Passport Renewal

 

Passport Renewal

A – Award  B – Budget Cuts  C – Campaign

Press release:

GIVE US BACK OUR STOLEN PASSPORTS!

Over the last 17 years, staff leaving Wirral Council with over 25 years’ service have been given long service awards. 412 of these retiring employees opted for a Passport for Life, giving them free or discounted access to Wirral’s Leisure Centres.

On the 1st April, the Council withdrew these passes, as part of its Budget savings, without seeking the consent of the passport holders.

Unsurprisingly, this met with an angry response from former staff, who were firmly of the view that an award for life should mean just that, and only expire on the death of the holder.

A campaign group has been established, consisting of about 30 people affected by the Council’s decision. We are determined to fight this injustice until the passports are re-instated.

The group is looking at all avenues to challenge and expose this mean-spirited withdrawal of our long-service awards. We see this as a massive insult to the 412 Passport holders who have given well over 10,000 years of combined service to the Council. This was an Award, freely given, within the terms of our service conditions, presented by the Mayor in an award ceremony, in accordance with a policy which states that “the Council recognises and values the contributions of all its employees and acknowledges the importance of rewarding its long serving employees.” As such the awards were ours to keep for life. We want them back!

Anyone interested in joining the campaign should contact norman.meddle@btopenworld.com

The Eagle Has Landed In Hot Water

Angela eagle

OOPS!

Oh dear ! – pardon the mixed metaphor but Wallasey MP Angela Eagle seems to have dipped her toes in the local political waters and had her fingers burnt.

Apparently taking to Facebook to announce to the world that that she had succeeded in getting one of her constituent’s ‘Passport for Life” concessionary leisure pass reinstated and including a photo of a letter sent from Wirral Council to her stating that they would be in touch with her constituent them to tell them the good news !…..

When this fact was brought to Super Duper Director Clare “Wet” Fish  she was adamant that this was not the case and there has not been a restoration of a ‘Passport for Life’ for any former member of Wirral council staff . Therefore in what seems to be yet another case of right hand meet left hand  Fish was forced into making the embarrassing  confession that :

” inaccurate information was provided in error to Angela Eagle MP for which the Council has apologised ” – Oops!

Obviously Ange’s post on Facebook has now been removed as this apparently was the original link :

https://www.facebook.com/angela4labour/photos/a.10153154066400316.1073741827.219217080315/10156731583340316/?type=3&theater

Meanwhile our advice to Ange would be to leave meddling in Wirral Council matters to the monster , sorry , master – Birkenhead MP Frankenfield. For example he provides a masterclass in dissembling in an article published earlier this week in the Liverpool Echo. Wading into the row over the future of Byrne Avenue baths site Frankie says Wirral Council must  “be careful with every pound of taxpayers’ money………..I am not prepared to speculate on the possibility of a group coming up trumps on Byrne Avenue when the risk of failure would mean that £400,000 was taken away from care that is being delivered to elderly people, or the council’s attempts to save the lives of vulnerable children.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/birkenhead-mp-steps-row-over-11216111

You’ve got to admire the sheer chutzpah of  Frankenfield as he somehow reconciles Wirral Council having to be careful with taxpayers’ money so they can care for the elderly infirm and the “starving mites” with asking them to pay for work from his mates Nick and Tony or as he tries to box off the Wirralgate scandal using council taxpayers cash!.

Clearly Ange has a lot to learn from Frankenfield when it comes to the carefully constructed public representation as a champion of the people.

 

The Gift That Doesn’t Keep On Giving

 

Wirral Council  sinking

Wirral Council – A fish out of water when it comes to fairness. Consequently also out of the water is everyone who had a ‘Passport for Life’ leisure centre concession !.

 

The transcript below is a letter from Wirral Council Super Duper Director Clare Fish received by one of the retirees who has had their ‘Passport for Life’ leisure centre concession rescinded. An anonymised copy of the letter can be accessed here :

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxrkIjRDgrB-cTFmV0RXNUh2WXhjRkdKUUw1S3hVYTkxcUpV/view?ts=57177f29

As we predicted when we wrote on Monday that we looked forward to receiving a copy of the letter and commenting on the tortuous explanation for this latest debacle it wasn’t long before a copy winged its way over to Leaky Towers.

And indeed there is a tortuous explanation – constrained financial circumstances blah blah blah , financial challenges blah blah  blah, balanced legal budget blah blah blah . However Ms.Fish doesn’t put this in context of Chief Executive  Stressed Eric Robinson’s massive pay rise or fellow ex-Super-Duper Director Kevin Adderley’s golden pension pot or indeed her own six figure salary. Oh no this explanation doesn’t apply to the likes of them it only applies to the “little people” .

The crucial line of the explanation is that  It is the Council’s view that the provision of a long service award did not give rise to a contractual arrangement. It was a gift awarded in recognition of service. 

Here Fish seems to want to have her fishcake and eat it too . Firstly by establishing that there was no contractual obligation to maintain ‘Passport for Life’ although some of the retirees who have contacted us maintain that it is referenced in Wirral Council’s Staff Handbook and therefore reasonable to assume as part of an employment contract. There is also the matter of consideration (essential for a valid contract) – a gift awarded in recognition of service ( 25 bloody years of it!) – would seem to fit the bill . Then if there was no contract and the ‘Passport for Life’ was a gift shouldn’t a gift be irrecoverable?. Isn’t the taking back of a gift simply an act of theft?

What worries us more generally is that Fish is claiming that the matter was consulted on . However this was part of one of those bogus consultation exercises where the entire population of Wirral are encouraged to chip in on – mostly on matters they know absolutely nothing about  ( “ I don’t know what a respite care centre is Derek but shall we say yes to closing that one ?” –  ” I suppose so Mavis as we said no to the last consultation question   and what’s more the socio-economic , political and ideological considerations involved in making a decision which has no impact on my everyday life is giving me a migraine “).

This so called “formal” consultation exercise is being used as a get out for unilaterally withdrawing the ‘Passport for Life’ without  consulting and agreeing with the 414 people who were directly affected by the move.

We’re left wondering whether if a consultation was organised to reduce the pay of Wirral Council senior managers  by 50%  I’m sure we all could all predict the outcome. And we’re doubly sure this would lead Robinson, Blott , Fish et al crying foul and waving their contracts of employment in our face !. But they’re different. These highly paid fly by nights matter .The long -serving and/or long suffering people who keep them in a well paid job seemingly don’t.

Thank you for your email correspondence to Sports and Recreation dated 28 Mach (sic) 2016.

I acknowledge and appreciate that the decision to remove the concessionary access to Leisure Centres is a disappointing one for you.

Unfortunately, given the current and future constrained financial circumstances affecting the Council, it was necessary to consider a number of savings options in order to meet that financial challenge. This included a decision to remove the concessionary access to Leisure Centres which was taken following formal consultation. The effect of this decision removes many of the discounts and free access to the Council’s leisure facilities which we previously offered.  This includes ending free access to the facilities for former council staff, to foster carers and their families, and free swimming for under 18s during school holidays and over 65s between 9am and 12pm.  

The Council has carefully considered its legal positon (sic) in relation to the removal of the concessionary access to Leisure Centres.    It was a gift awarded in recognition of service.

The Council has had to make increasingly difficult decisions to meet its financial challenges.  The Council has had to make savings of more than £150m over the past five years and is required to make further savings of £130m by 2020.  The Council is under a legal obligation to pass a balanced legal budget each year.

The Council’s leisure centre operations currently require financial support of over £4 million every year over and above any income generated in order to meet the operating costs. The Council needed to take steps to help redress this financial position, hence the removal of the concessionary access to Leisure Centres and other discounts and free access.

A number of former employees have asked if it is possible to select one of the alternative Long Service Award options that were available at the time of leaving. Unfortunately, as you had selected the leisure pass and had the benefit of using it for a period of time, the Council is not in a position to retrospectively offer another option.

Should you require any more information regarding leisure passes, please visit our website at www.wirral.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely

Clare Fish

Strategic Director – Families & Wellbeing

Return the Gift

 

Love 2 Shop

Please can I buy evenings and weekends ?….

There certainly seems to be more life in the ‘Passport for Life’ saga than there is in the now defunct ‘Passport for Life’ long service award itself which has been withdrawn from ex-Wirral Council employees who had more than 25 years service.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/no-concessions/

Apparently the original offer to former Council employees involved three choices…

•       Love2Shop Gift Card (vouchers)
•       A cheque to the full value of the award (less statutory deductions)
•       A ‘Passport for Life’

Whilst we would have thought a lifetime’s worth  of counselling would be more appropriate for those who’d spent a quarter of a century working for Wirral Council it is not clear how  ‘A Passport for Life’  is able to become ‘A Passport for as Long as Wirral Council Feels Like It” . We  would suggest that unless there was something in the terms and conditions when the ‘Passport for Life’ was magnanimously “gifted”  that Wirral Council could be on dodgy legal ground . So no change there then!.

We’re just wondering whether those who chose the vouchers are being asked to traipse back to some of the dreariest shops on the high street to return their gifts?. Or those who trousered the cheque will be asked to empty their pockets and look down the back of the sofa to help out the cash-strapped Council?.

We think it is a salutary lesson for all those Wirral Council staff past and present who ever thought they were valued as public servants. It seems to use that they’re rather like their “free” gifts  – an economic unit and a disposable commodity.

Once again the back of a fagpacket financial planning which also characterised the Girtrell Court closure proposal seems to be at work during the making of this decision.

The faulty logic behind the projected £100,000 “saving” seems to be concomitant on 400+ former employees turning round and saying :

We hear our loyal and generous former employer is having financial problems . So we don’t mind chipping in £15 a month out of our pensions to make sure Wirral Council can make up the shortfall caused by the Wallasey Town Hall petty cash thief or to enable them to pay-off another failure of a senior manager or to enable council officials to fly off to some far flung destination on a wing and a prayer. 

What also hasn’t been factored into the projected “saving” is the administration costs, officer time and reputational damage.  We understand that a letter is due from one of the Super-Duper Directors clarifying the long service award situation now that they’ve returned from their holidays!. They just don’t get it do they?.

We look forward to receiving a copy and commenting on the tortuous explanation for this latest debacle.

 

Arse & elbow 007

 

 

 

Unsporting Life

Unsporting life

On Grand National day our thoughts turn to sporting pursuits or more accurately unsporting pursuits with the local main players being (sad to say) self -serving Evertonians.

We’re not being partisan – it’s just the way things seem to work round here.We just wonder how Liverpool fan – Wirral Council Chief Executive “Stressed Eric”  Robinson – slipped through the net?.

Firstly whilst Her Ladyship is a keen golfer and is avidly following this weekend’s Masters golf tournament in Augusta she was not dismayed to learn that the Hoylake golf resort has hit a rough patch. We understand a 100 strong meeting was held on 29th March and the meeting was overwhelmingly against removal and development of the Green Belt as a means of setting up a golf course and (more pertinently) a housing development . However as far as we can tell this opposition hasn’t been reported anywhere else. Vested interests or apathy outside of Hoylake ? – you decide.

Continuing on an unsporting theme  –  what does Wirral have in common with the judicial system?. Apparently it’s a place where life doesn’t mean life. Witness this message we’ve received about the ongoing “Passport for Life” debacle :

”  A ‘Passport for Life’ surely means a Passport for Life and I checked and yes I still have a pulse, albeit difficult to detect on occasions. An award, by definition, is a gift that should not be taken back……… I think there’s room here for a petition to demand the return of the Burgess et al golden handshakes and the reinstatement of all our long service awards.

Norman Meddle, retired Wirral worker and Unison member.”
Norman Meddle – what a great name and what a great suggestion. He also tells us he’s been in touch with local and national Unison to see whether there can be a legal challenge to this move. We don’t fancy his chances as Unison haven’t backed a winner in a long time  – but then that’s what you get for being top of the handicap when you’re an employee and a union rep. As the saying goes  you can’t ride two horses at once.
Although Mr Meddle specifically mentions former CEO Burgesski we think special consideration should be given  to additional pension contributions  for “retirement” (with absolutely no justification) to  the likes of another Wirral Council CEO  Steve ” Mad Dog” Maddox and more recently Kevin “Addled” Adderley.
But then Wirral Council’s main players  have a long-standing record of not playing  fair or by the rules . Witness this week’s non-debate of the Girtrell Court closure proposal – blaming the Wirral Globe for an allegedly misleading headline and asking opposition councillors for an apology for , er, opposing …….or the continuing  delay of the Standards Panel when they know the game is up for some of the Council’s leading (own) goal scorers.
They remind us of that spoilt kid who takes their ball away when the whistle is blown on their foul play.
LEAKY TOWERS TOPICAL GRAND NATIONAL TIPS : JUST A PAR & UNIONISTE !!