Procuring the Procurer

 

Jessica

It didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes or even a Jessica Fletcher to work out who today’s mystery departee from Wirral Council was :

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That’s a curious description on his Linked In page as Sherlock was responsible for  ‘Asset Management’  and ‘Procurement’ at Wirral Council during which time he got to know a lot of contractors who were used by Wirral Council. Now that he is the lucky recipient of a nice early retirement package it would appear that there could be a lucrative hook up for Sherlock in his new role as,yes, you guessed it, a ‘consultant’.  So, by the looks of it his Linked In page will need updating as his ‘retirement’ will be very brief.

Apparently he was asked today at his farewell bash at the Town Hall what were his plans for ‘retirement’ to which he replied :

“No, no still going to work… doing two days a week working for Mac Roofing as a consultant 2 days a week working for Metro as a consultant …” 

Could this be the same Mac Roofing that Sherlock gave this glowing reference which can be found on their website? I think we should be told!

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When we recounted all this to a well placed source at Wirral Council they told us :

These two are both contractors to the council, both wishing to improve their stake in the share of the cash cow council . Metro provide our cleaning services and would be nice if we could squeeze others out to accommodate the new consultant . If the council had any balls they would call in a conflict if interest and monitor the situation as X is not without his friends within and they strategically placed to give the contracts out… and will.
Make no mistake people are aware of your post but never openly discussed , I and thousands more hate the back hand dealings where corporate governance is non-existent and employees can invoice with phoney tax numbers and what makes it worse , we are all cowards and sit back and watch and in some cases officials knowing the truth don’t highlight it. Doing the right thing is not doing the right thing in Wirral Council. 

A Window of Opportunity

Some curious locals who live near Wallasey Town Hall have approached us with further enquiries about the case of the window frame that fell from the south annexe building on to the street below which you can remind about here :  A Sick Building for a Sick Organisation

They have also provided some handy pictures capturing the equipment that used to undertake the repairs and a close up of the work that has since been undertaken :
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Observers tell us that two labourers used the mobile platform to screw L brackets into the rotten window frames (!) to stop one of them falling out again.
Let’s hope cash-strapped Wirral Council did everything they could to procure the best value for money for the job and it wasn’t a window of opportunity for a contractor to make a killing.
Anybody care to make a guess as to how much a job like this might cost ?
a) £1,500 ?
b) £5,000 ?
c) £8,500 ?

York Paving The Way

 

 

With news filtering through that Wirral Council may have gotten themselves in yet another procurement pickle we thought it would be timely to catch up with our friends in the north – and it would seem that the procurement scandal that highly remunerated Wirral Council officer Stewart Halliday left behind at his former local authority, City of York Council (CYC), refuses to go away!  It would seem that Halliday whilst long gone from York Council is most certainly not forgotten!
Last week saw yet another attempt by CYC councillors to see a report into the scandal which has been withheld and then censored. Although as we know council officials all over the land like to use the term ‘redacted’ to make the act of censorship sound bureaucratically palatable. The report concerns the conduct of officers and members at the infamous 22 February 2017 Audit and Governance Committee meeting which we reported here
As we commented at the time : “That’s decided – we’re moving to York”.  OK it must be said we subsequently moved in the complete opposite direction but in spirit we are at one with the Yorkists. Not necessarily CYC  – but the eloquent, knowledgeable,challenging , citizens of York who are concerned about the not insignificant matters of openness, transparency, integrity, accountability, honesty and democracy. We do recommend Wirralians watch the highly instructive video of the Audit & Governance Committee held on 30 April 2018 and ponder on how they too can at least attempt to hold public servants to account.
Firstly note how CYC film their own meetings. Unfortunately they preface comments from the public with a reminder about making defamatory comments , which to us looks like nothing more than bureaucratic bullying.  As we’ve long maintained – those who want to control the public discourse want to control everything .
Note particularly the robust challenge of a CYC councillor and 4 ( count’em) members of the public and  note also it is the independent member of the Audit & Governance Committee who picks up the mistakes in the minutes . There’s also incidental pleasure to be had from the CYC councillor sporting a A Flock of Seagulls hair don’t!
From what we can gather from the video the latest twist in that scandal involves the continuing refusal of senior CYC staff to release a report into the conduct of a meeting on the 22 February 2017 in which a report into Halliday’s actions in handing over £000s of public money to a ‘communications consultant’ without following correct procurement procedures was, following an attempted cover up made public and discussed at that meeting, leading to ‘conduct issues’ when officers clashed with members. So a report into the conduct at a meeting that degenerated into little more than an unseemly slanging match between CYC officers and elected members over an attempted cover up is now the subject of a cover up attempt by senior CYC officers!
This cover up over a cover up scenario  ( #Wirralgate) is very familiar to Wirral Leaks readers if not to the Wirral public at large mainly due to the power of local politicians and a complicit local press.
We think it’s time for the people of Wirral to start channelling our friends from York who have paved the way when it comes to demanding public accountability!

Advent Farewell 9 – Out of Sight , Out of Mind

Maddox & Morton 2

Two Deputy Lieutenants of Merseyside are of one mind.

From time to time we like to check up on the progress on some of the Wirral Council charlatans and chancers that have (dis)graced our pages over the years in our special ‘ Where Are They Now?’ feature.

Whilst we readily acknowledge that we featured former Wirral Council CEO  Steve ‘ Mad Dog’ Maddox in such a post earlier this year we feel the original post needs enhancing mainly because we believe that in many ways it is most instructive on the ways of Wirral.

If ever there was an example of how to evade accountability and manage your reputation then Maddox is the ultimate case study. He saw the writing was on the wall when so called independent investigator Anna Klonowski was brought in by the Tories to find out what whistleblower Martin Morton was blathering on about . On the very day Maddox was due to meet with Klonowski  , Maddox took the coward’s way out and suddenly announced he was going to spend more time with his long suffering family. This followed over two years of Wirral Council senior management covering his expansive arse . Of course Maddox didn’t even need to work his 3 month notice period and swiftly pissed off to the golf course with additional pension payments made up to when he would have retired – about which we can only ask – why?

The panicked leader of Wirral Council at the time Cllr Steve Foulkes provided this farewell quote :

“Steve is essentially a self effacing and modest man who probably has no idea of the very real and extensive legacy he will be leaving behind.We know, and are grateful for it. I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he will continue to be involved with the people of Wirral, for whom he has always been an eloquent and passionate advocate.” Steve 2 Steve

This translates as Maddox did as he was told and his greatest quality is that he could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on .  But oh what a legacy he left behind!  Whilst Maddox secured himself a tidy six figure bung , collected the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral to add to his OBE and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside to stand alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field, his swift departure meant his hapless and hopeless sidekick Jim ‘Wee Willie’ Wilkie was to reap the wild wind of what his former boss had created – a toxic,corrosive culture of bullying,incompetence and deceit which was soon to be (partly) revealed in the Independent Review in  January 2012 . Needless to say shortly after Wilkie ended up being escorted from Wallasey Town Hall premises a broken man.

What’s more when the furore over the Independent Review had died down Maddox reappeared on the local scene and within the year was appointed as a Director of  mental health organisation Wirral Mind in December 2012 .

This appointment has always intrigued us ,  primarily because it is with some irony that Wirral Mind were seemingly gifted the management of the learning disability service that was a significant feature of Morton whistleblowing case that led to the Independent Review that in turn was the impetus for  Maddox’s ‘retirement’ !

It has long been thought that Wirral Mind, with no significant track record of supporting people with learning disabilities, were rewarded  the contract for keeping a lid on the unlawful charging scandal when they were appointed as advocates on behalf of those who couldn’t speak up for themselves when the scandal blew up . Unfortunately this ‘advocacy’ service didn’t actually extend to advocating on behalf of those who had been financially abused.  An appalled Wirral Leaks reader once recalled attending a  Wirral Council meeting  where Sandra Gilbert Wirral Mind CEO , said that the tenants who had been financially abused ‘lived in the lap of luxury’ . Perhaps if  we put aside the issue of illegality and equality Ms Gilbert might appreciate that if she had £100 + a WEEK taken out of her salary over a number of years she might have fought a bit harder on behalf of disabled people instead of leaving it to Morton and others.

All the Independent Review report had to say on the matter was that there was

” a need for the Council to refresh its contractual arrangements with (Wirral Mind) in the context of EU procurement requirements.”

Funny how Frank Field wasn’t jumping up and down about this proven case of Wirral Council flouting EU procurement regulations isn’t it ? Or getting Merseyside Police and the Serious Fraud Office involved as he did with the Highways contract complainants that apparently he is still ‘gallantly’ supporting 9 years after their alleged whistleblowing exploits !

Since our report we note that in August 2017 there was a  cessation of Maddox  being ‘a person with significant control’ of Wirral Mind  August 2017.   However he still remains a Director – presumably because of the lustre and prestige that someone with his impeccable track record brings to an organisation.

 

Route 666

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What is it with Wirral Council and contracts?. We understand their procurement department has been having a bit of bother with a transport tender exercise held earlier this year and a bit like a taxi queue – it seems it was rank.
Council insiders tell us there has been a simmering dispute with 4 companies who have been going through hell because they were left out a tendering exercise to provide transport routes for Childrens Services.
Apparently due to a technical glitch  on the electronic tendering system some essential documents failed to upload.  Due North – the company responsible for the system on behalf of the council-  maintain that there was no defect in the system which would explain why this happened. As there was no trigger to alert tenderers that information was missing from their bids , the first time that these 4 companies found this out was when they were told their tenders had “Gone West” and not Due North.
Wirral Council could have used their discretion under the Public Contract Regulations to request the incomplete and missing documents . They could have done this with a quick phone call. But- no . This is not how Wirral Council roll
However the result is that with 4 companies excluded from the bidding process  it’s highly likely that the cost of the transport routes will have increased and consequently there are small numbers of children being taken to school in mini-buses instead of more appropriate taxi vehicles. What’s more  we understand Wirral Council have already stated that they will use the option to extend the new contracts for another year even though in the interest of fairness they could just run the procurement exercise again next summer.
Further it is alleged that the company that got the majority of the minibus work have  a prominent new recruit who was previously a council employee and whom had access to all the prices of the contracts for the past two years . This particular company share premises with another company who also did well out of the 2016 contracts in the absence of 4 companies from the bidding process.
Now we’re not suggesting untoward – but under the circumstances and with Wirral Council’s track record there are surely legitimate questions about systems , procedures and propriety that need to be answered.
We understand those questions are with the Local Government Ombudsman – so the meter is still running on this one.
Finally we have contacted someone who’s business has been affected by this fiasco and they told us : “I think it’s shocking that they have no concern about ratepayers money but I guess this is what happens when there is no consequence to their actions .They just can’t get it right it’s shocking, if this was a private company they’d all be sacked.”