The Twelve Days of Christmas : Day Seven – The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

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PAST : It was with breathtaking cynicism that on Christmas Eve 6 years ago Wirral Council shut up shop and published a report by Richard Penn which investigated a minor case of alleged ‘whistleblowing’ which nevertheless managed to get some airtime on Radio Merseyside on Christmas Day 2012. We won’t go into the details as apparently to do so could potentially cause ‘damage and distress ‘ to those named in the report. As you can see from our report The Penn Is Mightier Than The Sword  such was the secrecy and subterfuge it was a week later (and six years to the day) before we  got around to  covering the story –  and let’s face it like most of you probably under the influence of a hangover.

PRESENT : So you might be wondering why are we bringing up the matter of on the sixth anniversary of the publication of  ‘The Penn Report’ now? Well ,dear readers  ‘The Penn Report’ featured as evidence this year in a significant legal case which ended up in the Upper Tribunal in London, far from prying eyes and inquisitive ears and which demonstrated what can happen when low friends in high places pull a few strings who want to avoid the publication of ‘The Warren Report’ covering  the same issues as the ‘The Penn Report’ but allegedly penned (no pun intended) by close friend of Frank Field who describes the author of the unpublished report as a ‘stunning lawyer’ . We prefer the term ‘compromised ex-Judge in a conflict of interest clusterfuck’ and we’re confident with all his legal knowledge Nicholas Warren isn’t going to sue us for expressing that reasonably held belief even when Warren himself was indemnified by you, dear readers, to write whatever he wants about whoever he likes even though his report can’t ever be published.

Morton v 1.Information Commissioner 2. Wirral Metropolitan Council : (2018) UKUT 295 (AAC)

FUTURE : We predict – no, we promise – both reports will feature significantly in future 2019 Wirral Leaks posts as we finally put to bed the biggest scandal in Wirral Council history and reveal just how deep the corruption goes in our most revered and venerated UK institutions and which extends far beyond the insular peninsula…

 

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #5

More Money, More Troubles

This week’s Cabinet announcement concerning a council tax of 5.99% came as no surprise to anyone. Nor did Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies inevitably blaming ‘Tory cuts’ for such a hike. However where Pip outdid himself in his budget proposals was suddenly finding £20 million down the back of the metaphorical Town Hall settee  “to prevent Wirral’s young people becoming victims of Tory policies.”

Now whilst we readily acknowledge that cutting off funding streams to local authorities is very much part of a shameful central government strategy to dismantle public services – and which the Labour administration at Wirral Council seem more than happy to go along with – we baulked at the rewriting history that was going on here . The playing of party politics with children’s lives and taking no responsibility whatsoever for the dire state of Children’s Services on Wirral was a new low even for Pip . But then it’s so much easier for a Council leader, who is in a permanent state of denial, to lay bad management,  poor decision making , laziness, and incompetence on the part of public servants and poor governance on the part of local councillors at the door of  ‘Tory cuts’. It was all very reminiscent of the first edition of the Town Hall propaganda sheet Wirral View turning the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services into a good news item. We had the foresight to write : “The article on the damning Ofsted Inspection report is given more spin than Rapunzel on speed and has the title ” Children’s services to get major investment” ! Which we suspect will be the distorted shape of things to come. Full article here : First Glance at Wirral View

The October 2016 announcement of this ‘investment’ to recruit additional social workers ,improve training and management and provide more experienced, long-term leadership for children’s social care amounted to £2 million . Could it be a measure of just how much trouble Children’s Services are really in is that the required investment has increased TENFOLD ? ! 

The Emperor’s New Impose

However we do have a good news item to report and that is the retirement of Birkenhead MP Frank Field.  Well, that got your attention didn’t it! Unfortunately it’s not imminent , which is a shame – as anyone who witnessed his tetchy performance discussing Brexit on today’s Sunday Politics TV programme will testify . There he was all flush-faced and flapping hands as Stella Creasy the Labour MP for Walthamstow accused Frankenfield of “driving the Boris bus” . Which we can only hope wasn’t a lewd euphemism. Stella stood her ground and wasn’t having any of Frank’s passive aggressive nonsense telling him ” You can talk over me all you like Frank” . Full coverage here :  Frank v Stella

During the clash of handbags Frankenfield maintained that the public should have ” the right to every bit of information going”. Which is a change of tune from someone who once objected on Radio Merseyside about the Wirral public making Freedom of Information requests to Wirral Council . We just wonder whether this new found fondness for openness and transparency extends to persuading Wirral Council to finally publish a much heralded report dating back to 2015 which was written by Frank’s mate , Nick Warren. Frankenfield was whining to the local press as far back as July 2015 as to why the report hadn’t yet been published.  Now everyone involved -including Field – apparently wants to bury the report. What’s that all about?

However let’s get back to the matter of who Frankenfield thinks should inherit his kingdom. Apparently Upton councillor Matthew Patrick (aka Matty Patty) is the nice young man that Field would like to succeed him as the MP for one of the safest parliamentary seats in the land. But then we suppose there isn’t a deep pool of talent to draw upon in Birkenhead is there? But what about Foulkesy? Georgie? Crabby?, Doughty? we hear you cry. All we can assume is that Frank would like someone more in keeping with the aspirational artist’s impressions of a future Birkenhead that have been knocking about all over the local press this week.

Matty Patty 002

Artist’s impression of a possible future MP for Birkenhead

Speer’ of Destiny 

Talking of these artist’s impressions …..there were a slew of pretty pictures accompanying such headlines as Stunning new images of how Birkenhead could look in future as billion-pound deal is agreed’  concerning the Wirral Council/Muse Developments Joint Venture which includes potential plans for glossy new Council offices. Somehow a cheeky Wirral Leaks reader was suddenly minded to recall the work of the Third Reich’s architect , Albert Speer. 

We’re sure they’re not making comparisons with a power-crazed, progaganda-obsessed regime but rather just reminding us that the self-aggrandizing plans for a People’s Hall/Great Hall/Hall of Glory were never realized.

 

Anti-Corruption Champion

Corruption

One of the useful websites we recommend our readers to check out if they’re interested to find out what their local MP is up to in Parliament is the appropriately titled TheyWorkForYou. This ranks alongside the Freedom of Information  (FOI) website WhatDoTheyKnow as one of our go-to sources.

TheyWorkForYou tells us that Birkenhead MP  Frank Field in particular is rather prolific when it comes to asking questions of government ministers. Which we can all agree is a good thing! However we can recall that it was Frankenfield who once went on Radio Merseyside to make ridiculous claims that certain sections of the Wirral public were inundating Wirral Council with FOI requests in an attempt to bring certain parts of the council to a standstill . This was proven to be statistically and factually incorrect as even Wirral Council admits it does not receive significantly more FOI requests than comparator local authorities . Accordingly it seems to us that Frankenfield thinks that public accountability is not a pursuit to be encouraged in the hoi polloi !

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/frankly-mr-frankie/

However we did raise an eyebrow at a question Field put to Chris Skidmore Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Cabinet Office as to when he plans to appoint an anti-corruption champion.

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2017-06-21.150.h&s=speaker%3A10197#g150.q0

What’s Frankenfield up to? getting the heads up for local council reprobates, sorry ,representatives?  They’d  better get shredding those documents, erasing those tapes and making those pay-offs before the anti-corruption champion comes a callin’ !

 

 

Distribution Solution

 

We can’t get enough of ‘Wirral View’ – well we would if we had actually received more than one copy at Leaky Towers . Yes , we know there’s an online edition but there’s nothing like the touch of newsprint and gazing lovingly on those precious words of wisdom that fill that empty void that was once our information deficit to make us be #thankful #grateful #blessed to be living in such interesting times as these.

So imagine how relieved, nay, overjoyed we were to hear that Wirral Council are addressing this pressing issue. We dare say we need to take some credit for this. For way back in November 2016 we identified what we called the ‘Distribution Deficit’ when it comes to this vital organ.

Distribution Deficit

Subsequent Wirral Leaks posts have highlighted the fact there is no point in producing a publication which nobody ever gets a copy of and when they do they get a copy they quickly come to the conclusion that there  is definitely no point in publishing Wirral View. 

A View To A Kill

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Our distribution solution would be to chase Wirral View out of town once and for all. However belatedly it would appear that Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev MacCallum is on the case – phew! . He once was lost and now is found and what would we do without him!

Apparently the distributors that were based in Liverpool have been dumped (much like their delivery methods) and been replaced by a Wirral firm , and er, Royal Mail. This may have led to an increase in costs but Kev reassuringly tells us that  ‘This additional expenditure will be accounted for through reducing the spend associated with copy writing and photography with more work being delivered in-house.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15200280.Cost_of_pushing_council_s_Wirral_View_newspaper_through_your_letterbox_soars_to___126_000_a_year/

We’re imagining this involves the Labour Cabinet writing good news stories  about foodbanks and passing round the crayons to draw pictures of tins of beans. The next edition promises to be all very Warholian.

The media onslaught continued with Cllr Matthew Patrick Cabinet member for Community Engagement and Communications appearing on Roger Phillips’ infuriating Radio Merseyside programme to extol the virtues of Wirral View. This was  somewhat in the vein of an enthusiastic sixth former who’s proud of their media project –  ‘this is information that has to get out there’ he implored as if he was talking about a World War 2 leaflet drop over enemy territory . We confess we did snigger but then we’re still guffawing at his use of the term ‘faux outrage’ at a recent Cabinet meeting. Matty Patty (© James Griffiths , Esq) went on to deny that Wirral View was trying to take advertising revenue from the likes of the Wirral Globe and that it was saving the Council money (although he was a bit sketchy on the details).

You can hear Matty Patty at 1hr 05.20 followed by Conservative Councillor Adam Sykes  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04x0r52

However the absolute highlight was ‘Kathy from New Brighton’  who at 1hr 20 put Roger right about Wirral Council’s intentions when it came to generating advertising revenue. Kathy told us that she ran an independent business and received an email from Wirral Council in September 2016 promoting a ‘new advertising opportunity’ .

Kathy declined this opportunity on the grounds that advertising costs were ‘extortionate’ and  ‘I support my free press’ . You tell ’em!

Roger seemed a bit miffed that he’d been wrongfooted about where the advertising in Wirral View was supposed to be emanating from. ‘I was told NHS ……that sort of advertising‘ he said forlornly.  Sorry , Rog , but you seem a bit slow on the uptake that the Wirral Council crew can sometimes be rather disengenous (and we’re being polite for a change). We just wish more people would get with the programme – but preferably not yours as we find it a frustrating experience over the years as you have consistently provided the Wirral Council power elite with a platform for their mendacious BS.  Who can forget the infamous Graham Burgess ‘ mistakes’ episode for starters?

Indeed listening to Roger Phillips always makes us want to storm the Radio Merseyside studios and reinact the famous scene from the movie ‘ Network ‘ and scream : ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore…’