirralbiz files. I have learnt from the whistle-blowers that Invest Wirral dismissed out of hand their allegations between May and July 2011. Invest Wirral simply cited that chief accountants in WBC had been involved and could not possibly be wrong. Having read the first two files this  rings alarm bells as it took the first whistle-blower to demand an interview with Kevin Adderley for these allegations even to reach internal audit.

chart the second

I justify this analysis based on   1. The risk the whistle-blower has taken to point to criminal activity

  1. The detection of two out of six random files containing criminal behaviour not detected ,or even perhaps sanctioned by council officers, must lead me to suspect systemic failure.

Actions: read through remaining four of the whistle-blower’s files to see if more error does exist which may raise the probability of systemic error.

Company 3       The cashflow is extremely optimistic. The company’s solvency depends upon a loan owed it by a group company with no assets, a figure of over £1m pounds!                  

Company 4          The company does start out with £60,000 net deficit. There is an allegation of connexions between Mrs Basnett and the wife of the claimant director. The claim was dismissed by the whistle-blower but then resurrected despite his advice based on the BIG fund rules that claimants be solvent. Why?

Company 5          The company already has received a BIG grant so the second should have been examined more closely. The publication does have an intimate connexion with Egerton House, owned by WBC, and does not concern itself with exporting out of the Wirral and thereby the project was and remains disallowable under the rules of BIG  

Company 6       The sole trader is a director of a company that is insolvent. Prima facie this does present an equivocation vis- a- vis the solvency rules of BIG.

Review of the above files renders a percentage of error of 100% whereby I can conclude that the wirralbiz files are highly likely to contain a very significant error ratio since 6 out of 25 files randomly chosen are wrong in one way or another. That represents 25% of the wirralbiz files which in a random sample is highly significant.

Time taken 15 hours.

I must now consider the outline of the system which previously had been marked by David Garry, WBC Internal Auditor, as more than satisfactory. How did the errors in wirralbiz’s files pass muster with the WBC accountants and the independent panel?

I will commence by researching from the list any of the independently prepared BIG successful claimants who may have gone into liquidation. I locate two as below:

New Gaming Concept limited    – into liquidation  18/03/2010 and fully dissolved  25/06/2011

Corrin Kenny ltd  – entry into liquidation 22/03/2012

I ask for the files to discover that New Gaming Concept ltd’s claim had been tagged by the Chief Accountant to as invalid unless it could find £45,000 to cover its needs for the summer of 2010. The file shows a quick exchange of emails between Invest Wirral and Brendan Ludden, the director,in February 2010, where an unsigned claim form was provided as guarantee that North West Development Agency (NWDA) would provide more funds. Highly unsatisfactory and proved by events less than a month later to be unsound. The company filed for winding-up in March 2010.

The reason for the claim was to remove from Liverpool to Birkenhead so it was not a Wirral company when it claimed!

The company was heavily geared and the Liquidator’s statement shows a loss of public money in excess of £800,000.

I email a member of the Independent Panel as to what they saw at each meeting? He confirms no accounts were shown to them just a synopsis by a WBC accountant and the business plan itself.

I conclude that the Independent Panel whether they be from Federation of Small Business or some othe small business group, are to some degree operating in the dark.

Corrin Kenny Ltd- the file showed that the council had only sight of published accounts up to 31 March 2010 which were more than 8 months old. This was in contravention to the BIG requirement to produce management accounts of no less than 6 months old. Review of Companies House records highlighted that the accounts were unreliable as the comparative figures in the March 2010 accounts do not agree with the accounts filed with Companies House for March 2009.

Secondly, the project links communities within Wirral but does not export services outside of Wirral which in effect invalidates the claim. I note that the claimant address on the application is at Egerton House where Invest Wirral is located yet its stated offices on the internet are Innovation House, Bromborough. There may be a connection between the claimant and Insiders within Regeneration department as the application is full of buzz words relating to recent council schemes, going so far as to quote the previous CEO.

Within 10 months and, as I am performing this audit in August 2012, the company entered compulsory liquidation by petition of the Inland Revenue.

I note that of the two Budgets prepared independently of wirralbiz that I have reviewed, the New Gaming application does present a balanced cashflow, a Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet. The template adopted by wirralbiz, that used  in over half the successful applications does not incorporate Projected Balance sheets. The latter omission suggests the wirralbiz template is that used in the Intensive Start Up scheme, designed for start- ups without a history of trading , and not appropriate to existing and substantial businesses.

Time taken 5 hours.

Conclusion: I must extend my sample from 8% of the non-wirralbiz files. I will choose those that prima facie seem to break the rules of BIG.

I will restate my risk matrix after reading the following files:

Aspire Trust Ltd and Aspire Creative Enterprises Ltd

Quite properly the Chief Accountant, Bob Neeld expresses a reserve shared by the independent panel that the Aspire Trust Ltd is a charity which ab initio is excluded from BIG. It is Invest Wirral that advocates for the company and, on the basis of a prior application by Merseycare ltd, granted even though it was a charity, the Panel agree to consider a revamped application by a “trading arm” , and separate company ,to Aspire Trust ltd.

Aspire Creative Enterprises Ltd

The budgets are prepared using the Fieldcrest Ltd (i.e. wirralbiz) template which does not make a balancing document. Despite the turnover exceeding VAT limits no VAT is calculated in Year 1 nor in Year 2, but no-one from the council  identified this error. The charity having planned a turnover exceeding vat limits is obliged by VAT rules to register for VAT.

No-one flexed the projections for a worst case scenario, a fault common to all the wirralbiz files and likely to be so with independently prepared files. Bob Neeld simply states he cannot comment on a new business income flows. However in contradiction the Panel is told that although BIG fund excludes new businesses with less than one year’s trading, somehow this is evited by the Aspire Trust ltd, as opposed to Aspire Creative Enterprises Limited, having operated for some 10 years?

The projections do not explain why in a digital hub Cost of sales is 50% of sales? This is not a retail but a service based enterprise so what are Cost of Sales? No-one appears to have asked? Did the Panel see the Projections or just the synopsis?

The business projections appear to be wildly optimistic and I checked what Invest Wirral were given as monitoring accounts. The turnover for one year was just in excess of £3,000, a far cry from the £100,000+ projected.

The statement given to the Panel via Bob Neeld was that “the cash indicates that without the grant there would be cash deficits for the first four months”.

I created two Budgets one including the VAT required and one without, and in neither case did the cashflow require the full £15,000 grant. With VAT as per the projections the company needed £5,500, and without Vat just under £10,000. Bob Neeld would have better served had he recreated the cashflow, balanced it with Profit and Loss and with Projected Balance sheet before ever making a glib statement as above. It took me 40 minutes which given £15,000 was being given to a start-up and a quasi- charity, the case certainly deserved.

Alternately he might have stated that a start-up achieving a Profit of 0ver £20,000 in Year 1 without VAT ,and £12,000 with VAT, was improbable. Either way his short email to Invest Wirral appears to be rather in the manner of Pontius Pilate.

Total time 2 hours.

I have now to restate my probability of systemic failure before I examine LEC lights, or decide if indeed need to do so.

I estimate the risk to be above 90%. I have spent 22 hours, and commuted for 5 days from the Bolton Metropolitan borough. The charge to WBC to date is one week of my salary some £1,250 with a mark up of 100% for travel time and costs, that is £2,500.
Conclusions:

There is a grave risk for this project that wirralbiz files some 25 of 49, represent very poor value for money.

There was always a systemic risk in the diagram of procedures viz

Two at least of these claims involved fraud

No signed contract with wirralbiz can be located

Chief accountants when advancing caveats against projects are over-ruled presumably by the occlusion of their opinions and deprival of the historic accounts to the Independent Panel.

There appears to be a rush to hand the money out even though the Chief Accountant has told me funds could be carried over almost indefinitely, year to year

Other factors troubling myself include the probability of a cover-up:-

The dismissal of a qualified accountant, one of the whistle-blowers later, was because “Nothing would get past him” quote from Invest Wirral to Wirralbiz yet he dismissed just his first two claims , one from a start-up-ineligible- and one from a company with a £60,000 deficit.

The officers have claimed to me that he was a disaffected employee of wirralbiz yet I understand he was only made redundant 11 months after he made his allegations.

The second whistle-blower claims Kevin Adderley lied to him regarding liquidations in the BIG scheme. Generally he was lying because New Concept Gaming ltd and Lockwood Engineering Ltd had both  gone into liquidation before the interview whereas he claimed no BIG fund recipient had gone bust.. The officers have used sophistry to cover his statement and subsequent statements. They have claimed “going bust” is on completion of the liquidation, which usually takes 12 months, but this represents a turning upside down of common sense.

A further troubling observation is that, however cursory councillors’ approvals may be, a significant number of grants {20} were given without seeking the consent of councillors and on the say-so merely of Kevin Adderley and/or the Chief Executive. This provides a motive to cover up.

Recommendations

The internal auditors who presided over the enquiry have both left the employ of WBC.

The Chief Executive also has resigned.

For the above no sanction may be applied.

I recommend that Invest Wirral be advised of their failings and caution be applied in running such schemes as BIG ever again.

Kevin Adderley as a senior public official ought to receive some disciplinary proceeding.

The two files M L Engineering ltd and Lockwood Engineering ltd should be referred to the Police and communication should be opened with the on-going Liquidators as to the fate of the £30,000 worth of equipment funded by BIG which I suspect was transferred prior to Liquidation to Harbac without any payment being given.

The contract with Fieldcrest ltd, now employed by Invest Wirral should be suspended whilst the Police consider the allegations with regard to M L Engineering Ltd.

The failings I have seen would never have been located without the whistle-blowers who clearly have been resisted and not rewarded. Clearly the WBC should out of common morality thank them publicly and as soon as possible. Government auditors have told local government that 80% of serious failings are discovered by whistle-blowing and only 20% by systems. WBC needs to encourage whistle-blowers and not block them.

I will return to perform the Intensive Start Up Scheme which I have learnt from Government Internal Audit agency is currently being investigated, including Wirral’s ISUS, from a serious complaint from a Supplier to the scheme in addition the allegations of the two whistle-blowers. When I commence a week of ISUS investigation I will bring to it a clear appreciation of the value I attach to the allegations and considerable caution in dealing with the local government officers.

 

The Gravy Train update – with special guests Anna and Bill

gravytrain

A round of applause for old Wirral Leaks favourites Anna Klonowski and Bill Norman as they make yet another guest appearance on our hallowed website.

You have to to hand it to Anna and Bill – never have such transparent blaggers made such a good living off the public purse. Needless to say their paths eventually crossed at Wirral Council –  the ground zero of local government corruption.

Having failed miserably to make a blind bit of difference to the culture of Wirral Council, whilst at the same time significantly enhancing their bank balances, we hold these particular fraudsters in complete contempt.

So what happened subsequently to these shysters? – that’s right they got found out.

Firstly – let’s deal with Anna and we reluctantly have to agree with a belligerent local Tory councillor on this one :

Blakeley - Klonowski

We noted at the time his deliberate typo ( ha! ha!ha!) but in the intervening 5 years this repugnant bulldog has just sniped from the sidelines and made NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER. Neither did Klonowski. She was too busy cashing her £250K cheque and then smugly sitting on the ‘Improvement Board’ and feeding off the blood, sweat and tears of whistleblowers like the local government parasite she is (put that on your LINKED IN profile why dontcha).

We need to thank the magnificent blog The Bristolian for keeping us up to date with Anna’s travels (or should that be be travails ? – either way she doesn’t care as long as she’s getting paid for it).

It seems that Anna picked up a few tips whilst working for the Wirral Council power elite – like paying off people to keep their mouths shut. As you can read here : Klonowski Gag

And not only that she picked up a few bullying tips from Foulkesy , who she strangely supported. Not strangely at all in retrospect – he paid her humongous bills. You can read all about her shameful progress here : Big Wedge’s Bully Shame

What we do admire is The Bristolian’s challenge to this gravy train gobshite and their rider :

NB. Any legal threats in relation to this article to the Bristolian’s email please.

Because as we know Anna is not averse to threatening people with legal action who dare to challenge her. As we’ve reported previously she set Martyn Scott from DLA Piper onto Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton, who let’s not forget made her a cool quarter of a million, because her dared question her as to why she didn’t do her job properly and fully expose , among other things , that Wirral Council and Merseyside Police were mixed up with drugs money launderers.

But let’s move on to Billyboy Norman .

And can we say we’re simply astonished that this piece of work has lasted as long as he has . What an inspiration to one and all – that no matter how corrupt,how incompetent, how damn ugly you are you can still trawl the country picking up cheques from people who are more corrupt, more incompetent and more ugly than you are.

Bill Norman – Police Probe

Anna Klonowski is no doubt taking notes and ready for her comeback.

NB. Any legal threats in relation to this article to Wirral Leaks email please.

 

 

‘Ask not what the whistleblowers have done for themselves – ask what they have done for Wirral ….’

Nick Warren 017

The ‘whistleblowers’ in this particular case being those curious specimens who seem to be ‘courted and feted’ by the most powerful political figures on Wirral and still don’t seem to be able to cut themselves a lucrative deal . What’s that about?

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We say this as an even more curious Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has been brought to or attention.

We note that Wirral Council’s nemesis Martin Morton is still – after all these years – on their case. We also note that Wirral Council have been forced to release parts of what seems to us to be the flimsiest report of all time.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/nick_warren_investigation_report#incoming-985784

Nick Warren 017

Regular readers will know that the Nick Warren report is the means by which Wirral Council (or more specifically the Labour administration) hope to extricate themselves from the most damning scandal in Wirral Council’s history.

Yes, just think about that for a moment.

Nick Warren 017

Whilst friend of Frankenfield , Nick Warren, invites us to consider what these particular whistleblowers have done for Wirral , we’re not allowed to find out what their magnificent achievements exactly are because it would appear that Morton ,in particular, and the people of Wirral in general, are not allowed to know. Apparently we’re just expected to shut up and stump up the shush money!

Nick Warren 017

So based on what we know if Warren is posing the question what these particular whistleblowers have done for Wirral we’d have to answer : ‘ FUCK ALL’ because as far as we’re concerned there is ‘FUCK ALL’ available in his report to base our answer on!

And so it would seem we’re a long way from the JFK ideal of selfless idealism. But then again he was a shady character wasn’t he? And let’s face it he was a politician!

All we can say is that it’s a shame there isn’t a grassy knoll available to blow certain local politician’s brains out – now that’s a ‘Warren Commission’ we could support!

Green ‘N’ Gone

 

Jeff Green

So farewell then Cllr Jeff Green as leader of the local Conservative group.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15272929.Wirral_Council_Conservative_group_has_a_new_leader___Jeff_Green_ousted_after_15_year_reign/

We won’t be shedding a tear as we were never a fan. We regularly made the observation that he was someone who seemed more comfortable being in impotent opposition than being in a position of power.

As we know Green briefly reaped the rewards of the Martin Morton whistleblowing scandal by getting the backing of the Lib Dems to oust Labour leader Steve Foulkes and to subsequently become the leader of Wirral Council.

However his tenure as leader was short lived and he seemed relieved to resume the position of a perpetual purveyor of “‘faux outrage” (to quote Labour councillor Matthew ‘Matty Patty’ Patrick) . Meanwhile the returning Labour administration, this time under Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies, went back to their bad old ways – cover ups, secrecy and cronyism – all in the name of rampant reputation management.

All of which meant that the seismic shockwaves that were supposed to result from a series of whistleblowing cases ended up being no more than mere tremors.

Of course Green should have read the writing on the wall ( or more accurately the writing in the first Patricia Thynne investigation into the Wirralgate scandal ) when Foulkesy described him as ‘kindred’.  As both are now ousted party leaders their bond can only be closer.

As far as we were concerned his apparent complicity with the Wirralgate scandal revealed in the second Thynne report is his biggest failure when it comes to trying to hold the Labour administration to account. His compliance resulted in the biggest scandal in Wirral Council’s history to be all neatly wrapped up in an unwarranted apology from Foulkesy to Green.

WIRRALGATE! – A Portrait in Green and Yellow

We shall wait and see as to whether Green’s successor as Tory leader , Cllr, Ian Lewis adopts the same collusive approach as Green and takes to winking at his oppo, Power Boy Pip, after declaring how ‘outraged’ he is about the latest Wirral Council cock up.

A Tale of Two Martins

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Did anyone notice the fascinating juxtaposition on pages 26 and 27 of the print edition of this week’s Wirral Globe?

The story on the left concerns the dubious appointment of Martin Liptrot to a Wirral Council ‘non-job’ and the story on the right concerns the even more dubious situation of Martin Morton who has ‘no-job’ as a result of Wirral Council . The above picture is for illustrative purposes only. The stories behind the headlines can be found here :

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

Truth Justice Accountability

Curiously we have found out that both Liptrot and Morton are both alumni of that hallowed educational establishment that was known as Wolverhampton Polytechnic – although we don’t know if they attended at the same time or whether their paths ever crossed or what faculty they attended. Although in Liptrot’s case we assume there was a Department of Dark Arts.

As a modern morality tale I don’t think we can get better than ‘ A Tale of Two Martins’.

The teller of truth and the spinner of truth and how we , as a society , value them.

Witness as Morton the teller of truth refuses to work with people in whom he has no trust and confidence . The corrupt liars ( Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr George Davies) and the cowardly enablers ( Cllr Phil Davies and all those council officers who sacrifice their personal and professional integrity on the altar of a lucrative career  – Blott, Tour, Armstrong , Robinson et al ) . This is detailed in a quite astonishing career-ending email sent by Morton to all 66 councillors and Birkenhead MP Frank Field in December 2014.

We’re not sure that as a spinner of truth that Liptrot would ever concern himself with the abuse of power , the corruption and the lies raised by Morton. Not when there’s £350 a day to be had anyway!

Interestingly enough Cllr George Davies was bemoaning at this week’s Cabinet meeting that Wirral Council’s woes were a result of ‘Thatcher’s children’ .  Although Gorgeous George may not be the most eloquent or insightful political commentators around and on the assumption that he didn’t mean Carol and Mark Thatcher , we have to say that we agree with him. Open your eyes Cllr Davies – the venal ,self serving and uncaring are all around you and are running the show at Wirral Council and indeed at institutions up and down the country. Might we suggest he’d do well to look beyond complaining about the austerity measures thrust on Wirral Council by central government and consider that some people are doing very well financially out of running down public services.

 

We may well look back one day and say that these were the best of times for the unholy alliance of middle class charlatans and working class chancers (Thatcher’s children indeed!) and the worst of times for everyone else.

Truth Justice Accountability

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Pic courtesy of Private Eye 

We see that Wirral Council’s indelible stain just won’t let it wash. Kudos to Martin ‘Motormouth’ Morton who this week has been doing his bit for the ever -growing whistleblowing community at an event to promote the so-called ‘Hillsborough Law’. Reprazent!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15096509.Wirral_whistleblower_Martin_Morton_speaks_up_for_truth_and_justice_at__Hillsborough_Law__event/

After a bit of digging we find out that the ‘Hillsborough Law’ is in draft form and is more formally known as The Public Authority Accountability Bill. Suddenly it all makes sense as to why Morton was there as as far his former employer is concerned a Public Authority Accountability Bill is what Wirral Council receive from Grant Thornton (and the Audit Commission before them) at the end of the financial year for not making too much of a fuss about ‘accounting and auditing irregularities’. To paraphrase a question that was apparently recently asked of someone else in a public forum : ” Are we questioning Grant Thornton’s integrity ? ” – hell,yes, m’lud!

Just a a quick look at the sections of the draft Bill itself reveal it to be something out of the Wirral Council Labour administration’s worst nightmare

http://www.thehillsboroughlaw.com/

1 Public authorities and public servants and officials shall at all times act within their powers:

a. In the public interest,

b. With transparency,candour and frankness 

Let’s face it this is an administration who thinks ‘the duty of candour’ is either a British Army tour of Afghanistan or part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although to give them their due they’re a big fan of frankness . For as we know they run all their decisions past Birkenhead MP Frank Field first!

2 Public authorities, public servants and officials shall be under a duty to assist court proceedings, official inquiries and investigations:

a. Relating to their own activities,or

b. Where their acts or omissions are or may be relevant 

Good job our public servants and officials have had time to practice that immortal line : ” I can’t recall”. Pity the poor shredding machine and the person with a future RSI claim has to redact all those incriminating documents if this Bill comes to pass that’s all we can say!

3. In discharging the positive duty under section 2 , public authorities , public servants and officials shall :

a. Act with proper expedition

b. Act with transparency,candour and frankness

c. Act without favour to their own position

d. Make full disclosure of relevant documents,materials and facts

e. Set out their core position on relevant matters at the outset of the proceedings,inquiry or investigation

f. Provide further information or clarification as ordered by a court or inquiry 

We’ll just pick out ‘act with proper expedition’and ponder on that for a moment. Which is what Wirral Council do when it comes to problems raised by people who just want things done properly . The difference being that the council ponder for weeks,months,years – in the hope that the people pointing out their failings will either give up or (preferably) peg it.

Whilst there are a further 15 sections I’m sure you’ll agree that we’ve made our point about the Bill in relation to Wirral Council and why they would fear it. Which is exactly why we implore you all to support the Hillsborough Law and all those who seek truth,justice and accountability!.

 

 

Where Are They Now? Part 3 – Anna Klonowski

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A Valentine’s Day lament : Roses are red, Anna’s in blue,playing the game,cash she’ll accrue

We return to one of our occasional series. This particular one brings you news of the great and the good who have graced our blog with their presence. Sadly for us that has not hindered their progress towards high office and more importantly for them, the bank.

This blog post features the relentless progress of consultant Anna Klonowski . As we mentioned last month it is 5 years since the Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton & Others report landed with a bang in a blaze of bad publicity for Wirral Council and ended in November 2013 with a whimper that was the damp squib of a final meeting of the so-called ‘Improvement Board’ which purportedly was set up to address Wirral Council’s failings identified in the report.

We now hear that Ms Klonowski has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Bristol City Council on £160K a pop.

http://news.bristol.gov.uk/anna_klonowski_recommended_as_bristol_city_council_s

As we know Klonowski started her investigations at Wirral Council in August 2010 and when scheduled to meet the then Chief Executive Steve Maddox he promptly announced he was retiring to spend more time with his long suffering golf clubs. Three years on and with cowardly circularity Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies similarly made a swift exit at the aforementioned Improvement Board when whistleblower Martin Morton stood up to speak .

Although it must be said Davies had every reason to have the squirts. Morton tells us he regrets not specifically mentioning that the misconduct of Labour councillors Steve Foulkes and George Davies was one of the main reasons why he could not return to work for Wirral Council as it might have saved him 3 years of stonewalling and cover up. Sorry Mart, but we have to disagree with you on this one – stonewalling and cover up is like breathing to these people.

We understand that during her ‘investigation’ Klonowski bemoaned the fact to Morton that local authority investigative work was drying up. We suggest that this might explain why the investigation took so long. Despite the fact that Klonowski was on the case from August 2010 to  January 2012 and handbagged a £250,000 pay cheque and cost Wirral Council another £150,000+ as a result of legal advice and putting up Anna in her own Aparthotel in Liverpool , she summarily failed to complete what she was commissioned to do, and that was to FULLY investigate the whistleblowing allegations brought to her attention.

With a background in CIPFA ( Chartered Institute of Public Finance) it was clear that Klonowski was way out of her depth when it came to tackling the more problematic social care issues that Morton ( & unnamed and redacted others told her about ).

Klonowski was much more at home discussing corporate governance issues which led to the ‘Refresh & Renew’ report which was published in October 2011 . It’s just such a shame that this was not her brief. She returned to the CIPFA comfort zone in the Independent Review report itself were there are pages and pages and pages of endless, tedious observations about Wirral Council’s Internal Audit.

This led to some shameful omissions on Klonowski’s part. Morton tells us his most significant whistleblow concerned the death of a vulnerable young man who died whilst the staff who should have been giving him his medication were allegedly at the bingo.This received a couple of lines in her report!

The staff involved worked for an organisation by the name of Assisted Living Services (ALS). This organisation had links to drugs money laundering and yet were owned by former Merseyside Police CID officers. Strange bedfellows – or perhaps not! It was left to a subsequent investigation to identify these connections so we can only presume Klonowski either couldn’t be arsed or was warned off by ‘interested parties’.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/corporate_governance_committee_m#outgoing-259991

As you can read no serious case review was undertaken into the death – instead Wirral Council saw fit to persecute Morton and respond to false allegations that he was in cahoots with disgruntled staff to bring down ALS. An investigation into the allegations against Morton led the investigator to declare them as ‘a crock of shit’.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) considering her background in finance Klonowski also failed to address further issues of financial mismanagement involving disabled people – claiming she’d run out of time and that despite all evidence to the contrary that Wirral Council could be trusted to sort it out and left them to it ! Needless to say they never did .This is a matter we have previewed but have not got round to publishing. However whilst it is complicated story it is a cautionary tale of how a cover up is coordinated (and supported by other agencies) and something we will get back to at a later date.

Instead Klonowski sought the advice of largest legal firm in the world (DLA Piper)-like you do when someone else is footing the bill!- to come up with a convoluted and frankly ludicrous attempt to deny disabled people a full reimbursement of monies that was unlawfully taken from them on the grounds that to charge disability benefits from disabled people and not from non-disabled people was somehow not disability discrimination ! Even the shameless Wirral Council weren’t prepared to sustain this unsustainable argument and conceded that £736,000 should be repaid , despite DLA Piper giving them a get out.

Is it us? – or it is entirely perplexing that someone so seemingly intent on maximising their own fees wants to minimise the repayment of unlawful charges to disabled people – or are they in any way related? I think we should be told!

You won’t be surprised to hear that Morton wanted to raise these omissions with La Klonowski herself. After an unanswered telephone call and one email Special K set the hounds of law on him . Yes! , you guessed it – DLA Piper!

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Isn’t it funny that Klonowski had ‘no on-going obligations to liaise with interested parties’ and yet sat on Wirral Council’s Improvement Board during this time (reputedly for £1,000 a day) . Again we can only presume that ‘interested parties’ is defined by their ability to pay.

Even more damning we understand that she was quite happy to discuss her concerns about Wirral Council with opportunistic ‘complainant’ Gary Downey . Downey alleges that Klonowski disclosed to him during the first Wirral  Council vote of no confidence vote in the then current leader Steve Foulkes ( aka Foulkesy ) that she hoped he didn’t lose as she had no trust and confidence that Wirral Council Tory leader Jeff Green would do anything about Wirral Council’s toxic culture. Whilst she may have called that one correct it also means that she subscribes to the Martin Liptrot school of political neutrality. Either that or she was taken in by Foulkesy’s cheeky chappy persona and his ‘bible-like’ devotion to her recommendations for cash-money purposes.

Nevertheless in conclusion it would seem that it all worked out well for Klonowski in the end. For unemployed Morton and the long suffering council tax payers of Wirral – not so much !