The Blind Leading The Blindfolded

blind_followers

We are grateful, once again , for the following submission from another of our regular followers and contributors , Mr Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro.

Hobro brings his forensic eye to Wirral Council’s  failings in relation to funding which they were responsible for administering. What Hobro dissects may be esoteric to some but the failings he identifies will be familiar to Wirral Leaks readers – a failure of due diligence , a failure of openness and transparency , a failure of accountability and , damn it, a failure to do things ‘properly’ – and all in the name of reputation management (and no doubt other base motives) . We invite you to open your eyes before they take us all over the precipice:

The public are blinded as to the workings within Wirral Borough Council as the corporation seeks to keep its failings from open view. The issue regarding ISUS and BIG seems hackneyed except if one considers that the revelations have deliberately been kept in deep-freeze by the Council Leader and by top officers. They are as new as the date of release of data, usually forced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under threat of contempt of court. Certainly I asked for the names of companies in receipt of BIG funding that were liquidated as early as 2013, to be refused, even though liquidated companies have no protection under the Data Protection Act. The latter was conclusively attested to in summer last year with a ruling from the ICO, and most surely had been known all along by the Council’s monitoring Officer, Mr Surjit Tour.

Those who have been blind seem reluctant to accept criticism from the illuminati despite thin vows of transparency and of accountability. When Grant Thornton reported on the multi-fold failings in the BIG process vis -a -vis 6 files nevertheless despite a disclaimer from Grant Thornton of the Councils italicized statement, the Council claimed no wrong-doing and pointed out that only Lockwood Engineering had gone bust. On forced release of the Executive Summary re BIG in July 2013 the Leader of the Council issued a press release stating the success of the program and that of all Big fund recipients (sic) only one had gone bust. Yet time and erosion of the whitewash reveal that in fact two companies further had entered into liquidation with connexions to the Leader even at that early date. The council chief executive blatantly lied on 8th October 2014 saying only three were bust whereas the true total was eleven by then. I am not sure that Braille can distinguish between entering liquidation and finally being liquidated though these blinders did insist on a difference that to all intents and purposes is valueless. When the sexton prepares the grave there are very few lazarus’ indeed.

I do claim that the BIG process was so flawed in its arrangements that it opened a clear vista for fraud. Due diligence would not involve a coach and blinkered horses being driven through the benevolent intentions of the grants.

Last week I received data re Corrin Kenny Limited a company that received £13,250 of BIG money sometime soon after 4th May 2011 when Councillor Andrew Hodgson approved the award. The file given me contained no accounts later than 31st March 2010 which represents a poor basis indeed for processing future projections.

The friar Pacioli who invented double entry intended that all debits and credits equate to zero otherwise his system collapses applying to historic and equally to projected accounts. Due diligence compelled me to reconstruct from the entries in the projections an opening Balance Sheet. It proved impossible to do leaving a creditor of £7,000 which clearly had not been run through the projected cash flow. Surely any business applying for £20,000 of free money should at the very least offer up a clear set of projections, and any civil servant intending to give out public money should expect a clear Business Plan budget. Without the budget being sound the reins of the coach are fraying.
BLIND, Wilfully blind or just complaisant officers?

The officer who produced a short page of recommendations for the “Independent Panel” to consider was a Mr Stone of the Regeneration Department. He did not look for a balanced model ( in Cashflows that do not balance as to Cash flow, Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet one can always find errors that invalidate the proposal) and did not remark on the £26,600 cost that was not included in the Total for Cost of Sales. This was plain as a pikestaff for any but the purblind. I imagine therefore that Mr Stone did not attempt to analyse the formulae within the Excel model-I did, unpaid!, and with my having to reconstitute the Excel from a Adobe Acrobat file. I observed with my clear vision that, to check the validity of the assumptions, I would need to recreate the file. If I had been paid it would have been 2 hours of WBC time . Mr Stone may have had the benefit of the original Excel file in which case half an hours work would have sufficed. They have eyes to see but do not wish to see!

Mr Stone or Gemma Henry had access to a reporting suite from Companies House. They might have discovered that the Company Secretary whose name headed the application was involved already with seven companies of which three at that contemporaneous time were entered into the London Gazette to be dissolved. This was not a chequered flag to go ahead with the grant but a chequered past to prompt more questions.

I checked the full accounts for March 2010 and noted from a minds eye memory going back 6 years that the requirement to produce accounts not less than 6 months old had not been enforced, or perhaps in April 2011 the officers did not see that accounts to 31st March 2010 were more than a year old. I noted as a kestrel hovering at several hundred feet the balance of Other Debtors at £52,989 and wondered if Ms Gemma Henry quartered in Invest Wirral’s offices in Egerton House asked of Mr Kenny, giving his address as Egerton House, of what that was composed. Could it be an illegal Directors Current account because it most definitely was not a Trade Debtor, and if it were that, then what business has WBC advancing money to a company that was already sitting on an unrecognised liability of up to £30,000 of PAYE/NI? I began to see into the future (see below.)

COACH AND HORSES

Then to the Minutes of the Meeting at 9:30am of 21st April 2011 (with next meeting at foot of page for 27th May 2010(sic)) attended by the blind Invest Wirral who blind-folded the independents from Business Link and from the Federation of Small Business by, per Grant Thornton, giving them no accounts, and just the précis by Mr Stone, Finance Manager. The précis ran to just 320 words which recommended that only £20,000 would do the job. After a discussion “in great detail” all voted save one independent to award the grant. Dissension was met by the compromise of awarding just £13,250 even though Mr Stone had written only £20,000 would do. Blind, blind, blind or perhaps the diligence drivers ( an 18th century coach) whipping through what they could for an individual close indeed to the Regeneration Manager, Mr Kevin Adderley.

All seemed unconcerned that the award would be the same contravention of rules as was the award – that never should have been given per Grant Thornton-to The Edge magazine of Lets Go Publishing ltd. Both sought to advertise in the Wirral just as had Thinklocal and indeed Wirral View in direct competition with non-funded newspapers. The blindfolded independents would not know only the wilfully blind officers knew.

THAT WHICH WAS VISIBLE TO THE DISCERNING EYE THEN AND CAME TO PASS

Hindsight reveals that far from Corrin Kenny having £93,266 reserves in March 2012, by July 2013 the Liquidator reported a deficiency of (£75,000 ) which for four years he has been trying to recoup from the director who had had an overdrawn current account (see above and £52,000).

HM Tax Inspectorate began calling in its debt in March 2012 .The officers did not see at March 2010 that the debt to Taxes had been £40,481. The did nt see the warnings from the filings at Companies House where the figures quoted as prior year balance sheet in the 31st March 2010 accounts were different from the 2009 Balance sheet as filed. It is the business of Local Authorities to ensure before parting with our taxes that the grantees have paid their dues and observe laws and regulations and not to encourage tax defaulters! The debt to the Revenue finally was recognised as being £70,646 and the Liquidator (see above) noted the debt owed by the director to the company. To this date the Liquidation is open five years later as the Revenue seek to enforce the debt. So the ‘diligence’ reached the river and unloaded £13,250 of tax-payers money to sail down the Swanee to the accompaniment of the blind harmonica players from the Council.

OBFUSCATION AFTER THE EVENT

What we can see is that Mr P Davies Councillor was not anxious that these details be released on Corrin Kenny Ltd since he did accompany Mr B Kenny on trade missions to the Isle of Man and, though I have not seen the photograph, allegedly to Reno. I guess the sad story of New Concept Gaming Ltd, some £845,000 of public money including some BIG, going down the same river was another musical score that the blind players did not want you to read. Of “all BIG recipients” these two were certainly in liquidation when Mr P Davies issued his press release in July 2013.

SOURCES
The sources for my article are Companies House, data which is now free and at the time would only have cost Invest Wirral a maximum of £5 to see; and What do they know.com at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/corrin_kenny_ltd_big_fund_award?nocache=incoming-948560#incoming-948560

Redact and Be Damned

 

Returning Officer  Money 011

After a false start (with emphasis on the false) Wirral Council initially responded to a recent Freedom of Information request with the wrong information.They have now got round to responding to friend of Wirral Leaks , Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro , about his enquiry pertaining to the Police and Crime Commissioner election of 2012.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/police_crime_commissioner_electi_3

Now as you can see the response below comes with the obligatory redactions and with the excuse that what lies behind the black marker pen is somehow ‘personal information’.

Yes , that’s right folks- public money paid to a public servant in the course of their public duties is ‘personal information’. Go figure!

Talking of figures – there’s some juicy figures on display and we’re not talking about Wirral Council’s Head of Law Surjit Tour –  here identified as the recipient of significant sums of money on top of his salary ( for doing what exactly!?)

Of course we flagged up the significance of this election long ago ( May 2014 to be precise) and anticipated it would feature in a recent Tribunal hearing featuring Wirral Council.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/election-reflection/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/a-return-to-greed/

As far as we’re concerned the use of redactions in Wirral Council’s response is as mysterious as the ‘Milk Tray Man’ – but instead of a black polo neck we get a black marker pen.

Unfortunately , from what we can gather, there appears to be a difference of opinion between Wirral Council’s Returning Officer at the time , former CEO Graham Burgess  (aka Burgesski) and Surjit Tour as to who did what for the money and how the figures were arrived at. However we’re sure that these fine upstanding public servants would, in the public interest, like to clarify what information lies behind the redactions. Otherwise, might we suggest,  they will be damned to further speculation as to exactly what happened on that fateful election night in 2012 and as to whether everything added up – and we’re not talking about the voting!foiextract20170303-10000-1v16phh-1_1

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The Morton ‘Incident’ – Revisited

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Whilst our focus was on the Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro question raised at the Wirral Council meeting on 19th December – and to which we presume he is still awaiting an answer from council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies – we missed this seemingly innocuous little question from Tory leader  Cllr Jeff Green.

As you can see he , all other councillors and the Strategic Leadership Team  were given an answer to his question about ‘overcharging for care services’ which was directed at the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Cllr Chris Jones earlier today.

Now we don’t know – yet anyway – what was behind Cllr Green’s question but we suspect he’ll be making a media statement shortly about how ‘outraged’ he is about a case of ‘overcharging for care services’ that has been brought to his attention.

We know he certainly knows of one already – as do many councillors and council officers who have chosen to cover up a quite scandalous case of overcharging.

We know this because we forwarded this email to Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton himself (and we were quite amused to hear he’d already received a copy !)

Morton must be so relieved that as he rots on the dole unable to find a job and with very little prospect of ever getting another job again his experience has now been redefined as an ‘incident’. That’s if you can call systemic bullying and harassment , cover ups , lies , £1 million pay offs,  £31 million toxic debts, the council  doing business with drugs money launderers, turning a blind eye to the abuse of vulnerable people , covering up of a death and the paying back of £736,000 to disabled people as an ‘incident’.

Morton maintains there is an outstanding case of over charging and that money was not paid back ‘as soon as possible’ as Cllr Jones claims or indeed at all. This allegation   follows the publication of the ‘Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton ( & Others)’ cobbled together by compromised consultant Anna Klonowski in 2012. Now we don’t know whether this is what Cllr Green is hinting at (and frankly we’re not that interested in his political point scoring) but we do have a mountain of material from Morton evidencing this further allegation of overcharging and which was not reported on his now sadly defunct blog.

We are currently working through this simply astonishing archive and will be bringing you all the tawdry details of this long running and ongoing cover up and the names of all those involved. From what we’ve seen already it makes a monumental lie of the claim that ‘lessons following the Martin Morton incident were learned and implemented’.

We will also be reflecting on the fact that almost exactly 5 years after its publication that the  so-called shockwave of Klonowski’s Independent Review can now be more accurately described as a slight tremor and failed miserably to drain the poison from the body politic on Wirral.

Panto Season

Fairy Godmother Frank.jpg

The Fairy Godfather

Some might say it’s always panto season at Wirral Council but we think it officially kicks off at tonight’s full council meeting which features a special guest appearance from whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro.

To join in the festive fun Wirral Leaks have been working on a pantomime production of our very own . Coming soon is ‘ Pipperella’  which is our unique take on the Cinderella story starring the following :

Pipperella – Cllr  Phil Davies aka Power Boy Pip. Will Pipperella be asked to attend the Queen’s Ball to pick up an OBE or even better a knighthood for services to the BS industry and the business community?

The Ugly Sisters –  Cllr Steve Foulkes / Cllr George Davies aka Foulkesy and Georgie . Typecasting we know  !. Will Foulkesyetta and Georgetta De Combova spoil Pipperella’s plans by their bungling incompetence and inability to tell the truth?

Wicked Stepmother – Cllr Moira McLaughlin aka Matron. Will the bossy old trout continue with her unquestioning devotion to the unworthy?

Baron Hardup – Asif Hamid aka  Massive. Will struggling millionaire get another grant of public money and bail everyone out of trouble?

Dandini – Paula Basnett aka Pouting Paula . Will the dandy highwaywoman break the budget with awards ceremonies and costume changes?.

Prince Charm Offensive   – Martin Liptrot aka Liptrotsky .  Will  Wirral Council ‘cheerleader’  ensure that Pipperella has a happy ending ?

Buttons –  Wirral Council  Chief Executive Eric Robinson aka Eric Feeble/Stressed Eric. Will the one who doesn’t get paid ‘buttons’ get out from under his desk and do the right thing?

and finally

The Fairy Godfather – Frank Field aka Frankenfield  . Will all troubles disappear with one swish of his magic wand? –  be it hunger , poverty or protecting your political agent with public money !………

Better to reign in Hell,than to serve in Heaven ……

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We are proud to publish the latest instalment of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods saga written by Nigel ” Highbrow” Hobro  which may answer a few questions raised by our readers and explain why we continue to follow this story.

We follow it because it’s everything that’s wrong. The incompetence, the ineptitude, the total disregard of what’s right and wrong.

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven:

“So spake th’apostate Angel, vaunting aloud

But inward rack’d with pain”

Satan is the Father of Lies whose feeble imitation of God is Gehenna, or Hell. Rather than serve Truth he will concoct a monstrous imitation, rather like Macbeth who preferred to be a false King than a faithful Thane.

We read much vaunting from Councillor P Davies and from his faithless band, that Wirral Borough Council is ever “open and transparent”. We read glossy brochures from Merseyside Special Investment Fund about its manifold successes and yet all are silent on their failures?

My Lord Leaky in the preface to “The Big Lie” https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/ worried about the muteness of regulatory authorities. He did not elaborate but they are worth reciting here. A forensic investigator given access to the Beverley Edwards report signally fails to report of the warnings from that lady about the phoenixing of Lockwood Engineering Ltd’s assets into Harbac UK ltd. Remarkable it is, considering the discussions held with Andrew Walker, the Government Internal Audit Agent, that Grant Thornton can report of no wrong-doing by Council officers. Long before I and James (Griffiths) made our complaints GIAA was investigating the perversion of the tender process for the £3m Business Start up 2 (ISUS) project, and the intimidation by council officers of the most qualified candidate to run it who had an assessment of 88% compared to wirralbiz’s 36%! Yet still the 88% candidate did not secure the contract. Turning to the liquidators of Lockwood Engineering Ltd they found nothing unusual in an engineering company stating on oath that the engineering firm had no machinery whatsoever. When confronted with this anomaly and the starkly clear evidence of the BIG file their response was the liquidation was over. The liquidators of Harbac UK Ltd when presented with same evidence by devilish equivocation asked by what right did I question them, was I a creditor of Harbac UK Ltd? Finally they finished with a “well we have lost a lot of money!” (some £10k on their £395 per hour fees). At this time after a prolonged liquidation, due to there being no accounting records given to them, they propose to close the company in January 2017,without reporting any need for detailed investigation despite having had copious correspondence between myself and themselves (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07396044).

I have only started emptying the bucket but the above should be enough to persuade the reader that we should all share Lord Leaky’s concerns.

The Devil rules the world and he does so with coin!

What of Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF) and connexions with the Big Lie article?
I don’t intend to befuddle the Reader but these matters are not a clear as the springs in Paradise. Pandemonium is a phrase well coined.

Unlike Councillor Davies in the press release referred to in the Ministry of Truth article

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/ministry-of-truth/

I will warn the Reader that there is some speculation in what I am going to write. I feel entitled to speculate when my adversaries plainly lie. Councillor P Davies undoubtedly is a clever man ( really? – Wirral Leaks) and with fingers in many pies as can be seen from his personal website :

I represent the Learning Partnership on the Wirral Local Strategic Partnership and the Wirral Waterfront Board. 
I am a non-executive director of the following organisations: The Mersey Partnership; Greater Merseyside Enterprise; the PSL Group (Pentra); The Lauries; Wirral Multi-cultural Organisation; and the Laird Foundation.
I also represent Wirral Borough Council on the Merseyside Objective 1 Programme Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group as well as the Wirral Pathways (Priority 4) Board .

The key words are THE Mersey Partnership, Wirral Waterfront Board and Merseyside Objective 1 Programme Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group. I believe these posts extend in substance back to the beginnings of wirralbiz and of the strange case of New Concept Gaming Limited. Speculation coming…Councillor Davies would associate closely with Mark Basnett, Director of the Liverpool Enterprise Partnership, for, after all he had also been a member of the LEP and has many photo opportunities with Mrs Paula Basnett, ex Head of Invest Wirral , and now Head of Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Invest Wirral was in charge of the BIG fund and Mrs Basnett was charged from early 2011 with supervision of the renegade Directors of wirralbiz. If myself, Lord Leaky or Paul Cardin were the three witches on the blasted heath cackling before Macbeth, a picture can be conjured up. These people were and are an elite, an Eurocracy, who run Roman triumphs through the media hailing their achievements with our money, European money, and who would recoil at having their failures equally trumpeted.

New Gaming Concept Ltd

The following is neither lie, nor speculation.

In October 2009 Councillor Jean Stapleton signed off a BIG grant to the company who had already received public funding of £845,000 via Subsidiaries of MSIF and via the NWDA.

In March 2010 the same company filed for Liquidation with an accumulated net loss of £905K. All the European, BIG money and NWDA money was declared lost at the final Liquidators report in (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05427776) except for £5,000!

No accounts submitted to Companies House in the lead up to the investment of £845,000 of public money on 30th January 2008 were endorsed by professional accountants. Indeed the 30th April 2008 accounts did not even allude to the floating charge nor the debenture created on 30th January 2008.

Speculation follows:

Shoddy indeed was this for a recipient of £845,000 of public money, even dishonest. I wonder whether the accounts filed for 30th April 2009 on 8th December 2009 were truthful in outlining £461,494 of debtors when three months later the Statement of Assets

At liquidation the Debtors are described as £90,000 of which the liquidator by June 2011 has collected just and precisely £NIL. With Invest Wirral running the show given the revelations in the Grant Thornton BIG investigation one can imagine the BIG panel being duped.

This case has not been followed by any detailed investigation for like wirralbiz it does not suit the Eurocracy, among whom I count Cllr P Davies, to rake over the ashes. Certainly I doubt if Joe Public would ever have heard of this monumental waste if it had not been for the determination of the whistle-blowers to nail the LIE.

I have asked MSIF under FOI for their file on New Concept Gaming Ltd and received the fastest ever response to any FOI, that they were not subject to FOI. I have asked NWDA and its successor, DCLG, and WBC, for their files who of course are subject to FOI.

I conclude that Readers should be aware of just how little protection we are afforded from deception by Councillors or downright robbery by some private companies, by any organ of the state or duly appointed agent of the same. CAVEAT EMPTOR and respect to WIRRAL IN IT TOGETHER and WIRRALLEAKS who do the next best thing which is to put travesties on RECORD.

Ministry of Truth

 

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Another of our valued contributors Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro provides us with the latest update on the long running saga that is the BIG cover up (both in name and by nature).

After being given the usual run around by Wirral Council a Freedom of Information request eventually provided the evidence that Hobro and co had needed to support their long held claims of malpractice.

Once again we seem to witness the closed ranks and the triumph of dishonesty over truth. Whilst Hobro rightly highlights the questionable actions of Wirral Council management in this sorry saga we would like to raise a particular concern about so called independent agencies who collude with such behaviour. In all of these Wirral Council whistleblowing cases a common denominator has been how external auditors have consistently failed to act in the public interest.

No wonder that ex – Cllr Jim Crabtree , the former Chair of the council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee , asked for a round of applause for Mike Thomas (Audit Commission/ Grant Thornton)  when he made his last appearance at an ARMC meeting. Mr Thomas appeared shocked at the tribute – we were appalled………

Wirral Borough Council management is now revealed to be a sordid manipulator of the truth. I write that buttressed by hard-won evidence. Evidence forced out of WBC by threat of contempt of court after a campaign of obfuscation lasting all the way back to 2011. In addition to the management being exposed, a reasonable man might well have grounds to write that the Leader of the Council either was fed lies, and turned a blind eye, or told them in full knowledge. As regards (former WBC CEO) Graham Burgess and his Regeneration team, Kevin Adderley, and the ever-present David Ball, the taped proceedings of the Special Audit and Risk Committee meeting of 8th October tars them with lying, or complicity with lies, and that extending to the Legal Officer, Surjit Tour, who in despite of his accustomed “legal” interventions, kept silence as untruths were reeled out.

Language is never exact and can be readily misused – “the devil wins us with honest trifles to betray us i’the deepest consequence” and such abuse of language, “tis the equivocation of the fiend”, has been practised by many. Bill Clinton “I did not have sex in the Whitehouse” or his “I smoked but did not inhale” are famous examples. The tone of delivery may help. After a night of the Long Knives in June 1934 where a former German Chancellor was murdered with his wife, and hundreds of others, Hermann Goering cheerily met Anglo-American Reporters with the quip “Boy, have I got news for you!” Naturally he personally had organised many of the assassinations himself and put a jovial face upon it. “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”!

Why am I quoting Macbeth? Why because the play shows how small untruths may lead to monstrous acts somewhere late in the “seeds of time”. Particularly I quote Macbeth because a line spoken by the tragic hero fits this situation neatly. Macbeth says

“I am in blood steep’d in so far

That going back were as tedious as go o’er”

Surely malevolence grows steadily like a worm fed on rubbish. Let me rehearse how an Original Lie grew and grew.

14 March 2011   Minutes given to Regeneration committee of councillors include tabulation of false figures from Wirralbiz Working Wirral figures, in order to give impression that all is well

July 2011        Kevin Adderley outfaces James Griffiths, whistle-blower, by untruthfully blurting out that no BIG recipient has gone bust

January 2012     Chief Anti-Fraud officer, Beverley Edwards files a 370 page report with the Director of Law showing the phoenixing of Lockwood Engineering ltd assets into Harbac (UK) ltd, and multiple flaws in the BIG process, together with flaws and fraud in wirralbiz’s ISUS program

March 2012       

Press release by WBC as follows 23 March 2012

Re: Allegations relating to Business Grants

Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive, Ian Coleman said:

“The allegations raised are being investigated by the Council’s Audit Officers. Their preliminary view, having interviewed the complainants and others, and considered all relevant documentation, is that there is no evidence that substantiates the allegations made against Council officers – at that time there was only the suggestion that (the now CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce) Paula Basnett was a friend of the wife of the director of Cass Coaches; this among a myriad of other allegations against claimants and advisors of wirralbiz).

“The investigation has not yet concluded however it is anticipated that the report will be finalised in the next few weeks.

“The Council’s Economic Development unit has an excellent track record for the work it does to encourage investment into Wirral, support local businesses and help people into jobs. This was recognised most recently when the team won the national LGC Award for Economic Development, which praised the innovation shown by the Council.”

BY March 2012  the decision has been taken to hide Beverley Edwards’ report and substitute it with a Dave Garry report, and stretch that report out as long as possible

July 2012      the council pays £33,000 to wirralbiz regardless of allegations as the lie must be fed

September 2012   “the report will be finalised in the next few weeks” transmutes by witchcraft “ into no report will be published as it is unfit for purpose and Mr D. Garry regardless of his failure ,will leave the authority with £46,000. But what of the 370 pages of Beverley Edwards’ report?

The LIE is swelling with falsehoods and the toll and bill is mounting both for the public and for the two whistleblowers. For the public a further £50,000 will be paid to Grant Thornton. One wonders is this simply to buy time?

October 2012     to feed the lie the Council pays a further £66,000 to wirralbiz

Early December 2012    The Grant Thornton team report both that they have completed the BIG investigation within just over a month, and that WBC is putting no pressure on them to render a report till the ISUS investigation is complete.-to buy more time?

March 2013   Grant Thornton delivers its report which is hidden from view for 16 weeks

March 2013     Press release by Cllr P Davies and again the red herring is thrown into the ocean incarnadine with a “I am pleased that I am now in a position to state clearly that the ISUS report which has now been concluded does not criticise Wirral Council or its officers” WHEREAS from the off the investigation was never directed against council officers!!

July 2013        Under pressure from a question at a full council meeting Cllr Davies agrees to release just the Executive Summary of the BIG investigation. In it are new obfuscations. Grant Thornton though investigating Lockwood Engineering ltd in its sample of six files contrives not to notice or record the phoenixing issue of BIG-funded assets moved into Harbac UK Ltd without any liquidator knowing-a very strange omission indeed. Likewise the BIG LIE battens on the equivocation that a gap of 26 months passed between the August 2010 award of BIG and the dissolution of Lockwood in September 2012. Disingenuous indeed since entry into Liquidation effectively ends the company’s trading and this was only 8 months later!

July 2013     Cllr Davies in a press release, “filled top to toe with direst cruelty” wrote

“I am also pleased to note that with the exception of one, all companies that received BIG funding are still trading – creating jobs and contributing to the local economy”

THE BIG LIE and his soul is not to fly to Heaven. Here is the list of companies that were no longer trading at 1st July 2013

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

Lockwood engineering ltd                             01/04/2011                                 20/09/2012

Corrin Kenny ltd 22/03/2012 long liquidation

July 2014 A special audit and risk committee was abandoned in uproar as the Chairman Cllr Crabtree (displaced now and up before criminal court in January coming on an unrelated matter) attempted to close down the issues by a majority vote of Labour Councillors.) Cllr Davies approached me at the end threatening to sue me for linking him with the advisor preparing the defective BIG fund projections. Had I known of the connexions between Brendon Kenny (Corrin Kenny Ltd above) and the Adderley-P Davies coterie, or of the £810,000 deficit in New Gaming Concept Ltd , he would have been even more anxious.

8th October 2014 The reconvened special audit and risk committee is held and despite with-holding what the Chief Executive would submit, the WBC management pestered me many times for the content of my speech. Since the delivery of my speech to them in July 2014 meeting was a contributory cause of that meeting being aborted , I did not supply my notes to them on this ocassion. Graham  Burgess and Kevin Adderley, “twere as tedious to go o’er as go back” repeated the same untruth that now only Lockwood , Harbac and Atlantic Engineering were liquidated or in Liquidation. BIG LIE for by then the list had grown to

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

Lockwood Engineering ltd                             01/04/2011                                 20/09/2012

Corrin Kenny ltd 22/03/2012 long liquidation

With additions  

TTH Laundry Services Ltd                                  21/08/2014

Halliwell Industrial & Marine Silencers                07/03/2014       

Harbac (UK) ltd 14/08/2013

Combined Harvesters ltd 12/12/2013

Atlantic Engineering ltd 11/03/2014

Brocks Mechanical services ltd 04/02/2014

Imaginations Air travel ltd 01/09/2014

I make that ten cessations of trading as both the Chief Executive and the Super Director spake and as, the two representatives from Grant Thornton , the auditors, sat silent, and as David Ball , Manager of Regeneration was equally mute, and lastly the Monitoring Officer, Surjit Tour never corrected them.

A FARCE and a waste of all the salaries and overtime paid to the notables who were present. A personal insult to myself, to James Griffiths and to the public whose money had so flippantly been  thrown away. Throughout the Monitoring Officer refused access to the list of BIG recipients even though a cursory examination of his legal database would show him that liquidated companies have absolutely no rights to confidentiality, period. Wilfully he maintained the BIG LIE and you have only to read the directions from the Information Commissioner to understand how,  improperly, Monitoring Officer offered up a series of ridiculous objections with the purpose of concealing the BIG LIE.

There will be other commentators here and on Wirral in it together. Let me record how angry I am with these pious and aloof civil servants who in reality were hiding their own incompetence and sordid lie-telling. The reader will discover the motivators to tell such lies.

Think on the triumph of Donald Trump in the USA. So many lies were told by the Clintons that he decided to campaign with half truths and once won, row back on his campaign slogans. That is the terminus to arrive at when “ first you practice to deceive”.

Legal Personality of the Year

surjit-legal-personality

“Where can I buy a personality and can I get it on expenses?”

We continue with the heroic struggle of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblowers as they attempt to bludgeon Wirral Council into submission when it comes to revealing the truth and holding people to account. Hey ! guys  you could have saved yourselves a lot of “time and trouble” if you’d recorded a top ranking and well connected councillor being racist and reckless . Just sayin’……….
The latest revelation has come at the intervention of the Information Commissioners Office  (ICO) .Whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro  tells us : ” Even the ICO expresses his inquietude re : the withholding of company names that had gone bust.”
Never mind “inquietude” the ICO ruling falls just short of  stating : ” WTF are Wirral Council playing at?…..” :
“The first thing to say here is that the Commissioner has seen the
withheld information a list of companies who received grants
and she has discovered that a certain number were in fact no longer trading
at the time of the request. A search of Companies House has shown that
certain companies were in liquidation or had been otherwise dissolved.
Clearly for these companies there can be no detriment as the companies
no longer exist. Moreover, a company that is dissolved has no legal
personality so there is no way any claim for breach of confidence would
be actionable. There is no conceivable way the section 41 exemption
could be applied to withhold the names of the companies who are no
longer trading. Indeed it is worrying that the Council has sought to
withhold the names of these companies as it should have been obvious
that the exemption would not be engaged in such circumstances. The
Commissioner would expect the Council to be aware if companies it had
given financial support to were no longer trading and so it would seem
unlikely that the Council were simply unaware that some companies
were no longer trading………
This leads the Commissioner to conclude that the Council has
applied the exemption in a blanket fashion without properly considering what
the consequences of disclosure might be. In light of this the Commissioner has also decided that the Council has failed to demonstrate what the consequences of disclosure might be. “
Oops!
Nigel reminds us that it was 2 years ago that rather worringly he had to remind Wirral Council’s Head of Law  :
“Surjit bust companies have no legal personality…you should know that Surjit!!”

You can see the full  cringeworthy Tour/Hobro exchange at between 14 and 15 mins of this John Brace video . You can also see that it wasn’t a bad dream and that astonishingly  Jim “Crabby” Crabtree once chaired the Audit & Risk Management Committee!.

This ICO Decision Notice  also reinforces our impression that Tour rocks up every Monday at Wallasey Town Hall and thinks to himself  : ” What FOI exemption shall I use this week ?”  whether it applies or not. Oh he’s definitely a legal “personality” is our Surjit!

no-hidden-wrongdoing

” Dear boy – just repeat after me  : ‘no hidden wrongdoing’ and you’ll be fine. I’ve been getting away with that line for years . If in doubt go for denial .”

All pics  and video courtesy of John Brace.

 

Rouday Awakening

dont-lose-your-head-puzzle-maze

If there’s one lesson that Wirral Council should have learned in recent years is this:

Never,ever underestimate the  resilience , resourcefulness  and sheer bloody-minded persistence  of whistleblowers. They will never lose their head and will overcome the bureaucratic maze you attempt to put in their way.

And so we proudly bring you the latest instalment of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods saga (yes , it’s still going on) . However it’s a sorry state of affairs when the whistleblowers have to get the EU involved.

But whatever works right?.

We proudly present a message from Ms. Rouday  from the Directorate of the Audit Quality Control Committee informing Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro that European auditors are on the case because let’s face it  internal and external auditors on Wirral have failed miserably to do their jobs. Which leads us once again to say : “What is up with these people?”

As Highbrow says :

Terror and Virtue are inseparable bedfellows. It was true in the French Revolution caused by the State’s financial deficit, wholly comparable to ours of 2007 to now. An emergency where ONLY TERROR inspires Virtue.

No threat of harassment no Virtue.

Robespierre’ Constitution of 1794 never implemented has much to say about the duties of civil servants and how the Terror was directed at Germinal against the venal ” Indulgents”.

We have had too much of indulgent pay offs and safe exits, of parachuting to new posts. It is Terror of falling into the tools of the Department of Work and Pensions that keeps the workforce quiescent  a Virtue for those in the riding seat. I think the “bourgeoisie’ need to feel the collar of Madame La Veuve.

Now we don’t profess to understand what  the bleedin’ hell all of this means but we do know we’re behind him 100%. And we particularly like the cut of Madame Le Veuve’s gibbet.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: ANNE ROUDAY <anne.rouday@eca.europa.eu>
Date: 8 September 2016 at 10:26
Subject: Case 33/2015

Please find a letter for your attention.

 

Best regards,

 

ANNE ROUDAY
Secretarial assistant – Directorate of the Audit Quality Control Committee

 

rouday-2

Perfidious Albion

Perfidious Albion

Attaquons dans ses eaux la perfide Albion.

(Let us attack perfidious Albion in her waters.)

Yes ! believe it or not – the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods case rumbles on and this is entirely due to the persistence of those who believe in public accountability as opposed to those who just want to fund their holiday homes in sunny climes without having to deal with any “unpleasantness”.

The latest development sees  the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) join in the game – and it is a game and a dirty one at that .

After reading the email below sent to us by indomitable whistleblower Nigel ” Highbrow” Hobro one was led to exclaim :

” What the hell is up with these people”

” Which people do you mean dear? ”  replied Her Ladyship

” Oh those bloody people crawling all over England’s institutions  masquerading as public servants and who claim to be ‘passionate’ about openness and transparency and yet seem to control every public body in the land  by bullying , controlling  ,self serving , power abusing and lying.”

“Oh those  people .Well yes , quite…..it’s the DODO principle ” sniffed Her Ladyship

” I thought the DODO was dead”

” I wish ! However it would seem that – Delay Obstruction Denial Obfuscation are the guiding principles of modern England”

As  Highbrow  asked us : “I must say do they want people to report wrong-doing?”
No , Nigel it appears they don’t.
Mr Nigel Hobro

By email

Date: 10 May 2016

Dear Mr Hobro

Freedom of Information Act 2000 2297994

Thank you for your request for information concerning the ISUS report on Wirral

Borough Council Spring 2014, which we received on 12 April 2016 and processed

under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I can confirm that the information requested is held by the Department for

Communities and Local Government and we are able to provide you with all this

information. I have detailed below the information that is being released to you.

  1. The date of the report as submitted by A Walker

A Walker submitted the draft report to the Department on 11 December 2014.

PERFIDY! A Walker told me he had submitted his report in April 2014!

  1. The date of the correspondence that first sends the above report to Wirral

Borough Council

The Department first sent a copy of the draft report to Wirral Council on 10 March

2015.

  1. The dates of any responses from Wirral Borough Council

Wirral Council sent a holding response acknowledging receipt of the report on 11

March 2015. A response was received on 5 June 2015.

  1. The value of the claw back suggested within the report.

No claw back was suggested within the investigation report.

PERFIDY: A Walker told me in December 2013 he was to recommend a claw back of £400,000 expecting it to be reduced by higher officers to £250,000.

This situation leads us to consider how things work in almost all institutions in England in general and Wirral in particular  (we can’t comment on devolved governments but we suspect they’re very much the same) .

No wonder so many people feel like exiles in their own country as they find themselves trying  to adapt to an unrecognisable landscape of mendacity and treachery and deceit. Perfidious Albion indeed!.

 

 

The Key To The Lock

KEYHOLE

Following on from yesterday’s Freedom of Information post which anticipates tomorrow’s Notice of Motion set before Wirral Council we proudly present an in depth analysis of and comment on the wirralbiz case by whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro.

This was made possible only by the (forced) release of information held by Wirral Council under the Freedom of Information Act.Readers will be able to reflect on the desperate attempts that the Council went to deny the information by use of delays and attempts at exemptions.Furthermore there is a chance to consider the role of the Council’s external auditors Grant Thornton in this long running saga.Our only comment is that in the financial year 2014/15 Wirral Council paid them £259,000  – you do the math and draw your own conclusions!.

The Key to the Lock is Harbac Limited

What key will open up the locked away truth about the obfuscations and dilatoriness of the investigation of wirralbiz? Why would a near complete audit report on BIG be hidden for 3.5 years and only revealed by compulsion from the Information Commissioner? Why would WBC spend £50,000 on a process of independent audit from September 2012 to March 2013; then a further 4 months for “further research”; then a further year before revealing two reports, those of Grant Thornton and Dave Garry Chief Internal Auditor, but deliberately redacting out all mention of that of the Principal Auditor, who had been Mr Garry’s superior. The Council pleaded s36, interference with its conduct of business and s40 of FOI law, not to reveal names of officials, when it delayed the FOI request that wanted sight of this 370 page report of the Principal Auditor, for one full year.

However when WBC published the 370 pages it was littered with references to B Edwards, or “edwardsb”, D Garry; D Bradbury and some further ten of BIG fund recipients that it had already refused to reveal to another FOI request. Perhaps the s40 protection of names of individuals, was a convenient delaying tactic and no more?

Certainly the chaotic mess that the Council was in during early 2012 ,with the alternatives of Parliamentary Commissioners or the Peer Improvement Board before them ,might have been a great incentive to delay the revelation of what would have been another scandal added to the dung-heap of Social Services, Colas and uncollected rents. The wirralbiz revelations might have tipped them over the edge even with the Edwards report as it stands, with its indications of sloppy work; the failure to check files for quality on a multi-million pound contract; the clear indication that Invest Wirral in three days checking of files spurred by James Griffiths whistle-blowing, found 22 of 44 files with forged signatures and multiple other defects in the remaining 22. Such was their concern that they arrested the contract insofar as it paid for 18 month reviews and all non-ISUS work, referred to as wirralbiz +. They did not stop the visible public Lecture series nor the £500 grants just the backroom work. B. Edwards’ report was thereby enough as it stood to prove malfeasance but WBC rather preferred to let that go and unleash the cheats and incompetents on erdf monies ,just not with WBC, giving them leeway without let or hindrance to obtain two further erdf contracts in 2012. Even WBC knowing of the sins of wirralbiz did not stop WBC from meekly washing them right out of their hair by paying them a further £350,000 in final payments, in December 2011, July and October 2012, no questions asked. All the above indicates a deliberate attempt to move the scandal quietly away from WBC and the responsible officers and park the problem on the door-steps of others.
The Dark Heart of the Matter

But there is one matter which crossed into potential criminality and the condoning of it, with only superficial questions asked, and which is the “dark heart” of the matter.

We all expect that a local authority relying on law to conduct its activities should in all matters seek to uphold the law. Where the council can fine litter-bugs with an on-the-spot £80 fine we in parallel expect it to inform other authorities constituted by law where it has learnt of law-breaking. We do not expect the self-interest of officers within WBC to override this duty in any circumstance, nor do we expect the public authority deliberately to conceal that a criminal action has been condoned at its highest levels.

Rather than pursue all the labrynths and corridors of this scandal through which you have been previously led- perhaps even to obscure the view of this “Dark Heart”- let me take you reader by the hand and let us examine more closely the Lockwood Engineering Ltd/Harbac UK Ltd affair regarding the award of £20,000 towards the purchase of machinery costing £30,650.

Grant Thornton investigated the Lockwood case in November /December 2012 and had at its disposal the work of “our predecessors”. Yet where one of these two predecessors, the Principal Auditor reports at 12.11

“The point is to bring to the attention of the Head of Legal and Member services the possibility that the relationship between Lockwood and Harbac may indicate asset stripping of Lockwood by Harbac” ,

Grant Thornton dodges this issue. The reader may be misled where a forensic department of a national audit firm writes instead absolutely nothing about this major concern but deems it necessary to note the company changed its name soon after incorporation which is very common for new incorporations!. I find it hard to accept that Grant Thornton made no mention of this transfer. It was left to the council to refer to a legitimate transfer in its apologia embedded within Grant Thornton’s BIG Executive summary.

Where an auditor makes no mention of a concern important to the Principal Auditor and where the Council hides a report for 3.5 years because it refers to that concern we may smell a rat. The abrupt termination of the Audit and Risk committee when that afternoon they received my intended speech was a very strange affair indeed for my speech contained an unexpected attack on the officers rather than on wirralbiz. Perhaps they feared I might also leave the beaten track and go on to discuss Lockwood/Harbac.

Reader let us revisit the time of May 2010 when Lockwood Engineering ltd made its BIG application. It had existed for 10 months only and submitted Management Accounts to 30th April 2010 and forecasts from May1 2010 to April 30 2011. The forecasts and the management accounts did not correspond and, when adjusted by myself to correspond , clearly showed that the company would be unable to pay its debts as and when they fell due. When an advisor, Fieldcrest Ltd was paid £1,000 for the work#, and a Chief Accountant for WBC cannot see the obvious, or if they do see it, keep silent, then you have to consider that the BIG process is wide open to partiality and corruption. Likewise neither well-paid individual could sense the unreality of a projected annual turnover of £2m compared to a 10 month turnover of £457.877 in the management accounts. By these silences the Panel was induced to pass the grant.

Ongoing Reviews

The council undertook reviews to ascertain whether the objectives of BIG were met. Council staff visited the Lockwood premises for the purposes both of BIG and for the purpose of the three apprentices started under the WBC apprenticeship scheme funded by Working Wirral. The two directors appear to have fallen out and Mr Harding set up an absolutely new company , Harbac uUk Ltd on 4th October 2010. The grant had already been paid on 27th July 2010 either without any signature of any director, or signed and displaced by a later application.(see below) Mr Harding signed another application form on the 7th October 2010# and became a director of Harbac Uk Limited on the 11th October. I hope you are getting more suspicious than Council officers were at the time. Grant Thornton elide over this as if they had not read the 13th January 2012 report by writing “We assume, therefore, that the BIG application was incorrectly dated”.

We can assume that council officers visiting Lockwood whether for Apprenticeship monitoring or for BIG monitoring were innocently blithe of theses goings on, never discussed the rapidly dwindling fortunes of the company but were content that “outcomes” for apprenticeships and BIG investment could be ticked off. We are entitled likewise to assume the opposite! There may have been a growing panic among the council officers and the misdating of the application for BIG by five months may have been a clumsy error by them to cover up, or indeed even at that date in October 2010 an indication they were legitimizing the transfer of the books, assets and business of Lockwood to Harbac.

What to make of the assertion

“its business and assets had previously been transferred with the approval of KA {Kevin Adderley} to a successor company…There is evidence that KA was aware that the original company had continued in existence following this transfer”
It makes more sense that KA knew of an October 2010 transfer than of a March 2011 transfer which appears more to be a late referral to the Legal department. We have here a muddling of the defence mounted by officers and I support the thesis that an informal knowledge in October 2010 was later covered by procedural rectitude in March 2011 just before the Creditors Voluntary Liquidation was announced in April 2011.

The problem is washed over by the statement by an officer that during an inspection in March 2011 they were suddenly apprised of the transfer and that the director promised to repay the liabilities of Lockwood Engineering Ltd. Did not the offer letter state at paragraph 10

Under the terms of this Grant Agreement you agree to maintain the premises of the Company, or of any successor to the Company in Wirral for a minimum of three years commencing from ·the date of the final grant payment

I explain that the anomaly of the 7th October 2010 dating of an application substituting the May 2010 application form with a replacement one, shows that some council officers were aware of the transfer in October 2010. If I be correct then of what value are the Director’s assertions he would pay off the liabilities of Lockwood Engineering Ltd? The officers have already been misled by the May 2010 financial figures that move from a Balance sheet value per the management accounts of March 2010 of £60,885 positive to a deficit of £218,000 at April 2011.  But the officers are so lenient that they nominally accept that it is a parting of the ways of the two directors, Mr Lockwood and Mr Harwood, that necessitates the movement of the assets. I imagine he told them that despite him personally having no monies left 
The Directors of Lockwood have considered other financing options with their Bank without success and they cannot provide any additional security or collateral. The Directors have already invested heavily in their business during the start up stage and have only taken minimum salary from the business and at this time do not feel that they can offer the personal securities their Bank requires.
That the trading of Harbac UK Limited would be sufficient both to support itself and to pay off the debts of its prior company…a likely story for a group of ingénues but not for an officer experienced over 20 years in Regeneration.
It appears that WBC officers have translated a grant to an entirely new company with no known financial backing-no mention is made that the new director P Backhouse is providing capital and with Mr Harding having no new funds. The concern with business plans, applications and the approval of an independent Panel or a Councillor is cast to the winds. It is easier for the officers to hide the failure from the original Panel than to perform due diligence. The fact that the Legal Department is not immediately informed but has to wait for a further 5 months to be told in March 2011 bespeaks deliberate and guilty concealment. I do not believe that the husk of Lockwood Engineering Ltd, left idle between October 2010 and 21st April 2011 represented anything more than an attempt to cloud over the deed of the deliberate transfer of its order book and assets to Harbac UK Ltd. The Principal Auditor certainly does point to the possibility of asset stripping. By warning the WBC Legal department of this the Principal auditor is indicating that the Legal Department has not informed any regulatory body for the 9 months since it knew of the transfer. The Legal Department has relied on the words in any offer letter referring to “any successor company” with no regard to the claims of the creditors of Lockwood Engineering Ltd.

Referral to a regulatory body

The liquidators, Begbie Traynors, of Liverpool confirmed to me by email that they had had no knowledge of the £30,650 worth of fixed assets funded by BIG. The assets are not mentioned in the April 2011 Statement of Assets and Liabilities nor did they find them in the accounting records. The liquidators of Harbac UK Ltd would only correspond with a creditor or a representative of a creditor.

Begbies Traynor don’t seem ever to have received any correspondence from WBC! By what sophistry this has been omitted I do not understand? Perhaps these assets for which WBC paid in July 2010 were never entered into the ledgers of Lockwood Engineering Limited?

ETHICS

The law is the cornerstone of commercial dealings, the rules of the House if you like. What WBC seem not to have weighed against the three jobs and three apprenticeships created is the loss to other contractors of £91,000# With Harbac uk Ltd liquidation amongst the list of unpaid creditors is £12,772 to WBC Business rates section and £4,972 to a company based in Price Street Birkenhead. WBC officers are not gods and it is not their prerogative to arbiter as to what part of law should or should not be enforced, according to what suits them best.
Conclusion

If I appear to be going on about these matters it is for no reason other than that WBC has dragged out over three years the information that ought to have been available in April 2012. It is myself that has been put upon and obliged to return to matters of many years ago. It is significant that to my knowledge not one person has been disciplined in WBC nor any contractor or director of wirralbiz. If the obfuscators of WBC believe they have done a great PR job well they have all the means at their disposal, endless amounts of public money to fritter away. They have indeed burnt a lot of this fuel. Yet I can write so frankly and without fear of legal action from WBC-some PR job!