Tales from the Chamber : Annual General Meeting

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The Wirral Chamber of Commerce (WCoC) AGM kicks off any minute now so we’d provide an alternative to the formalities. No doubt with their local connections the Chamber must feel as though they have gold plated protection from criticism from either us or the growing number of aggrieved former employees. However perhaps they’ll take more notice of their own ‘strategic partners’ –  well they are for now anyway!-  who have been getting in touch. It comes to something when their quite happy to share the Chamber’s  audited statutory accounts , revised Articles of Association and the agenda for the AGM. We wouldn’t want to spoil the excitement of tonight’s meeting by publishing them in advance but we would like publish this comment made by one of our sources about the accounts:

Chamber accounts……..less an income and expenditure statement which the
directors would rather not disclose!!!!!!
Moreover here’s a unique insight into how WCoC operates from one of their  ‘strategic partners’ which we guarantee won’t be aired at tonight’s meeting :
I work for a company who are strategic partners with the WCoC.
Well we are until the renewal date and then we will be leaving all together. What a disgrace. On more than one occasion we have used the cafe in the Lauries for dinner and seen the “Golden Girls” Paula Basnett, Kate Eugini, Sara Davies and I forget the other names, sat there drinking wine in the afternoon.
However, the main reason for my email is the Construction Forum run by Sara Davies. The summer forum saw us all at Thornton Hall Hotel (who were excellent by the way). The guest list was pure VIP!! Muse, YPG and Peel all there. Of course it was hard to speak to them because they were placed on a table at the front guarded by the “Golden Girls”. Did I mention the “Golden Girls” were necking bottles of Prosecco on the “Chamber” tab???? I saw 6 and I left at 7pm so God knows how many they had. Muse and Peel, once again, failed to answer any questions and “our chamber” failed to ask any questions.
“60% OF THE WORKFORCE MUST BE LOCAL!!”
Paula Basnett told me that she would be personally overseeing this!!! That’s a bit like Harvey Weinstein saying he will look after your wife!!!
I then attended the Construction Forum last month. Sara Davies promised the world, YPG, Carrol Build, Peel!! None turned up obviously, but then why would they when they had already told her they were not. They were placed there to attract people to the forum, which was awful!! “A talk from Jonathan Quinn”. Wow!!! I wont be slagging that gentleman off but let’s face it he brings nothing to the table does he!!!
I have also seen the 2 best members of the chamber staff leave (Lisa Furlong and my favorite Heather Heaton!!!). They both left having a gripe with the chamber!!!
They need new management!! And they need to start working FOR Wirral businesses!!!

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

 

 

Dear Eric – Open Letter : Wirral Housing Needs to 2033

Eric Gut

Mr. Eric Robinson, CE
Wirral Council, PO BOX 290
Brighton St., Wallasey CH27 9FQ 23.09.18

Dear Mr. Robinson

OPEN LETTER: WIRRAL HOUSING NEEDS TO 2033

As you have no doubt heard the government has updated the national and local population and household projections for the next 25 years (ONS website September 21st 2018). In the case of Wirral both the population growth and the household numbers growth have halved based on 2016 data. However you apply the numbers (for example by referencing back to your Litchfield Consultants report of 2016) the result is effectively the same. Instead of 12,000 houses over the fifteen year plan only ~5,900 are needed. Any attempts to ‘uplift’ this number based on now mythical economic growth scenarios, or affordability factors, or the later release of ‘pent up’ demand in certain age groups, will not be credible in the light of recent government economic forecasts. Indeed the credibility of the government housing needs methodology will now come under close scrutiny. I should also tell you that the latest population forecast growth to 2033 relies entirely on a large net migration into Wirral which your own consultants questioned in 2016. I expect the newly released numbers to be further challenged and actual Wirral future housing needs forecasts will be lower still (~4,400 based on current trends).
The housing implications are obvious. Some weeks ago I submitted an analysis to the public consultation which was also widely published. I enclose a copy. It works through several housing scenarios using brown field, Peel offers and empty house recovery assumptions for the 12,000 houses target and for that target simply scaled down by the changed population forecast (i.e. 7,100 houses). You can see that very little of your 4,900 acres proposed GB parcel release plan would be required. This land could support 71,000 houses. With the new government household growth forecasts the 15 year plan period housing needs drop to ~5,900. The effects of this are shown in the second document enclosed. Under most scenarios NO green belt land needs be used at all to meet housing needs. At most it would be a few percent of your 4,900 acre GB parcel release plan. The ‘plan’ is totally spurious and unjustified by the ‘official’ data.
In these circumstances I suggest the public consultation should be halted until the council makes the new housing need numbers clear to all Wirral residents and compares them honestly with your GB release plan proposals which in principle could accommodate 71,000 houses. It is not good enough for David Ball to tell public consultation meetings that the numbers will be looked at in camera, by a council appointed ‘expert’, ‘some time’ in the future. Alternatively the GB release plan could be withdrawn now before formal challenges to it emerge.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

(Claremont Defenders Group)

 

Wirral Waters One : Brown Nosing on Brownfield Sites

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Presumably we’re not on Wirral Council’s distribution list but we’ve just received their  ‘Wirral Waters One’  news release anyway. No doubt it will be reproduced faithfully elsewhere but here it is in its original form. Needless to say we predicted there would be an upcoming media onslaught about how Birkenhead was ‘on the up’ .  No wonder Peel Land & Property – f’chrissakes how many names do they go under? – are said to be ‘delighted’ at the news  about WW1 . They must be laughing all the way to their Isle of Man tax haven as more ‘national funding’ has been secured to kick start development on their land . It’s becoming increasingly clear that we’ve been sold a pup and the promised  ‘International Trade Centre’ of ‘Wirral Waters’ has been traded in for ad-hoc housing  projects of ‘Wirral Waters One’  and to prove that Wirral Council is committed to development on brownfield sites to distract from the Green Belt debacle.

No doubt we find out more about how much money this involves and where it came from at the Wirral Council Cabinet meeting on October 1. Considering that the Cabinet meeting is the week after next we presume that the timing of the news release has something to do with the upcoming Labour Party Conference in Liverpool and the fact that journalists from all over the place have been sniffing around looking for stories in the wake of Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party spat.

Peel, Pip and Porkies

We are aware that  Save Wirral’s Green Belt is a Conservative Party initiative and consequently considering their track record on political opportunism we can only hope it can be differentiated with Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces   as I’m sure we can all agree Wirral’s Green Belt transcends party political point scoring.

However ,having said all that ,we feel compelled to bring you a copy of the letter that was sent to Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies from Richard Mawdsley from the Peel Group that was published on Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces Facebook page and was distributed at Monday’s Extraordinary Council meeting. As we can see the nameplate of Tory  Cllr Chris Blakeley is in the background of the screenshot and therefore we have to be cognizant of possible political motivations. Nevertheless we think the letter is of immense interest and deserves wider coverage as it is highly instructive about the relationship between Peel Group and Wirral Council in general and ‘Power Boy Pip’ in particular.

We mentioned yesterday that attendees who attend Mr Mawdsley’s talk about ‘Wirral Waters’ on September 28 make specific reference to the letter below.

The letter’s most pertinent quotes have been usefully annotated but this comment from Mawdsley to Pip is the most telling :

Given the way you have conducted yourself in recent months , and the very misleading public statements you have made , we ask that you stop this campaign of misinformation and be honest with the people of Wirral and correct the misleading information you are distributing

So basically what you’re saying Mr Mawdsley, in that mealymouthed way you people have , is that  Pip is a big fat liar . Tell us something we don’t know! And it’s not just about Wirral Waters or the Green Belt or Wirralgate . Lying is like breathing to Pip and his ilk. Asking him to be honest is like asking Lance Armstrong to confirm he took performance enhancing drugs or President Bill Clinton whether he’d has sex with Monica Lewinsky or whether Pip himself had heard the Wirralgate tape …Wirralgate – Louder Than Bombs

Mawdsley

Mawdsley 2

The Art of Artifice

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Our thanks go to one of our readers who has sent us some eye-popping pop art. At first we thought to ourselves :  “Here’s someone with too much times on their hands and a penchant for pulp fiction. Quick! Press the ‘Block’ button .” However they went on to explain that the above collage was specially created to commemorate the appointment of  Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies to Arts Council England. Although we’d all be be forgiven for thinking the appointment was to the Arse Council knowing as we do that the nearest that Pip gets to culture is licking the lid of the yoghurt pot ( now there’s an image to haunt you for the rest of the day).

Our featured artist who goes by the name of Toulouse Le Plot further explained that their kids helped them with ‘the muriel’ as a) it was the school holidays b) it was never too early to teach your kids about local politics and yet be creative at the same time.

However back to the latest Pip appointment. His  place on the organisation’s North area council follows a visit to Wirral by its chief Darren ‘Hooray’ Henley, who inevitably described Wirral as a ‘creative hub for the entire region’.

Yes , Tristram  – whatever you say sweetheart. Our Hugo then went into luvvie-overdrive:

“As I stood in Birkenhead looking across the River Mersey to Liverpool’s impressive skyline with its stunning mix of old and new architecture, I was reminded of a recent visit to New York.Just as the Wirral look across the water towards Liverpool, so Brooklyn stares out across the East River towards Manhattan.The latter has traditionally been thought of as being the glitzier of the two areas, with its towering skyscrapers dominating the landscape and looking down on the other less successful parts of the city. But for me, it’s Brooklyn, on the other side of the river, where one of New York’s more exciting stories has unfolded over recent years. Following a sustained and well thought out programme of investment, it’s now a hotbed of creativity, with artists, designers and techies making this formerly rundown neighbourhood an exciting and vibrant place to live and work.Derelict buildings have been brought back to life.They’re now thriving creative communities, home to a network of makers who imagine, invent and build everything from traditional craft products to high end computer software.

As I stood in Birkenhead, it struck me that Brooklyn is a model for the Wirral…”

Read full story here :  Arts appointment for council ‘leader’

Has Rupert been drinking in the Brew Dog bar with Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ?-  ” Mine’s a pint of ‘Desperate Illusion’ what are you having old chap? I thoroughly recommend  ‘Mersey Mirage’ created by local artisan brewers Chimera & Artifice’ . Don’t worry dear boy we can put it on expenses…”

Did Giles and Eric independently come up with the ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ tagline? Or is it a case of deluded minds think alike?

As he seems to be so enamoured of the place no doubt Sebastian is eyeing up a penthouse suite in one of the thousands and thousands of luxury apartments that Peel Group are currently building on Wirral Waters. Perhaps when Sebastian moves in we can make a house-warming gift of a limited edition signed print of our commemorative collage . As a mash up of the local art and political scene we’re sure Tarquin will give the picture pride of place in his pop up art gallery .

Stressed Eric’s Vision : A Big Yellow Taxi Driving All Over The Green Belt

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We’ll leave the final words on putative plans to ‘pave paradise and put up a parking lot’ and proudly preview  ‘The Prof”s perfect riposte to the Cllr George Davies letter published in this week’s Wirral Globe . Let’s hope ‘The Prof’ gets equal prominence in next week’s publication.

TRUE LIES

George Davies’ Globe letter in response to mine demonstrates finally the degree to which Wirral residents have been let down by this council…and previous councils. The 20,620 sites with planning permission for building clearly EXPLICIT in Phil Davies letter to the Housing Minister in 31.01.18 were a mirage. The list of villains is increasing! First we had the ‘wicked government’ referred to by George Davies attacking our Green Belt and now the ‘wicked’  Peel Group who, to the ‘surprise and frustration’ of the council, have pointed out to the government that actually they only ever intended to build on 2,700 of the 13,521 sites under their control with planning permission. Have our naive council been stitched up by the developers or is somebody lying? Either way, Wirral residents are being poorly served. In his final thrust George Davies yet again conflates the issue of the council’s LEGAL, statutory duty to produce a Local Plan (some 18 year late) with the Green Belt issue. I repeat : we are being softened up for some hard decisions forced upon residents by decades of council incompetence and neglect. I have written and circulated an independent analysis of Green Belt sites in my own neighbourhood using the criteria defined by the council itself and and I urge local action groups to do the same in their areas and lobby local councillors as we are doing. A copy of my analyses has been sent to the Wirral Council Heritage Officer for the record. I would be happy to supply copies to any Green Belt activist groups via the Globe.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

With all this all talk of housing developments and artist’s impressions and threats to the Green Belt going on and with Wirral Council’s CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ‘s soon to be legendary comment that ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ ringing in our ears we’re minded once again to recall the lyrics to the song
‘Big Yellow Taxi’:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique ( Hoylake Golf Resort?)
and a swinging hot spot ( The Townhouse ?)
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum ( finally a use for Birkenhead Town Hall?)
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em (a new income stream for the cash strapped council?)

 

Un-Peeling the Truth

Even More Homes 001
Congratulations to Wirral Globe who’ve followed up the past two weeks’ bogus front page stories about the Green Belt to a bullshit story about brownfield sites.

This one is headlined ‘Even More New Homes Are Due’ and we are treated to a picture Cllr ‘Gorgeous ‘ George Davies. Joy was further unconfined to find that the lead letter in the Globe’s Mailbox was also credited to Wirral Council’s Cabinet member for housing. Although no doubt there will be a Wirral Council officer somewhere who actually penned the letter, proudly showing their partner (or more probably their mother) and saying : ” I wrote that!”  Bullshit peddling – what a way to earn a living!

Anyway we know it can’t have been written by Davies as the letter is titled : ‘ Truth behind our Local Plan’ and as we all know this casual racist and smear campaign organiser isn’t even on nodding terms, let alone being acquainted with the  ‘truth’.

In the letter Cllr Davies tries to take on ‘The Prof’ and refute the claims made in the latter’s correspondence  (which we believe was the last to be printed in last week’s Globe and not given the prominence that Davies’ response gets) . We’d already previously published Professor Gregg’s letter here –  Summer Shorts : The Heat is On 2 – Quo Bono?

Let’s face it it was never going to be a meeting of minds was it?  Especially when ,unlike a supermarket trolley,  Cllr Davies doesn’t even have a mind of his own.

Nevertheless,seemingly displaying some rare insight that challenging ‘The Prof’ on facts is a dangerous game to play Davies resorts to the time-honoured tactic of ‘ner,ner,ner,ner,ner’ and tells him (and Globe readers) :

What the seemingly well-informed Prof Gregg doesn’t know is that since the earlier exchange of letters, Wirral Water’s owners Peel Group have been in touch with the Government directly , and to Wirral Council’s surprise and frustration ,have informed the new secretary of state they only intend to build 2,700 new homes at Wirral Waters over 15-year lifetime of the Local Plan

Surely anyone who reads Wirral Leaks must know that the Peel Group have been taking the piss (and public money and public property) for years. The contempt with which they hold Wirral Council (and us) is there for all to see. The thing is the former deserve it – we don’t!

Surprisingly it was left to Wirral South MP Alison McGovern to criticise Peel Group for “insufficient progress” in the press. Whither Frank Field and Angela Eagle now ? – especially the former who has consistently wet his knickers talking about all the wonderful things that are just about to happen in his Birkenhead constituency “tomorrow…next week… a month later… maybe next year… we need a five year action plan… these things take time…perhaps another 37 years ? …….meanwhile I’ve just conned money out of Wirral Council to open another foodbank. Hurrah for me, me ME!”

However what you won’t read on the front page of Wirral Globe or Wirral View (can anyone tell the difference these days?) is news from a ‘Wallasey Town Hall insider’ detailing some interesting developments involving a recent Wirral Council appointment and their intimate connection to……Peel Group.

We’ll be un-Peeling that forbidden fruit tomorrow…

Back to the Future

Whilst you’re all waiting for the red bridge between Birkenhead and Wallasey to be finally put back in place after a series of delays read here all we can say is a) this is what happens when you hand over control of your own land to an organisation (Peel) who are only interested in acquiring public land and public money for private profit and b) we don’t believe in delays or delayed gratification. As Mark Twain said :

” Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection”

Believe us -the red bridge debacle is the shape of things to come or should that be remembrance of things past? After yesterday’s post where we published the artist’s impression of the forthcoming ‘Wirral Waters’ dementia care village an eagle eyed reader brought a nostalgic tear to our jaundiced eye by recalling the similarity to the infamous (and subsequently demolished) Birkenhead landmark of Oak and Eldon Gardens. Accordingly we won’t keep this pithy observation from our readers until later this week in our weekly dispatch and bring it to you now :

LOOKALIKES

Oak and Eldon Gardens 3

DEMENTIA CARE VILLAGE

Dementia 3

OAK AND ELDON GARDENS

 

 

Plan Mad

 

Plan Mad

There is currently no end to this planning madness on Wirral. Indeed we failed to include in our Dead Wrong story the fact that Wirral Council have plans for the Local Plan but actually no Local Plan. The latest excuse reported to Monday’s that in January/February  2017 Wirral Council had asked its ‘retained consultants’ – Lichfields (assisted by Lambert Smith Hampton) – and wouldn’t it be nice to have permanent staff able to do this ? – to prepare a Borough-wide Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study [Wirral ELPS]. However they’ve only just got round to agreeing the findings of the Wirral ELPS be used to inform the content of the Council’s ’emerging’ Local Plan ! So what took them so long to come to this decision ? Apparently it’s become a case that help is now needed for those on Wirral who can’t ELPS themselves!

For your enjoyment the full transcript of the now legendary ‘Dead Wrong’ speech read by Cllr George Davies in the style of a six year old reading ‘Janet & John’ appears in the minutes. Read here : Dead Wrong Cabinet minutes

Somehow we don’t think that this will rank with MLK’ s ‘I have a dream’ or JFK’s ‘ Ask not what your country can do for you…’ as one of the world’s great orations.

The same speech (this time credited to Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies appears here in this Place North West article : Wirral hits back at Javid intervention. This article  is worth perservering with for the ‘expert view’ of  Sebastian Tibenham , executive director at Pegasus Group, who has sympathy for both sides but basically concludes that Wirral Council have brought threats of intervention on themselves by acting in the way that is oulined in our first paragraph or as he more eloquently puts it :

 In short, the polarised issues in Wirral blur into an average state of indifference.   

And so when it comes to planning on Wirral it’ remains a case of another day , another artist’s impression . This time  Business Up North  reports :   Wirral waters developer submits planning application for £6m office block

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Wirral Waters developer, Peel Land and Property, has formally submitted a planning application to Wirral Council to build a stunning office block.

Situated on Tower Road, the £6m three-storey development will be aimed at Wirral’s small business community.

The ground floor will include an incubator facility for the region’s entrepreneurial sector, while the two upper floors will feature Grade ‘A’ level office accommodation throughout six suites.

We love the sound of ‘an incubator facility for the region’s entrepreneurial sector’. Her Ladyship asked whether this was a pop up birthing centre for busy have-it-all businesswomen. However it’s probably be more like a variation on the Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s Sheds down the road.

All fine and dandy you might think but as far as we’re concerned it’s the usual case of Peel securing yet more public money to kick start yet another opportunistic , ad-hoc private development as “the project is supported by a grant from Liverpool City Region’s Single Investment Fund and the backing of Wirral Council” – and that’s what happens when you don’t have a ‘Local Plan’

Finally we’ll be keeping a close eye on some controversial planning decisions which have been brought to our attention including one affecting one of Wirral’s Grade II listed properties, an architectural practice with links to a local councillor who has some interesting connections and a 1960’s toxic landfill site.

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