On the day that the Ofsted report of Ellesmere Port Catholic High School (EPCHS) report was finally published which we reported upon here we coincidentally (and presciently) received this startling in-depth analysis of Ofsted and their approach to North West Local Authority Schools which is essential reading in relation to the ongoing Tom Quinn/Frank Field Education Trust story. Now with the publication of the Ofsted report the questions raised below now take on even greater significance.
Ofsted has downgraded North West Local Authority Schools with better performance data than academies in Multi Academy Trusts (MATs). This may benefit Multi Academy Trusts in the longer term who will be able to absorb LA schools into their Trusts.
The UCEA Academy reopened as the Ellesmere Port C of E College on 1st December 2018 with an interim CEO, Tom Quinn. Quinn’s main school was Plessington on the Wirral. Quinn’s first (and now former) Trust, The Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust, also runs St Mary’s Catholic College. For a short time, Quinn was CEO of two Trusts from December 2018 until Thursday 18th April 2019. Quinn is also a member of a select group of secondary Head teachers who advise and influence the Department of Education’s policy development.
Frank Field MP set up the Frank Field Trust which was approved to take over the UCEA Academy in Ellesmere Port on 20th September 2018 by the West Midlands Regional Schools’ Commissioner (RSC) and Head teacher’s Board. The new National Schools Commissioner (NSC), Dominic Herrington, was a guest at that meeting, so at the very least, was aware of the decision. Last September, he was RSC of South East England and South London. The West Midland’s Board met thirteen times between January 2018 and May 2019. There has not been another RSC, or indeed any ‘guest’, present at any of the other twelve meetings, so his attendance at this particular meeting where approval was granted is noteworthy.
After many years in tenure, Quinn abruptly parted company with Plessington and the Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust on Maundy Thursday, 18th April 2019. The Chair of Governors and Operations Director, Sally Mitchell, also resigned. Since then, it has been widely reported in the local Liverpool and Wirral press that two investigations are now underway. The Liverpool Echo and the internet based Schools Week have both reported on these issues in recent weeks.
After Maundy Thursday, Frank Field MP had a choice with regards to his Interim CEO.
Within a week, Frank issued a press statement, telling Schools Week that he was “overjoyed” that Quinn would now be permanent CEO of his Trust, describing him as “one of the best headmasters in the country.” When questioned about the Holy Family’s ongoing investigation, Field added: “As things unfold, we must try and understand why people have tried to bring down one of our great headmasters. The most important thing for me is to bind myself with Tom. I have never ever doubted his qualities, his brilliance in teaching, his honesty. “At stages in the future, people will have to account for their actions. I’m willing to answer for mine.”
Quinn and Mitchell were made permanent CEO and Finance Director.
The Ellesmere Port C of E College, formerly known as the UCEA Academy, needs to increase its numbers in order to quite rightly fill the school. Three neighbouring secondary schools are currently being selected by parents in preference. South Wirral High, The Whitby High School and Ellesmere Port Catholic High School. All three are local authority schools. Whereas South Wirral High comes under Wirral LA and the competing academies in its areas are run by Lancashire and West Yorkshire RSC Vicky Beer, the two other schools come under Cheshire West and Chester LA and their competing academies are overseen by West Midlands RSC, Andrew Warren. All three schools come under the same North West region for Ofsted, led by the Regional Director, Andrew Cook.
All three local authority schools were due an inspection and were recently inspected within six weeks of each other. What was completely unexpected was the experience of the inspections themselves and the judgements. Ofsted and the government proudly state that 75% of secondary schools are ‘good or better.’ Only 25% are judged as ‘Requires Improvement (3)’ and only 8% are judged as ‘Inadequate (4).’
The government also publishes league tables based on 2018 student progress scores. In 2018 nationally, a progress score below -0.4 placed a school in the bottom 20% and below -0.62 placed a school in the bottom 10% for student progress. Whitby and South Wirral for two consecutive years had a progress score in the top 50% and both got ‘0’ in 2018, the national average, even better for white, working class schools losing the brightest students who often make more progress, to local grammar schools. Ellesmere Port Catholic High improved significantly between 2017 to 2018, from -0.62 to -0.35. The Whitby High and South Wirral High got ‘Requires Improvement (3)’.
An analysis has been undertaken of all 484 Ofsted inspections in England that have taken place in this academic year and been published by 25th May 2019. This analysis has been completed looking specifically at the nine Ofsted regions. Residential and boarding schools, special schools, UTCs and independent schools have been removed from the sample to make it a fairer analysis.
In the whole of England, out of 484 inspected schools, the highest performing schools in terms of student progress that were awarded a 3 (Requires Improvement) are listed in the following table.
In the table above, 40% involve North West Ofsted, despite there being nine regions. Not one of the four NW schools is a MAT, indeed ¾ of the NW schools are LA schools. Whitby and South Wirral are 6th and 8th out of 123 RI schools ranked by progress. How unusual for neighbouring schools, competing with a multi academy trust, to both be in the top 7% for student progress amongst RI schools? In a national sample, LA neighbours performing well, yet being awarded a 3 in a sample of 10 schools. Unlikely?
It becomes more significant comparing these two schools and their student progress figure to the 295 schools that have been nationally awarded ‘Good’ in this academic year. Ranking all the Ofsted rated ‘Good’ schools by progress, Whitby is 134/295 schools, South Wirral is 141/295 schools. For both schools, their progress figure of 0 places them in the top half of ‘Good’ schools inspected this year, yet NW Ofsted awarded them RI(3). Ellesmere Port Catholic High School got -0.35 for progress. 33 schools nationally have been inspected and given ‘Good’ with a lower figure, the lowest in the NW being -0.68 and the lowest nationally is -0.81. Both figures are in the bottom 10% of English schools for progress in 2018, yet ‘Good’ was awarded. Out of 123 RI schools, EPCHS is 57th ranked by progress.
Using the published similar schools figure compared to 55 similar schools in terms of intake, the issue becomes even starker. South Wirral is 17th, Whitby is 20th and EPCHS is 35th. Out of 485 inspected schools using these figures, South Wirral is 118th, Whitby is 143rd and EPCHS is midway at 263rd. This figure is critical because it contextualises student progress to some degree, taking account of the average ability of a student cohort.
Ellesmere Port C of E College is in the Frank Field Trust. Quinn did not resign from the Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust until April. All three LA inspections were in February and March and are interesting when compared to a school in his former Trust, St Mary’s Catholic College which has not had an inspection since September 2014. Why?
It reopened in September 2016 in Quinn’s Trust but its performance dramatically dropped from a student progress score of 0 in 2017 to -0.46 in 2018, the bottom 20% in England and lower than EPCHS with a declining trend. Despite not being inspected for 5 years, this deterioration in performance has still not triggered an inspection of St Mary’s, part of a MAT. Why?
The Frank Field Trust believes Ofsted judgements are influential and will help to improve the parental perception of Ellesmere Port C of E College. Multiple banners now surround the perimeter of the new school.
The Ofsted quote date has been changed from October 2018 to December 2018 on all of the banners. The quotes are attributed to the new school and Trust, when in fact they are Ofsted quotes on the former UCEA Academy which was under different leadership and governance and is now closed. Ofsted has never visited the Ellesmere Port C of E College. It does not have a view. The new school opened under the Frank Field Trust on 1st December 2018. Is this a genuine oversight, clever marketing or deception?
The personnel on all three LA inspections is a concern because of a potential conflict of interest.
HMI Will Smith downgraded South Wirral in 2017 to RI(3). Stephen Ruddy who was on the 2017 inspection was the lead inspector in March 2019, so he inspected the same school twice. Why?
HMI Will Smith was the more experienced HMI on Whitby’s inspection in February and the lead inspector on Ellesmere Port Catholic High in March. He has therefore been involved in all three school inspections over 2 years. Why?
Someone called W Smith was a governor on the Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust in 2017/18, before resigning in October 2018. Was it HMI Smith, proving a direct link to Quinn, or someone else?
HMI Erica Sharman was the lead inspector at The Whitby High School. Her former boss for over a decade was Tom Quinn at Plessington. She was on his senior team as an Assistant Head from at least 2007-2017 and was seconded to St Mary’s Catholic College until fairly recently to help lead the school. She also worked in the former UCEA Academy for about a day a week around 2014, the last time Plessington supported UCEA’s development in trying to improve. Her relationship with Quinn is an incontrovertible conflict of interest. Why was she allowed to inspect a competing school?
HMI Will Smith also inspected the former UCEA academy twice in 2018 on 27th March and 16th October. In the second report, the positive quotes written by HMI Smith about the former ‘Inadequate’ UCEA Academy, which has since closed, are the quotes that now adorn the perimeter of the new school on multiple banners.
Even if the governor is not HMI Smith, HMI Sharman and HMI Smith have inspected many schools together, which in itself provide a potential link straight back to HMI Sharman’s former CEO. Why did Ofsted not take steps to simply avoid a perceived, or indeed real, conflict of interest?
Whereas 75% of academies are in deficit, 65% of local authority schools are not. This makes them attractive to multi academy trusts who desire to expand to at least twelve schools to derive the full benefits from economies of scale. Ofsted is the sole mechanism for downgrading schools to facilitate forced academisation , either through an Inadequate judgement or ‘encouraging’ schools, governors and local authorities to consider academisation following one or more ‘Requires Improvement’ judgement.
The problem however is bigger than a small local area.
There is an emerging pattern in the North West with Ofsted judgements on local authority schools compared to academies and MATS. Is this to ‘encourage’ or force LA schools into MATs in the longer term?
Why are so many MATs and academies in the North West judged ‘Good’ whilst LA schools are getting ‘Requires Improvement’ on better figures. Ofsted do not just judge on progress alone. How can it be a coincidence then that MATs are better at everything else than LA schools in the North West but LA schools listed are getting better student progress?
The wider national problem is that there is absolutely no consistency between a progress score, which the government judge all schools on and Ofsted judgements, based on 484 published reports. The government publish league tables ranking schools by progress. Why, if it is no longer important?
These 22 schools either have a poor progress or poor similar school score. They all got a 1 day inspection and remained ‘Good (2) for up to 18 months. Why did these remain ‘Good’ with a one day inspection when 13 of them were in the bottom 20% for student progress in 2018?
Finally, is there any evidence of collaboration between RSCs, Ofsted and multi academy trusts.
Sandymoor School, Runcorn was rated Inadequate (4) by Ofsted on 28th February 2018. A series of events then followed. Ofsted continued to ‘investigate,’ making the following judgement that the school between February 2018 and its later visit had not done enough to allay their concerns. The Principal and Chair of Governors resigned within months.
This is a quick turnaround within a year. So how bad was Sandymoor School and its previous leadership? In 2017, its Progress 8 score was -1.11. Ofsted rightly had concerns but this figure can be explained. Sandymoor was a start up school. It did have challenges with half filled Year groups, excluded students from nearby schools etc. However, moving down the Year groups to Years 7, 8 and 9, the school was more typical of any school with full Year groups. It was full in the lower Years. There was confidence that the progress figure in 2018 and subsequent years would improve.
Ofsted clearly did not share this view. The Department of Education, citing Ofsted’s evidence, served a ‘termination notice.’ They could have waited until September, just to see if the GCSE results had improved. What were Sandymoor’s results in 2018? Their Progress score improved from -1.1 to
-0.72, almost exactly the same as The Academy of St Francis of Assisi on -0.68, who were deemed to be ‘Good’ (2). Just from the inspections in this academic year, the following schools all had worse performance than Sandymoor in 2018. Kirkby High (-0.8), Buile Hill Visual Arts (-0.83),
Waterhead (-0.88) and Notre Dame Catholic College (-0.98). They all got ‘RI’ (3). Sandymoor was 50/55 similar schools. This is better than 14 of 80 schools in the North West Ofsted have inspected this year who were either given ‘RI’ (3) or ‘Good’ (2). Seven schools in the North West were given ‘Good’ with worse similar schools figures.
Sandymoor School was a flagship free school that was visited by both the Education Secretary at the time, Michael Gove and the Prime Minister, David Cameron in 2015. It was in the headlines and concerns were even being raised about the school in the House of Commons in 2018.
Ofsted Inspectors arrived on 28th February 2018. Their judgement unleashed a series of events.
Who was part of this inspection team that gave the judgement of ‘Inadequate’ which was the catalyst for subsequent events and decisions?
A Regional Director and National Lead on Safeguarding at Ormiston Academies, Paula Arrowsmith
Exactly one year later to the day on 28th February 2019, the RSC Board, led by Vicky Beer, approved the sponsorship of Sandymoor School to none other than Ormiston Academy Trust.
So why is the Conflicts box empty?
None of the above has appeared in the press yet, despite the decision being taken in February.
This is a clear example of a local, competing, multi academy trust
securing sponsorship of a nearby school within a year.
Ormiston’s ‘support’ in recent months was not an act of altruism. They already have two schools close by. Surely this is a conflict of interest?
It gets worse.
With the approval now given, a new appointment from Ormiston has now joined the Lancashire and West Yorkshire RSC Board, within weeks of this decision in February, technically avoiding a conflict of interest surrounding the approval. Tuesday Humby, the Northern Regional Director of Ormiston and Executive Principal of Ormiston Chadwick , a neighbouring school to Sandymoor.
Updated ‘Transparency data’ on 29th April 2019 shows Tuesday Humby from Ormiston is now on the RSC board.
Tuesday has not attended previous meetings which is why the assumption is that she is a new appointment to the board. She does not appear anywhere on the minutes of the previous thirteen meetings of this board.
The emerging patterns in Cheshire, the Wirral , Runcorn and the North West are a serious concern.
This RSC Board led by Vicky Beer is also responsible for Wirral. If it can happen in Runcorn, it can happen anywhere. Andrew Warren is RSC for the West Midlands, including Cheshire. Let’s make a prediction. Within the next three years, South Wirral High School, Whitby High School and Ellesmere Port Catholic High will all be part of a multi academy trust. It was probably decided months ago at the highest levels and just required a sequence of events which are now underway. As Frank Field MP himself stated in a recent press statement, it will all become clear in time, “as things unfold.”
After all, Fulwood Academy got a (4) when Ofsted arrived. The Head had been in post one day… St Gabriel’s in Bury, with an Acting Head and a respectable Progress core of -0.22 got a (4) too. The Diocese of Salford has just set up three MATs called CATs so St Gabriels’ will become part of St Theresa of Calcutta CAT. Broadgreen International in Liverpool with a progress score of -0.44, better than St Mary’s Catholic College which still remains uninspected after 5 years, has also been given a (4). All of these will have to become absorbed within academy chains which has now become the only improvement mechanism in the education system.
Leaders of local authority schools and stand alone academies will be recoiling at the prospect of ‘the phone call’, helpfully extended to 90 minutes from September. From the emerging evidence here, you don’t need a 2 day inspection, never mind a phone call to establish ‘lines of enquiry.’ Forget the Progress 8 score or reformed curriculum. The lead inspector should simply just ask which MAT the school has a preference for.
RSCs and MATs are direct beneficiaries of local authority schools being downgraded. Ofsted is the sole mechanism that can do this. If one independent government body works with another…… The ‘modus operandi,’ has been shown to work with Sandymoor School. It’s a free school but the principle is the same.
As for EPCHS much delayed Ofsted report since this story broke, it will either be buried, changed, released or they will be re-inspected. After South Wirral, Whitby and Sandymoor, amongst many others, their report will lack any credibility. After all, look what happened to a girl’s school last year.
When EPCHS’ report is finally released, how will it align with the 2015 report where the same Head teacher was praised for rapidly bringing the school out of special measures?
“Outstanding leadership provided by the inspirational, dedicated head teacher has been the impetus to rapid improvement.”
We will see.
Questions raised by the evidence so far
- Is there an issue with Ofsted, specifically in the North West, downgrading local authority schools whilst seemingly being more accommodating to MATs and academies?
- Why were perceived and real conflicts of interest, involving the inspections of The Whitby High School, Ellesmere Port Catholic High School and South Wirral High allowed to go unchecked?
- Was there an agenda to boost Ellesmere Port C of E College by changing parental perception through the negative Ofsted judgements placed upon potentially three competing, neighbouring schools (EPCHS yet to be released two months later)? Is the longer term plan to ‘encourage’ or ‘enforce’ these three schools at the direction of their local authorities or diocese to join MATs?
- Why has St Mary’s Catholic College gone for five academic years without an inspection?
- Why did St Francis of Assisi in Liverpool (part of a MAT), get ‘Good’ on a 2018 student progress score of
- -0.68 (bottom 10% in England) and go six years without an inspection? If the answer to this question is to give new leadership time to turn the school around, why wasn’t the same privilege afforded to the one day Head of Fulwood and Acting Head of St Gabriel’s in Bury, neither of which are part of MATs? How did Deyes, (part of a MAT), get ‘Good’ with a progress score of -0.55 and a similar school position of 55/55 schools?
- Whilst progress should not dictate an overall inspection judgement, why are MATs much better at all the other aspects that lead to a ‘Good’ judgement, compared to local authority schools? If the answer is that the 2018 progress score is historic and Ofsted judged the current ‘live’ evidence, why is it the case that MATs tend to have much improved ‘live evidence’ but NW local authority schools have markedly deteriorated within less than one academic year?
- Why were so many academies and MATs in the North West given one day inspections which allowed them to remain ‘Good’ with progress figures much lower than many LA schools which got a two day inspection and were downgraded as a consequence? In the Wirral and Cheshire West, why is it only 4 LA schools that have had 2 day inspections (St Nicks, Whitby, EPCHS South Wirral) when there are MATs and academies with deteriorating and much worse progress that got 1 day or weren’t even inspected?
- Why is there no consistency with Ofsted between the different regions, with regard to the progress scores of inspected schools and judgement grades?
- If Ofsted are clear that student progress scores are no longer that important, why have schools had to radically reform their curriculum, often at the detriment of the arts, to accommodate this? Why are league tables published using the progress score, labelling schools, “Well above average” or “Well below average” by the Department of Education if the progress score is no longer of significance? Why do schools get provided with an IDSR annual judgement every December if it is no longer of significant value?
- Why does Ofsted police itself? Why are complaints about inspections not handled by a completely independent body?
- If the NSC and his RSCs benefit from schools being downgraded to expand their academy network nationwide at a time when 65% of local authority schools are not in deficit, does this make the relationship between RSCs and Ofsted increasingly problematic? Isn’t this the case, especially if it is perceived that Ofsted could be helping RSCs and the government by downgrading schools to ‘Requires Improvement (3)’ to ‘encourage’ governors and local authorities to get their schools into a MAT before they lose control of their future destiny if a subsequent inspection does not go well.
- Why is the mechanism for improving downgraded schools reliant on multi academy chains and CEOs that directly benefit financially, as with Sandymoor School, from securing the balance sheet, assets and any profits from the schools they absorb?
- What has happened to Ellesmere Port Catholic High School’s Ofsted report?
- Why was Ormiston Academy Trust approved by the RSC Vicky Beer to take over Sandymoor School exactly one year to the day after an Ormiston representative was part of an Ofsted inspection team that downgraded the school to ‘Inadequate,’ establishing a chain of events that facilitated Ormiston’s takeover? Why does Ormiston’s Tuesday Humby only appear on the RSC board now, after that approval?
We told you this one would run and run…and so following on from the further adventures Tom Quinn ,the Chief Executive of the Frank Field Education Trust (FFET) we bring you the latest (and predicted) twist in the tale.
The long awaited Ofsted report concerning Ellesmere Port Catholic High School (EPCHS) has been published and the rating of ‘Inadequate’ it will no doubt gladden the heart of Quinn – who we have no doubt has his beady eye on the school as part of the expansionist plans of FFET.
The full report can be read here
However before we publish a series of stories which provide both detailed research, personal accounts and opposing views about what is going on at South Wirral High School, Whitby High School and EPCHS we bring you the latter’s response to Ofsted’s suggestion that the senior leaders of EPCHS have an ‘overgenerous view’ of the quality of education at their school.
Until the local elections there was a very strong response to our “At stages in the future, people will have to account for their actions. I’m willing to answer for mine.” – Frank Field story which outlined how Tom Quinn (CEO) and operations manager (Sally Mitchell) at Holy Family Catholic Academy Trust had left amid an internal investigation concerned with a black hole in the Trust’s budget totalling several hundreds of thousands of pounds.
You may recall a statement from the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which founded the Wirral-based trust, which said Quinn and Mitchell left “with the mutual consent of the trustee directors” . Quinn also served as executive headteacher at the Holy Family’s St John Plessington Catholic College.
Our interest was piqued by the fact that Quinn and Mitchell are also respectively interim chief executive and interim chief finance officer at Frank Field Education Trust. Subsequently we’ve done further research and from what we’ve found out we think this one will run and run…
At the beginning of this school year, Field’s flagship academy in Ellesmere Port – rated inadequate by OFSTED – was competing against two good-rated local schools – Whitby and The Catholic High. At that point, Quinn was Field’s acting CEO.
These schools were inspected in February and March respectively. Whitby was downgraded to ‘Requires Improvement’ and The Catholic High has not yet published (why so long?)
These would appear to be both surprise judgements at schools where progress is in line with national averages – so both expected to be ‘good’. An unexpected levelling of the playing field in favour of Frank’s new academy?
As we now know Quinn is now fully appointed.
FACT: Lead inspector in the Whitby inspection, was Erica Sharman – Tom Quinn’s deputy at Plessington.
The other Senior HMI at both inspections was a certain Will Smith – a former History teacher from Manchester. It’s probably just a coincidence that someone with the same name sat on the Plessington Multi Academy Trust (MAT) governing board briefly in 2017-18. Probably.
However it would appear to be a definite conflict of interest in the case of Sharman – her then boss Quinn could be said to have had a direct personal interest in the downgrading of these two Ellesmere Port schools which helps clear the path for Field’s expansionist desires. After all Expanding MATs need failing local schools so it helps to have a little sway with OFSTED. Could just be a coincidence.
We can only ask whether Department of Education adviser Quinn have used his influence in OFSTED against Ellesmere Port’s maintained schools in the interests of his own academies’ ambitions? Might this show of power have secured him the full-time job at Field’s Multi-Academy Trust (MAT)? He certainly seems to have accumulated vast influence and ruthlessly culled staff . Could the recent inspections be an act of retribution against the LA? Whatever the motivation it certainly helps to clear the path for Field’s expansionist desires. Expanding MATs need failing local schools so it helps to have a little sway with OFSTED. I expect already sizing up their next targets.
Much of the correspondence we have received about Quinn – which is echoed (pun intended) in the local press uses the ‘B’ word to describe his modus operandi . For clarification the ‘B’ word is ‘Bully’ although other ‘B’ words are available . From another perspective this might be perceived as ‘outstanding leadership’.
However we know he has ruthlessly culled staff at schools he has taken over. Lots of crushed careers whilst he has accumulated vast influence. In other words – just another Frank Field acolyte where you have to be an ugly bully or a useful idiot.
It wouldn’t surprise us if OFSTED were in Quinn’s pocket. His model of ‘leadership and control’ is desired at the very highest political levels, where academisation of all schools is openly desired. It’s just another cabal.
Then there’s Field’s co-founder, Tory donor David Ross, about which there are serious concerns. Ross even tried to get the OFSTED top job. Because he cares so much about education? Yeah, right! These people want to own private schools, run them with public money and keep the cream.
Which leaves us wondering where all the money went at Plessington?…Just sayin’!
This is a big week at Wirral Council. So many comings and goings we can hardly keep up. Unfortunately some high profile departures will mean that some Wirral Council senior managers will be leaving before we get the chance to publish what we believe to be the real reasons behind some of the sudden departures.
We understand that one who has already slipped out the back door is John Wood who was brought in to help with Children’s Services ‘improvement journey’ last July as the head of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at Wirral Council. Read more here : SEND for Help
Now just after 9 months in post we understand that Wood has gone. Although it must be said the writing was on the wall when he himself hinted at the challenges he faced at Wirral Council in our Special Educational Needs and Disability : ‘ The best interests of the children have definitely not been at the forefront of everyone’s thinking…’ story.
What we do know is that there is an impending Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report which won’t make pleasant reading for Wirral Council and particularly those in the SEND Department formerly headed by Wood. We anticipate that the Ombudsman will find that Wirral Council were at fault and recommend urgent actions following a serious complaint involving a child with special educational needs. From what we understand it is unclear whether Wirral Council staff have had any training in SEND law. The law is clear, as is the guidance to which the department must adhere. However it would appear that Wirral Council are simply making up their own rules as they go along – no change there then. Hence the Ombudsman ruling and need for ‘urgent actions’.
Moreover we also understand that John Wood was involved in leading an investigation that is being described to us – and with apparent justification – as a cover up by Wirral Council. The case involves an allegation of abuse at a special needs school.
Much,much more on both of these stories over the next few weeks.
All we will say for now is that whilst Wood may have found a way out but it would appear Children’s Services are not yet out of the woods when it comes to their ‘improvement journey’! …
There are many curious aspects to Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ announcement that he was packing in politics – not least the fact we got to exclusively reveal the news from a leaked email . As much as we appreciate the leak we would have thought a more appropriate forum for this momentous news would have been the previous evening’s full Wirral Council meeting.
Whilst Liverpool Echo just did a hasty cut and paste job with archive photos shortly after we’d published the story , clearly other parts of local MSM were geared up for the announcement as Wirral Globe managed to get the news into yesterday’s print edition. The Globe also managed to reference to Frank Field’s recent run-ins with the resurgent Labour left despite the fact that this did not feature in Pip’s epitaph for his political career.
We’ll be analysing both the resignation message and Power Boy Pip’s political career in a special commemorative,cut out and keep, full colour supplement on Sunday titled ‘ THE 30 INGLORIOUS YEARS OF PIP’ – but for now all we’ll say is the hackneyed comment about him wanting to spend time with his long suffering family’ was not only reminiscent of resignations of Wirral Council’s past ( ex-CEOs Maddox and Burgess spring immediately to mind) but is also the time honoured phrase used by politicians just before the proverbial hits the fan…and oh believe us, it’s about to…
There have been various theories sent to us about the sudden announcement and we believe it may be a combination of all of them. After Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes reign of terror came to an end in 2012 in an unprecedented vote of no confidence , Power Boy Pip had the chance to really ,really make a difference to the toxic culture of Wirral Council but instead chose the path of least resistance.
Ultimately it is a failure of Pip’s ‘leadership’ – the reliance on a handpicked spin doctor ,the failure to rein in out of control councillors ( Crabtree, Reecejones, Foulkes and George Davies for starters) ,the inability to say ‘NO!’ to Birkenhead MP Frank Field, the all consuming reputation management and the constant denial best exemplified by the fantasy (Local Government Chronicle ‘Most Improved Council award) taking precedence over the reality (an ‘Inadequate’ rating of Wirral’s Children’s Services by Ofsted).
However it is also what French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin titled the “Omega Point”: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! … For everything that rises must converge.”
It is about the rise of the Green Party in Birkenhead (the humiliation of defeat in next May’s local elections had become a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of Labour left (being held to account by party members had never before been a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of local blogs ( there is no hiding place for local politicians up to no good any more ) and it is about the rise of political activism from people of all political persuasions across Wirral (especially those defending the Green Belt and the NHS – the likes of which Wirral politicians have never experienced before) .
For everything that rises must converge and together we say that is what is responsible for Pip’s demise…
PEACHEZ ‘N’ POLITIX
So after being open for 6 months Wirral Council ‘s Planning Committee unanimously pulled the (butt) plug on Birkenhead ‘gentleman’s club’ Peachez . However the other Birkenhead ‘gentleman’s club’ was out in force bemoaning the bump’n’grind. Council ‘leader’ Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies even put in an appearance . Might we suggest this was more in support of Birkenhead & Tranmere ward candidate Paul Jobson – for whom the decision was described by Pip as a ‘fantastic victory’ – than a genuine concern that Peachez was turning the town into a hotbed of moral turpitude. Remind us , wasn’t Pip part of the crew who flew to sleazy Reno hoping to be twinned with a town who’s main attractions are booze,strippers and gambling? Whatever happened to that hook-up ? The only stripping Wirral councillors now seem to be in favour of is the stripping of public assets.
We think that Power Boy Pip’s appearance in the Liverpool Echo video included in their Pip on Peachez story should itself be x-rated. Inevitably Wirral Labour described his performance (and it was a performance ) as ‘powerful’. Pip once again used the phrase ‘sordid business’ and it was hard to tell whether he was describing Peachez , his blatant electioneering or Wirral Council’s modus operandi.
However we had to laugh at the inevitable inane comment from that ultimate exemplar of political and personal decorum Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes: “I don’t know much about these places but I’ve not seen one in Liverpool on the main thoroughfare” he said sounding like a snooty, teetotal maiden aunt all of a sudden.
Bizarrely the refusal for planning permission was moved on the grounds that it would “not promote a positive image of the area” – which prompts us to wonder whether any of the councillors involved in the decision leading to Peachez going tits up have actually been to Birkenhead lately? Just sayin’ !
THORNY ISSUE FOR LABOUR ROSE
Tory Wirral Council group leader Ian Lewis managed to get a front page from Wirral Globe ‘blasting’ reports that 170 foster children went missing in 2016/17. The revelations gave further insight into why Children’s Services have been deemed inadequate by Ofsted. In response Paul ” Boycey’ Boyce , Wirral Council’s Director of Children’s Services was in in full ” that was then,this is now” “right direction” “moving forward” mode – you know the drill by now. However taking things even further in her local election campaign leaflet Labour Rose (no sniggering at the back) Cllr Christine Spriggs simply rewrites history when it comes to the past failures in Children’s Services.
We readily acknowledge that since 2010 the decimation of local authority funding under Tory rule has had a severe detrimental impact upon local services. However we would ask local politicians to be honest – a big ask we know – and acknowledge in return, that many of the failings in recent years with regard to vulnerable people, both young and old on Wirral, have had more to do with bad management and poor scrutiny. Consequently the £20 million (of your money) that Wirral Council are putting into Children’s Services are because they have had to remedy these past failings are less to do with “Tory cuts”.
As we exclusively revealed in February (2016) Wirral Council Super – Duper Director Joe Blott is about to escape. Most appropriately the article featured a ticking clock as we can only imagine that Blott must be counting the seconds until his exit as he knows all too well that the proverbial is about to hit the fan. Read more here :The Final Countdown
OK it’s been two years but it seems that it’s finally time to say : so farewell then Joe Blott – the last of the infamous Super Duper Directors appointed by failed Wirral Council CEO Graham ‘Burgesski’ Burgess. Although you won’t be surprised to hear that Blott’s £390K bung is identified in the topsy-turvy world of Wirral Council as a ‘saving’.
The summary of costs in relation to above are as follows:
To which we can only say – “Oh it’s a saving all right – but of who’s skin?” because as we anticipated the proverbial may be FINALLY about to hit the fan!
Following on from the departure of previous failed Super Duper Directors Kevin ‘ Addled’ Adderley and Clare ‘Wet’ Fish we have to ask ourselves what did we get for our money? Er ,not a lot ! From what we can gather Adderley was utterly appalling on every level except when it came to a left hook, Fish flailed around in shallow waters and laid the foundation for the inadequate rating of Children’s Services by Ofsted and as for Blott , well , Joe seems to have avoided blotting his copybook by being the chief co-ordinator of Wirral Council cover ups. But is that what we pay public servants to do? Are they there to serve us or their political paymasters?
Blott will forever be known by us for his infamous quote: ” No comment” – Sorry but you said it Joe and then lied about it to investigator Patricia Thynne and what’s more the ‘Wirralgate’ complainants have (yet another) recording to prove it !
He will also be known by the repeated use of the phrases : ” I can’t recall” and ” I have no recollection” – which proves either a) a pre-requisite of a senior manager at Wirral Council is selective amnesia or b) Blott has early onset dementia
Nevertheless and needless to say we predict that with his connections and the favours he’s dealt Blott will find a nice little niche somewhere after his long anticipated but hastily arranged departure. We wonder if the previously alleged delayed hook-up with Labour councillor Paul Doughty will finally materialise ? See here : Blott’s Pension Pot
Of course , as we have done with many ex-Wirral Council employees who have previously featured on Wirral Leaks , we will be regularly checking where Blott pops up next . Any information will be gratefully received and it will be your chance to win a pair of Joe Blott endorsed ‘Personality Lifts’ – shoe inserts that will make the vertically challenged feel really, really important .
Mark your entries ‘Spot the Blott’ and send to firstname.lastname@example.org
We sincerely hope it’s not the last hurrah from long time Wirral Leaks contributor Dr Robert Smith. But if it is – what a way to go. The ‘Good Doctor’ shows ‘His Lordship’ up for the flâneur that he truly is.
Now whilst we all would like to live in those alluring artist’s impressions this the harsh reality – expertly and forensically laid bare :
Wirral, Wirral Council, and the development of the ‘Masterplan’ over the last 30 years.
Given that Wirral Waters is a 30-year programme of regeneration of derelict docklands, and a number of now-senior councillors in 2018 have been Wirral Councillors for a similar period, I have been taking a look at the history of ‘Masterplanning’ in Wirral and searched for the successes of the last 30 years. With a few exceptions, the greatest success of the last 30 years of Wirral Masterplanning appears to be a huge growth industry in ‘artist’s impressions’, and very little else.
Masterplanning, as opposed to planning or even developing a scheme (remember them?), appears to come into its own in local authorities, with the adoption of quasi-military and business terminology such as ‘strategic planning’, ‘resource development’, and ‘business case’ justifications in the early 1990s, to demonstrate coherent planning, business-like operations and efficient use of resources. Followed swiftly by ‘blue-sky thinking’, ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘joined-up thinking’, ‘picking the low-hanging fruit’ and ‘going on a journey’, etc., etc.; management-speak jargon, as like what it is frequently spoke…
As multiple regeneration funding sources were amalgamated to form the Single Regeneration Budget in the 1990s, and European funding sources and Objective One status came to Merseyside, a more integrated approach to planning and regeneration was required to achieve external funding support. Wirral Council officers were good at that in the 1990s.
After extensive research of Wirral Council and other partners’ efforts at planning across a wide range of services, facilities or developments, it appears that those who claim regularly to have ‘vision’ are proven by results to be the least well-equipped to hold such a self-aggrandising view.
Wirral Council whose motto may as well be ‘Lectiones sunt didici, sed nihil mutare non’ (‘lessons have been learned, but nothing will change’) is an organisation that does not learn from experience, either its own, or that of others. Now there is neither innovation nor inspiration, just copy and pasting of others’ ideas, there is little public ‘buy-in’ due to imposition, and that is why it mostly doesn’t work. And that lack of truly innovative thinking with genuine public consultation generally leads nowhere, except to bitter resentment. Wirral is never now the first to generate and implement an idea (what Wirral used to be famous for, ferries, town planning, trams, guide dogs, ship building, and lots more), but this mediocrity and endless consultancies creates exactly the pattern that has produced Masterplan after Masterplan after Masterplan, few of which have been fully or partly realised.
The pattern of Wirral Council Masterplanning is this: –
Aspiration (‘I have a vision’) – Perspiration (usually other people’s to promote the ‘vision’) – Degeneration (ongoing decline through delay during ‘visioning’) – Desperation (produce another Masterplan) …eat, sleep, rave, repeat…ad infinitum…
It is notable that Cllr Phil Davies, elected as a councillor in 1991, was having a 2020 Vision for Birkenhead in 2001, but only having a 2020 Vision for Wirral in 2015.
Also worthy of note is that between 1990 and 2008 the regeneration programmes of Wirral CityLands, Hamilton Quarter Project, New Wallasey, Lairdside, New Opportunities for Wirral and Wirral Waterfront, represent a collective investment in excess of £500,000,000. The greater part of it spent in Birkenhead. The Council was the accountable body with ultimate responsibility for the programmes and their continuation. Just to note that there has always been a £1bn investment opportunity in Wirral…why not just add more noughts nowadays to look impressive in the media?
However, in recent times when Wirral Council states that is going to be more ‘business-like’ (shouldn’t this have always been the case?) ‘with a private sector head but with a public-sector heart’ as stated by Cllr Ann McLachlan – when a council spokesperson states that Wirral Council collecting statutory Council Tax and Business Rates is business enterprise representing commercial success of the Council, we should know we are really in trouble.
I took more of an interest in the non-statutory range of Masterplans produced by and for Wirral Council (there is a lot of statutory masterplanning as well, such as in 2017 when Ofsted rated Wirral’s Children’s Services “inadequate” after “widespread and serious failures” were found. This is one element of council core business).
When you fail to deliver a number of crucial core public services (the local authority raison d’etre), you’ve ‘taken your eye off the ball’ for far too long. You then descend into the realms of ‘reputation management’ often similar to propaganda, and create the smokescreen of column inches and artists’ impressions, or even local media allies and an in-house ‘newspaper’ to control publicly available information.
But, I digress, the list below is indicative rather than definitive, and focusses mainly towards the north of the borough, as that is where the Council has chosen to concentrate its efforts. I have included relevant media quotes as appropriate.
30+ ‘Masterplans’ in 30 years…that really is Masterplantastic!!
1990-1997 Wirral CityLands April 24th, 1997 Wirral Globe. Council Leader Dave Jackson writes “The work done on Birkenhead town centre is an achievement, but it has also given the impetus to make further commercial development possible.”
1995-2002 Hamilton Quarter Project – £82m to create a cultural and creative industries quarter, rebalance the local residential demographic, and develop attractions. The programme centred on Hamilton Square with a brief to unify the Woodside/Hamilton Square link to the retail centre. Also, to continue the ‘Heritage Trail’ museums package initiated by MDC. “Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies believes the success of the Hamilton Quarter Project, which has completely rejuvenated this part of Birkenhead, has shown what can be achieved.” (Mike Hornby 11th Jan 2002, Daily Post)
1998-2003 New Wallasey – “More than £9m had been allotted to carry out work in New Brighton and Wallasey, and, at the time, it included ambitious plans to build a Merseyside Imperial War Museum. But many of the hopes fell by the wayside and the scheme came in for much criticism when one of its lasting legacies was the New Brighton clown – a sculpture welcoming people to the town.” Mar 31, 2005 Daily Post
1996-2003 Lairdside – reclamation of derelict land and buildings for re-development and creation of Tranmere Urban Village.
1998-2004 New Opportunities for Wirral – A 6-year scheme aiming to tackle social exclusion and reduce poverty in the Pathways areas on the Wirral.
2000-2008 Wirral Waterfront – £144m programme to implement a comprehensive physical and social regeneration strategy for the Wirral Waterfront from New Brighton taking in Seacombe, pathway areas in Birkenhead, Tranmere and Rock Ferry.
2001-2008 LOBO Loans financial strategy – £137m borrowed from private banks at 6% pa; interest payable £8m pa. Total repayable in excess of £500,000,000 finally to be paid off in 2078; expensive exit penalties making it super-expensive to get out of the loans.
2001-2020 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision and Strategy January 11th, 2002 Liverpool Daily Post – Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies added: “This is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved over the next 20 years. The document sets up a framework which we will use to attract additional investment and create jobs. It is something which will benefit the whole of the borough, not just Birkenhead, and will enable us to compete with places such as Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks.”
2002 Enriching Our Lives – Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, never properly promoted, understood or implemented.
2002 Birkenhead Park £11.3m HLF restoration (completed 2007) a successful project undermined by the Council’s cavalier attitude to the agreed management plan, park maintenance and security.
2004 West Wirral Hoylake & West Kirby Masterplan designed to raise the profile of coastal towns Hoylake and West Kirby,. Consultants brought in by Wirral Council submitted their ideas in 2004. (Shelved 2014)
2006 Woodside Masterplan by Building Design Partnership (BDP) 28th February 2007 “The first phase of works will include the creation of a ‘development spine’ running from the Woodside Ferry Terminal up to Hamilton Square Station”. (Shelved)
2006 Wirral Waters 14th December 2009 Wirral Globe Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes said: “This is a significant step in our vision to regenerate Wirral.” Plans for a £200m International Trade Centre (ITC) in Birkenhead that could provide up to 3,000 new jobs have been approved by councillors. The centre, planned for the West Float former docks site, makes up part of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters regeneration scheme planned by developer Peel. 21 September 2011 BBC News
2007 Peach Developments/Neptune Woodside Masterplan May 2007. “The exclusivity agreement between Merseytravel and Neptune Developments and Peach Developments means ambitious plans to redevelop the Woodside area of the Wirral waterfront will go ahead”. Liverpool Echo. Martin Lowe, who runs Peach Developments, said: “I first took the drawings to the council four years ago, and when they saw them, they could see the potential for developing the area, so asked me to work with them. Since then, others have come on board, but the Woodside Hotel remains the lynchpin in the development.”
2007 Brand New Brighton – Neptune Developments scheme to redevelop the Floral Pavilion Theatre, and to develop Marine Point. 2nd September 2013 “New Brighton finally reaps rewards as successful revamp takes off” Wirral Globe. Except that Wirral Council has tried to strangle it at birth by introducing parking charges.
2008 Wirral Council Strategic Asset Review – Epic fail https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?Id=607
2011 Wirral Heritage Strategy 2011-2014 ‘Making Our Heritage Matter’ Private Eye writes… “that a fire at historic buildings in Wirral is often followed by demolition.” Liscard Hall, Birkenhead Market, ESWA Sports and Social Club, Central Hotel, British Leather Tannery, Woodside Hotel…
2013 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited – £30m redevelopment of Birkenhead town centre. The project was due to regenerate the town’s market and rebuild the Europa Pools leisure centre, with restaurants, a food court and a hotel also proposed.
2015 Wirral Council £1.1m Hamilton Square traffic plan – The plans were revised after criticism from businesses, residents and Birkenhead councillor Pat Cleary – who called it a “giant waste of public funds” – and they have now been shelved altogether. Liverpool Echo
2015 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited 27 October 2016 BBC News – Cllr Davies said the council continued to have “huge ambitions” for Birkenhead and believed it could be a “fantastic destination”. (Ion, previously Neptune Developments 2013 agreement scrapped 2016 – Council leader Phil Davies said the decision was linked to “more ambitious” development opportunities.)
2015 Wirral Council 2020 Vision (see 2001) – 20 ‘Pledges’. In his own words, Cllr Phil Davies to be held accountable by Wirral public.
2015 Wirral Partnership to pool £2bn public sector budgets by 2020 17th September 2015 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “It is our ultimate aim to have a pooled budget by the end of the five-year plan.” Never going to happen.
2015 Hoylake Golf Resort Masterplan 7th December 2017 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “This is another example of Wirral Council being commercial, ambitious and innovative.”
2016 Downtown Birkenhead CH41 25th Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo Cllr Phil Davies “This is the biggest regeneration plan I have ever been involved with.”
2016 Wirral’s Culture Strategy – would you know there was one? Not Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, and will never be properly promoted, understood or implemented.
2016 Wirral Healthcare Masterplan STP – is WBC in or out and for or against, as a Wirral NHS CCG ’partner’…who knows?
2016 Wirral Growth Plan – is this a school project? https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/new-images-1bn-wirral-growth-13173369
2017 Wirral Growth Company – “The prospect of bringing thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment, into the borough will be life-changing for many of our residents who look to us as a council to set these ambitious visions.”; states Cllr Phil Davies. Wirral Council Chief Executive states it is ‘asset rich, but cash poor’. However, it will transfer publicly-owned assets to the Wirral Growth Company, a private company with its own board. The Council will buy more assets (Birkenhead Market £??, parcels of land £??, Europa Building £8.4m) for which it will borrow many millions to buy. It will then take additional multi-millions in loans to lend to the developers, who presumably won’t be credit-worthy enough in their own right? More interest payments, even asset-richer, loadsa-cash poorer, is the likely outcome for Wirral’s public finances. The financial risk assessment must make for interesting reading.
2017 New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel – Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of the Council, said: “Driving regeneration, creating jobs and ensuring sustainable, long-term growth in our economy is vitally important”.
2017 Birkenhead Market Masterplan – “Birkenhead market could become such a foodie paradise that even celebrity chef Paul Hollywood could be tempted back to Wirral” states Cllr Phil Davies – maybe if Paul Hollywood (celebrity baker, duh) lives long enough….
2018 Wirral Waters1 WW1 – Wirral Waters £175m “International Trade Centre” sunk without trace, and diluted more with a splash of Urban Splash (modular) prefabs…what chance will all the Wirral Met College apprentice brickies have before their retirement?
AS WE COME UP TO DATE FROM CLLR DAVE JACKSONS QUOTE (1997) FROM CITYLANDS (started 1990), I THINK OF THE ‘LOST GENERATIONS’ OF WIRRAL, AND BIRKENHEAD IN PARTICULAR…it looks to me as if another generation will be ‘lost’ to ‘visions’, Wirral residents will be ignored, whilst crucial public services ‘wither on the vine’ due to neglect.
Here are 2 quotes from 2001 and 2017…
2017 Wirral Council Strategic Regeneration Framework Cllr Phil Davies states – “We have not been standing still in recent years, much has been achieved, but we look forward to working together with greater drive and pace in order to realise our shared vision for the borough”.
…and in 2001 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision – Wirral Council deputy leader Cllr Phil Davies says of the 20-year plan: “After consultations with businesses and the public what has emerged is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved.”
Vision…? …nah…same old, same old…it’s now obviously delusion…
It was three years ago that Wirral Council was named ‘Most Improved Council’ at the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards and anyone receiving an email or a letter from Wirral Council will see they are still desperately trading on this tired and bogus accolade.
As you know we are deeply suspicious of awards and titles as they often serve to provide a veneer of credence to the least deserving. This is something we deconstructed when the LGC award was first announced. Read here : The Bamboozlers
Might we suggest that it would have been more appropriate – or at least in the interest of balance – to include ‘Rated Inadequate by Ofsted 2016′ on official Wirral Council correspondence. After all what would be more indicative of the true state of Wirral Council – a rigorous full inspection of Children’s Services by a team of qualified and experienced inspectors or a 20 minute presentation to a group of gullible local government gurus at Grosvenor House ,London ? The LGC judge’s comments from 2015 read :
This is a council that has broken the mould of old ways of working to deliver a dramatic improve to its governance. Under a sector-led approach it has gone from being an abnormal authority known locally as the ‘insular peninsula’ to an organisation that seeks help and inspiration from others and is working with residents in a way they have never done before with impressive results in terms of new jobs.
And yet one year later Wirral council gets slated by Ofsted. But then a LGC award is a notorious kiss of death. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to hear the full story about how Wirral Council got this dubious award . Maybe Jo Miller the CEO of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council -who were ‘Highly Commended’ by the LGC judges -will one day tell us about the backstage wheeler dealing that went on to ensure Wirral Council won the award. Apparently the judges thought “they’d had a hard time” . So it was the sympathy vote that won it. Bless. No wonder Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies looks so proud in the picture above. Read more here: Most Improved Council 2015
Is it any wonder that the ‘Most Improved Council’ award has subsequently become so discredited that as far as we understand there hasn’t been such an award since? This includes this year’s shit-glittering ceremony which is to be held tonight : LGC Awards 2018
As you can see Wirral Council’s sole nomination this year is in the ‘Rising Star’ category and the honour goes to Sally Clark. Wirral Council’s pitch is as follows:
Sally Clark has recently been promoted to assistant head of communications but joined Wirral when it was undergoing major internal redesign. Her role was to help the council engage with employees to help communicate the challenges, the necessary redundancies and reshaping of services. She very quickly embedded herself across the organisation and her work on shaping how those messages were delivered had a huge impact on the final outcome and how the council was perceived. Ms Clark has been key to driving and maintaining pace in changing the way the council engages with staff, and has helped to set up new organisations that enabled Wirral to become a commissioning council.
We’ve got to admit that trying to improve how Wirral Council is perceived is a tough gig and it will be interesting to see whether Ms Clark fares better than last year’s Wirral Council ‘Rising Star’ nominee, Strategy Manager Lucy Barrow , who we understand is now ‘all things culture’ . We also understand from a source that reclusive Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson has a ‘special liking’ for Ms Barrow and “can’t stop singing her praises” . But then according to last year’s LGC award pitch “People at every level of the organisation rely on her advice,support and talent” . As no doubt does her husband Mark Barrow – who just so happens to be ‘Campaign Manager’ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ ! Proving once again to us that if you impress the right people and have the right connections on the insular peninsula you’ll go far. Is Wirral ‘s talent pool really that shallow? Sadly the answer appears to be yes! Read more here : Rising Star- Lucy Barrow
Now we can’t comment on the merits and attributes of these ‘Rising Stars’ but we do think it is revealing about what kind of roles are valued and relied upon by Wirral Council – salespeople and spin doctors.
However such is the mysterious workings of the universe it would appear that it is a truism that for every rising star there is a falling star. And apparently disappearing into a black hole is former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley who having being exiled by Wirral Chamber of Commerce to Egerton House as a glorified facilities manager, has we now understand, gone altogether . Perhaps he didn’t fit with the slick ,glossy image that the aspirational Chamber are promoting. As Her Ladyship said : ” I fear that burgundy cummerbund at the LGC Awards 2015 may have been the beginning of the end for him”
If this is the case it’s lucky for Adderley that the £250,000 pay off he received from Wirral Council in 2015 will mean that (unlike others) he won’t have to darken the door of the DWP for whom he worked for 29 years. Perhaps he can give former Wirral CEO Graham Burgess a call to see if there are any jobs going within his burgeoning property empire (Torus /Bamboo Lettings etc;) …….on second thoughts, perhaps not.
But as the stars are going out
And this stage is full of nothing
And the friends have all but gone
For my life, my God, I’m singing