Where Are They Now Part 5 & 6 – Maura Noone and Mike Fowler

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We were alerted to this story by a search term on our website which read : “Maura Noone Reading”. This piqued our interest so we did a bit of further research and lo – or should that be low? – and behold we discover that Noone is astonishingly now Head of Adult Social Care at Reading Borough Council.  No,really !!!

Those who remember the 2012 publication of the Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton ( and Others) will know the furore that followed which led to the following front page headlines

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Of course this being Wirral Council there were no such sackings. Instead – and much to the horror of Tory councillor Lesley Rennie who claimed she’d been misled by Labour councillors about such matters – two of the worst offenders who were redacted out of the report, but we know them to be Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) senior managers Mike Fowler and Maura Noone , who were handed £100K + and ask to asked to go quietly on the eve of publication. There was incredulity and outrage that bullying,dishonesty and incompetence was rewarded. But no one was surprised.

However you know what they say about an ill wind and the hyaenas in high office soon realised there were rich pickings to be had from the calamity. The Local Government Association, North West Employers Association, Audit Commission(later to transfer to Grant Thornton) and future Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess all gorged themselves on the corpse of Wirral Council. Whilst even when a report commissioned by Burgess when he became CEO implicated Fowler and Noone and others  in £31 million of toxic debts Burgess claimed that Fowler/Noone should never have been paid off there were merely whimpers  from the likes of council ‘leader’  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies who meekly claimed that there was nothing Wirral Council  Pip claimed there was nothing they could do because those responsible had ‘left’. But they hadn’t just ‘left’ they had been rewarded with public money,their reputations were protected and Noone and Fowler were free to ply their trade elsewhere. Meanwhile former leader Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes was privately telling concerned members of the local Labour Party that he’d been ‘misled’ by officers (whilst writing to the Wirral Globe in praise of a disgraced DASS Director) .

We should never underestimate (or forgive) Pip’s role in this debacle  starting with the kangaroo court that that led to the ‘exoneration’ of Noone for any wrongdoing ( Fowler was sent a ‘letter’ saying what we’ll never know) aided and abetted service by a North West Employer’s Organisation report (which was later proven to be a whitewash and a sham).

Within a few months of cashing their six figure cheques Fowler found himself in another well paid sinecure at Brook Young People where he remains to this day .  Read here : https://wirralinittogether.blog/2015/07/06/corporate-abuse-of-disabled-people-neednt-sound-the-death-knell-for-your-career/

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Meanwhile Noone undertook n MA in Public Health at Liverpool John Moore’s University then landing a Assistant Director post at Northamptonshire County Council before bailing out prior to the Government sending in commissioners to take over the failing Council, which brings us full circle to Noone’s  latest post as Head of Adult Social Care at Reading Borough Council.

And so the (im)moral of this story seems to be that bullying ,dishonesty and incompetence remain no bar to high public office. It also helps to explain why so many public services are in such a mess – it’s not just about lack of money as let’s face it there’s always plenty of public money for reputation management.

 

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Pond Life

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You may remember a recent post about a Wirral Council  Employment and Appointments Committee held on June 28th where we referenced a particular agenda item and commented  : Curiously there was (inevitably) an exempt item on the agenda which we understand involved discussions about yet another high profile departure who has been allowed to slip the net (if you get our drift). Suffice to say there’ll be more on that particular catch of the day at a later date.   

Comings and Goings

As we alluded to last week we can now confirm it’s farewell then to cartoon character Dolly Pond lookalike and Wirral Council Super-Duper Director Clare Fish.

We’ll miss her. Mainly because of the endless punning opportunities this overpaid failure provided – wet fish, fish out of water , out of her depth etc; It really was like shooting Fish in a barrel.

It always struck us that Clare was content to be a small fish in a stagnant pond and suddenly found herself swimming with sharks who were either screwing each other or screwing each other over.

Inevitably she found herself to be yet another Wirral council senior officer responsible for social care who has been thrown overboard having netted a big fat cheque – think Miller, Webb, Noone, Fowler ,Hassall . Meanwhile  the overseer of a series of failures, Cllr Moira McLaughlin, sails serenely on like an ocean going tanker full of toxic waste.

In this particular case Fish netted £105,000 . Wirral Council will have you believe with some financial jiggerypokery that they didn’t splash out another six figure sum to reward failure – but they did. It’s what they do, because they don’t know any other way. We say try sacking people or let them resign – that’s how it works in the business world that Wirral Council seem so determined to replicate.

However the most curious aspect of this hasty departure , and a demonstration of Wirral Council’s usual commitment to openness,transparency and accountability is the fact that having applied an exemption, thus excluding press and public from the Employment and Appointments Committee where the pay-off was discussed, they then had to refer the matter for approval at last night’s full Council meeting as Ms Fish swam through the magic six figure mark meaning it needed to be agreed by elected members.

Outgoing Head of Law Surjit Tour seems to have forgotten to tell Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson how this council business works as Stressed Eric merrily revealed in his ExecView  internal newsletter ( which is a bit like Wirral View but without soup recipes and pictures of smiling tots)  that Fish had already slipped through the net .

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As you can see ExecView  was dated July 4th and the CEO revealed that Fish had already left the previous week ! So what was the point of even bringing the matter to the Council meeting to agree Fish’s leaving terms ? None whatsoever! But it appears the pond life who are our local elected representatives get along swimmingly and don’t like to make too many ripples when it comes to spending our money on rewarding failure!

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