You Can’t Go Wrong

You can't go wrong 010

Wirral Globe followed up the announcement of the resignation of  Julia Hassall -Wirral Council’s Director of Children’s Services –  by publishing a leaked email which was sent to Wirral’s teachers.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15287600.Leaked_email_reveals_no_regrets_for_Wirral_Council_s_departing_child_safeguarding_chief/

Inevitably it was also leaked to us (and is published in full below) . Even more inevitably we feel the need to deconstruct Julia’s touching message for Wirral Leaks readers.

We’ve also received further leaks that suggest that morale in Children’s Services is at an all time low. As we’ve said before this is THE most difficult work and the biggest responsibility any council worker could ever have. The personal safety and future life chances of other people’s children are entirely dependent on them. So why do Wirral Council ask staff to work in the most toxic and dysfunctional environment you could ever imagine?

Might we suggest that what doesn’t help the situation is receiving the following  leak: ‘Keep an eye on newly appointed senior manager Simone White. She was a lack lustre team manager at Wirral Council children’s services for many years until joining OFSTED as a senior inspector.  Conflict of interest ??’

Or just another opportunist on the local government gravy train. Somewhat like dear Julia herself. In her farewell letter she inevitably tells us about the ‘improvement journey’ . Presumably this journey involved an improvement to her bank balance , as no doubt she will be another recipient of a tidy severance package as yet another reward for failure paid for by us.

On Wirral it seems ‘you can’t go wrong’ even when you go wrong !- but only if you’re a senior manager and a) you know too much and b) you’re prepared to take the fall

No wonder Julia ‘No ‘ Hassall tells us she’s ‘fine’ . Because that’s all that matters. As long as Julia’s ‘fine’ what does it matter about working class kids?

We also have to tell you that the news of her resignation doesn’t come as a ‘shock’ .  A senior Wirral Council manager not getting sacked and not receiving a big fat cheque – now that would really be a shock!

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to make sure you are aware that I have sadly decided to resign from the council. 
I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, and I am grateful to you all for your dedication and hard work.
It has been challenging, demanding work and I know we have made progress, particularly since September last year as part of the improvement journey. We are clearly on the road to delivering the improvements which are required and this has been recognised by colleagues at Ofsted and the DfE.
I feel that now the new senior team is in place and there is a clear vision for the future that now is the right time for me to seek new challenges elsewhere. As you know I have been dedicated to improving outcomes for Wirral’s children, young people and families and I know you will continue this work.
To ensure stability, Deborah Gornik will be recommended to Council this week to assume the role of DCS on an interim basis, in advance of a recruitment process to arrange a permanent replacement for me.
I appreciate this news will have come as a shock to you. I want to assure you that I am fine, and I will continue to work in Hamilton Building this week to ensure a proper handover.
I am confident that the changes you are making will be the right ones to secure the best outcomes for children now and in the future.
Regards
Julia
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Child Sexual Exploitation – No Alarms and No Surprises, Please.

No Alarms

An horrific Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case in Birkenhead finally hits the headlines. The case involves lengthy jail sentences for two Sri Lankan brothers found guilty of the systematic  rape and abuse of girls aged 14 and 15. The full story can be found here :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15287059.Brothers_jailed_for_40_years_for_child_sexual_exploitation_of_vulnerable_young_girls_in_Wirral/

Now, as we know, the culpability for these vile acts lies with the perpetrators. However we have to ask ,once again, where were the various agencies responsible for safeguarding vulnerable children ?

The fact that Cabinet lead for Children’s Services Cllr Tony Smith has been relieved of his position ( nobody gets ‘sacked’ at Wirral Council) and Julia Hassall – Head of Children’s Services has resigned, suggests that as far as Wirral Council are concerned there are questions to be answered (aren’t there always?)

But do you know what makes us want to bite our knuckles in sheer frustration and anger is the way that rampant reputation management rules all at Wirral Council!

Wirral Council knew (as did we) that there was every likelihood that reporting restrictions would be lifted on this case today. So what is their first priority? –  that’s right get the Liverpool Echo to run a story on Sunday afternoon that council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies had used his ‘strong leader powers’ to suddenly oust Cllr Tony Smith from his Cabinet. So Cllr Smith takes one for the team and is the fall guy ,the patsy for this latest horrorshow. This was followed today with the long overdue resignation of Head of Children’s Services, Julia Hassall.

Of course this all goes back to the publication of a damning Ofsted report last September which had us apoplectic here at Leaky Towers . With our usual prescience we wrote at the time  –  ‘And inevitably what we have witnessed today is the first instalment of an exercise in damage limitation and reputation management for which Wirral Council is so well known  with a carefully controlled ‘leak’ to the Liverpool Echo.’

You may also recall that Hassall claimed there were ‘no surprises’ in the Ofsted report.

What? – did you think Ofsted wouldn’t notice or if they did you could dupe Wirral councillors that everything was hunky dory – for as we know that’s what council officers have been doing for years.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/the-pain-of-failure/

We have expressed the view that the Council’s No. 1 priority is the protection of vulnerable people (and particularly children).  They have failed us and more importantly, the vulnerable, time and time again.

This is, among other failures, a monumental failure of scrutiny (another thing we’ve been banging on about for years) .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/told-you-so/

We can recall the denial when opposition councillors tried to ask questions about CSE on Wirral and being soothingly reassured by Wirral Council’s Safeguarding Lead ‘ Simpering’ Simon Garner that they need not worry themselves as they’d got it covered. We can also recall the ‘faux outrage’ from councillors whenever comparisons to CSE in Rochdale or Rotherham were mentioned. Consequently the approach from council officers is not to  alarm the councillors as they might get a bit upset that there are sexually exploitative people out there!

We assert  that the denial of the problem by agencies responsible for safeguarding is a major contributor to the continuation and prevalence of CSE. Perhaps Wirral’s Safeguarding Board would do well to check out  ‘Three Girls’ a 3 part series running this week Tuesday-Thursday on BBC1 at 9pm which covers the Rochdale CSE scandal. They might actually learn something.

Finally  we’d like to go back to our original ‘ The Big Lie’ post where we called for the resignation of CEO Eric Robinson  , Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall , Corporate Safeguarding Manager  Simon Garner ,  Council Leader Phil Davies ,Children Services Lead Cllr Tony Smith, People Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chair Cllr Moira McLaughlin

Two out of six ain’t bad  (although we should have added Hassall’s manager Clare Fish into the roll call of shame) – but it’s not enough.

The vulnerable people of Wirral deserve better. Indeed, we all do.

SPECIAL REPORT : Where Your Money Goes

where-your-money-goes

It must be this time of year, as we’ve been musing on money matters (or rather lack thereof). Clearly Wirral Council have been doing the same as they gear up to set their forthcoming budget and pursue a number of punitive charging regimes to offset central government funding cuts.

Yeah,yeah, yeah – we get it when they drone on about how badly they’ve been done to by central government and they have to make tough choices and priorities. But that’s what we take issue with Wirral Council here at Leaky Towers – it’s the choices that they make which indicate to us that their priorities are all wrong. Consequently they lose all moral authority when they start bleating about lack of finances.

So let’s take a quick look at where that money comes from and where it goes :

As we all know Wirral Council’s income stream is increasingly going to be us via Council Tax and any supplementary fund raising scams they can come up with.We look forward to their budget proposals now that they’ve been given the go ahead by central government to put up Council Tax by 3% to pay for the rising costs of social care. Rather frighteningly they also have the the opportunity to raise even more money via this route.Surrey County Council are looking at a total Council Tax rise of 15% but to do so they would have to put it to the local vote. We suggest that this is not something that the ruling group at Wirral Council wouldn’t risk but nothing ,nothing would surprise us about this shower of chancers.

David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, announces proposal to seek a council tax rise of 15%

So , down to business –  we’ve previously discussed the charming operatives from Kingdom Secrurity and their cash for trash extortion agency for the Council. As anyone who has seen a Kingdom Security in action – they go after vulnerable people who don’t have the means to  retaliate . Much like the people they get their contract off.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/cash-for-trash/

It’s not  about caring for the environment. Neither are other money-making scams devised by an increasingly desperate council. Similarly their car park charging proposals have absolutely nothing to do with maintaining the roads or traffic measures. It’s all about the moolah. Your moolah! – so cash cows out there prepare your teats for action as they’re going to be bled dry.

Park and Get Taken For A Ride

We’ve already reported the squandering of £80,000 on the appointment of an Investor Development Manager – rumoured to be a shoo-in for current leading Wirral Council puppet master Martin Liptrot.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-power-abusers/

Which again begs the question as to why there isn’t someone on a humongous salary with the requisite skills at Wirral Council – because well ,apparently there just isn’t ! Let’s not even mention what the likes of David Armstrong, Clare Fish and Joe Blott  get paid  – if you throw in Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson that’s half a million big ones per annum between them.

Never mind the recent ridiculous ‘Are Wirral’s 66 councillors Value For Money?’ exercise conducted by themselves and to which the unsurprising answer was a resounding YES! – how about we have a VFM consultation on the above gang of four/flaw? – especially when we consider the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services.

This has necessitated the appointment of troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil and former Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Maggie Atkinson as the new ‘independent’ chairwoman of Wirral Safeguarding Children’s Board. The appointment of such big hitters suggests us to that Children’s Services is in an even bigger mess than the Ofsted report indicated. Not that we’ll ever know because the Children’s Services Improvement Board meets behind closed doors. Lessons have obviously been learned from the last Improvement Board – no openness, no transparency, no public accountability suits the powers that be. We’re just asked to stump up the bill.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15032232.Government_troubleshooter_who_dealt_with_aftermath_of_Baby_P_scandal_to_lead_rescue_of_Wirral_children_s_services/

These consultants seem to be mainly tasked with finding out why Wirral Council can’t recruit and retain staff in Children’s Services. We can tell them free of charge : because it’s rammed with poor calibre middle managers who bully their staff on the instructions of passive/aggressive senior managers who earn a nice wedge spouting platitudes and duping councillors.Plus the fact that who in their right mind would want to do Child Protection work in Birkenhead. Think about that for a moment  – beyond grim.

Another drain on resources that we never to get to hear about are the court cases that Wirral Council get ensnared in because they simply don’t know the difference between right and wrong….but they’ve got plenty of well paid people particularly in the HR and Law Departments who are prepared to blur the lines between the two in return for a big fat salary. We understand that there’s a court case coming up at the end of this month that could prove to be the defining moment of how Wirral Council chooses to ‘move forward’.

We’ll keep you posted.

Peer Review

seriousversushappyclappywirralview

Our media correspondent Phil Column asks : “That dual colour masthead ….wonder where Wirral View got that idea from? “

We all know that central government are constantly dismantling opportunities for external scrutiny of our public institutions and have lately been encouraging the use of peer reviews.

Peer reviews are basically where get your mates in to give you the thumbs up to carry on as hypernormal. Astonishingly we understand that our very own ‘strong leader’ Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies goes round the country performing this task and give other local authorities the benefit of his ineptitude.

So we thought we’d redress the balance and undertake a peer review by an actual peer of the realm. Therefore as promised His Lordship will be giving a full review of the online edition of Wirral View .  But remember folks ” Your publication” is  NOT a newspaper  !. Power Boy Pip says : “even though this is printed on recycled news-sheet this publication is not a newspaper”. So that’s all right then, thanks for clearing that up for us!.

All we can say on the matter is that if it walks like a duck , talks like a duck – it’s a f*cking duck . We’re surprised it doesn’t come with a free sachet of Hoisin sauce.

The first thing we noted (as did many of our readers) was that advertising was placed solely by Thornton  Hall Hotel. Clearly that unfortunate incident involving Foulkesy’s stepson assaulting hotel staff by pulling hair , wielding a fork and doing the “do you know who my mum is?” routine must has been forgiven. But then we suppose if you want the dubious prestige of hosting the annual Mayor’s Ball it’s always best to keep in with the hosts.  Which brings us to an interesting point. Isn’t there an incentive for those businesses who have contracts or who may be seeking contracts with Wirral Council to place adverts in Wirral View?. The opportunities for conflicts of interest , coercion and nepotism are a distinct possibility and based on how things work on Wirral , a near certainty. Although having said that we’re sure that Wirral Council’s contracting arrangements are beyond reproach – although those left out of the recent tendering exercise for Wirral’ Council’s taxi services may want to disagree!.

The rest of the publication is all a bit ‘meh’ tbh . It certainly doesn’t appear to be filling anyone’s ” information deficit” (whatever that is) unless of course you’ve always wanted to know how to make Spicy Tomato & Lentil Soup . We counted no less than 10 articles that reference food ,glorious,food . All very lowest common denominator stuff – we blame The Great British Bake Off . However as we’ve already commented the most interesting aspect is the Ofsted inspection report spin-a-rama and the no doubt Martin Liptrot – scripted  leader’s column (insert own joke!) .

Power Boy Pip /Liptrotsky are keen to emphasise that Wirral View won’t carry breaking news , football results (!) or important information you need to know immediately and that Statutory Notices will still be placed in the local weekly papers.

The local weekly papers ,by which they obviously mean the Wirral Globe  – as we all know they’ve got Wirral News /Liverpool Echo neatly boxed off on the newsfront –  will still be able to hold the council and its partners to account when they get things wrong (heaven forbid!).

Of course the Wirral Globe will only be able to  hold local organisations to account as long as it is not undermined and it would appear to us that Wirral View is an attempt to do exactly that . We think the true motivation behind the publication of this newspaper (for that’s what it is) was let slip by  Labour councillor Ron Abbey at last week’s Extraordinary Council meeting where he said the Wirral Globe  were ” too busy criticising this Council” and that they don’t send out “the right message”.

The “right message” we presume being the one personally approved by Pip’s ‘policy advisor’ Mr Liptrot and only then is it fit to grace the pages of Wirral View.

And finally can we say this :  these are desperate times when we have to rely on the local press to hold our local institutions to account. Which brings us right back to where we started –  we are reliant on the press because there is a lack of external scrutiny of our public institutions and as we have witnessed time and time again it is to the detriment of public accountability, the public interest and the public purse.

 

First Glance at Wirral View

With very little fanfare and much controversy we’d like to warn our readers that the first edition of Wirral View will be dropping through their letterboxes any time now.The online edition is posted above. However we’ll be waiting for the paper edition before we deliver our full Wirral View review.

And yes it would appear that Wirral Council have finally decided on a title – it is definitely Wirral View . From what we can see it is very much as we all predicted with news of a River Mersey firework display providing the the bread and circuses front page (the bread bit being the foodbank news on page 26).

Wirral Council’s alleged No.1 priority is relegated to page three. The article on the damning Ofsted Inspection report is given more spin than Rapunzel on speed and has the title ” Children’s services to get major investment” !. Which we suspect will be the distorted shape of things to come.

We have to say Wirral View appears to be very slick and like an oil spill will soon be everywhere and unwanted. There are shiny ,happy people on every page.  A smile is obviously compulsory. In fact – even the bloody pumpkins on page 2 are smiling. The only person not smiling is the unemployed person in her beautifully appointed home on page 28 – although she looks more as though she’s online shopping at Waitrose and she’s disappointed they’re all out of quinoa.

However only time will tell whether , in the words of Martin Liptrot , sorry Councillor leader Phil ” Power Boy Pip”  Davies’ that  – “Hopefully , Wirral View will become a welcome guest in your homes” or it will be Exhibit A in an expensive legal dispute. All we do know for now is that we’re breathless with anticipation for the print edition to arrive as after we’ve given it the once over we can line our cat’s litter tray with the free newspaper that we all somehow pay for!……

 

A Very Troubled Council

 

cllr-tony-smith

Cllr Tony ‘Trouble’  Smith

We understand that at last night’s Extraordinary Meeting of Wirral Council that there were several calls for various heads to roll in the aftermath of the Ofsted Inspection Report. Prominent among them being Cllr Tony Smith the Labour Cabinet lead for Children’s Services.

It didn’t happen of course due to both a lack of  opposition votes and also seemingly a lack of shame.  

It seems that much of the criticism levelled at Cllr Tony Smith is that with his soothing,lilting,lovely Irish brogue he has reassured councillors that everything  was fine ,to be sure , so it is, when talking about how well the council was doing when it came to safeguarding vulnerable children. 

But it clearly wasn’t doing well at all, at all – and he and others knew it!.

And so this now turns out to be a  further manifestation of what Ofsted politely call  “a culture of over-optimism” and what we identified almost exactly 3 years ago as ‘The Pollyanna Principle’ with its prime proponent being Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies :

POWER BOY PIP & THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLE *

How timely then that it has been brought to our attention that  Cllr Tony Smith has a history of making statements that are not merely “over -optimistic”  but considering his position – misleading,manipulative and irresponsible.

Our regular learned contributor ‘The Professor’ informs us that an official (leaked) report has concluded that the Troubled Family Programme delivered zero improvements in families nationally and reminds us :

Last year I reported on the false claims by the Council of a ‘huge success’ in ‘turning around’ local families from hell in the Troubled Families Programme. It turned out those claims were false. Now we learn that a leaked, independent government sponsored report by Ecorys confirms and extends these conclusions nationally. But let’s remind ourselves of the Wirral Council claims first. Cllr. Tony Smith declared in March 2015 at the TFP celebrations, that

                            ‘we have seen a hugely successful outcome…’

 What actually happened? Well initially 74% of our families had workless adults. At project end just 2.6% had gained an adult with a job, or 24 in total.  The local project processed 910 families compared with 118,000 nationally. The national cost of the TFP phase 1 was ~£615 million so average cost per family was £5.2K. Our cost share would be £4.72 million. We can see that each job gained cost us ~£197,000. Is that good value? However in addition it was claimed that 77% of the Wirral troubled families had met the ‘crime / ASB / education’ target. Surely a big reduction in crime or antisocial behaviour is worth something? Except that 93.5% of adults and 89.6% of children had not been involved in ASB at project entry!  84 % of minors had not been involved in offences! Only 1.2% of the children had an ASBO or ABC!. It turns out that the 77% number is phoney and, to the extent it measures anything, that is a modest reduction in school absences, not criminality.

The Professor’s full report to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee : Troubled Families Inquiry 2016 can be read here : https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxrkIjRDgrB-ODJLNjYyY2trNVQwZThoMkxXVm1GNW5pVjBJ

Not only are we troubled that last year this was presented as a good news story ‘The Professor’ also suggests our local cost share of TFP phase 2 could be ~£7 million with NO  prospect of any benefits delivery at all except more populist political hate spin on the poorest (mainly ill) ‘families from hell’.
But of course you won’t be reading about any of this in Wirral Council’s forthcoming publication Wirral Today nor sadly it would seem about the resignation of Cllr Tony Smith……..  

 

Public Accountability Wirral-Style

Constituency Committee 024.JPG

We were looking forward to reporting from tonight’s Birkenhead Constituency Committee but we understand it’s been cancelled again – although we should be grateful that they’ve set up a meeting in November as originally they were due to meet next in  January 2017 – meaning  that would have been more cancellations than meetings this past year. We can only guess that they call it a  ‘Special  Meeting’ because it’s a special occasion when they actually meet!.

Now we don’t want to be seen to be singling out Birkenhead Constituency Committee but we really would like to know what these mockeries of  local democracy actually achieve?. Wallasey seem to be the only one of the 4 constituency committees that actually meets regularly and achieves anything.

However we do have a particular interest in Birkenhead Constituency Committee because let’s face it that’s where most of the absolute worst local politicians -and it has to be said a couple of the best- Cllrs Kelly and Cleary take a bow – who besmirch our blog can be seen up close and personal. The council “leader”  Power Boy Pip can be found there with both of his deputies  Cllr Ann “Going Forward” McLachlan and Cllr George “Combing Forward” Davies  along with Cllr  Angela “CGL who?” Davies , Cllr Matron McLaughlin and of course who could forget ex-council leader Foulkesy ?. Although we have to say we owe an apology to Foulkesy as we claimed in a previous post that he was not renowned for anything. That’s simply not true. He’s renowned for being a LIAR!.

Now that Birkenhead MP Frankenfield has given up the chair to spend more of his valuable time backstabbing Jezza Corbyn and badmouthing “Sir” Philip Green  he’s handed over the reins of the committee to his political agent and bumbling , mumbling go -between –  Cllr George Davies. And we think that in the light of the Thynne 2 report and the Ofsted report that those who were due to attend the Birkenhead Constituency Committee and who were implicated in various failings and misconduct have decided to keep a low profile and which may explain why tonight’s meeting was cancelled.

We’re particularly disappointed  that tonight’s meeting is off as we’d advised one of disgruntled sources to show up and shame them after they’d written to us in desperation to say  : “Why are they allowed to mismanage things so consistently.  As for my local councillor S Foulkes all I’ve received from him (and this was after two requests for acknowledgement of my emails) was an email telling me that council would resume on 1st September, useless is the kindest word I can use.  That said that is more of a reply than I got from Coun Davies, I never even got that from him…..”

That’s why we advise our readers to attend these meetings if only to hold these no-marks to account and remind them they are ACCOUNTABLE TO US.

This is something to which most councillors and the officer class of Wirral Council seem to be oblivious to. This is demonstrated once again by the fact that council sources inform us that :

A Spotlight session has been arranged at which Julia Hassall will lead a briefing for members regarding the outcomes of the recent Ofsted inspection of children’s services in Wirral. The purpose of the session will be to outline the key findings of the Ofsted inspection and the Council’s planned response. There will then be the opportunity for a question and answer session. All members of the Council are invited to attend the session, which will not be open to the public.

The session will be held on Tuesday 11th October, commencing at 6:00pm in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall. 

Under the circumstances all we can do is advise our readers to contact their local councillors and ask them to ask pertinent questions on their behalf . http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

It maybe not the way that public accountability should work but at least we can point to an example as to how it should work :

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/data_protection_breach_4

As following our exposure of a serious data protection breach by Wirral Council they were compelled to report their failing to the Information Commissioner’s Office . It’s just a shame that the person who picked up the documents from the pavement had already beaten them to it!.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/environmental-disaster/

NOW THAT IS HOW PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY SHOULD WORK!

The Big Lie Gets Even Bigger……

It’s been a week since we published our heartfelt preview of what was then the upcoming Ofsted inspection report of Wirral Council’s Children’s Services

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/

And now in the aftermath of the publication of the latest in a long line of damning reports it would appear Wirral Council are adopting the timeworn tactic of denial and damage limitation.

As an antidote to these machinations we’re bringing you our further thoughts on the Ofsted report and subsequent developments.

 

china4

China Crisis 

Once again Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies demonstrates his renowned strong leader powers and makes plans to bog off to China with his new BFF  – Metro Mayor reject Joe Anderson  – in the aftermath of the Ofsted report crisis. At least his predecessor as council leader Steve Foulkes , who was not renowned for his political insight or indeed renowned for anything , had the good sense to abandon plans to jet off to the far east when the  equally damning Independent Review threw Wirral Council into chaos in 2012.

However it seems Power Boy Pip is undeterred by the fact his leadership is in question and the Council is yet again in turmoil as he embarks on yet another junket. What we’d like to know is what exactly is his “number one priority” – small children or big business?  and what have any of these many trips achieved for the people of Wirral?. Perhaps Pip can also tell us whether the Wirral Chamber of Commerce Queen Paula Basnett and  Contact Company King Asif Hamid are also on the trip and if so – why?.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14761154.Council_leader_defends_trip_to_China_amid_Wirral_s_child_safeguarding_crisis/

Walker Walks

We think the first casualty (and we hope not the last) of the Ofsted inspection was Bernard Walker the ‘independent’ chair of  Wirral Safeguarding Boards for both adults and children . Walker must have known the writing was on the wall and walked out when Ofsted walked in (allegedly at the end of his “tenure”). Subsequently Ofsted judged Wirral Safeguarding Children Board as “inadequate” and that it was “not discharging all of its statutory functions ….and the running of board business are not sufficiently independent of the local authority”.  As we know from the Standards & Constitutional Oversight Committee  an ‘independent’ person for Wirral Council is usually a safe pair of hands who won’t rock the boat and won’t ask any awkward questions . And at £500 a day for Walker’s services it would seem it’s the usual consultancy trick of taking the money but not taking the flak. Seems like Walker could talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. Under the circumstances might we suggest to Bernard that in the light of the Ofsted report findings that he may want to tinker with his LinkedIn profile – just sayin’.

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernard-walker-3333713b

Self Improvement 

“From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council).

So in the light of the Ofsted report how is that statement standing up Eric? . It’s all sounding a bit hollow isn’t it?. An empty Martin Liptrot -penned soundbite. Ain’t it a shame that the people of Wirral are not buying what you’re selling? . Although they are being asked to stump up another £2 million to help put things right!.

Unfortunately though the supine Department of Education suits think Wirral Council can be entrusted to set up their own improvement board and everything will be tickety-boo in no time. Of course long suffering Wirralians know better as we’ve all been here before . It is less than 3 years ago that the Local Government Association – led improvement board made a premature evacuation .

We all knew at the time  that Wirral Council was nowhere near being “improved”. Self improvement is not the way forward with this lot- we all know that Wirral Council has long needed external intervention.

“Oh but they’ve got an action plan……leave them alone” bleats Frank Field . To which we’d like to say to him – “You , sunshine have a lot to answer for – it was you who stopped the Local Government Commissioners intervening in 2012 . You must be so proud of your politically motivated control-freakery. This Ofsted report is part of your legacy Frankenfield – so please that’ll be no more  headline grabbing , fake- emoting over the plight of starving mites in Birkenhead from you thank you very much!……”

 

 

The Pain of Failure

pain

 

Now that we’ve had time to fully absorb Ofsted’s less than flattering  inspection report of Wirral’s Children’s Services we thought we’d wade in with our thoughts.

The horrorshow of a report speaks for itself :

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/local_authority_reports/wirral/051_Single%20inspection%20of%20LA%20children%27s%20services%20and%20review%20of%20the%20LSCB%20as%20pdf.pdf

So having last week made our position on the latest Wirral Council car crash clear we’d particularly like to concentrate on the debris .

Inevitably Frank Field has melodramatically (if belatedly)  entered the fray saying that the report is “simply devastating” . However for a man who in the past has been quick to condemn he’s treating those responsible for the manifest failings in the report with kid gloves (no pun intended).

“Now is not the time for scapegoating”  he magisterially declares taking time out from calling for public accountability and monstering panto villains like former BHS boss “Sir” Philip Green. Which is a bit of a surprise from someone who makes such a public show of his deep concern about Wirral’s kiddiewinks. Although it’s perhaps not so surprising when you consider that one of the main people who should be driven into the desert is People Overview and Scrutiny Committee chair and long-time  Frankenfield acolyte Cllr Moira “Matron” McLaughlin , who having failed spectacularly when she steered a totally out of control adult social services department has been given the opportunity  to fall asleep at the wheel again and fail to ensure the proper scrutiny of children’s services under the  stewardship of Labour cabinet lead  Cllr Tony Smith . That’s quite a track record – it can only be a matter of time before she’s awarded an OBE.

But then what constantly perplexes us at Leaky Towers is that the people who are responsible for Council failures are given the responsibility to clear it up. We are not re-assured by the fact that Wirral Council Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson has informed us that will be holding Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall’s hand whilst they clear up a mess partially of their own making. Stressed Eric described the Ofsted report as “painful” – but then we’re sure that the  near £300,000 per annum of public money that Eric and Julia earn between them must go some way to easing that pain.

Has anyone noticed that Clare Fish the Strategic Director for Families & Wellbeing has been conspicuous by her absence from the public eye?. Whilst we always considered Fish to be out of her depth we wouldn’t like to think that this particular Super Duper Director has become yet another big fish who’s been let off the hook and been rewarded for their failure.

However it’s not all bad news as we’re particularly gratified, alongside a former Wirral Council head of safeguarding, that the current incumbent of the post – simpering Simon Garner – has been rumbled.

And finally  with reference to the Ofsted report we think that whoever thought up the acronym MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) needs to be put out of their misery.

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Memo to Frank Field