Last Train to Pipsville

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All you trainspotters out there will be aware there’s a ‘mock up’ of the new type of train that is coming to Merseyside that can be seen at Pacific Road tramsheds.
It is actually made of wood and rumoured to have cost a cool £1 million.  It’s not known whether Merseytravel considered consulting the travelling public of Merseyside whether would rather have their over-inflated fares spent on securing guards on trains or on an oversized boy’s toy.

Further rumours that  Merseytravel are planning to rustle up interest in the exhibit by hosting a special Halloween  ‘ghost train horrorshow’ featuring an imposing life size figure of Wirral Council’s Lead Investment Manager Martin Liptrot standing on the train with his arms folded and giving his best death stare are as yet unconfirmed.

We also noticed that the destination on the front of the train was West Kirby which is appropriate for Liptrot and his friend,neighbour,comrade and benefactor , Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies . Both are season ticket holders on the West Kirby gravy train who try to not look out of the window as they pass through Birkenhead North!

Talking of tramsheds we note that there has been resurrection of the ideas of  streetcars in Birkenhead which were first mooted five years ago when the fantasy that was Wirral Waters was first floated. Now that that fantasy has sunk to the bottom of the Mersey along with Stella Shiu ,her prize winning marrows and the International Trade Centre and rebranded as Wirral Waters One,  the idea of transportation by streetcar been resurrected by Green councillor Pat Cleary in an upcoming Wirral Council Notice of Motion to be debated next week titled , ‘Sustainable Transport For Wirral Waters ‘. Dare we suggest the title should have been ‘ A Streetcar Named Desire To Have Some Coordinated Infrastructure Planning Between Partner Agencies For Once’?…

 

Desire

 

 

Gutter Press

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Wirral News Goes AWOL ,Wirral Life Goes Warhol

So farewell then Wirral News. As reported in the press trade papers it now finds itself in the gutter :

http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2017/news/publisher-cites-crowded-market-for-bi-weekly-closure-after-council-newsletter-launch/

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/trinity-mirror-to-close-wirral-news-in-july-in-the-wake-of-council-newspaper-launch/

As we predicted a while ago , the writing was on the wall for this woeful rag a long time ago. Never more so than when Wirral Council launched the print edition of Wirral View. Whilst it won’t be missed , mainly because it appeared to have given up being a credible news outlet a loooooong time ago , it is a worrying development for Wirral’s independent press when publishers Trinity Mirror consider :

 “The Wirral marketplace has become increasingly crowded with free print products with now even Wirral Borough Council producing a monthly free print publication themselves.

“We believe that there is no longer a viable, scalable or long-term future for free/giveaway print products within the Wirral marketplace….. “

What made us want to snort with derision and shake our head in disbelief was the quote in the Press Gazette article from Wirral Council’s head of communications Kev ‘Lost Boy’ MacCallum :

 “We are disappointed to see a well-loved local title like the Wirral News close.
“For many years, we have seen its circulation reduce significantly and frequency fluctuate between weekly, monthly and recently bi-weekly.
“It’s been clear throughout this time that the title has been trying and struggling to find an effective place in the market where it could be competitive.
“We must make it clear however, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest Wirral View had any commercial impact on the Wirral News.
“We have deliberately not sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue, and we have ensured Wirral View is a completely different product to the existing local free-sheets…..”
Yeah right! – as we have previously reported Wirral View  have actively sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue and it was an intention that was expressly stated by Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson! It’s just that they have been spectacularly unsuccessful in attracting any advertising. Well the last time we looked anyway, as we have still only received one print copy at Leaky Towers and we can’t muster enough enthusiasm to peruse the online edition.
However even keen Wirral View enthusiasts such as MacCallum and Robinson must know that its commercial viability in a crowded marketplace is under threat when even the Wirral Chamber of Commerce prefer to choose the June edition of Wirral Life for a glossy four page spread in the hilariously aspirational ‘premium lifestyle magazine’. We particularly enjoyed the beyond parody interview with Simon Nixon founder of Moneysupermarket.com ( don’t get us started on those Godawful TV ads) . The permatanned entrepreneur is asked :
Have you ever spent any time on the Wirral, what do you think of it? He replies:
I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Wirral but I think it’s beautiful – especially around Parkgate  and Caldy.
We’re just surprised he didn’t mention the delights of Birkenhead and how he enjoys drinking in Spud Murphy’s on Charing Cross before nipping over to the Pound Bakery for a pasty!
Chamber CEO Paula Basnett obviously feels more at home in this more upmarket publication. All dolled up in white lace we find her promoting this week’s Wirral Chamber Corporate Cup golf tournament ( you too can enter a team for £500+ !) , The Lauries and its recently launched @142 bistro and er , The Sheds at Pacific Road which apparently is the perfect place to ‘dream, dare,create and share’ and has ‘reignited the atmosphere of industrious innovation’ . Oh give over, love ,they’re sheds.
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The dreaded Davies duo scheme rather than dream! But doesn’t Gorgeous George look lovely in lilac?!

Talking of sheds another publication in the crowded media marketplace that has been brought to our attention is Wirral !nspirations .
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The summer edition features the illuminating article titled : ‘We shed some light on the man cave’. Among the helpful tips is the advice to  ‘ PRETTIFY YOUR SPACE’  – Hang some pictures – but before you put up the Playboy calendar up, remember your wife may occasionally venture into the  shed, unless you keep it locked  and ‘BE SIGNAGE SAVVY’  – put a ‘Man Cave’ sign on the door so the rest of the family understand this is your territory, and yours alone’ .
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Whilst mindlessly reading features on former Eastenders actor Larry Lamb , wedding dresses, sun cream, ukeleles, lawns, listed buildings and swollen ankles we felt as though we’d been transported back to 1953 . Nevertheless we still think Wirral !nspirations addressed our ‘information deficit’ more effectively than Wirral View ever could . What’s more it is rammed with advertising and therefore has obviously been more successful in attracting business than Wirral Council. So place your bets now as to which one of the two will go the way of Wirral News and be kicked to the kerb and into the gutter!

The Common People

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Rich pickings for the Basnetts and friends.

Now you all know we are totally non-judgemental at Leaky Towers so when we refer to the common people we are talking more about some of the people we discussed in yesterday’s post  who seem to have a lot in common.

They call it partnership working / networking – we call it cronyism and empire building at the expense of the ‘little people’ .The rich enriching themselves and their friends by accessing scarce public resources …..and with Grant Thornton being the common denominator when it comes to auditing there is very little chance of any awkward questions being asked.  We note that the late-to-the-party Daily Mail follow up their own concerns on the matter by belatedly bringing to their readers attention the Peel Group and particularly group director Robert Hough.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4003918/Ban-fat-cats-secret-deals-says-MPs-demand-action-Mail-exposes-old-pals-club-doles-public-money.html

Fortunately our own consultant Dr Robert B Smith has been able to remedy any ‘information deficit’ our readers may have when it comes to the following local contacts and connections that have increasingly caused us so much concern :

Board Games (of recent times)

Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority committee members

ex-Chair Cllr Phil Davies; Leader Wirral Council -, now committee member
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – committee member

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

Chair

Robert Hough; Peel Group (previous Chair until end of June 2016)
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – previously Vice-Chair, now Chair

Board members 

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company
Neil Sturmey; Head of Office & Partner, Grant Thornton

Mark Basnett; LCR – LEP (Executive Director in attendance)

Mark Basnett additional company directorships:

Merseyside Special Investment Seed Fund Ltd.
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Mezzanine Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment (Small Firms) Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Small Loans For Business Investment Fund Ltd
Small Business Loans Ltd

Wirral Council

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Kevin Adderley; ex-Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment

Paula Basnett; ex-Investment Manager
Independent Auditor, Grant Thornton

Wirral Chamber of Commerce (WCofC)

Chair

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO

Board members

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO (ex-Investment Manager at Wirral Council; ex-head of Invest Wirral; ex-Manager of Egerton House; ex-Wirral Business Partnership CEO).

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kevin Adderley; WCofC Group Managing Director (ex-Wirral Council Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment)
Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College
John Syvret; CEO, Cammell Laird (Peel Group)

Wirral Investment Network (Management) Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

Egerton House (Wirral) Community Interest Company

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

The Lauries Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Secretary

Lauries Events Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Wirral Metropolitan College – Governors

Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO
Richard Mawdsley; Director of the Peel Group
Grant Thornton (Auditors in attendance)

Join the dots

The Hive – Wirral Youth Zone

John Syvret; Chair (CEO, Cammell Laird [Peel Group])
Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce
Phil Garrigan Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Saughall Massie Fire Station proposal

Could this be the trade-off for the Birkenhead site for The Hive/Wirral Youth Zone between Wirral Council and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service…?

Wirral Waters

Peel Group
Wirral Council

Egerton House (WCofC)

Pacific Road (WCofC)
The Contact Company 26.03.2015 Liverpool Echo – The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Wirral Chamber of Commerce have also provided Asif Hamid’s company with additional support. (£11m reported costs, at least 75% reported as public funding)

Wirral Metropolitan College Wirral Waters campus for Construction and the Built Environment (£8m public funding)
Tower Road ‘A’ & ‘C’ Bridge replacements to service Ro-Ro Ferry £7.12m all public funding incl £712k from Wirral Council – Peel £0

Now join more dots…..

Who was ‘instrumental’ in the failed £175m International Trade Centre as part of a move to kick-start the £4.6bn Wirral Waters project.

Who went to China to meet Stella Shiu?

Who met Stella Shiu when she visited Wirral?

Who went to Reno?

Who went to the Isle of Man?

Who was responsible for administering and investigating the Business Investment Grants (BIG), Investment Start Up Scheme (ISUS), and Working Neighbourhoods, schemes?

 

To Have and Have Not

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Readers will note from our last report ( Low Friends in High Places) the news that the Pacific Road Theatre has come into the clutches of the ever open hands of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce ( CEO : Paula Basnett).

As ever our source was er, “on the money” when it came to the peppercorn rent arrangement and the refurbishment costs being met by Wirral Council.

This is described as “The town hall will enter into a lease arrangement with the Chamber allowing it to “draw down” funding to pay for conversion work….”

A report in Wirral Globe HERE is littered with such amusing doublespeak.

Ms.Basnett trills in the same report : “This will bring not only significant opportunities for new and existing businesses to develop, but also be a conduit for employment creation.”

Won’t it just ! – jobs for the boys and girls in “the gang” – especially when we understand that Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also the lucky recipient of a ERDF grant and what we’d like to know is whether a certain Mark Basnett was involved in determining this grant and whether he is in any way related to Paula Basnett

One can’t help comparing and contrasting the treatment of the folks from Fernbank Farm.

Were the Upton Park Pony Owners Association ever given the opportunity to develop the land at Fernbank Farm as a community asset?

Were they ever given the opportunity to “draw down” money from the Council to repair and refurbish the stables?

Were they ever the recipient of a substantial European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant?

And we certainly can’t imagine any Council Manager being instructed not to enter into discussion with their extremely well connected former colleague Paula Basnett!!!!