Child Sexual Exploitation – No Alarms and No Surprises, Please.

No Alarms

An horrific Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case in Birkenhead finally hits the headlines. The case involves lengthy jail sentences for two Sri Lankan brothers found guilty of the systematic  rape and abuse of girls aged 14 and 15. The full story can be found here :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15287059.Brothers_jailed_for_40_years_for_child_sexual_exploitation_of_vulnerable_young_girls_in_Wirral/

Now, as we know, the culpability for these vile acts lies with the perpetrators. However we have to ask ,once again, where were the various agencies responsible for safeguarding vulnerable children ?

The fact that Cabinet lead for Children’s Services Cllr Tony Smith has been relieved of his position ( nobody gets ‘sacked’ at Wirral Council) and Julia Hassall – Head of Children’s Services has resigned, suggests that as far as Wirral Council are concerned there are questions to be answered (aren’t there always?)

But do you know what makes us want to bite our knuckles in sheer frustration and anger is the way that rampant reputation management rules all at Wirral Council!

Wirral Council knew (as did we) that there was every likelihood that reporting restrictions would be lifted on this case today. So what is their first priority? –  that’s right get the Liverpool Echo to run a story on Sunday afternoon that council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies had used his ‘strong leader powers’ to suddenly oust Cllr Tony Smith from his Cabinet. So Cllr Smith takes one for the team and is the fall guy ,the patsy for this latest horrorshow. This was followed today with the long overdue resignation of Head of Children’s Services, Julia Hassall.

Of course this all goes back to the publication of a damning Ofsted report last September which had us apoplectic here at Leaky Towers . With our usual prescience we wrote at the time  –  ‘And inevitably what we have witnessed today is the first instalment of an exercise in damage limitation and reputation management for which Wirral Council is so well known  with a carefully controlled ‘leak’ to the Liverpool Echo.’

You may also recall that Hassall claimed there were ‘no surprises’ in the Ofsted report.

What? – did you think Ofsted wouldn’t notice or if they did you could dupe Wirral councillors that everything was hunky dory – for as we know that’s what council officers have been doing for years.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/the-pain-of-failure/

We have expressed the view that the Council’s No. 1 priority is the protection of vulnerable people (and particularly children).  They have failed us and more importantly, the vulnerable, time and time again.

This is, among other failures, a monumental failure of scrutiny (another thing we’ve been banging on about for years) .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/told-you-so/

We can recall the denial when opposition councillors tried to ask questions about CSE on Wirral and being soothingly reassured by Wirral Council’s Safeguarding Lead ‘ Simpering’ Simon Garner that they need not worry themselves as they’d got it covered. We can also recall the ‘faux outrage’ from councillors whenever comparisons to CSE in Rochdale or Rotherham were mentioned. Consequently the approach from council officers is not to  alarm the councillors as they might get a bit upset that there are sexually exploitative people out there!

We assert  that the denial of the problem by agencies responsible for safeguarding is a major contributor to the continuation and prevalence of CSE. Perhaps Wirral’s Safeguarding Board would do well to check out  ‘Three Girls’ a 3 part series running this week Tuesday-Thursday on BBC1 at 9pm which covers the Rochdale CSE scandal. They might actually learn something.

Finally  we’d like to go back to our original ‘ The Big Lie’ post where we called for the resignation of CEO Eric Robinson  , Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall , Corporate Safeguarding Manager  Simon Garner ,  Council Leader Phil Davies ,Children Services Lead Cllr Tony Smith, People Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chair Cllr Moira McLaughlin

Two out of six ain’t bad  (although we should have added Hassall’s manager Clare Fish into the roll call of shame) – but it’s not enough.

The vulnerable people of Wirral deserve better. Indeed, we all do.

A V- sign 4 V4

eV4-VICTORY

Following on from our latest story about Wirral Council’s profligate spending on consultants darling Verity has been undertaking further research into the consultancy firm V4……….

SEE HERE

Readers will remember that  Cllr Chris “Cross” Meaden authorised  that V4 undertake a 50 grand job that eventually ended up costing Wirral council tax payers a whopping £260,000.

We can only ask ourselves whether you can get an internet connection in Meaden’s Rock Ferry ward as even the most basic search  would have set the alarm bells ringing like Quasimodo on Christmas Day.

Perhaps  “Cross” Chris just relied on the tried and tested “word of mouth” method which as we know is always a winner when it comes to public accountability!  Did she put her faith in elusive Super-Duper Director  Clare “Wet” Fish who we’ve been told used V4 when she was at Oldham Council or did she ask Comrade Burgesski’s fandango dancing wife as to whether V4 helped to put Warrington’s leisure services into a trust whilst slashing wages and staff?

However we have  been asked to focus our attention on a V4 consultant by the name of Peter Kilkenny who we understand was linked to the bumper pay-day consultancy work in Wirral.

SEE HERE

And it would appear from Verity’s research that Kilkenny has a bit of previous ……

Apparently he left his job with Rochdale Link4Life , the arms length organisation that runs council services last year , after allegations of credit card misuse.This included his boss Craig McAteer spending fourteen and a half grand in 12 months on his card including a holiday to Florida (all of the money was apparently paid back). Between the 2 of them they made 65 staff redundant whilst giving themselves massive pay rises.

SEE HERE

It is particularly noteworthy that Rochdale’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk has been extremely scathing of their work in his constituency :

“I am very much of the view that the bosses of this outfit, Craig McAteer and Peter Kilkenny, have been taking the taxpayer for a ride, and I publicly challenged their huge, unjustifiable salaries over a year ago.

So the story that appeared on the front page of the Observer last week, detailing how they had been inappropriately using company credit cards to buy, among other things, a holiday, came as no surprise to me.

This company seems happy to spend taxpayers’ money, yet does not want its spending scrutinised and deliberately avoids transparency. At a time when public spending is being seriously reined in, this culture cannot continue. Quite simply, McAteer and Kilkenny are making a mockery of public services. ..”

SEE HERE

Good call Cllr Meaden!…..a match made in Local Government Hell. Cash strapped and scandal ridden councils are clearly proving to be happy hunting grounds for some.

Coincidentally it should be noted that poor beleaguered Rochdale also deployed the services of Anna Klonowski of Independent Review infamy after North West Employers Organisation recommended her to undertake investigative work in relation to sexual exploitation in the borough – after they in turn had also undertaken work for Wirral Council!

Are people beginning to realise how this self-perpetuating money -making merry go round works yet ?!!

However although Rock Ferry may seem to be an internet dead zone other parts of Wirral have been able to access the above information. Particularly interested have been Wirral Council staff facing redundancy, some of whom, after decades of loyal service, now find their entire futures in the hands of cash-crazed consultants !

Way to go Wirral Council !…..