The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Twelve – A New Year Present from ‘The Prof’

Eric Gut

Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson – living off the fat of the land (Green Belt included)

‘A retired professor in Bromborough’ with an ‘alternative approach…which a number of people are seeking to attach importance’ Eric Robinson (Wirral Council CEO) on ‘The Prof’ and the people who pay his (over-inflated) salary

‘Be vigilant and defend Wirral in 2019’ – The Prof’

Who do we rely on for our information about Wirral’s Green Belt ladies and gentleman? – ‘The Prof’ or Stressed Eric and his equally overpaid QC (which you also pay for). IOHO the former is cheaper (but priceless) , more reliable and certainly unbiddable.

Gentlemen I thought you might like a small New Year present.

The Wirral Green Belt ‘resistance’ persuaded (Margaret) Greenwood in October
to ask  (Eric) Robinson (Wirral Council CEO)  what the hell is going on. He has just replied with an interesting letter. By accident it contains useful new information on numbers
and their approach to the local plan. They still fail to make clear the bloody
obvious fact that even in the worst case (12,000 houses target ) and using their
own brownfield figures we would only need ~413 acres of green belt not 4,900
acres. ie. just 8.4% of the GB parcel list they published. Using the 7,320
target, they claim they are pushing to the government, we would need just
1.7% of the published list (85 acres). To put all this in perspective the Hoylake
Golf Resort project would build houses on ~300 acres. It’s also clear they have
instructed their expensive QC not to use the flexibility inherent in the national
planning framework.
I have changed my mind about motivation. I now believe the council is happy
to release all the land , 4,900 acres, from the GB in one go …if they can get
away with it. Wirral would then be a bonanza area for developers for decades
to come …far beyond actual local plan requirements. In reality there are
accepted options for a phased release of land as future requirements become
clearer but this would cripple their plans. I believe they fear that government
ONS data will be discredited this year and my forecast of  a need for zero GB
land will be proved. If so they will get no significant GB land development unless
they release it now. See my analysis (below) for more.

COMMENTS ON THE LETTER FROM ERIC ROBINSON TO
MARGARET GREENWOOD MP (Dec. 2018)
I will try to confine my comments mainly to the issue of housing requirement projections and green belt land needs under Robinson’s various letter headings.
‘Lack of Clarity on Wirral’s Housing Needs’
Mr. Robinson gives a one page useful summary of the history and current status of this issue. Unfortunately there are misleading statements involved which need correcting as we go. Mr. Robinson begins with the 2016 SHMA by Lichfield Consultancy. He notes the range of forecasts provided (from among 13 scenarios) as 875 to 1,235 houses per annum. Readers may note that the lower figure is higher than the proposed 803 h/a proposed by the government. However several things must be noted.
The total numbers quoted refer to 18 years not a 15 year period.
These numbers are not based on the approved ‘standard method’ in several respects. Notably they include assumptions about council policy and economic impacts which play no part in the standard method.
They are based on out of date SNPP 2012 population/household data.
The high estimate of population growth from 3 is selected (10,140) although they acknowledge a long term migration scenario based on real history which predicts a population growth of just 66 over 18 years.
Large uplifts are made for assumptions concerning ‘pent up demand’ which depend on optimistic economic forecasts and a high household formation rate.
Also Robinson does not mention the Liverpool LEP job scenario which gives 188 h/a nor the actual recent housing delivery rate of 383 h/a which we can say reflects all factors in play. Six of the 13 scenarios cluster tightly around a rate of 470 h/a or 7,050 in 15 years compared with 875 to 1,235 reported. (This compares with numbers from 5,923 to 7,170 obtained using the standard method from the latest ONS population / household data by this author and the 7,320 obtained by the council).
Based on the raw demographic data in the 2016 SHMA, without doubtful economic uplifts, we would obtain 563 h/a. If we took the average of the two population figures they quote we obtain 284 h/a before uplifts. These yield 2,820 or 4,260 or 8,440 houses over 15 years. One wonders if anyone at the council has read the SHMA report of 2016. It cost us over fifty thousand pounds to produce but its many warnings and caveats were ignored.
The author has no argument with the current standard method as a demographic starting point. Most of the projections made in my own housing report used as a basis for green belt housing requirements, used the standard method. Robinson fails to mention this fact and speaks only of an ‘alternative’ method, seeking to dismiss this work. The real problem as Robinson acknowledges is the quality and instability of the ONS population and household data and I add, the unintelligent use of ‘trend analysis’. Our housing requirements fall from 2012 to 2014 to 2016 not because of the method but because the data is unstable and still suffering from reconciliation problems between the 2001 and 2011 censuses which the ONS acknowledges as a problem nationally. In our case the basic ‘natural’ internal population projections should be quite accurate and can be calculated mechanically. They show the population decline which has been the norm here for decades. Our local problem is that the mechanical application of the ONS trend rules to historical migration data leads to a massive, unrealistic over estimate of net migration into Wirral as my report explained. This was acknowledged also by Lichfield Consultants in the 2016 SMHA as I have repeatedly pointed out, but ‘magiced’ away by referencing the brain-free ONS ‘rules’.
Robinson notes a ‘retired professor in Bromborough’ with an ‘alternative approach…which a number of people are seeking to attach importance’ to. I assume this is me. This is very disingenuous and dismissive. I repeat, my appendix 1 and 2 tables showing the implications for green belt land requirements are based on the standard method and ONS data. I also provided forecasts based on variations of trend analysis to demonstrate how sensitive targets are to slight variations in assumptions and data. I also apply official government variant scenarios on migration and life expectancy scaled to the Wirral, to show the effects of recent events. These further reduce our future housing requirements. The council readily considered the 13 scenarios created in the 2016 SMHA Lichfield Consultancy report so surely ‘a retired professor in Bromborough’ can also legitimately explore and report half a dozen explanatory scenarios? What is the council afraid of? Could it be they fear the Wirral ‘general public’ being properly informed for once about their manipulations?
Robinson’s QC is correct in advising the council that they should prepare a local plan case based on the standard method, whenever that stabilises. However the issue of data is another matter. The ONS data bases are in disarray across the country. At some point this will be challenged by some, competent, well informed local authorities. Wirral should be prepared for this by looking closely at all the relevant local historical demographic data with emphasis on migration projections… as I have attempted to begin to do. I will continue to seek out independent (official) data, such as registered voters, which allows dependable population, migration and household trends to be estimated for use in the standard model: we cannot rely on ONS projections or ‘estimates’ between censuses. They are completely discredited …as the recent government panic reactions prove.
‘Wirral Waters’, etc & Green Belt Land Requirements
Robinson’s note provides additional, new information on council assumptions. He tells us that ‘any figure over about 406 houses per year (equivalent to 6,090 over 15 years) would trigger a need to consider land to be released from the Green Belt’. Let us use the council’s own numbers to see what this actually means. On the September 2018 ONS household projections and the standard method the council says we need 7,320 houses. This is about right. This means that we need 7,320 – 6090 = 1,230 house places on GB land. The average government NW density figure is 14.5 houses per acre so we would need just 84.8 acres of GB. But the local plan GB release land parcels amount to ~4,900 acres. This is 58 X the area actually needed to meet the housing target. However the council may be forced to accept the earlier 2014 ONS data based target of 12,045 houses. This means that 12,045 – 6090 = 5,995 house places on GB would be needed. But this is just 413 acres compared with the 4,900 acres up for release. The GB release area proposed is 11.9 X the area required in the council’s own worst case scenario.
Why is it that these critical facts have not been explained to the public? I suggest that it is intended to muddy the waters. If 4,900 acres of GB land are released in this local plan ‘because the council is being forced to by the government…we have no choice’, developers (and the council) can relax and cherry pick the (up to) 413 acres actually needed, for maximum profit and convenience all round: perhaps over the full 15 years plan period. But this leaves ~4,487 acres of released GB permanently available for building, beyond the highest local plan requirements, if all the currently proposed GB land parcels are released.
Wirral would become from now on, the ultimate free for all target area for developers and speculators in the northwest. No doubt that is the plan, unless it is stopped.
If we wish to preserve Wirral in anything like its present form, the public must object loudly in the final public consultation on the Local Plan in 2019 if more than the absolute maximum said to be necessary, 413 acres of GB land, is put forward for release.
The release of 4,900 acres in one ‘apocalypse now’, is totally unjustified on the council’s own data and worst case assumptions.
It may be by mid 2019 that a revised standard methodology and an ONS data challenge will show an even smaller GB area is actually needed than 413 acres. I will continue to look into this. I suggest that when the dust settles we will find a demographic housing need of less than 3,000 houses. However the other side of the equation is how much land is available outside current green belt. Current council claims on this also need to be looked at very carefully. Robinson quotes a number of 6,090 house places available on non-GB land. Let us examine this against published brown field sites (as surveyed by the council), the contentious Peel/Wirral Waters numbers and actual empty house refurbishment.
Earlier this year the council said it had identified 2,400 places on 91 ‘brown field’ sites. This would leave 6,090 – 2,400 = 3,690 other identified places on non-GB sites. What are these? What about the Peel plans? Robinson spends considerable space in his letter attacking the Peel position, which continues the council stance taken throughout 2018. Peel were identified to the public as the villains of the piece. Robinson rejects Peel’s ‘higher scenario’ offer which presumably is the 13,571 dwellings with outline planning permission. However Peel made it clear to the government and in a public letter in 2018, that this figure only ever applied to the full 30 year Wirral Waters project span. The ‘medium scenario’ offer was 6,450 dwellings subject to council financial support on infrastructure, etc. Robinson does not mention the minimum delivery offer from Peel of 2,900 dwellings which appears to come with few strings attached (see below). One would think that urgent negotiations would now be under way with Peel and it appears Robinson’s ‘leading’ QC has sent a letter to elicit, after several years of discussion, a detailed development schedule.
N.B. From Robinson’s letter the position appears to be that the council will take the hardest interpretation of the NPPF rules in putting forward non-GB land availability and other matters in the local plan. One could see this as a cautious, conservative approach but there has been much discussion nationally about NPPF interpretation and implicit flexibility on ‘availability’, ‘deliverability’, ‘viability’, etc. If the council is not intending to seek out this flexibility and use it, by so directing their expensive QC, Wirral residents might reasonably assume that it simply wants to release as much Green Belt land as possible by hiding behind alleged ‘harsh Conservative government’ rules and ‘unreliable development partners’. Residents might wonder why. See above.
Let us return now to the numbers game. The unidentified 3,690 places on non-GB land implied by Robinson can be compared with the lower, deliverable Peel offer of 2,900 dwellings. Using this leaves 3,690 – 2,900 = 790 houses or ~53 houses per annum. Despite the negative bluster perhaps Robinson actually expects Peel to deliver their minimum offer at least. The other 790 houses may come from empty house recovery. Data supplied by a councillor suggested there were ~4,000 (> 6 months) empty houses on Wirral in 2017. In recent years the average house recovery rate (by the council) was ~238 h/a (based on their own data). So recovery of ~53 h/y or higher should be quite feasible in future.
In my local plan submission I included two tables showing the impact of various brown field options on GB requirements. I can now update these using the new council data from Robinson, for the readers’ interest. We keep the 2,400 brown field council data and the 790 houses inferred from recovery, in total 3,190. Suppose now the council comes to an accommodation with Peel on their ‘medium scenario’. This would replace 2,900 with 6,450 giving in total 9,640 dwellings. If we allowed double the inferred empty house recovery rate we have 53 x 2 = 106 p/a. This still only 44% of the actual recent rate. In this case we would have in total 9,640 + 790 = 10,430 places on brown field sites. Green Belt land needed in the worst (target) case becomes 12,045 – 10,340 = 1,705 dwelling places or ~118 acres compared with proposed 4,900 acres of parcel release.
Now it is accepted that local plans will be regularly reviewed and evolve over time as Robinson tells us in his letter. At worst then, we start with a stated need for ~413 acres of GB land over 15 years. But assuming a modest level of competence in the council and good will between Peel and the council, the ‘medium scenario’, deliverable in say 5 or 10 years time, implies only ~118 acres of GB is needed in total. I would assume that a ‘leading’ QC would be able to elegantly mount the appropriate arguments about land release phasing.
However the council points to a need for only 7,320 houses during the plan period based on the most recent 2016 ONS projections and the standard method. If this becomes accepted again, or this is forced upon the government by evidence presented by a number of councils with competence and backbones, or by independent analysts, the Peel ‘medium scenario’ tells us that total brown field places would be 10,430 and so NO Green Belt at all is needed to meet the local plan, as I argued clearly in my local plan submissions in September 2018. It is probable that it will soon emerge that the ONS demographic projection system is broken and the local authority level ONS data generally is unreliable for important decision making. However we should not rely passively on this scandal breaking.
If the council genuinely wishes to protect our Green belt as it repeatedly states, it should prioritise three actions:
Stop playing political games and negotiate urgently with Peel Holdings.

Accept the standard method but challenge the ONS population and household projections for Wirral. Among other things: consult other councils with similar misleading data problems and organise resistance; jointly commission a formal critique of the ONS automatic trend rules and data stability e.g. from the Royal Statistical Society; seek independent (but official) data to establish actual Wirral net migration trends as these dominate, unrealistically, all the government projections.

Present a phased local plan to the full extent the ‘rules’ allow, emphasising the national failings and problems with the ONS data and projection methods: the clear aim being to limit the release of GB land to the minimum necessary at any given time and NOT the reverse, which appears to be the current policy.
‘Green belt and urban sprawl’
The council does have an obligation to properly assess all available alternatives. It may choose to assess all GB parcels put forward as available for development. But to be clear: it is not obliged to release any GB land in excess of that needed to make up any shortfall from available brown field sites. We have shown that even with the worst case target using the government standard method and data, only ~ 8.4% of the council proposed GB release list would be needed. On the forecast based on the 2016 ONS data, argued (we are assured) by the council, to the government, only ~1.7% of the GB release list would be needed.
The letter gives some hints as to how the ~8% might be selected. Such sites ‘are either physically enclosed by the wider urban area or would not reduce the physical separation between existing Settlement Areas…which means their impact on urban sprawl would be much less when compared with other parts of the GB.’ These are weasel words which local activists need to look at carefully in each case. Note particularly Robinson’s comments on Irby, Thingwall, Pensby, Heswall and parts of Barnston and Gayton. Since these are all part of SA7 one gets the impression anything goes here. However the local plan background documents also discuss the attraction (in the minds of council planners) of creating a hard (neat) green belt boundary at the M53 by ‘filling in’ the whole area of high quality farm land to its east side from Storeton down to Poulton Hall and again at Eastham. Nobody living here can feel relaxed with such openly declared, Big Brother thinking. However Robinson tries to reassure us by saying ‘some of these sites may [still] be found unsuitable for other reasons, which would need to be demonstrated on the basis of technical evidence.’ However in the Infrastructure section of his letter we learn that as yet no assessments have been made in several key areas: transport, strategic flood risk, agriculture, biodiversity and sustainability. The council ‘will be commissioning a series of technical and environmental studies…’ but ‘specialist consultants’ have yet to be appointed as 2018 ends. We are told that at least the council is talking to education and health service providers. Let us hope so.
The author, given that we are now ‘Borough of Culture 2019’, notes there is no mention of assessing the impact of GB housing estates on our rich historical heritage on Wirral. To take just one example, powerful evidence now exists that the great Battle of Brunanburh, the equal of Hastings in defining English history, took place in the area between Storeton Village / Higher Bebington and Poulton Hall with the centre near Clatterbridge. Most of this land area is east of the M53 and it is all on the GB release list. Already, even before general GB release, the building of 27 luxury homes has been approved (on appeal) on GB land next to historic Storeton Hall, which will be converted into luxury apartments. It is widely believed, based on known commercial links and clear conflicts of interest, that the council made only a limp wristed attempt to stop this development at the appeal. This is the future of Wirral GB, chopped up quietly, piece by piece, unless the government and council are challenged strongly on all matters discussed earlier and on the basis of hard evidence. Much more could be said about misleading council behaviour. Be vigilant and defend Wirral in 2019.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

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

No1-Tower-Road-South-sml-640x431

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.

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #8

PIP’S PANTO 

Our loyal readers get us and know exactly what – and who – we like (and don’t like). Accordingly the following information was sent to us by a few members  of the Leakerati and was described as an “open goal” by one and came with the message “please, I implore you. Have some fun with this….” from another. So channelling that laid back Sunday vibe here goes : Wirral Council are commissioning a pantomime.

Panto 006

As you can see we are not making this shit up . Yes, yes we know it’s always panto season at Wirral Council but we’ll leave you to do your own punchlines . Suffice to say this year’s pantomime has been confirmed as ‘Aladdin’. Freud would have a field day with that choice – keeping the genie in the bottle , the rubbing of lamps etc. For future years might we suggest that ‘Sinbad’ would be the obvious choice (think about it) …..then there’s  ‘Pinocchio’ (the audition for the lead would be right down New Brighton prom) or how about old favourites ‘Spinderella’ and  ‘Puss In (Ugg) Boots’? Indeed someone going by the name ‘Dazzler’ suggests to us a bawdy retro look at how car parking charges at country parks are impacting on the local dogging community with a production of ‘Babes In The Wood’. What does Wirral Council Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies think ?

Pip's panto

MIPIM IN THE BUD 

Talking of outmoded sexism (and racism) we’ve been asked how the Wirral Council delegation got on dans notre coin de pays at this week’s MIPIM (‘Le marche international des professionnels de l’immoblier’) event in Cannes. Unlike last year where they were seen flogging themselves all over social media like a Cannes courtesan (see below) it appears that curiously they’ve been keeping a low profile. They even left the latest ‘Wirral Waters ‘announcement to Peel’s Richard Mawdsley . Read more here : Wirral Waters

Despite the fanfare it was merely confirmation to us that what we have here is a private housing project kick-started by public money. Although we did note that all concerned are still including a ‘speculative industrial project’ as part of future plans. Let’s face it ‘speculative’ is the word – and when it comes to ‘Wirral Waters’ it has been all along !

Checking out the #MIPIM tweets and social media posts it would appear that when it came to Wirral it was as usual case of the Wirral minnow and the Liverpool whale (no that’s not a reference to Mayor Joe) as Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson took centre stage – although when it comes to the latter we have to ask – who on earth thought that was a good idea?

During our research we couldn’t help notice that there was there was a great deal of national coverage – including The Financial Times and The Guardian – about how sex workers had been banned at this year’s MIPIM event as the sleazy property industry tries to shed its sexist and racist image. As one delegate named Jane said : “What other industry on the face of the earth in 2018 needs to remind businessmen that they can’t bring prostitutes to an industry conference?”

Might we question that whilst the Wirral Council delegation might have felt at home at why did Wirral council tax payers have to pay for this sleazy jamboree?

The most prominent Wirralian we could find referenced on social media was Wirral Olympian Chris Boardman who rocked up to speak on behalf of er…..Manchester. Although we suppose we should be grateful that at least it wasn’t the ubiquitous Sam Quek.

One thing we did find out is that the outfit responsible for all those bloody artist’s impressions are called Uniform Architectural Visualisation . Didn’t you just know they’d be called something like that ? This latest one one is for Egerton Village/Square  – about which we expect to hear much more.

Egerton Visualisation

A DIFFERENT WORLD

One of the twitter feeds we checked out for MIPIM news was  @WirralWellMade which is as far as we can make out is the Martin Liptrot-led  PR arm of the Wirral Growth Company .The latest Tweet we looked at goes like this :

Sunday Times 012

Seriously?

It transpires that this refers to Heswall being named fourth best place to live in North West in a poll published in today’s The Sunday Times. What we are waiting for Marty is an accurate reflection of what it’s really like to live on Wirral. Relentless positivity is all Wirral well made and good but might we suggest that accurate reporting and reflection of reality is even better ? Even The Sunday Times described The Wirral (sic) as “a different world” .

Sunday Times 016

Ain’t it just! and one we don’t recognise or no longer care to be part of !

…..AND FINALLY

West Wirral

We’ve been sent this screenshot from this week’s West Wirral Constituency meeting. Now either that’s a misplaced seating arrangement or we need to send Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive David Armstrong our best wishes on his/her transitioning as currently this is the least convincing gender reassignment since boxing promoter Frank Maloney decided to become Kellie.

 

 

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #4

WW1

WW1 : Artist’s impression # 256

                                                                   WW1

As far as ‘Wirral Waters’ press releases goes this really is the best one yet. You can almost smell the desperation.  Note how the quietly abandoned ‘Wirral Waters’ scheme has suddenly and mysteriously been ‘transformed’ into ‘Wirral Waters One’ . Whoever thought of that new branding needs shooting – say it out loud , it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? Can we also point out that when it comes to acronyms WW1 has already been taken? Just sayin’

Apparently Wirral Council’s Cabinet will announce tomorrow that a massive (! )£100,000 will ‘kick start’ a £90,000,000 residential development in ‘Wirral Waters One’ !

The proposal is a joint venture between the council and landowners Peel Holdings, and includes the Legacy Foundation – an investment fund established by former Tranmere Rovers player Aaron Cresswell………..The Legacy Foundation will provide £100,000 of funding in the first year to be invested in community activities. Full story : Wirral Waters One

We don’t get a breakdown of the total investment between Peel Holdings/ Wirral Council/Legacy Foundation but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be Wirral Council (or more accurately Wirral council taxpayers) who will be putting their hands the deepest into their pockets when it comes to ‘kick starting’ this proposal. Nor do we get an explanation as to what is meant by ‘community activities’

Instead stepping up to take credit for the momentous investment was Birkenhead MP Frank Field  (huh?)

“An idea bringing the largest programme of new housing to Wirral in living memory, announced today, is the brainchild of Andrew Forsey who is the head of my Parliamentary office.Through his work in making contact with footballers interested in making long term investments from their pensions. Andrew helped to persuade a crop of current and former Premier League players – including Aaron Cresswell, who was a Tranmere Rovers player and now plays for West Ham – to see whether it would be possible for his investment fund to begin work in Wirral Waters.”

Is it just us ? – or is is there something vaguely nauseating about poverty tourist Frank Field’s parliamentary office brainstorming about the ‘loadsamonies’ who they can approach with the begging bowl without considering whether it’s morally right that footballers and the like can earn such huge sums of money or question as to whether as a society we’ve got our values all wrong? Nevertheless it is interesting to discover that Wirral’s ‘largest programme of new housing’ is somehow the responsibility of Frank Field’s Parliamentary office isn’t it?!

NUMBER – CRUNCHING   – Aaron Cresswell’s  current fortnightly salary at West Ham Utd  = £100,000 ! (well fancy that!)  See here : West Ham Utd Salaries 2018

So what we’d like tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting to do is finally come clean and announce that ‘Wirral Waters One’ and indeed the ‘ Hoylake Golf Resort’ proposal are merely opportunistic housing developments and quit the soft soap.

 

                                                              Vexatious , Moi?

Wirral Council seemed to have backed off the desperate claim that Wirral Council taxpayer Charles Nunn is ‘vexatious’ for asking pertinent questions about the continuing employment of highly paid consultant Stewart Halliday . See their latest response here : Halliday FOI

Mr Nunn comments :

At last a part reply to my F.of Information request.
Halliday has had his contract extended for a further SIX MONTHS from 1st. January, 2018.
Another £90,000 odd from the Wirral Council Tax payer.
It may be worth a mention in your esteemed publication.
Charles

                           

                                           CGL:  “……and nobody seemed to care “

Many thanks to those who keep us appraised of national charity Change,Grow Live who are the grateful recipient of Wirral’s largest ( £7 million +) Public Health contract. Their latest mishap involves them in a massive data breach involving abandoned files found in an empty Tameside office  containing highly personal details about the lives of vulnerable young people – including abuse survivors. Once again we fear we have seen the future of health and social care. Be afraid, be very afraid.

CGL- Tameside

 

                                                     Posted Truth

A source writes :

By way of obscure and tenuous response to you excellent ‘Post Truth’ contribution/blog

… I am sending you this ‘Posted Truth’ image… I reckon you could say it is both a statement of fact…. and a protest. (Which I obviously feel to be a good thing).

Posted Truth

 

 

                                                       De-Stressed Eric 

A local barfly informs us :

Eric (Robinson) was recently seen in a pub in Liverpool when he should have been working – the pub being ‘Brew Dog’ dressed in casuals.
The council is no better than when we had the other 3 – it’s probably worse.

Now we can’t confirm whether Stressed Eric was on council duty or not whilst allegedly quaffing the craft ale – but we have to ask as to whether anyone would notice the difference ? Plus we simply don’t want to think about him dressed in his ‘casuals’.

Having said that we don’t need convincing that Wirral Council is worse than ever under his , ahem, ‘leadership’  As for ‘the other 3’ – whoever could they mean?!

       

                                               A Cautionary Tale

In Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2 we commented on recent developments where Mayor Joe Anderson was interviewed  by Merseyside Police ‘under caution’ in relation to the ongoing fraud probe involving Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others. We now hear of someone closer to home who it is alleged was also interviewed under caution by Merseyside Police in relation to an altogether different matter. However such are the extreme sensitivities surrounding this particular case we are precluded from reporting any further. Nevertheless we will be following developments with interest….

The Hard Sell

Cannes Shah

Sitting in the shadow of Liverpool – here’s Wirral Council’s chief this week in Cannes.That’s him – the one in the blue shirt on the bottom right. Surely you didn’t think we meant that useless sack of potatoes top left?

It’s been the week of the Wirral hard sell.

The figure £1 billion has been bandied about about how much investment is heading to Wirral (or rather ,Birkenhead ,which is being branded ‘the capital of Wirral’) with slavish Liverpool Echo screaming headlines  ‘£1 BILLION VISION FOR WIRRAL’

Wirral’s ‘leaders’ touting their tawdry wares in the South of France and Downing Street and according to the newly launched ‘Wirral. Well made.’ ( who thought that branding was a good idea?) aspiring that Wirral become the ‘Brooklyn of the North West’ – is that to Liverpool’s Manhattan?- with the dullest promotional launch ever. This would appear to be the brainchild of Sally Shah who apparently is ‘Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment’ – so yes, yet another highly paid public asset stripper on the Wirral Council payroll.

And then we have the Peel Holdings (up) gegging in with its ‘university of the sea’ plans for Wirral Waters with hundreds of jobs and sunshine,lollipops and rainbows for everyone!- again accompanied with the obligatory artist’s impression and yet more Echo headlines

And it doesn’t end there here comes the ‘asset transformation strategy’ and the formation of the Wirral Growth Company.

Wirral Growth 011

The hard sell meets the big sell off.

Year of the Chicken

foghorn-leghorn

A special Chinese New Year of the Chicken message to Power Boy Pip from Looney Tunes legend Foghorn Leghorn

Chinese New Year isn’t until February but you won’t be surprised to hear that Stella Shiu won’t be around to wish Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies : ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’  as we enter the Year of the Chicken.

It should come as no surprise to Wirral Leaks watchers and anyone with an IQ that reaches double figures that Shiu will not be appearing on the shores of the River Mersey laden with fortune cookies – not this year, Chinese New Year or any other year.

And so after all the photo-ops , press statements, Liverpool Echo exclusives, artist’s impressions , false promises , foreign delegations and the portrait of Stella hanging up in the waiting room next to the Wirral Council Chief Executive’s office it’s finally time to put this seemingly elaborate – if not particularly convincing – hoax to (the river) bed.

You may remember that after the failure to secure investors for the International Trade Centre at Wirral Waters  that Shiu was invited to move operations down river to some Godforsaken wasteland  (attractively described as former Ministry of Defence land situated on ‘a surburban industrial estate behind Port Sunlight Tennis Club’ ). We exclusively reported this locally in November 2015 after a story appeared in the Financial Times and presciently asked the question   : So we’d like to know whether this is a suitable site for an International Trade Centre or merely a very expensive and financially risky way to save face over the Stella Shiu affair?”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/chinese-takeaway-1st-dibs-2nd-course/

Now it would appear we finally have the answer courtesy of yet another question , this time asked at the Wirral Council meeting on 19th December by Cllr Phil Gilchrist:

pg-question-014

We wonder whether we’ll see the news that ‘ The International Trade Centre is not progressing because the project sponsor cannot confirm funding for the project at this time’ on the front page of Wirral View or with a centre spread in the Liverpool Echo under the headline  ‘ Shiu’d off ! – Stella Dupes Wirral Fellas’ or ‘ Due Diligence? – Don’t Make Us Laugh!’ accompanied by a picture of Power Boy Pip looking like a sad-faced emoji ?

Don’t hold your breath people of Wirral – this is the kind of ‘information deficit’ that Wirral Council have no intention of ever addressing because it doesn’t fit with their bogus ,happy-clappy narrative. Especially when Power Boy Pip and his political ilk of all parties are chicken – with an inability to say they’d been had, never admit when they are wrong or acknowledge that they’re big on promises and short on delivery .

And before we finish let’s remember it wasn’t just Pip that Shiu strung along. Here’s Stella  with Lindsey Ashworth from the Peel Group and Wirral Council Tory group leader Jeff Green wishing us a suitable Looney Tunes farewell:

green-shiu-ashworth

That’s all folks!

Homes Under The Hammer

FLOG-IT

A housing boom is coming to Wirral whether we like it or not – every piece of land and every building that remains standing seems to be up for grabs in the council’s everything must go slash and burn sale.

In an ingenious ploy to make money for  property developers , who must be rubbing their hands in venal glee ,  there goes the old Lyndale School site and we  presume the Girtrell Court site to follow shortly after. Indeed poor Saughall Massie looks set to become more concrete jungle than green belt – what with the fire station proposal and the residential development and barn conversion planning application for Diamond Farm :

https://planning.wirral.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=_WIRRA_DCAPR_99836

The further desecration of the green belt for the benefit of property developers continues unabated with Wirral Council  ploughing on with Hoylake Golf Resort despite increasing local opposition . They are intent on speculating a further £600,000 of your money in an attempt to ensure this project doesn’t end up in the bunker . Although this particular Cabinet decision is subject to a Special Meeting to be held next week  we predict the call-in will end up like all others – with the ruling Labour group driving down the fairway and avoiding the rough  by using the biggest club they have  in the caddy – an overall majority . As we’ve said all along the only way the Hoylake Golf Resort stacks up financially is courtesy of the high priced executive homes. Indeed we think Hoylake Golf Resort should be more accurately described as a housing development with a golf course attached (or should that be linked?).

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=758&MId=5899

Meanwhile it’s hard not to reach the conclusion that the Wirral Waters project is finally no more. As Wirral Council goes chasing government Housing Zone money to try and build more residential properties on the Peel Holdings site it seems the piecemeal development of Wirral Waters looks set to continue – a Department of Education funded building here, a contact centre there, a housing development over there. Might we suggest that the infamous artists’ impression of ‘Shanghai On The Mersey’ might need a bit of re-touching.

Now that Neptune Developments plans for revamping Birkenhead town centre has been thrown overboard it would seem Wirral Council are attempting to avoid another Wirral Waters , where they were left floundering on the China Seas , by talking about setting up their own development company .

Cllr Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies today launched yet another plan outlining this particular proposal. This new 4 year plan is to help raise the cash to cover a £132 million hole in HMS Wirral Council before it sinks without trace.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14937580.Wirral_Council_plans_radical_reforms_and_warns_of_tax_hikes_to_cover___132m_budget_black_hole/

Unsurprisingly this further extension of  Wirral Council’s ‘New Operating Model’ will include the old standbys  ‘Improving Efficiency ‘, ‘Redesigning Services’ (aka  ‘Redundancies’ and ‘Privatisation’) and ‘Generating Income’ . The latter will inevitably include a Council Tax rise and ‘plans are also being progressed to increase how many new homes are built in the borough.’ As we can see above  , those plans seem to be well underway and so with the Labour Cabinet lead for regeneration being Cllr George Davies with his unorthodox way of doing deals , what could possibly go wrong?……..