The £Million Interims

 

Interim

We’re sure you can appreciate that we’re still processing the fall out from the full Council meeting held earlier this week as it was a very long meeting !

However we are aware Lib Dem councillor Phil Gilchrist asked Council leader Phil Davies the following  question about ‘interim appointments’ that had been made during Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson tenure to assist with the implementation of his New Operating Model (or Non Operating Model as we like to call it)…….
How many interim officers are currently in post and what, typically, are the daily rates that are being paid?
What expenditure has been incurred on interim posts between 30th June 2015 and
30th June 2017?

Apparently it transpires there are currently 12 interims/consultants in place across Wirral Council. Their daily rate of pay varies between £350 and £720  – once again , nice work if you can get it and you can get it even working for a cash-strapped local authority ! In terms of expenditure incurred since June 2015, the total gross spend was revealed to be approximately £2,530,556.
However it has been explained  that where interims have been covering a vacant post, a proportion of this will have been funded by the budget for that post. Officers were not able to check exact figures but they estimated that  £1.5  million was paid for from monies attached to these vacant posts.

This would appear to mean that there has been an additional ONE MILLION POUNDS spent on interim appointments over the last two years for which seemingly there wasn’t a budget. And we thought the drive behind the ‘New Operating Model’ was that Wirral Council should be more sustainable and business like !

With news that another interim appointment has been made to replace the outgoing Head of Law, Surjit Tour (about which more another time) and yet more senior management restructuring we’re getting the impression that Stressed Eric and his million pound fly by nights are flying by the seat of their pants!

Cool Million

Advertisements

Comings and Goings

Pit 011

If you want to play the Wirral Council  corporate game be prepared to get down and dirty!

Last night’s Employment and Appointments Committee officially confirmed our previous reports that Wirral Council’s Head of Law / Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour is leaving Wirral Council.

There were no glowing eulogies from committee members at the announcement that Wirral Council was engaging a recruitment agency to find his replacement. Furthermore Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ran through further proposals for senior management personnel changes to implement his New Operating Model – or should that be Non -Operating Model?  This included the appointment of a Director of Children’s Services on an increased salary of £115,000. This was justified with the usual excuse that we have to pay top whack to get the very best. To which we can say it hasn’t worked in the past so why will it work now? What has clearly been demonstrated by previous CEO Graham Burgess’s appointment of Super Directors which has been an abject and costly failure. And let’s not get on to Stressed Eric himself!

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=197&MId=6003&Ver=4

Of course we know that Tour was on his merry way  but 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.

As Surjit didn’t exit to rapturous appreciation for all he’s done for the people of Wirral we thought we’d do the decent thing and give him the eulogy he deserves.

However we’ll leave it to a clearly well placed source to provide a fitting tribute to Tour which consists of a comment from ‘ Whatever’ that is far too good to languish in our replies section. For those who may have missed it we reproduce that comment in full  below. What it demonstrates to us yet again is that Wallasey Town Hall is the absolute pits. Whilst we’ve known about the infamous ‘Sex List’ for sometime and referenced it previously it stands as the epitome of how low senior managers will go to get their man (or woman). As we commented :

So it would seem that the ‘dig the dirt’ tactic is a favourite approach of senior council officers when faced with a pesky employee who won’t play the corporate game, have served their purpose or they just want shut of. We’re wondering whether it was a trick that Norman picked it up at Wirral Council or it was part of his legacy that he left behind? We say this as we are reliably informed that two acting very senior officers at Wirral Council went digging for dirt from staff in an infamous case from 2015 .The dirt concerned allegations of sexual impropriety involving a now departed senior council officer . So far, so sordid. However, for us , what is even more sleazy is that the approach came with the  inducement that it would be beneficial to staff member’s careers if they dished the dirt. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you have absolutely no morals,ethics or integrity. What did we say in yesterday’s post about Wallasey Town Hall being a cesspit?

Dirty Work

We can only hope that the next victim of the ‘Curse of Leaky Towers’ is slimy Deputy CEO David Armstrong ( and we know how upset he gets being badmouthed on social media). He can boo-hoo all the way the bank as as far as we’re concerned as in his own way, he’s absolutely everything that’s wrong with Wirral Council. In another time and another place and where the get out was ‘ I was only following orders’ he’d be a very dangerous man indeed.

Meanwhile courtesy of ‘Whatever’ here’s ‘Surjit’s Eulogy’ :

I hope we can send to Mr Tour’s new employer a list of Wirral tax payers issues as the tax payers of York did with Mr Halliday.

Mr Tour’s replacement will have a long list of “things to do” which he/she should read asap –

For example perhaps, whatever happened to the letter signed by Mr Foulkes (probably written by labour policy adviser and Labour scrutiny support) sent to Mr Wilkie outlining in a way not appropriate for public office ( yet more training needs) just what Mr Foulkes et al thought about Mr Wilkies staff structure which included the promotion of none other than Ms Degg to deputy CEO ?

Indeed what happened to those 2 people (Adviser and Scrutiny) from Leeds way *  (* Hebden Bridge actually) ?- well whatever you say about Norman, he was the only one who at least tried to tackle them. Norman left and Mr Tour picks up the rotten dirty baton and title. Did Mr Tour prevent the “not in line with guidelines” payments made to one of those women – er, no and has he closed this case or as he let it drift into obscurity, a key feature of Tour is drift, drift long enough and it will be forgotten.

These 2 women were loyal supporters of Foulkes, (nothing wrong with that other than inconsequent personal opinions on bad judgement) when Mr Foulkes was told to get legal advice after his letter writing. Cllr Foulkes stood down as forever leader and up popped Mr Davies, who was told to drop the supporters or no leadership role for him. Mr Davies did as he was told for the sake of group or himself and his awaiting career of leadership.

Can’t quite remember the figure of toxic debt written off, in the high millions, these 2 women summoned the Council directors separately to go to Leeds (or wherever it is up that way) where they would “tell” the directors what their budgets were. Everyone knew it was these 2 women running WMBC for years Foulkes was the willing puppet and the Directors racking up excessive mileage claims for Wirral Tax payers to pay.

Mr Davies had to be trained in fist clenching and smoke screens, up pops Mr Field with some tale of whistleblowers and Hespe contracts (Labour group hated with a passion anyone who was perceived to work too closely with Cllr Green .. Ms Degg and Mr Green to name 2). Did Mr Tour ever write a letter to Frank Field telling him that WMBC is not his private purse to pursue his smoke screens with payments to non whistleblowers ?

So back to Ms Degg, well we have all read and heard enough about Ms Degg and what we consider to be un sound judgement on the men in her life but that is of no concern to us unless it prevented her from carrying out her paid function, whatever that was. However when it does become our business is when 2 members of staff are paid off one via the ever helpful EVR (normally given to failed directors without spine and employee jumpers) and the other a recent settlement. These 2 members of staff were hauled in by Mr Armstrong Ms Hyams and of course the ever present in the shadows “it wasn’t me” Tour, this trio on our behalf felt compelled to get to the bottom of £48k payment made to Ms Degg by one of the too many ex chief execs as an apology again on our behalf for not becoming the deputy chief exec and for the hurt feelings caused by the school ground tactics of certain Labour councillors and senior officers (including the Trio). If only they wouldn’t but again on our behalf this highly paid Trio (with the knowledge of Cllr Phil Davies) asked, no demanded to know the ins and outs of Ms Degg’s sex life, asked for rumours anything these 2 members had on Ms Degg.
Thank the lord these 2 members of staff stuck two fingers up to the bullying trio .

“list of things to do”; clearly through actions Mr Tour thought this payment made to Ms Degg (although he must of agreed it in the first place) was unlawful in some way.

The 2 well liked members of staff wouldn’t play ball and you didn’t get your own underhand way, Tour, Hyams (who really didn’t like Degg and the feeling was mutual) and Armstrong (who once was a nice bloke I hear) even though 2 of the trio pulled out the appalling and should be left for the movies, tactic ” signing the statements would / would not help their careers”

The poor person going round asking for money for Tour’s leaving present probably stopped saying “awww he’s a nice man its a shame” pdq. I don’t think it was his match made in heaven (how many grievances !!) PA who accepted her redeployment to Tour’s PA role with “I’m not working for him” but soon shut up when she realised she was onto a good thing, the amount she read and helped shred would, like her boss keep her in a job as long as she wanted it.”

 

Getting It Wrong

Get it Wrong

The late ,great meme-tastic Gene Wilder explains the Wirral Council modus operandi

The ‘Invitation to Tender’ (ITT) document  for ‘PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR GETTING IT RIGHT PROJECT (SUPPORTING ACCESS WIRRAL AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME)’ is most revealing for those interested in finding out where Wirral Council is heading. As far as we’re concerned its willingly over the precipice dancing to the Pied Piper of private enterprise.

ITT Getting It Right 2017

Behind the convoluted branding and language the document simply sets out the means by which Wirral Council are seeking  to outsource public services and put people out of work. Indeed the latter is explicitly stated in the specification of the contract at  2.1 of the ITT document  : Reshape services to reduce significantly, over three to five years

The former is set out in the Scope of the tender at 1.1 as follows:

We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and commissioned outcomes

The council has also set out a commitment to take a commercial approach to service design, management and decisions, encouraging innovation whilst optimising assets and services to exploit opportunities to generate income surplus for reinvestment and reduce costs.

This ‘new operating model’ (mainly filched from elsewhere) apparently also includes ‘imaginative’plans for Wirral Council to become an energy provider!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15168461.Wirral_Council_to_set_up_as_an_energy_company_providing_power_to_heat_and_light_our_homes/

This doesn’t augur well as the ruling administration at Wirral Council have an inglorious record of keeping the people of Wirral in the dark and freezing out the opposition.

Having said that the thought occurred to us that if you can’t beat ’em , join ’em . We thought momentarily that we’d join the  serried ranks of ex- council  employees topping up their pensions merrily making their former colleagues redundant and helping to hand over precious public assets into the private sector. Accordingly Leaky Towers Inc ; were  considering an application to pick up the phones and respond to complaints etc; on behalf of the people of Wirral ( in return for a mahoosive  contract). However our application stalled at Method Statement 5 which read :

How does your organisation use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems whilst demonstrating the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability?

Huh?

All we can only presume that Wirral Council are particularly hoping for an explanation as to what public transparency and legal accountability actually are as they appear to be alien concepts.

Meanwhile the likes of ‘Capita’, ‘The Contact Company’ and the ‘Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ can only be licking their lips in anticipation of things to come.

 

Homes Under The Hammer

FLOG-IT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Wirral’s Next Top Model

Bad Hair day 012

Entries welcome for our Eric’s bad hair day caption competition. Picture courtesy of John Brace 

 

We’ve only just caught up with Monday’s Wirral Council Employment & Appointments Committee after giving you the heads up last week that Head of Housing  Ian Platt’s tidy retirement package was being discussed.

Needless to say nothing to report on that score as prolific film-maker John Brace was politely asked to leave before that golden handshake was signed off.

However we were treated to a rare speaking engagement by reclusive CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson who introduced his “New Operating Model” to replace his predecessor Graham Burgess’s “Non Operating Model”. We say this as there seemed to be an acknowledgement that Burgess’s appointment of so-called Super Directors was an expensive and wasteful extra tier of management . Council “leader” Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies seemed keen to draw a line under Burgess’s embarrassing tenure by declaring forlornly ” we are where we are” whilst repeatedly using his Deputy Ann McLachlan ‘s catchphrase ” going forward”. No wonder she sat virtually mute for the entire meeting – the one trick pony had lost her trick.

Meanwhile Stressed Eric was proving his charisma by-pass operation had been a complete success as he appeared to be playing a game of  buzzword bingo on Mogadon. We think the term “Strategic Hub” says it all.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50035635/New%20Operating%20Model%20Report.pdf

What was dispiriting for us to observe was the way that the lurch towards a business model which prioritises putting public services into the hands of private companies was so enthusiastically received by one and all despite the fact that Wirral Council is NOT a business.

Just a thought : how about employing managers who are truly committed to public service and not to their over-inflated paypackets?.

Whilst Stressed Eric briefly mentioned the C word – “culture”  that is – he swiftly moved on to more  familiar territory and concentrated on far less problematic areas such as “structures” and “processes”.

There were a few other interesting observations to make along the way such as Department of Adult Social Services Director Graham Hobgoblinson bagging himself an  Assistant Director – as let’s face it he needs all the help he can get  despite , with the impending closure of Girtrell Court  , finally getting rid of all in-house services. Let’s hope he has better success than with previous DASS Assistant Directors!

We also noted that  Joe Blott’s exit strategy has been put on hold and he will now be slotted in to the “New Operating Model” structure despite questions being asked about his “skill set” ( I think we can read between the lines what is meant by that can’t we?) . Of course Councillors must now be aware that Blott is calling the shots as he’s recently joined the Surjit Tour Job For Life Club. It must be the aspiration of every Wirral Council senior manager to wheedle your way into a position of power by means of your knowledge – which is less about knowledge of how to do you job and more about knowing where the bodies are buried……….