Dirty Work

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Once again we have the opportunity to report on the travels and travails of Wirral Council’s former Head of Law Bill Norman. The reason we take such an interest in this particular ‘public servant’ is because, for us, he is something of a town hall totem. Symbolising  everything that is wrong with the local government gravy train. Serenely sailing from Torbay to Wirral to Hereford and now to Cheshire East Council (CEC), Norman has picked up a sizeable cheque at each port of call whilst leaving waves of controversy in his wake.

Norman Wisdom

Now we hear that ‘concerns’ have been raised about  his conduct in his latest role as Head of Legal Services and Montoring Officer at CEC  as we learn that a special committee has recently considered potential disciplinary matters concerning CEO Mike Suarez, Monitoring Officer Bill Norman and Chief Finance Officer Peter Bates.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-39495102

According to a further reports in the latest edition of Private Eye Norman has been caught up in the scandal which they dubbed ‘Physiogate’ which has startling similarities to our very own ongoing ‘Wirralgate’ scandal – of which Norman was an early casualty . Indeed he is apparently keen to explain to anyone who’ll listen that he was ‘stabbed in the back’ by Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies. However we’re sure the £146k he received (+ £10k legal fees) must’ve eased the pain somewhat.

Private Eye had exposed that valuable contracts had been awarded to CoreFit a firm owned by one Amanda Morris. Morris just happened to be the ‘close friend’ and the personal physio of CEC leader Mike Jones . However these contracts somehow bypassed usual tendering processes – oops! – and  consequently ‘Physiogate’ led to the resignation of Cllr Jones in 2015. The disciplinary hearing mentioned above summoned Norman to give evidence but it is not clear as to whether he faced disciplinary measures. However we do know that CEC CEO Suarez has been suspended.

According to Private Eye Norman could be implicated in ‘Physiogate’ because of his alleged treatment of CEC’s Head of Internal Audit, Andrew North. Apparently North had reported his concerns about the CoreFit contract to Suarez and Norman . Needless to say in true local authority fashion the person wanting to do things properly was treated as the villain of the piece consequently wanted to bring a grievance against Suarez and Norman.

Private Eye understands that Norman approached the CEC Head of Communications Beverley Walkden to ‘dig the dirt’ on North  – like you do. Usually in these cases senior managers close ranks but miraculously in this case  ,Walkden refused and , yes you guessed it, was suspended. Even more predictably North went off sick , left CEC in February 2017 and now claims to have been ‘bullied’ and forced out of CEC.  So far, so familiar – there is even a missing audio recording of the disciplinary committee meeting (more parallels with Wirralgate!).

So it would seem that the ‘dig the dirt’ tactic is a favourite approach of senior council officers when faced with a pesky employee who won’t play the corporate game, have served their purpose or they just want shut of. We’re wondering whether it was a trick that Norman picked it up at Wirral Council or it was part of his legacy that he left behind? We say this as we are reliably informed that two acting very senior officers at Wirral Council went digging for dirt from staff in an infamous case from 2015 .The dirt concerned allegations of sexual impropriety involving a now departed senior council officer . So far, so sordid. However, for us , what is even more sleazy is that the approach came with the  inducement that it would be beneficial to staff member’s careers if they dished the dirt. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you have absolutely no morals,ethics or integrity. What did we say in yesterday’s post about Wallasey Town Hall being a cesspit?

Somehow in this crazy , mixed up world of local government we are led to believe that the people doing such ‘dirty work’ should be valued and paid silly money . To add insult to injury these are the same people who value themselves so much that think they’re better than the ‘little people’ who pay them the silly money!

We’re here to remind them that they’re not.

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DOLLAR-BILL

Aintree Irony

For those of you looking for a last minute topical tip for this afternoon’s Grand National Wirral Leaks  provides you with this free cut out and keep guide to some of horses that have caught our eye:

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This one is for fans of Martin Liptrot – that’ll be Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies then. Liptrotsky is always the perfect candidate for Pip regardless of his experience or qualifications. Who needs an Equal Opportunities Policy when your mate is the Leader of the Council? This is also one for fans of Stewart ‘Happy’ Halliday  – that’ll be his preferred referees if not our friends in York ! And again this will be popular with the Basnett clan because a) if you’re related to Princess Paula or b) you’ve  lamped the former CEO of Wirral Council over a shared perk then you’re the ‘perfect candidate’ for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce !

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No, this isn’t for fans of the current Labour administration at Wirral Council. They’re definitely (spelt correctly) NOT red! This one is for fans of current Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘the Red’ Robinson. No, we’re not referring to the fact he’s an LFC fan among all the high profile bluenoses at Wirral Council – we’re talking about his visage and his presiding over the ‘Wirral Council High Blood Pressure Club’ alongside Cllrs Phil Davies, George Davies and Steve Foulkes. Whatever could be the reason for the beta blockers?

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It may have been a stellar notion for Wirral Council to place their bets on a Hong Kong bankrupt Stella Shiu. However we suggest looking elsewhere for a winner as this one could end up like Stella herself –  falling in the (Wirral) Waters.

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This is one for fans of the Hoylake Golf Resort . That’ll be Power Boy Pip again – shame the response to the desecration of the Green Belt in the name of big business has been decidedly under par.

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This one is for  Kevin ‘Lost’ MacCallum’s Communications Team at Wirral Council. Apparently they’re not averse to a tipple at our expense. Celebrating the launch of Wirral View and recently celebrating St Patricks Day. We wonder if they’ll drown their sorrows when Wirral View ends up in the recycling bin – again.

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This one is for all fans of Wirral Leaks as we continue to expose dishonesty,incompetence and corruption and prick the pomposity of local politicians and senior council officials. But unlike Wirral Council we ask you to gamble responsibly. When the Fun Stops Stop! 

Purdah Palaver

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Apparently we are in ‘Purdah’ – the period prior to an election where public bodies are constrained when it comes to communications in case it adversely interferes with the democratic election process.

The ‘democratic process’ involved at this particular time is the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority ‘Metro Mayor’ election on Thursday 4th May.  We’ve had our poll cards posted through the letterbox at Leaky Towers and tossed it into the junk mail tray in acknowledgement of the sheer futility of voting in this particular political sideshow. Whilst it will provide cash-strapped Wirral Council Returning Officer Eric Robinson with another bumper payout it will be , as far as we’re concerned , just another stepping stone on the road to political oligarchy. The People’s Socialist Republic of Merseyside –  only not for the people and without the socialism obviously.

However ‘Purdah’ gives Wirral Council the excuse to be even less forthcoming with the public than they usually are. But it’s not all bad news – it means the publication of Wirral View has been suspended.  Which surely is a tacit admission that the truly terrible rag is indeed a political tool and was never intended to address anyone’s ‘information deficit’.

Talking of which – some of you may have had the privilege and honour of having the Labour Party leaflet in support of Labour candidate Steve Rotheram shoved through your letterbox.

As you can see from our above picture it tells you everything you need to know as to why a once great party is now appealing to the lowest common denominator.  Steve’s big selling point apparently is that he is a ‘brickie’ and therefore ‘one of us’. Although he’s not a brickie – he’s an ex-brickie and now very much part of the political elite. The only way being an ex-brickie is a selling point when it comes to being the ‘Metro Mayor’ is if Steve is going to personally help build new homes to meet government housing targets!

Sadly for us it’s a further demonstration that the once great Labour Party (and particularly some elements of the local party ) have become in the words of a memorable phrase we picked up this week ,  ‘the pitiers of the poor’.   Witness the evangelical zeal (and we use the term advisedly ) with which local foodbanks are promoted whilst one of their political leader jets off to Cannes and stays in £407 a night hotels. This one to be precise :

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Of course Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ rationale would be that he’s there to ensure international investors will flock to the insular peninsula to ensure future prosperity of Wirralians forevermore.  However after the many past fruitless excursions around the world have resulted in rotten tomatoes we’d be forgiven for waiting until something actually comes to fruition. And then if it does why do we get the impression that the beneficiaries will be big business and the political / council officer elite setting themselves up nicely for when Wirral Council becomes merely a ‘local commissioning hub’ for the Liverpool City Region?

The Liptrot Mystery

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Opposition councillors seem unusually curious about the recent controversial appointment of Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’Davies political ally , Martin Liptrot(sky) to the post of  ‘Interim’ Investment Lead .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15173137.Special_meeting_heats_up_as_Wirral_councillors_clash_over_controversial_new_job_for_Labour_s_policy_chief/

And so they might be! The ongoing saga is worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery ….. but who knows where the bodies are buried !?

Of course we anticipated such an appointment long ago The Uncanny and the Corrupt

That’s not because we have second sight, it’s simply because, by now, we know all Wirral Council’s plot devices.

So before we get to the heart of the mystery, let us set out the story so far. Are you sitting comfortably? – because we guarantee you won’t be for much longer!

Remember when we exclusively announced Liptrot’s arrival at Wirral Council and questioned how his ‘Policy Advisor’ post came about?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/all-hail-the-new-king-of-spin/

Remember when we questioned his apolitical credentials when he was appointed to a politically restricted post despite declaring his long held Labour Party affiliations all over social media ?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/a-political-mr-liptrot/

Who can forget when Wirral Globe disclosed that leaked toecurling early morning email exchange between Liptrot and Pip?  Where the former, in full on diva mode, appears to be calling the shots – complaining about his pay and bemoaning the fact that he has to hand in time sheets to Super Duper Director  Joe Blott  – oh the shame!

“Apparently I’m supposed to work for 24 quid an hour and hand time sheets to Joe Blott [strategic director].Clearly that is both insulting and wildly unrealistic for the scope of the role we are discussing.There is no way I’m going to earn even less than I am now. We need to work out what we need to agree and you will probably have to just step up and tell everyone what you want doing in the end. Let’s talk tomorrow.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14306240.Emails_give_extraordinary_insight_into_Wirral_Council_s_controversial_hiring_of_former_Labour_spin_doctor/

And so having set the scene we move on to the latest chapter in the charmed life of Mr Liptrot and his latest ‘transformation'(!) as ‘Interim’ Investment Lead at Wirral Council.

An extraordinary series of extracts from leaked emails details the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ behind this latest appointment and provides us with even more plot twists……..

Firstly , we might recall that  24 councillors  issued  a ‘Notice of Motion’ in respect of, what was at the time, the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ in response to the Labour Cabinet meeting held on 16 January .  This meeting was chaired by Power Boy Pip and included a report calling for the removal of ‘Call – in’ , thus denying opposition councillors the opportunity to ask any awkward questions about the post. The report stated :

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

Head of Law Surjit Tour clarified the situation : ‘Cabinet agreed to waive ‘call-in’ in accordance with the Constitution and the decision is therefore implementable immediately notwithstanding the request for an extraordinary council having been made and agreed. Council at the extraordinary council meeting is being invited to scrutinise the creation of the post and decide whether it is justified – but council would only be expressing its opinion/view in respect of the post and its justification. The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’

The post was advertised via  Wirral Council’s temporary worker system (Matrix) . Matrix passed on the job specification to recruitment agencies at an equivalent day rate of £195.

Initially six applications were received. However according to Wirral Council’s HR  : ‘none of the applicants met the specification. We  have received feedback from the agencies that the remuneration is not sufficient to attract calibre candidates.Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we are sourcing an Interim role – Interim Investment Lead on an interim rate, but for a shorter period of time’

HR went on to later add :‘The agencies feedback that they could potentially source some applicants at £350 day , but the calibre we required is likely to be £500 day. Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we need to increase the day rate .’

Frankly it is simply an astonishing state of affairs when so-called committed, and no doubt ‘passionate’ public servants, don’t consider it worthwhile getting out of bed for less than £350 a day!  And of course the recruitment agencies are going to advocate such a hike in the daily rate because presumably it means more money for them! All of which means that public authorities are held a hostage to fortune!

Needless to say when the post was advertised at the higher rate, 13 further applications were received !

5 candidates were shortlisted. One of the candidates was unable to make the interview date and one candidate withdrew. And in true Agatha Christie fashion :  ‘And then there were 3’. These interviews took place on 15 February 2017.

Initially we understand that Asif Hamid was due to be on the interview panel but he mysteriously withdrew to be replaced , inevitably, by Wirral Chamber of Commerce chum Paula Basnett. Clare Fish , Wirral Council’s Executive Director for Strategy was also a late absentee. This left :

  • Alan Evans, Strategic Commissioner for Growth (Chair of the Panel)
  • Stephen Butterworth, Interim Strategic Project Support
  • Sally Shah, Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment
  • Paula Basnett, Chief Executive, Wirral Chamber of Commerce
  • Ellen Cutler, Director Inward Investment, Liverpool Vision

Now as we know the successful candidate was our leading suspect Martin Liptrot who was awarded an an initial 4 month contract  @ £350 a day.

However the  mystery here is whether the panel made the appointment or was the final decision made by Power Boy Pip and his supine CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson?

The Extraordinary Council meeting held earlier this week was an attempt by some curious councillors to find the answer to this whodunnit and other mysteries surrounding the case. However the Labour group were anxious to shut this line of enquiry down with Cllr Brian Kenny squeaking up for a ‘guillotine’ thereby reducing the time available for debating the issue.

Perhaps curious opposition councillors should seek clues about the recruitment process from Alan Evans, the Strategic Commissioner for Growth, who chaired the selection panel?

We understand that Evans’ unsung team in Department of Regeneration have been doing some excellent work  behind the scenes  and we can only wonder what they must feel about the influx of Johnny-Come -Lately’s such as Liptrot  who ,under the guise of ‘transformers’ , appear to be muscling in on their act and potentially taking the credit for their work.

We await further plot developments with great interest!

Transformers 2

We need to thank our lucky stars that Wirral Council ‘leader’ ( ha!ha!ha!) Cllr Phil Davies aka Power Boy Pip yesterday authorised a Wirral representative to attend a ‘Transformation’ beano in Manchester today.

Unfortunately that representative was his namesake Cllr Angela Davies.

Although it must be said that whilst ‘Our Ange’ knows all about the ‘public sector transformational journey’, it would appear she didn’t like it much. Whilst working for the NHS she was quite happy to enjoy the transformation of the drug and alcohol services over into the private sector in the guise of ‘Crime Reduction Initiatives/ Change, Grow, Live’ but then it all got a bit messy for the poor lass. And whilst she was quick to criticise her new employer on the QT she soon hotfooted back to secure employment within the  NHS when she realised just exactly how they meant to ‘transform’ services.

And so the moral of this story would appear to be that ‘transformation’ is alright for us plebs but not for those with a secure pension plan – and the opportunity to enjoy free lunch and refreshments at the Manchester Hilton!

Transformers

Transformer

Take a walk on the mild side.

A frightened and downtrodden Wirral Council employee has written to us to throw some light of the ‘transformation agenda’ and throw some shade on those responsible for it :
“I’m a regular reader of your blog and would like to say congratulations on the good work you do. I am also a Wirral Council minion so although I have often wanted to contribute I kept quiet.  But I am moved to write by reading all about the amounts the council is spending on ‘Transformation’ consultants. In your blog you asked if anyone knew about the ‘interim head of transformation’.  I can tell you some things that might help. The interim head of transformation is called Stephen Butterworth.  He previously worked in Staffordshire with Eric Robinson, and has been working at Wirral since Eric got him in in the summer of 2015…….. He certainly makes sure everyone knows how close he is to Eric.  I would reckon that the amount mentioned in the  (Wirral) Globe has to be a tiny fraction of what he has pocketed so far.
The council have just appointed a Director of Transformation and already have a Senior Manager of  Transformation, they are now trying to recruit a temporary Head of Business Change as well as the ‘interim head of transformation’, not to mention Stewart Halliday and Jane Clayson – the programme managers all with their noses in the trough. 
Butterworth’s achievements so far in Wirral appear to be absolutely nothing but spending tax money on overpaid consultants.  I think he is the one driving all this crap about ‘alternative delivery models’, but nobody dares to argue with him because he’ll just run off to Eric.  
I read that he was on the interview panel for Liptrot’s job.  No wonder Eric couldn’t stop Phil Davies employing his mate, as Eric has brought his own mate in in the same way just not with as much publicity. 
  
It is disgusting that the council is spending so much on these vultures when services are being cut.
Our source did indeed call it correct when they said that they read somewhere that Butterworth sat on the interview panel that ‘appointed’ Liptrot to the post of ‘Investor Development Manager’
We reported it here first : Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe
Indeed Conservative councillor Lesley Rennie damned us with faint praise at last night’s Extraordinary Council meeting to discuss ‘The Liptrot Affair’ by revealing that she only found about who was on the Liptrot appointment panel  : ‘ via Wirral Leaks. Thank goodness for them in some ways, but that’s no way to run an open and transparent Council ‘ (cue muffled jeers from the Labour benches).
You can see footage of this revelation at 20.50 of John Brace’s recording here :
However just to clarify we understand the panel didn’t actually appoint Liptrot(sky) – Cllr Davies aka Power Boy Pip did – but let’s not split heirs (to a fortune)!
We also note from last night’s meeting how Pip and co were doing the ‘affronted maiden aunt’ routine – a trick no doubt picked up from Auntie Frank Field’s repertoire – a man who has feigned outrage down to a fine art – and were bemoaning the ‘ lambasting’ of poor ,defenceless public servant Liptrot(sky).
However if the ruling Wirral Council administration continue to make a series of dubious high cost appointments, what do they expect?  Public scrutiny and ‘distasteful’ criticism comes with the territory and if Liptrot doesn’t like it he can fly off back to Florida!

That Riviera Touch

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Private Eye magazine tells us in the latest edition, and appropriately enough on the same page as their previously reported ‘Happy Halliday’ story, that ‘ Council bigwigs across the land can barely contain their excitement as they prepare to fly to Cannes (this) week for what is for many the highlight of the year – the international property bash , Marché International des Professsionels d’Immobilier , aka MIPIM.

Thousands of public officials from all over Europe to gather to be plied with drink for four days by property developers eager to get their hands on publicly owned assets. Aptly ,the event also attracts hundreds of prostitutes’ 

Now we know this spring break has been heavily pencilled in on the calendars of Wirral Council’s very own ‘bigwigs’ for quite some time.

A Cabinet meeting held on 8th December  2016 included a report written by one Stewart Halliday (who he?) and stated as follows :

‘It is imperative the council has an emerging proposition for investors by early 2017 and that by March 2017, when the MIPIM Conference takes place, is able to set out its offer to investors. This annual conference for investors is the key opportunity to meet and pitch to the world’s major development investors and banks’

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50038045/Delivering%20Wirrals%20Growth.pdf

Moreover as we reported  in  our An Extraordinary Council report Cabinet resolved at the meeting held on 16th January to create the post of ‘Investor Development Manager’ especially for Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ left hand man Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky).

The justification for fast-tracking the appointment and waiving the call in process was as follows :

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

Subsequently a request for an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council was called by 24 opposition councillors as  ‘we believe that the creation of this post requires further scrutiny, to enable council to decide whether it is justified’.

However as we observed  :’ …… the Extraordinary Meeting has been called for 6th March – AFTER the appointment has been made! Which rather suggests to us that the matter was NOT ‘urgent’ in the first place and in fact the waiver was a means of preventing anyone asking any awkward questions as to why , at a time of cuts and punitive charging measures , that the council taxpayers of Wirral are being asked to fund Council leader Power Boy Pip’s special friend to hobnob in the South of France at their expense’

Unfortunately opposition councillors seem not to have kept their eye on the road and subsequently steered down a cul-de-sac , as the Extraordinary Meeting to discuss the Liptrot’s Investor Development Manager appointment was parked in favour of another Extraordinary Meeting concerning car parking charges.

We understand that Liptrotsky’s dodgy £350 a day gig will now be discussed next week:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=123&MId=5937

This of course allows (presumably) Pip and Liptrotsky (and whoever else is in the Wirral entourage) to fly off this week to the French Riviera – no questions asked. No doubt this means that next week’s Extraordinary Meeting will now be all about the mega-deals that were struck as a result the Pip and Liptrotsky double act (somewhat like bungling Morecambe and Wise in that creaky comedy ‘That Riviera Touch’ only without the laughs). Shall we look forward to hearing that Wirral Waters will no longer be marketed as ‘Shanghai-On -The- Mersey’ but as ‘Côte d’Azur-On -The -Docks’ ?!

Meanwhile Wirral Leaks welcomes any news on Wirral Council’s entourage and hopes that Pip and Liptrotsky have taken a hat, as even at this time of the year, it can get very hot in Cannes……………………….

 

 

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Not for the first time when it comes to the ruling administration at Wirral Council we find ourselves asking : “Is it us or are we missing something?” and then we realise we are now living in the age of of ‘alternative facts’. The current epicentre of this parallel universe when it comes to local government has to be our dear own local council.

Of course the main Wirral Council conduit for alternative facts is Wirral View –and halleluljah and praise be , as for the first time Leaky Towers actually received a printed copy of what is known variously to our sources as Liprot’s Journal/ Lost Kev’s Chronicle/Pip’s Post-Truth News .

Was it worth the wait? – hardly ! However the front page caught our attention as it demonstrates to us as to why, once and for all , the tawdry rag should be halted in its tedious tracks. Here we have the now infamous ‘Spot the Muff’ photo-op and the declaration that ‘Proposals to bring in new charges at on-street car parks across the borough have been withdrawn, following feedback from Wirral residents and businesses.’

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Oh ! it was all about Wirral Council listening to ‘feedback’ was it ?. Nothing to do with protests, petitions and the highly suspect legality of most of the proposals. Feedback ?- yeah right!

The Witless, Pip and Mr Muff picture turned up again on our Facebook page due to some weird algorithm which suggests that we’d ‘like’ Wirral Labour News. We suppose it makes a change from promos for incontinence and mobility aids and ‘Superman’ pyjamas but let us state for the record it was as equally unwelcome !

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Then there was further message from ‘Wirral Labour News’ which made us think it must surely be a parody account :

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Keep Wirral Green ? Huh?  Fernbank Farm?, the Saughall Massie Fire Station ? and the Hoylake Golf Resort?  Our heads started to hurt at Leaky Towers as to how the increasingly self righteous Labour administration could reconcile these development plans with their new found love for the Green Belt.

How ironic that Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies talked about “protecting our precious Green Belt” at  yesterday’s Cabinet meeting whilst  we understand that all the seats in the public gallery had the following flyer on them :

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However the ne plus ultra of this week’s alternative facts emanating from Wirral Council is the controversial appointment of the increasingly divisive Martin Liptrot to the post of ‘ Interim Investment Lead’ which we not only predicted but exclusively revealed on this blog:

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

The Uncanny and the Corrupt

According to a spokesperson for Wirral Council ( we assume that’ll be Liptrot’s acolyte   Kevin MacCallum)

“The post was advertised and an open recruitment process was held with external support.The panel selected the best person for the job and that person has been appointed.”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15103854.Fury_as_Wirral_Council_hires_Labour_s_policy_adviser_to_be_their_new_investment_chief___on___350_a_day/

Really ? – so you’re going with that ‘alternative fact’ are you ? Perhaps one of the interview panel chaired by Alan Evans and including the council’s Strategic Development Manager; Stephen Butterworth, Head of Transformation ( there’s that word again  !) ; Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (a surprising late replacement for a curiously unenthusiastic Asif Hamid) and Ellen Cutler, Director of Inward Investment at Liverpool Vision could publicly endorse this statement .

Alternatively they could tell the people who fund this post exactly what went on behind the scenes and whether they decided not to appoint Liptrot (or indeed anyone) but the decision was taken out of their hands and made by an increasingly desperate Power Boy Pip and the increasingly sinister Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson.

We’re led to speculate what exactly is the Rasputin-like hold that Liptrotsky  has over Power Boy Pip? All we can say is look what happened to Rasputin and the Imperial Royal Family of Wirral, sorry , Russia.  Just sayin’ !

 

 

 

Wirral Council – Where Transformation Means More Of The Same

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A shout out to one of our many Wirral Council watchers who has sent us some news all the way from the charming city of York.

Here we pick out some of the most pertinent points from the following newspaper article published by The York Press ( who are like our own dear Wirral Globe only a little bit posher). Whilst the issues raised read like our back catalogue – serious failings, procedural breaches,cover ups, procurement issues, dodgy contracts, lack of monitoring, culture of fear , leaked reports and how City of York Council are more concerned about reputation management than exposing malpractice. Bear with us , there is a punchline :

The Press revealed yesterday, council bosses have been criticised for paying tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money without proper monitoring, and told to take “robust action” to avoid a repeat of serious failings.

The council refused to publish one of two auditors’ reports, but a copy has now been seen by The Press and adds more detail to the published report.

It alleges that another £150,000 was paid out, and a catalogue of other failures including the council official responsible not getting proper tenders, quotes or contracts for work commissioned, and not drawing up business cases or monitoring the work that was paid for.

According to the report, there was a series of policy breaches, but auditors have made clear there is no evidence of fraud or criminality.

It states:

  • Stewart Halliday, who held senior roles with the council, authorised a raft of payments to communications consultant Stuart Goulden without obtaining quotes
  • Mr Halliday sent council information to his own personal email address, and the personal email addresses of one serving and one former councillor
  • Contracts were awarded to other companies Mr Goulden was involved with, as well as to him personally
  • There was a “lack-of-recognition” in the council that Mr Goulden was being paid so much
  • Procurement staff and a former chief executive tried to challenge the troublesome contracts, but failed “possibly due to the culture within the area at the time”.

The auditors’ investigation included checking Mr Halliday’s email account after he had left the council, trying to check historic entry logs at the council headquarters, and exploring potential personal links between Mr Halliday and Mr Goulden. None were found.

The auditors said they could see Mr Goulden had carried out the work, but they could not find any evidence Mr Halliday had followed procurement rules by looking for other quotes, drawing up contracts and putting them on the council register, or monitoring the work.

Instead, the report lists ten alleged breaches including no paperwork being retained; no quotes or contracts for the work; one payment in advance of work being carried out; and a lack of contract monitoring.

Furthermore, auditors say they found emails containing council information which had been sent from Mr Halliday’s work account to non-council email addresses, including some information marked “confidential”.

The auditors raised concerns about the potential data protection implications of that.

Mr Halliday was the council’s assistant director for transformation and change in 2014, and had also held the title of head of strategy, partnerships and communications.

Mr Goulden and his company Like No Other worked for the council between 2013 and 2016.

A spokeswoman for City of York Council said: “The report was exempt from publication and our employees identities kept private because it identified individuals by name and this information related specifically to their financial or business affairs. As a responsible employer we have a fundamental duty to protect the privacy of our employees and former employees. We are taking this matter very seriously. An investigation into how this confidential report was released is being conducted and this will involve North Yorkshire Police.

The Press has made efforts to contact Mr Halliday, without success.”

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/15098444.Council_payments_row__what_the_secret_report_said___/

Perhaps  The Press could contact a certain Mr  Stewart Halliday at Wirral Council  – stewarthalliday@wirral.gov.uk

Could this be the same  Mr Halliday  who is now responsible for Wirral Council’s  ‘Transformation Programme’ ?. I think we should be told!

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50038045/Delivering%20Wirrals%20Growth.pdf

If so Wirral Council were clearly impressed that Halliday can do a powerpoint presentation and utter council-speak at the same time.

Moreover we can almost guarantee he used the word ‘passionate’ if he had an interview. But then again we can’t understand how many of these people get appointed in the first place. Is it a Masonic thing ? Common Purpose? Knights of St Columba? or do they just have to like playing golf and support Everton FC?.

As for this bogus ‘transformation agenda’ it comes to something when even enriched municipal mandarins tell us it’s ‘time to stop the lies ‘. Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy chief executive, Rob Whiteman, and chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Martin Reeves say that local government should stop lying about its financial problems and give up pretending transformation will solve the massive underfunding it faces.

https://www.themj.co.uk/EXCLUSIVE-Time-to-stop-the-lies/206737

As far as we’re concerned at Wirral Leaks the ‘transformation agenda’ is nothing more than opportunists setting themselves up to benefit from the demise of public services. The hope being  that one day they will get a cushy number sitting on a trustee or management board. Locally one only has to check out the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Magenta Living . Nationally there are Arm’s Length Organisations (ALO’s) and private enterprises which are awash with local government failures supplementing their engorged pension pots by picking at the corpse of local government.

So remember when you see or hear the word ‘transformation’ – be afraid, be very afraid.

 

 

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

MARTIN LIPTROTSKY AT WORK :

Dont’cha just lurve it when a plan comes together….

As more details emerge on the shameful appointment of Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky) as Wirral Council’s International Schmoozer -in- Chief you may have noticed that whilst opposition councillors fulminate we are the only ones prepared to name him.

We stated yesterday that the ‘Interim Investment Lead’, as Liptrotsky will be more formally known , would be on an annual salary of approximately £127,000 . We just need to clarify that whilst this calculated a sum assuming a whole year appointment we now understand that ‘the successful candidate’ ( ha! ha! ha! ) will be paid a mere £350 per day and the contract is currently only for 4 months. However don’t be fooled  – council correspondence we have seen states that the 4 month contract is just to ensure the appointment ‘is within budget’.  The decision to extend the contract beyond 4 months is a mere formality or in Council-speak ‘The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’ In other words neither councillors nor the council tax paying public get a say – it’s up to Power Boy Pip and Liptrotsky whether they want to squander more of your money.

Additionally might we suggest that this appointment will involve additional costs to the public purse. The day rate of £350 comes ‘with flexibility should we require it’  – and we all know that flexibility will probably involve more public money being spent rather than less. We also need to take into account that the post will involve  international flights and hotels , starting with an arduous spring trip to Cannes. Perhaps Pip and Liptrotsky , being West Kirby neighbours, can do a car share to Wallasey Town Hall to cut down on travel expenses!

As an aside we’d also like to know what happened to Liptrotsky’s ‘Policy Advisor’ post – have the costs been offset against his new appointment or is the £350 day rate in addition?

The apparent urgency to make this appointment , the circumventing of criticism about the post and the fact that details were selectively seeped out –rather than leaked out- last Friday in the knowledge that Liptrotsky will take up his new position tomorrow (20 February 2017), all suggest that the Labour administration know that in the current financial climate that this appointment is politically unpalatable. 

It will be interesting to see how Liptrotsky’s appointment will  be dealt with at tomorrow morning’s Cabinet meeting. No doubt the Labour group will put on a public display of hand-wringing over “savage government cuts” whilst picking our pockets to put Pip’s pal on the payroll.