Consultations and Cover Ups

We’ve been concentrating on a series of special reports but couldn’t let a few recent local news stories pass without comment.

Consultations

Tomorrow’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting will feature announcements about two upcoming consultations which have been heralded in the local press. First up we have a press release in Wirral Globe where Cllr Angela Davies tells us she’s excited. However the former short lived Change Grow Live employee is not excited that Christmas is coming. Oh no! she’s excited because there’s exciting plans and she has an artist’s impression to prove it. Generously she wants to share her excitement with us :

Wirral Growth Company's artists impression of what some of the Birkenhead town centre redevelopment could look like

Only by listening and engaging with local residents and deliver thousands of new jobs. We will be asking the question: ‘What sort of place do you want Birkenhead to be?’ and soliciting ideas about improving the public realm, establishing more residential opportunities in and around the town centre and expanding the leisure, retail and cultural offers available.After too many false dawns, Wirral residents are now looking forward to being asked to shape real plans and a concrete set of proposals to regenerate Birkenhead as the commercial and retail heart of Wirral.Wirral Growth Company is an ambitious partnership between Wirral Council and a private sector regeneration specialist, but it needs to be informed by the views of local residents and businesses across the town. This consultation will provide the qualitative and quantitative regeneration evidence base which has been missing.Wirral Growth Company has established some provisional ideas for what a rejuvenated Birkenhead could look like – a new market, improved retail and leisure offers and up to 300,000sq.ft of Grade A office space.The Council is excited by these initial ideas and feedback already received has been positive, but it’s now the turn of local residents to say what they aspire to see. Rebuilding work in Birkenhead could start as early as Spring 2019, so over the coming weeks and months I am proposing the Council and its partners conduct this wide ranging consultation, outreach and engagement to gather the views of local residents.

Full press release here : Birkenhead regeneration consultation

It’s not just the dawns that are false Angie. Are you really telling us that Wirral Growth Company was set up with NO qualitative/quantitative at evidence base ? This consultation is beginning to look like “The people who get paid huge amounts of public money to think up new ideas haven’t got any – so can you lot come up with some for us ?” So here’s one from us – how about turning Birkenhead into Dubai on the Mersey and build a skyscraper hanging from the sky as let’s face it all of these consultations and artist’s impressions are already pie in the sky anyway.

 

Next up on the consultation front is keen royalist Cllr Janette ‘Milly Tant’ Williamson who is introducing  a consultation on how Wirral Council should  spend the few quid that Wirral Council have left in the coffers with her Budget saving plan . If the Cabinet meeting wasn’t so early we’d suggest organising a drinking game for every time Williamson uses the phrase ‘Tory cuts’. Perhaps she’ll regale us with tales from her time working for the Insolvency Service. Or perhaps not …

Cover Ups

The other story we couldn’t help commenting on was  ‘Embarrassing’ council slammed after failing in 90% of complaints – with some taking YEARS to complete where we find Conservative councillors Tony Cox ( ’embarrassing’) and Chris Blakeley  (absolutely appalling’) commenting on the abject failure of ALL councillors to properly police complaints against themselves but failing to acknowledge that it was Wirral Councillors who agreed to the utterly woeful ‘Standards’ regime that is currently in place. Even Wirral Council’s leading apologist/lawyer Philip McCourt concurred the Council had ‘failed’. Inevitably Labour councillor Chris Jones chipped in that she was ‘happy’ with a 90% failure rate.Which let’s face it is a 10% improvement on most aspects of the ruling administration’s achievements.

This all comes after the recent case brought against Cllr Paul Hayes by Professor Maggie Atkinson ,the touchy Chair of the Wirral Safeguarding Board which we reported here. If somebody had just explained to Atkinson that commenting on the public perception of a cover up is a legitimate course of action for a councillor and is not the same as being accused of being part of a cover up perhaps Wirral Council could have saved a lot of time and money on this particular (non)-case.

Just a shame no-one from the Tory group (or any councillor) has seen fit to make a public comment on a notorious long running cover up involving Wirral Council . We suppose it will be down to us ,once again ,to dissect this particular one in a future ‘Special Report’ :

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 22.20.45

 

Bog Standards

Our thanks go to John Brace for filming last night’s meeting of Wirral Council Standards Panel and for giving us the heads up that we would be reunited with some familiar Wirral Leaks ‘favourites’.

John hasn’t uploaded all of the five part mini-series yet but from what we’ve seen it’s the usual Wirral Council Standards Panel farrago bogged down in procedure ,protocol, partisan politicking and pettiness. However we look forward to John’s incisive eyewitness report with snippets from the investigation report in question at a later date.

The actual hearing concerns an allegation brought against Conservative Cllr Paul Hayes councillor by the Professor Maggie Atkinson – the Independent Chair of Wirral Safeguarding Board. Professor Atkinson alleges that Cllr Hayes was in breach of Wirral Council’s Code of Conduct for suggesting that the decision not to publish the Serious Case Review into the Rajenthiram brothers Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case was part of a ‘cover up’ ( further allegations made against Cllr Ian Lewis and Cllr Tom Anderson found there was no case to answer).

Ironically the investigation report was written by ex Wirral Council solicitor Simon Goacher of Weightman’s who are the go-to legal firm that Wirral Council call upon to  when it comes to cover ups (most notably the infamous and illegal ‘four week delay’ in the provision of adult care services.) This has not only enabled Wirral Council to hide behind ‘legal privilege’ but allows them to state they have sought external legal advice and therefore everything is ‘legit’ when in fact the exact opposite is true – as was the case in an unreported case of further unlawful charging of disabled people that Weightman’s were also called upon to help put a bit of concealing legal gloss on.

Meanwhile initial observations from us indicate that the Standards Panel played their usual roles – Cllr Phil ‘Anodyne’ Gilchrist dithering about and being in complete,fence-sitting Lib Dem mode. Cllr Chris ‘Bulldog’ Blakeley in full on belligerent ,bulldog chewing a wasp mode and Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ Mc Laughlin in arms folded, eyerolling,  ‘Matron-Knows-Best’ exasperation mode (though we did enjoy the little snipe at Wirral Council’s head of law Philip McCourt – is the honeymoon period over we ask ourselves? )

We await further instalments with interest and be grateful for the fact that at least John Brace was allowed to film this particular Standards Panel and wasn’t physically prevented from entering the Committee room , as was the case in the infamous 2016 Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  Standards Panel debacle. Now, if you really want to talk about cover ups…

SPECIAL REPORT : Where Your Money Goes

where-your-money-goes

It must be this time of year, as we’ve been musing on money matters (or rather lack thereof). Clearly Wirral Council have been doing the same as they gear up to set their forthcoming budget and pursue a number of punitive charging regimes to offset central government funding cuts.

Yeah,yeah, yeah – we get it when they drone on about how badly they’ve been done to by central government and they have to make tough choices and priorities. But that’s what we take issue with Wirral Council here at Leaky Towers – it’s the choices that they make which indicate to us that their priorities are all wrong. Consequently they lose all moral authority when they start bleating about lack of finances.

So let’s take a quick look at where that money comes from and where it goes :

As we all know Wirral Council’s income stream is increasingly going to be us via Council Tax and any supplementary fund raising scams they can come up with.We look forward to their budget proposals now that they’ve been given the go ahead by central government to put up Council Tax by 3% to pay for the rising costs of social care. Rather frighteningly they also have the the opportunity to raise even more money via this route.Surrey County Council are looking at a total Council Tax rise of 15% but to do so they would have to put it to the local vote. We suggest that this is not something that the ruling group at Wirral Council wouldn’t risk but nothing ,nothing would surprise us about this shower of chancers.

David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, announces proposal to seek a council tax rise of 15%

So , down to business –  we’ve previously discussed the charming operatives from Kingdom Secrurity and their cash for trash extortion agency for the Council. As anyone who has seen a Kingdom Security in action – they go after vulnerable people who don’t have the means to  retaliate . Much like the people they get their contract off.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/cash-for-trash/

It’s not  about caring for the environment. Neither are other money-making scams devised by an increasingly desperate council. Similarly their car park charging proposals have absolutely nothing to do with maintaining the roads or traffic measures. It’s all about the moolah. Your moolah! – so cash cows out there prepare your teats for action as they’re going to be bled dry.

Park and Get Taken For A Ride

We’ve already reported the squandering of £80,000 on the appointment of an Investor Development Manager – rumoured to be a shoo-in for current leading Wirral Council puppet master Martin Liptrot.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-power-abusers/

Which again begs the question as to why there isn’t someone on a humongous salary with the requisite skills at Wirral Council – because well ,apparently there just isn’t ! Let’s not even mention what the likes of David Armstrong, Clare Fish and Joe Blott  get paid  – if you throw in Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson that’s half a million big ones per annum between them.

Never mind the recent ridiculous ‘Are Wirral’s 66 councillors Value For Money?’ exercise conducted by themselves and to which the unsurprising answer was a resounding YES! – how about we have a VFM consultation on the above gang of four/flaw? – especially when we consider the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services.

This has necessitated the appointment of troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil and former Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Maggie Atkinson as the new ‘independent’ chairwoman of Wirral Safeguarding Children’s Board. The appointment of such big hitters suggests us to that Children’s Services is in an even bigger mess than the Ofsted report indicated. Not that we’ll ever know because the Children’s Services Improvement Board meets behind closed doors. Lessons have obviously been learned from the last Improvement Board – no openness, no transparency, no public accountability suits the powers that be. We’re just asked to stump up the bill.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15032232.Government_troubleshooter_who_dealt_with_aftermath_of_Baby_P_scandal_to_lead_rescue_of_Wirral_children_s_services/

These consultants seem to be mainly tasked with finding out why Wirral Council can’t recruit and retain staff in Children’s Services. We can tell them free of charge : because it’s rammed with poor calibre middle managers who bully their staff on the instructions of passive/aggressive senior managers who earn a nice wedge spouting platitudes and duping councillors.Plus the fact that who in their right mind would want to do Child Protection work in Birkenhead. Think about that for a moment  – beyond grim.

Another drain on resources that we never to get to hear about are the court cases that Wirral Council get ensnared in because they simply don’t know the difference between right and wrong….but they’ve got plenty of well paid people particularly in the HR and Law Departments who are prepared to blur the lines between the two in return for a big fat salary. We understand that there’s a court case coming up at the end of this month that could prove to be the defining moment of how Wirral Council chooses to ‘move forward’.

We’ll keep you posted.

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