An UnSatoorsfactory Appointment

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Needless to say we were given the heads up about Paul Satoor being made Interim CEO of Wirral Council before the last Employment and Appointments Committee confirmed the appointment

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Also needless to say we understand that the current Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson now isn’t working his 3 month notice and is hastily taking up his new appointment as CEO of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on July 16th. It’s all very much a case of : ” I’m a nonentity – get me out of here”

How ironic that someone who repeatedly turned a blind eye to the abuse of power at Wirral Council is the now head of the national organisation who are meant to be protecting the vulnerable from abuse.  It doesn’t augur well does it? But hey! that’s how things work in backward Britain these days . The bland leading the blind.

Meanwhile we thought we’d check out Stressed Eric’s successor…or more accurately his Wirral Leaks rap sheet and see what Satoor is bringing to the party. And it’s not a lot if you ask us. It’s the usual case of :  “Use what you know to get what you want” (see also – Burgess, Adderley, Degg, Downey, Green, Armstrong, Blott etc;etc;)

For starters he was up to his neck in the Halliday debacle . No wonder Stressed Eric stressed that no-one was going to take the rap for this particular dereliction of due diligence. No doubt the rubicund public servant was too busy lining up his successor whilst standing behind the shredder and preparing  his press statement about how it all happened before he was appointed when the proverbial hits the fan. And it will dear reader. Oh, believe us, it will…

 

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Gagging For Trees

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Here we have a rather worrying message to share from the Secretary of the local campaign group ‘For Trees’ who we have supported on this blog. Wirral Council appear to have learned nothing from the past and are resorting to a tried , tested (and failed) tactics of gags, bans and playing the victim of a vexatious complainant :

As some of you may know, WBC issued an order to the’ For Trees’ Secretary on 14th Mar 2019 . Perhaps it was inspired by Sheffield City Council’s (who saw fit to issue an injunction against one of their own Councillors protesting the removal of thousands of the city’s trees).

It tells me that;
 ‘we have received a large number of complaints in your name’
that;
 ‘we note that you have raised certain arguments on numerous occasions which have already been answered in full, such as the use of glyphosate ‘
 that ;
‘it appears that you are acting with or leading a group of people who are coordinating complaints or who use the same arguments and the same points as you do in their complaints’;
and that;
‘you have complained about various staff members engaged by ourselves, including calling for Mary Worrall to resign’
Guilty as charged m’lud.
So the current  corporate director for business management, Paul Satoor, has communicated by letter that  WBC has invoked the policy ( ‘unreasonable and unreasonably persistent complaints procedure), in which I am debarred from communicating by letter or any other means for  a period of two years, with any Council staff unless it is about a ‘new’ subject (ie not about trees).  This new complaint can  only be addressed to Shelby Loudon at the ‘feedback’ team  where it will be filed but not responded to!
Never mind that the Council, who have stepped up their felling and dismantling of Wiral’s trees, are in breach of their statutory obligations to protect trees and to protect biodiversity, or that they’ve contracted Mancoed to do so when it is against the law, during the nesting season, to carry out these operations ( Wildlife & Countryside  Act as amended 1991).
Never mind that they are blithely carrying on the Glyphosate poisoning contract at the expense of every living thing on the Wirral and elsewhere, courtesy of the taxpayer – even though 15 countries have banned it,  and wiser Councils are following suit.
Never mind that they are asking Wirral’s residents to fund this gigantic and irremediable devastation of our environment when  the relevant officers are paid to protect it.
When the going gets tough, the Council get gagging… 

Plots and Plans

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The run up to the local elections is monsoon season when it comes to leaks and we’re currently soaking wet. However to be totally accurate this post is a leak about a leak. You may remember our Eric Sees Red Over Green Belt  story and if you don’t you really must try and keep up! However to recap last week we saw selective leaking of meetings from sources assumed to be close to the Labour group during the local election campaign. These leaks were designed to benefit Labour candidates but this now seems to have back fired now that full details are emerging. Labour politicians (most prominently  Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore) were all over the local press and simultaneously showing  up the Local Plan ‘consultation’ process for what it was – completely bogus – and trying  to make political capital out of closely guarded information during the purdah period and declare the local Labour group as the belated saviours of Green Belt sites listed for development. Then we had a further leaked email written by Eric Robinson commenting:

This list went out to public consultation and remains unchanged and no sites have been removed from the list. 

Well, there have been further developments on this story and it is even more sinister than we first realised.  And we use the word ‘sinister’ advisedly. It doesn’t just mean something bad is about to happen it comes from the Italian word, sinistra – meaning left.

Whilst ‘left-leaning’ politicians is something we can get with – well, if they stick to their principles and not to the power trip anyway, ‘left leaning’ flag of convenience council officials on six figure salaries is another thing altogether. Aren’t they meant to be politically neutral? Just like Martin Liptrot!

Whilst we only know the officers (and not the councillors) involved in the following exchanges it is apparent that we have council officers who have a decidedly unhealthy twisted symbiotic relationship with the current ruling Labour administration. But then we’ve long known that but it is ,yes, sinister, to see it in action.

The plot is a bit convoluted but bear with:

An unnamed councillor attempts to get a copy of the documents information contained on a set of slides which formed the basis of last week’s leak resulting in ‘Labour Saves the Green Belt’ articles:

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Despite the fact the document had already been leaked to us and the world and her husband seems to have access to it Paul Satoor the man currently responsible for cobbling a Local Plan together for the first time in 14 years replies on behalf of the elusive Wirral Council CEO ‘Stressed’ Eric Robinson :

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The anonymous councillor persists :

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The political hot potato gets passed to Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt who proves equally evasive:

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The anonymous councillor persists:

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It would appear that our intrepid councillor eventually acquires information they were requesting from another source and offers his thoughts on the tortuous process .

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It is interesting to note the the timing of the meetings referred to in the leaked information coincides with the departure of Brian Bailey in November 2018. Bailey was formerly the senior officer responsible for all things to do with the ‘Local Plan’. Perhaps he wasn’t prepared to follow the ‘Wirral Way’ of doing things – wrongly obvs! Or after his Lottery win he just thought ‘sod this for a game of soldiers’…

We think that the public interest in these leaks lies in revealing the process of extracting information from PUBLIC servants who don’t want the PUBLIC to know what’s going on .

Oh btw if anyone would like us to publish more of the leaked information (some interesting extracts are provided below) just let us know as it would appear it’s OK for certain councillors to share them if there is political advantage to be gained .Therefore as far as we’re concerned it’s open season as the Local Plan ‘consultation’ entered into in good faith by 2,700 people has already been fatally compromised by a behind closed doors decision making process organised between senior council officers and the Labour cabinet…

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‘Bring It On’ – The Brand New World of Wirral Council

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The only way to start this journey was to bravely use honesty of the past in order to present a different future

They call it ’employer brand’

We call it ‘reputation management’

Nowadays the ultimate goal in personal achievement is to become a ‘brand’. From royalty to rock stars to multi-nationals to public institutions. A world where a logo and a strapline become a recognisable saleable commodity and human worth is counted in economic units.

Now if any organisation needed a re-branding we all know its Wirral Council especially after several lamentable attempts in the past which have done nothing to shift the public perception of a toxic,dysfunctional organisation. Those of us who remember ‘What Really Matters’ and ‘Destination Excellence’ might be forgiven for thinking that yet another costly shit-glittering exercise couldn’t any more woeful. We were wrong.

We’ve previously posted a link to Bring It On Wirral  and we would implore you to  particularly view  The Roles .  We think you’ll find it hard to disagree with an apoplectic reader who wrote to us with the following questions :

What the fuck is this????

Who is paying for this?

Why is it only officers, are elected officials irrelevant? 

What is the purpose of this website?

How much is it costing to set up and run?

All we do know is that the media geniuses behind this farrago are Penna . On their website they tell us :

A very recent example of bold EVP development is the work Penna has developed for its client Wirral Council. On a big change journey Wirral asked us to create a leadership employer brand that truly positioned the Council in a fresh, more dynamic and commercially focused way. Through research and fact-finding meetings reviewing their past, present and future we developed some compelling messages aimed at both supporting and challenging some of the perspectives the external audiences held.  

Centred around a leading strapline of “Bring in on” (sic) we developed advertising collateral, a microsite and a video. The investment in attraction will be realised when people have a different view of Wirral and start to see them as an employer of choice. The only way to start this journey was to bravely use honesty of the past in order to present a different future

www.bringitonwirral.co.uk  – Still live the campaign has so far received over 1.25M impressions with 1,500 clicks through to the microsite for more information. Enormously satisfied with the applications so far (and with fresh and new people coming through), we are confident that finding ways of embracing a brand identification (or re-identification) can be fundamental to any such strategy being a success.

There’s more to do to change and embed new perceptions of Wirral, but the campaign is a real positive start. Paul Satoor, Chief Operating Officer said ‘I recognised that we needed to a bold and impactful employer brand if we are serious about what we wanted to achieve. By creating ‘Bring it On’ Penna have captured the essence of our ambition and aspiration, and although we have a long way to go it is an employer brand that we can be proud of and we are already seeing a positive impact on our recruitment campaigns’

Read more here

If you managed to view members of The Senior Team (and some random extras) repeatedly uttering the immortal words ‘ Bring it on’ without gagging you’re doing well – for us it was not so much a case of ‘Bring it on’ but ‘Bring it up’ !  Our first impression was that we don’t know what filter Penna were using on ‘the Senior Team’ but can we suggest that ‘slapped across the face with a frozen kipper’ is not a good look.  We also noticed that it was left  to a kiddiewink to read the line ‘no fibbers’ . Might we suggest that after  finding out that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy don’t exist that Wirral Council having ‘no fibbers’ will be the poor boy’s third big disappointment in life.  More significantly what is Children’s Services Director Paul Boyce doing talking about the Wirral Growth Company? And as for the performance of Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson is there anyone less suited to uttering the gung ho expression ‘Bring it on’ ?

Bring it on ?  Wirral Council should be careful what it wishes for , whatever the branding Wirral Leaks doesn’t need any further encouragement, especially as we ain’t buyin’ what they’re sellin’…

EXCLUSIVE : What’s in a Name? – Is this the real reason the controversial, high profile Stewart/Stuart Halliday appointment was suddenly dropped by Wirral Council?

We have been made aware that the attached four invoices (see below) , each referring to Forge House Associates Ltd and including an amount claimed for VAT, were dated AFTER the company was compulsorily dissolved by Companies House (first Gazette notice 10 July 2018; final Gazette notice 25 September 2018).
The invoices relates to work to support the “Wirral Growth Company” and includes the company number 10306493.
  • 21 October: £16,189.50
  • 16 November 2018: £15,152.63
  • 14 December 2018: £16,333.30
  • 11 January 2019: £9,600

So far, so familiar – for as we know from the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods debacle Wirral Council don’t seem to concern themselves with the status or personnel of companies when it comes to distributing public money.

So what’s the big deal here?

Well it may interest you to know that there were 2 directors of Forge House Associates, an Elizabeth Stead and one… Stuart Halliday.

 

On 3rd October 2018 a new company, “Forge House Associates Lincs” was incorporated, this time with just Elizabeth Stead as the sole director, although Stuart Halliday owns 50% shares in the company (Company number 11602174).

However the now dissolved Forge House Associates continued to invoice the Council up until January 2019 when the “financial irregularities” were brought to the attention of the Council. Could this have been the route via which Halliday’s consultancy fees ( circa £4K a week!) were paid prior to his short lived appointment as the new Director of Housing and Economic Growth?

We understand that the HMRC and Companies House are now investigating and under the circumstances we think it is reasonable to assume that this could be the reason that Stewart / Stuart was dropped by the Council .

After persistent rumours we have also been made aware that Martin Liptrot – from ‘Wirral Well Made’ , which from what we can gather is the PR arm of the Wirral Growth Company – has also allegedly been removed from his post with immediate effect. As Wirral Council are currently on lockdown about this alleged departure we don’t know if the two matters are related.  However when we get more information – and we will – we’ll let you know.

And so with the departure of Brian Bailey, and now Stewart Halliday, this will result in yet  further delays to Wirral’s beleaguered and long overdue Local Plan. Surely now we could have hoped that the Council would bring in a new Director of Housing and Economic Growth who would have a strong background in, well, housing and economic growth and, as he is the man to bring forward the Local Plan,  a thorough understanding of national planning policy. Apparently the man to now take forward the Local Plan is to be Paul Satoor a man who has a “strong background in organisational transformation, human resources and organisational development”.

http://www.bringitonwirral.co.uk/the-senior-team/

All of which leaves us fearing that this may not turn out well for the likes of the Local Plan ,Wirral Waters or the Green Belt but it will certainly continue to keep us in business !

Please note we have edited the bank and personal contact details of company director from the following invoices (and apologies for the wonky screenshots – it’s a late night for us!) :

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Community Transport – Thrown Under The Bus ?

Thrown under the bus

Community Transport on Wirral may be in last chance saloon.
Word reaches His Lordship from a supremely well-informed source that the writing is on the wall for community transport services here on Wirral.  These are the trained drivers, escorts and specially kitted out vehicles that transport disabled and vulnerable service users to their day centres, care homes, Special Educational Needs schools, etc. day in, day out, all year round.
And we don’t bring you this news lightly.  We know it’s genuine because we’ve had the information checked and double-checked.  It impacts Wirral Council, goes right to the heart of central government, to the top of the EU, and it’s a thorny issue being discussed right now at the top transport committees in the UK.
Here is a link to the Community Transport parliamentary debate of 10th May this year:
https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/082b6e02-f4ba-46dd-a581-48202804c19f
A change in EU law, Directive EC 1071/2009 to be specific, was rolled out on the statute book in 2011 and appears to be done and dusted across Europe.  But there is a frantic panic back in Blighty because the Tory government ignored it when it emerged seven years ago.
So it’s now finally caught up with them, and under the new directive, the largest council contracted charity and not for profit operators with hundreds of vehicles, right down to the smallest with half a dozen, will in future be regarded as running a ‘commercial operation’.  This will entail these organisations applying for Operators’ Licences for the business, new licences for all drivers and 35 hours of training every five years for everybody who sets foot on a vehicle.
In other words, it involves big money ……….huge money.  Money they probably ain’t got.
The impact of this change threatens to be utterly catastrophic to the many community transport services that make up the majority of  the UK charity, not-for-profit market, and if the new rules are not modified, or their impact lessened, the sheer cost of meeting the requirements will force many of them to downsize massively or be forced out of business.

As is customary, the usual suspects at basket case Wirral Council seem to be busy making a bad situation even worse.
Transport Minister Chris Grayling wrote to all local authorities two weeks ago requesting that they bide their time, await his advice and do not remove any contracts from existing operators.  What have Wirral Council been doing?  Yep, removing contracts from existing operators.  Not only this, they are forcing them to apply for Operators’ Licences (O Licences) and to set up trading arms in order to be ready to act commercially.


Wirral Leaks readers will know that Wirral Council happens to operate its own transport service, mainly to private care homes because they will recall the young disabled girl a few weeks back, who was forgotten and left locked inside a vehicle alone for two and half hours in the council depot.  Read here : Transport Trauma
Where transport rules and regs are concerned, Wirral Council really should know better, because they have a former VOSA / DVSA expert on hand in the shape of Director of Transformation, Paul Satoor (and for good measure former Tory council leader Jeff Green).
But despite this inside source of knowledge, they appear to be immune to the rules.  Rules which they enjoy applying to everyone but themselves, as they flex their muscles, throw their weight around and community transport charities under the bus !
They’re even accusing their own charity operators on Wirral of “acting illegally” whilst taking payments from private care homes in return for transporting their residents.
This conduct is potentially illegal under what are known as Section 19 permits. These were originally set up to allow the community transport charities to operate, but which clearly stipulate “for hire or reward but without a view to profit nor incidentally to an activity that is itself carried on with a view to profit”.
In fact, this is like Wirral View all over again as they’re the only council in the land prepared to defy the government on this.  But this time it’s not just powderpuff guidance being swept aside.  It’s knowingly done, whilst forcing charities (but not themselves) down the O Licence route, and whilst secretly taking money and enriching themselves, but falsely accusing others of doing the same. So the council could be in breach of statutory law.

Merseycare are the largest operator on Wirral, providing a transport service for 3,000 vulnerable and disabled service users, and are based on the old Squibbs site in Leasowe.  They have 90 staff whose jobs are imminently threatened, many of whom are disabled themselves.
Before the May 2017 local elections, they invited former Leasowe Councillor Treena Johnson to come and have a chat about this subject and to have a look at what they do.  She said as she worked with disabled children, she would be delighted.  She asked if she could bring along a second Leasowe councillor, Anita Leech.
Interestingly, a professional body known as the Bus and Coach Organisation – whose members are made up of commercial operators – have been pressurising government for many years and quoting the above EU law in order to have them declare community transport contracts illegal and to have all such council business – the length and breadth of the UK – stripped from ‘law-breaking’ not for profit, charity operators.
Presumably, this is being done with the aim of stepping into the void to enable their Bus and Coach Organisation members to make a tidy profit out of the UK’s now stranded vulnerable and disabled service users.That third Leasowe Councillor by the way is Ron Abbey.  He is a former  bus driver for ‘the Corpy’.  We wonder if he might still retain undeclared links to the Bus & Coach Organisation? What an interesting coincidence that would be… perhaps somebody out there knows…?

Nevertheless, as Merseycare Transport waited, Councillors Treena Johnson and Anita Leach suddenly fell silent ….the kettle was on and everything, but they never even turned up at the Merseycare offices. Johnson jacked it in as a councillor  before the last local elections and presumably the other two were ordered to toe the party line.

We can safely assume from Wirral Council’s pioneering activities in being the only local authority to remove contracts from charity operators that they are keen to embrace a new future – where no doubt the lowest bidders with the least experience will be transporting vulnerable people – and they want to be at the forefront of creating it. And you only have to look at the railways to see how that works out!
We’re wondering…. where does Wirral Council’s statutory obligation to look out for the wellbeing of vulnerable and disabled people within their jurisdiction figure in all of this? Notice how time and again they pay lip service and mouth the mantra ‘ protecting vulnerable people’ – but the reality is something else altogether.

When approached, Angela Eagle, the Wallasey MP who covers Leasowe seemed like a possible way forward with this issue.
However Eagle, who did nothing publicly for her own disabled constituents when they had £736,756.97 removed unlawfully from their bank accounts over 9 years by Wirral Council, once again fell in behind the council position, preferring to ignore the looming threat to her disabled constituents, and to protect her party-political friends instead.
Whereas in Wirral West, Margaret Greenwood MP has many constituents who will be adversely affected and has taken the issue up. Watch this (disabled parking) space.

 

Is There Anything Wrong With This Page?

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We notice that the Taxpayer’s Alliance have published their annual list of the highest paid, so called, public servants . You know , the ones we pay through the nose so they can keep their noses in the trough – purely because they can speak BS and do a powerpoint presentation AT THE SAME TIME! Glory be! we need to grovel in admiration!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15216874.Wirral_Council_bosses_back_on_the_Town_Hall_Rich_List___and_one_earns_more_than_the_PM/

Needless to say Wirral Council features on the list.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/taxpayersalliance/pages/6911/attachments/original/1491491587/Town_Hall_Rich_List_Master.pdf?1491491587

To which a couple of our commentators responded as follows :

‘Good to know town hall fat cats across the country are doing their bit in the face of savage guvmint cuts by awarding themselves massive pay rises. 
Funny that Wirral Council is cutting adult social care at the same time it’s introducing an adult social care precept. 
Not hard to guess which adults it is providing care for…..Step forward Blotto and Feeble.’
As they stole ‘Blotto’ and ‘Feeble’ from us . We’re stealing ‘guvmint’ . Genius!
Meanwhile someone who seems to have spent some time at the newly opened, glorified ‘yoof club’ that is ‘The Hive’ says :
‘Forget ASBOs – it’s these MOFOs that have caused downfall of society. 4 real! ‘
Who are we to disagree?

Meanwhile an exasperated Wirral Council officer shakes their head and with hands on their hips says:

“This information is published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance every year, and every year is inaccurate.

In this particular case, the salary quoted for the chief executive is wrong – and there are no council officers earning more than £300,000.”

Might we humbly suggest that the £371,848 remuneration to an ‘unknown strategic director’ best known for smoking, shagging and fighting included a £250,000 bung for him to slither off to the Wirral Chamber of Commerce?  We may be wrong, but let’s face it, we very rarely are!

The deeply aggrieved Wirral Council mouthpiece helpfully points us towards the Wirral Council website for clarification:

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/about-council/performance-and-spending/chief-officer-pay

It is interesting to note that at the end of the page it asks the pertinent question:

IS THERE ANYTHING WRONG WITH WITH THIS PAGE?

To which we at Leaky Towers can only reply : ‘Hell, yes!, where do we begin?’

For starters – Eric ‘ Feeble’ Robinson is on £178K ? – everything that is wrong with the world right there when that elusive mediocrity is on that kind of money.

As for Blott/Armstrong/Hassall – they were put on God’s green earth to be despised by us. They have succeeded. They now need to take their pensions and disappear.

We reserve judgement on Fish as apparently she had a bit of beef with Emma Degg and the former unexpectedly won. Go Clare!

Paul Satoor as Transformation Director is a new one on us. Jeezus his Department must be bigger than Dr Jekyll’s laboratory. But with the same results – full of havoc-wreaking, cash guzzling monsters like Mr Halliday, sorry Mr Hyde.

The rest of the list is a dispiriting roll call of overpaid nonentities but we were particularly drawn to the name Nicola Butterworth. Any relation to ‘Stressed Eric’ acolyte Stephen Butterworth? Or shall we just rejoice in the influx of Butterworths to Wirral that make all our lives just so much better?

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