The Pantomime of Parlour Games

 

Blind man's buff

How Wirral Council likes to treat its tax payers.

We never thought we’d see the day when we’d be quoting Lenny Henry. However we were in the Leaky Towers parlour reading The Sunday Times and something he said resonated with us as it was a neat summation of a dramatisation that we’d received of the ongoing Wirral Council whistleblowing saga involving Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro and friends. Henry is talking about his role in the Bertolt Brecht play ‘ The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui’ which  is a satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany prior to World War 2.

Henry comments : ‘If good people do nothing. , terrible things happen. There are parts of the play where if somebody would go ‘No I’m not going to do that,the play would end’

As you will discover Mr Hobro presents us with yet another play without end.

A pantomime in three acts

Act 1     Blind Man’s Buff

Act 2    Pass the Parcel

Act 3    Musical Chairs

Dramatis Personae

Bob Neeld WBC accountant

Diane Bradbury formerly appearing in WBC Regeneration Department now Head of Commercial Waste in WBC!!

Peter ?  colleague of Diane Bradbury (now retired)

Several members of the Independent Panel

The Aspire Trust (in Liquidation ooooo!) and the Aspire Creative Enterprise ( in liquidation tooooo!!) Both in liquidation from January 2015 with Parkin S Booth who also are kindly appearing.And behind the curtains…….. Headmaster S Peach formerly of the Olderhaw School and subscriber to both Aspires.

 Act 1  : BLIND MAN’S BUFF

The several attendants of the Independent Panel are spun round three times with blindfolds attached by DB and P. They must make their way towards awarding £15,000 of BIG money to a charitable educational company not fitting the base criteria of the BIG award.The Narrator quotes an officer of WBC :

“ BIG is a business grant intended to be used to help businesses attain sustainability by investing in new plant,….not provide a platform to continue operations whilst seeking other funding services”

Reveal the only forecast provided ( credit sales of £83,000) the projected cashflow, to cries of “Sixth form Business Studies” standard pooh pooh

Bob Neeld: holds up placard for audience “ A quick short response is that the business’s solvency cannot be commented on as there is no history. I cannot judge whether the business plan is sound, the market exists or the predictions of turnover or profit realistic.”

Audience invited to shout-IT MUST BE STONE DEAD THEN!!!

Invest Wirral give independent Panel members another spin just for good measure.

Narrator (off-stage) cries out…What about the VAT threshold of £73,500? No mention of Vat for a hot-desking operation letting out multi-media equipment. Isn’t that the point of the trading arm Creative Enterprises , to go where the charity Aspire Trust cannot, without fear of Corporation Tax and loss of charitable status .Where have I seen this recently, yes the Lauries and its trading arm!

Meanwhile the independents on the Panel are blind-folded so they don’t see the placard they just are read out the synopsis which says that Creative Enterprises is not a new business after all. Because WBC says it is so.

Audience is invited by Narrator to remember our celebrated panto of “the Emperor has no clothes” where The Emperor, buck naked insists, he is wearing the most sumptuous of clothes.

Audience invited by placard to “BOO” and Narrator shouts

“It was incorporated in less than one month before!!”

The Act closes with the presentation of a giant £15,000 cheque to Mr Hobbs of Aspire Creative Enterprises.

Applause and boos

Act 2 : PASS THE PARCEL

The dramatis personae return to the stage and explain how each of them can’t be held responsible.

The blind-folded independent panel members:

“WE NEVER SAW THE BUSINESS CASHFLOW” “WE ONLY SAW THREE SUMMARIES BY WBC”

They bow and leave the stage

The Councillor with his rubber-stamp (recommended as large and colourful)

I was told that both senior accountants of WBC, Wirral Invest and senior independent business experts all approved this so I took their word. Oh and a couple of my colleagues sat on the Oldershaw Academy Board with Head teacher S Peach , he was a subscriber of Aspire’s two companies (wink wink)

He bows and leaves the stage to a humorous trumpet blow (the more raspberry, the better).Bob Neeld comes to the fore-stage with a Pontius Pilate washing of hands:

“ You saw my email on the placard. I soberly warned and rest my case”

He leaves to a grave blow of the tuba.

Enter Diane Bradbury and Peter and Paula Basnett:

Paula Basnett:

“I am just a marketer. My colleagues have the on-line qualification over-a-couple-of-weeks –low- cost Prince qualification blame them”

Diane and Peter to the front of the stage:

“We have nothing whatsoever to say” and snigger

Exeunt to be replaced by Invest Wirral staff (faces covered by masks)

“We don’t understand accounts it is up to Bob Neeld not to us”

All now have left the stage leaving a giant parcel left in prominent view.

A character with a t-shirt marked “Wirral rate-payer” to enter stage, pick up parcel and leave as lights are dimmed.

Act 3 : MUSICAL CHAIRS

Narrator enters with placard bearing :-

Accounts of Aspire Creative enterprises for 429 days to 31st March 2012

Sales                                   3,474

Grants (other than BIG)       9,272

Release of BIG                      3,541

Depreciation                        (4,722)

Consultancy                        (1,500)

Accounts                             (1,298)

Other                                   (7,044)

Narrator: What happened to the £83,000 sales then?

To the grave sounds of tuba Bob Neeld shouts “I told you so”

Voices offstage “ no-one should hear of this!”

Narrator : “Fast forward to January 2015”

The lights dim and on relighting we are at the offices of Parkin S Booth with a calendar showing January 2015.The functionary of Parkin S Booth :

Both Aspire Trust and Aspire Creative Enterprises both have attended my offices and solemnly declared they have no assets to speak of and owe on each part the sum of £40,000, a total sum of £80,000.

Audience invited to OOOoooo!

Narrator speak: I recall Aspire Trust each year declared their ownership of a artwork valued at £20,000 at 2010 accounts; £50,000 for two by Michelle Molyneux in March 2013

Functionary: “I didn’t hear that!”

Narrator speak: I recall Aspire Trust each year declared their ownership of a artwork valued at £20,000 at 2010 accounts; £50,000 for two by Michelle Molyneux in March 2013

Functionary: “I didn’t hear that!”

Narrator speaks: “Are you as deaf as a post or as deaf as the liquidators of Lockwood Engineering Ltd?”

Functionary: Are you a creditor? If not shut your gob and stop waving the accounts of the Trust at me. I aint getting paid ,so I aint investigating. And there’s that!”

Narrator speaks (hoping for support from the audience): But, but, the more this happens (s206 Insolvency Act) the more stringent banks become and the fewer charities and businesses will be able to borrow. Rules is rules aint that so? Was it not the purpose of BIG to provide cash to businesses that could not get it from banks? How is companies going bust and not declaring their assets going to encourage banks to lend?

(to the audience) :  It’s naughty isn’t it children?

From the wings the voice of Councillor Pat Hackett: “You are hurting good people”

Music and enough seats for all bar one

All dramatis personae on stage

Music starts up and all characters go on stage and dance round the chairs. After several rests of music only one character is left standing, with his arms stretched out and wearing the t-shirt “Wirral Rate-payer”

FINIS

 

 

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

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

better-to-reign-in-hell

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.

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.

 

Three Is The Magic Number

3 010

Our thanks go out to one of our keen readers who pointed out it is three years to the day that the chain of events that led to Wirralgate were shamelessly instigated.

Put out the flags! pop the corks! and the celebrate the most successful cover up in Wirral Council history !!. Yay !!!

Three bloody years !. If only they were as good at running the Council as they were in covering their arses perhaps His Lord and Ladyship could finally retire.

Here captured for posterity is the Council meeting held three years ago that the then Deputy Mayor Cllr Steve Foulkes unleashed a series of events that have potentially cost the people of Wirral hundreds of thousands of pounds. Because obviously like a L’Oreal supermodel he’s worth it (that’s a joke obviously).

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/silly-season-opens-at-leaky-towers/

DatsLibel

Whether he was relying on his own arrogance and being safe in the knowledge he was protected by some of the most powerful (and corrupt) political figures  on Wirral or the docility of the other elected members in Council chambers who think this kind of conduct is acceptable because according to Foulkes they’re “kindred” we’ll leave to our readers to decide.

What we do know is that following this unbecoming outburst in the aftermath of the appearance of whistleblowers Hobro and Morton (who we can ecstatically report are still very much on the case – bless ’em ) and which so irked Foulkes that he then resorted to these kamikaze tactics and tried to ensnare a Liverpool Echo journalist sitting in the public gallery into an amateurish smear campaign against political opportunist  Cllr Jeff Green – seen standing in the above picture and pretending to be aggrieved.

Town hall foulkes 2 008 Town hall foulkes 2 013Town hall foulkes 2 016

As you can see from the above pictures this is how some politicians think is the control they should have over local journalists.They’re there to do as they’re told and if they don’t they’re  threatened with legal action. But imagine being told what to do by Steve Foulkes ! – it’s enough to make a grown man’s scrotum retreat into his pelvic cavity at the speed of Usain Bolt.

What has intrigued us these past three years -other than the fact as to how the hell do they get away with it -is did no-one (and we’re talking Power Boy Pip here) say : So what were you doing leaving the Council chambers to hand an incriminating document stolen from the ex-Director of Law’s files in contravention of the Data Protection Act in an attempt to get back at your old rival Jeff Green?

What did Foulkes say ?. I was having a wazz?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wazz

Probably – as let’s face it he and his ilk have been taking the piss for years….

 

 

The Lowdown From Highbrow

Face it 1

Now we’ve never professed to fully understand the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblowing case.

However knowing what whistleblowers Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro and James Griffiths  were up against when dealing with Wirral Council we felt our role was not to understand the finer points of forensic accounting but to provide the whistleblowers with an outlet for their justifiable frustration and a platform to make their case.

We firmly believe that the public interest demands that dissenting voices should be heard and not crushed beneath the “bureaucratic machinations” in which Wirral Council still seem to excel.

We make no apologies if those dissenting voices are sometimes too coarse and discordant for the delicate sensibilities of those safely cosseted by huge salaries and positions of power.

Therefore we’d like to thank Nigel Hobro for acting in the public interest and sending us his considered response to the forced release this week of a long withheld report which we’ve printed below. It appears that , as ever with these kind of cases , the devil is in the appendices.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/ghost-story/

For those who struggle with the technicalities we’d just ask that you consider the human interest stories that lie behind the cold hard facts – the careers destroyed,the businesses ruined and the appalling waste of public money.It still seems there are still a few people left who want things done PROPERLY but who are thwarted by those whose face fits but who won’t face the truth and DO THE RIGHT THING.

Dear Lord Leaky,

With great reluctance,- I have work to do, tennis to play in this fine weather and a superb Joseph Conrad short story to read- I have taken up my pen again to write of matters BIG and ISUS. Fear not I will try not to wear out the patience of your readers who look for amusement and biting satire within your blog.

I will not re-run all the arguments about what was criminal and what was not but look at it “holistically” to borrow a phrase from the Principal Auditor’s report of January 2012.

Wirral Council’s Surjit Tour and successive CEO’s have gone to an awful amount of trouble firstly to conceal the existence of the above report, and finally not to release its contents. The papers for the July 2014 meeting had redacted an entire paragraph j from the “Timmins” report into the inadequacy-“not fit for purpose”- Garry audit report which raised eyebrows and comments even at that ill-fated and broken up meeting. In the three month interim I appealed to the Information Commissioner who obliged the council to remove most of the redactions in the paper bundle for the October reconvened meeting. Paragraph j read

“There is on file a previous, and much more detailed, draft report REDACTED  which includes numerous evidential appendices……However ,for the avoidance of doubt, I would not consider that this report could be released into the public domain and has, in any case, been superseded”

Logic would demand to know how it can have been superseded by a 33 page Garry report “not fit for purpose” what with it containing the very things Mr Garry has not got i.e. “numerous evidential appendices”!. The January 2012 report was very detailed and it was a little more than a DRAFT for it was deemed fit to send to the Head of Law. It had been prepared by the person who had been, before departing the Authority in January 2012, the direct superior to Mr Garry! Indeed that report indicates that it was passed over to Mr Garry to complete only insofar as to receive the M L Engineering and Installation Ltd from Mr Hobro, which in fact was passed over days before.

A reasonable reader would wonder what would induce WBC to spend a further £50,000 on (auditors) Grant Thornton where half the fee would be to re-work the near complete BIG report of January 2012. Perhaps to find a good time, and much delayed, to release bad news. With hindsight we know that Cllr Davies’ press release on receipt of Grant Thornton’s report in March 2013 has a double-edged meaning. He refers to the “known failures of Internal audit” whereas we read the January 2012 report all 370 pages thereof, fully indexed and with supporting evidence, and applaud the preparer of it. We do boo Mr Garry’s lamentable attempt to cover up for his masters.

Somehow Mr Tour had deemed it proper to refer to the Police and yet permit Mr  Garry to procrastinate on a report for a full eight months. Mr Garry left his investigations on ISUS during that long interval with a telephone call to wirralbiz!

What of the sense of the DRAFT report of January 2012 among its many, many pages?

Nowhere to be found is a suggestion that either Mr Griffiths or myself were acting in the public interest but plenty of comment is made upon “Vendetta” against the BIG contractor Mr Paul Davies of Fieldcrest Ltd, that I was “having a go” at Mr Davies. The reader should understand the acronym “WB” meaning Whistleblower, was only given just before the November 2011 meeting with the PA and with Mr D Garry at the finance building. Mr Norman, then Head of Law, deliberated on whether we were motivated by personal and not public interest and needed to accept our pure motivations before the interview could commence!. The Timmins review of September 2012 was certainly correct to allude to this bias. It does not refer to the result of Mr Norman’s decision, that we were in a contractual relationship with WBC based on their published whistleblower policy for direct employees and subcontractors alike. The policy promised regular updates on progress and expedition in pursuing the policy. Neither took place.

Can we forgive the detectable bias towards defending colleagues discernible, for example, in the Lockwood Engineering Ltd case? The Principal Auditor {PA} accepts the Chief Accountant’s defence that in one month it is possible that there was a profit of £105,000! PA says that my comments re disappearance of £36,043 VAT creditor; appearance of  additional £49k debtors, disappearance of £16k creditors and all whilst the bank account increases, over just one month, are speculative! The PA never asks why the Chief accountant did not note these extraordinary movements between the Balance Sheet of the Management accounts at March 2010 and the Balance sheet used in the cashflow from 1st May 2010, or why a company capable of making £105,000 profit in one month should need a BIG grant.

THE PA does refer to the acting Head of Law, Mr Tour, the movement of assets from Lockwood to Harbac without any apparent payment (confirmed by myself by reference to the Liquidator) as being worthy of referral to external regulators. I discovered this in 2013 and referred it to Mr Tour and Mr Burgess who played dumb, then promised to investigate and come back to me, but never ever did. The penalty for perjury on a schedule of assets and liabilities to a liquidator can be a stiff prison sentence and yet our Council seems to have turned a blind eye to this so as not to let on that a BIG recipient went into liquidation 5 months after receiving public money in a supposedly “robust” process  (see cabinet notes). The press releases and Mr Burgess at the Audit and Risk Management Committee hearing 8th October 2014 refer not to the 5 months but to the much ,much longer period covering the liquidation process, that is to justify themselves by reporting that Lockwood went bust more than 17 months after receiving public money.

We do importantly learn that the financial forecasts were never submitted to the Independent Panel who had to rely on the written application and generally a 1-2 page appraisal from the Chief Accountant. In one case of the five cases that the PA reviews, the appraisal was not written by the Chief Accountant but by regeneration department itself. To Grant Thornton a panel member later expresses that he would have rejected applications had he seen the financials. The PA never records whether she approached panel members with the financial data nor any of their comments. The above is not the robust procedure asked for in the Cabinet’s outline. The Panel members appear in the light of “patsies” to lay a portion of responsibility upon or to claim that they were experts, so there!

We now know that in January 2012 Surjit Tour was aware that a Service Level Agreement had been written without consultation with the WBC legal or HR department and used without safeguards as to being signed by wirralbiz, or as to the quality expected of the work, or even as to outline the responsibilities and qualifications expected of advisors. Invest Wirral was indeed a satrapy in itself paying only nominal homage to its ultimate Emperor. The Invest Wirral officer who received the telephone call from M. Raworth outlining my objections to the BIG files felt herself satrap enough to dismiss me saying “It was approved by our Chief Accountant” and so another three months elapsed until James Griffiths upped the ante himself.

But I have promised not to stray into details and I check myself. Let me record that a process that allows one man to write a two page synopsis for a Panel to decide upon can whether deliberately or by simple omission fail to point out significant issues. In one case privately he confesses that giving public money to one applicant is a “leap of faith” but this does not reach the two page synopsis. Against all good practice no second review by a competent person ever occurs until voluntarily I perform due diligence in April 2011, having been denied access to the files until then.

The process was indeed a failure. BIG was a gimmick for £1.6m over two years would never have made an impact on the economy of Wirral unless it was done expertly and that was unattainable.

ISUS

Does it not seem strange that the PA records the results of details of Invest Wirral examination of wirralbiz files, which abound with delicate rephrasings for FORGED signatures and yet Mr Garry was permitted to drag on his meandering investigation with no sense of urgency? It seems that having seen a steaming turd the lady officers have recoiled in horror and asked of A4e-yes that paragon of virtue-to say it is not so. The PA speaks with Matthew Slack A4e’s  Head of Audit who fesses up re the dragonfly nature of their examination and she notes that no checks were made on the quality of files by Diane Bradbury of WBC or any WBC officer yet her observations do not rock the perceived impregnability of A4e’s audit that nothing is wrong. It took Grant Thornton to shatter that comfortable illusion and a further 29 months before we could read it in published reports.

The PA records she has asked for the ISUS/Working Neighbourhood contracts but does not record whether she received them so we are unaware whether Mr Adderley had as yet produced the excuse that it had been mislaid. She never references the all-important CRM database and makes no effort one month after the closure of ISUS to secure it, quite unlike myself who secured the internal wirralbiz database as evidence of their malpractice ( only accepted as evidence after Grant Thornton had reported). The CRM database in a say it is not so development, disappeared for a very long period indeed!

No alarm bells are loudly sounded that wirralbiz refuses access to its staff for interviews and indeed even to look at files after the ISUS contract terminates (16th December 2014). The PA visits for two hours on 14th December and then the portcullis is closed. If I had been WBC then I would have gone not to the defunct North West Development Agency (NWDA) but to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the ultimate disbursers of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money. When I contacted the DCLG in 2012 they did not seem to have heard from WBC. Only in February 2013 did Mr Burgess write a letter threatening wirralbiz with legal costs should they not permit Grant Thornton entry and access to the files. A year is a long time in not threatening legal action unless you did not want again to see and smell the steaming turd. DCLG had every right by contract to examine the files for up to 25 years after closure of the contract and they did gain access in late 2014 there being nothing wirralbiz could do legally to prevent them (notwithstanding a break-in during 2013 where files may have been claimed to have been taken or put into disarray. Claimed!!).

Just one last thing for which I am grateful to the learned Mr Brace. He posits that the exemption defence used by WBC in the FOI case, that it would prejudice their internal audit function, might be due to the length of time expended in redacting out names from the 370 pages. It could not be used as a defence on cost limits as redactions are not included in the FOI costs exemption. They would never have tried it on because that would have been to admit the quantity of the documents they possessed which astonished myself for a DRAFT report. Scrutiny of the screenshot shows that the H: drive contained much of the information retrieved from directories on the “H:\finance\intaudit\fraud\restored_ from _26_07_14\big-isus2\ wirralbiz” suggesting that the exculpatory comment in the Timmins review that an internal desktop review would cost up to £10,000 might be exaggerated, and simply to buy more time. Cllr  Adrian Jones was told the papers were scattered to the four winds, hardly the actions of an internal auditor more those of a madman or maybe a dissembler.

Read the above whistleblower of the future and think twice.

“Typhoon” calls which makes for better reading.