EXCLUSIVE : Wirral Council – Another Day, Another Damning Report

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To have one damning Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman report ruling against you looks like carelessness but to have two in the same week looks like,er …Wirral Council.

After Wirral Globe brought you news of Report found vulnerable man put ‘at risk’ because of Wirral Council failings   where we find that a son raised concerns about the quality of care his father received and charges relating to that care and the  Ombudsman subsequently found Wirral Council at fault for closing a safeguarding investigation without completing it , for failing to comply with its own procedures and for the appalling way they dealt with (or didn’t deal with) the son’s complaint,  we bring you our own exclusive which we gave you the heads up about a few weeks ago in our Wood is out but Wirral Children’s Sevices are not out of the woods… story where we wondered about the reasons behind the premature departure of John Wood Wirral Council’s former head Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) :

What we do know is that there is an impending Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report which won’t make pleasant reading for Wirral Council and particularly those in the SEND Department formerly headed by Wood. We anticipate that the Ombudsman will find that Wirral Council were at fault and recommend urgent actions following a serious complaint involving a child with special educational needs. From what we understand it is unclear whether Wirral Council staff have had any training in SEND law.  The law is clear, as is the guidance to which the department must adhere. However it would appear that Wirral Council are simply making up their own rules as they go along – no change there then.

As we anticipated the Ombudsman report which details the delay in completing and issuing a Education, Health and Care Plan for a child with special needs is the usual Wirral Council production when it comes to vulnerable people – you know the very people who they purport that they want to protect and yet fail to do so time and time again :

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Situations Vacant at Wirral Council

There are currently some intriguing ‘Situations Vacant’ at Wirral Council.  Although you’d be forgiven for thinking that some senior management positions are always vacant  even when there is someone in post!

Understandably, following the hasty departure of John Wood  the Director of  Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND,) there now seems to be a clean sweep going on in this particularly problematic area of Children’s Services. No doubt this is in anticipation of a forthcoming Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report and other matters which the SEND department wish to draw a discreet veil over.

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Before you all rush at once might we suggest that prospective candidates remind themselves of Wirral Council’s historical commitment to people with disabilities . This is the place that historically a former Assistant Director of  Social  Services commented in a public meeting that disabled people were at ‘the bottom of the barrel’ and seemed to be quite happy for them to remain there. And as for children with special needs and disabilities this is a place where in 2019 a disabled schoolchild can be deliberately left naked outside for twenty minutes in the freezing February cold.

Meanwhile another recruitment campaign is being undertaken for a Head of Legal Services :

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Hang on you might be saying don’t Wirral Council already have one of those in the form of Philip McCourt ? Well, apparently this post will be answerable to McCourt as the council’s Monitoring  Officer. Clearly McCourt ,despite wangling a considerable pay rise to retain his services, doesn’t want to be concerned with the mundane day-to-day legal wrangling that working for Wirral Council engenders . Indeed the council are lucky if McCourt  graces them with his presence at all – and who can blame him? Who in their right mind would willingly choose to spend time in the cesspit that is Wallasey Town Hall? But then McCourt has been calling the shots for some time, ever since he devised that cunning plan to get senior councillors out of a dark,deep hole of their own making. However we’d just like to remind McCourt that his notorious predecessors as Monitoring Officer. Bill Norman and Surjit Tour thought they too were untouchable – due to what they knew and  what they’d colluded with – and look what happened to them!…

 

Wood is out but Wirral Children’s Services are not out of the woods…

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This is a big week at Wirral Council. So many comings and goings we can hardly keep up. Unfortunately some high profile departures will mean that some Wirral Council senior managers will be leaving before we get the chance to publish what we believe to be the real reasons behind some of the sudden departures.

We understand that one who has already slipped out the back door is John Wood who was brought in to help with Children’s Services ‘improvement journey’ last July as the head of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) at Wirral Council. Read more here : SEND for Help

Now just after 9 months in post we understand that Wood has gone. Although it must be said the writing was on the wall when he himself hinted at the challenges he faced at Wirral Council in our  Special Educational Needs and Disability : ‘ The best interests of the children have definitely not been at the forefront of everyone’s thinking…’  story.

What we do know is that there is an impending Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report which won’t make pleasant reading for Wirral Council and particularly those in the SEND Department formerly headed by Wood. We anticipate that the Ombudsman will find that Wirral Council were at fault and recommend urgent actions following a serious complaint involving a child with special educational needs. From what we understand it is unclear whether Wirral Council staff have had any training in SEND law.  The law is clear, as is the guidance to which the department must adhere. However it would appear that Wirral Council are simply making up their own rules as they go along – no change there then. Hence the Ombudsman ruling and need for ‘urgent actions’.

Moreover we also understand that John Wood was involved in leading an investigation that is being described to us – and with apparent justification – as a cover up by Wirral Council. The case involves an allegation of abuse at a special needs school.

Much,much more on both of these stories over the next few weeks.

All we will say for now is that whilst Wood may have found a way out but it would appear Children’s Services are not yet out of the woods when it comes to their ‘improvement journey’! …

 

Special Educational Needs and Disability : ‘The best interests of the children have definitely not been at the forefront of everyone’s thinking…’

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Cllr Bernie ‘The Bruiser’ Mooney is characteristically bullish about the turnaround in Children’s Services that have previously been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and is telling us children’s services are ‘much improved’   . However ,even after £20 million of additional funding has been pumped into this vital area of work ,  dare we suggest that there are areas of Children’s and Young People’s Department  , such as Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) – see SEND for Help  and further correspondence we have received including from a concerned parent below,  where it seems there’s a long way to go on the ‘improvement journey’…
This is particularly in light of the fact we all wait with breath held for Ofsted to finally drop in on the department.
Both of mine were failed considerably by the department and have ongoing concerns as a result – being out of school since May and July 2018.  Whilst Mr Boyce has refused to share the report with the parents, I know the concerns I took to the ‘whistleblower’ and these are very serious actions – which continue with my children to this day.
I have tried to approach Mr Wood – new SEN lead and purported to be ‘the one’ to change the department around.  Rather than be the hero to uproot the failings of the department and exact the change that the citizens had hoped for, it seems he is just overseeing the demise of the department whilst the children suffer.  
Whilst he arrived with a ‘considerable number’ of tribunal cases when he started in August and his ability to influence them was ‘very limited’ what he is now willing to acknowledge is that “the best interests of the children have definitely not been at the forefront of everyone’s thinking”.
Now let’s pause here for a moment.  As a parent who had tribunals lodged at that time and knowing that my children’s interests were most definitely at the forefront of my thinking, it is clear from this admission that Mr Wood knows the SEN department do not have children’s interests at the forefront of their thinking.  Wirral SEN department – part of ‘Children and Young People’s Department’.  Worrying at best.
In light of the report that led to the letter sent to parents in October 2018 – some 2 months later, it would appear that the children’s interest continued to remain ‘not at the forefront of everyone’s thinking’
Mr Wood then goes on to state that he has secured extra funding but it is ‘ironic’ that so much of the departments time remains committed to tribunals.  Unsurprising given his assertion in the previous paragraph – this being the only recourse available to parents when it appears staff within the department ‘definitely’ do not have the ‘children’s interests at the forefront of their thinking” and therefore refuse the support that is so obviously needed.  Please forgive me for failing to get my violin out at this point!
Given his background is in digging up fossilised tortoise droppings, perhaps attempting to write Wirral history rather than simply study it is a step too far for Mr Wood…
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SEND In The Clowns

As a follow up to our  SEND for Help  story we bring you this further worrying development in relation to Wirral Council’s treatment of  children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their parents and carers.

Before we provide details of (yet another) Wirral Council investigation report that will never see the light of day we publish the observations of a parent of a child , who by the sounds of it is one of many being failed by the SEND department.

Attached are screen shots of a letter I have received. One of my children’s cases was part of an independent investigation into issues within the SEND department, that  lasted several months.
The independent professional has sent me and the many other families who were part of the complaint the summary you can see in the screenshots.
Although I and others have asked she has been told that the full report is not available for public viewing.
It’s sad when we are no longer shocked by their behaviour.
They are seriously doing everything they can to ‘win’ against the parents of the most vulnerable children.
Where is their duty of care? Myself and others have had no option but to threaten them with judicial review to force their hand to follow the law. I believe that there maybe at least one JR that is being taken all the way.
They’re at tribunal regularly nowadays but say there’s no added cost to this.
There is no excuse at all for their treatment of our most vulnerable and it’s sadly only parents with either decent knowledge of the SEND law or the financial ability to hire someone whose children have a fighting chance.
I just hope that Ofsted come and inspect them soon to shine a spotlight on just how bad the situation is here.
Once again we have a shocking state of affairs where so-called public servants feel as though they have to ‘win’ against our most vulnerable in society and THE PEOPLE WHO PAY THEIR WAGES and without whom THEY WOULD NOT HAVE A JOB ! Even more shocking (but not surprising) are the utterly shameless lengths they will go to ‘win’ !
We can only hope that hauling people through the tribunal system and Judicial Reviews makes these Wirral Council clowns feel better about their manifest failings. However the joke is on us ,whether these clowns ‘win’or ‘lose’ they’re the ones  laughing all the way to the bank and not SEND children or their families or Council Tax payers…
Win

LRJ Confidential

FOI

It was so dispiriting and yet so predictable that roving reporter John Brace was hastily chucked out of yet another Wirral Council meeting yesterday. This time it was the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee. Oh the irony!

Not as ironic as the fact the Committee is chaired by serial failure/ bossy old trout Cllr Matron McLaughlin. Oversight? – don’t make us laugh !

No doubt the reason was the fact they were about to discuss the fallout from last week’s Standards Panel aka as ‘Jeez Louise!’ where Louise Reecejones proved to be, well , your average local Labour councillor , ‘ inconsistent , vague and misleading‘ – and they were her good points!

Sanction Distinction

However we have to say that Wirral Leaks don’t like to kick someone when they’re down . But we’ll make an exception in this case as LRJ is yet another local representative who we feel is clearly unfit for public office. Having said that we do feel she was badly done to in one respect and that was the ruling that she breached confidentiality in contacting us !.

Oh FFS – half of Wirral Council would be before the Standards Panel if that were the case! LRJ did not breach confidentiality by telling us that there was an investigation being undertaken. However by imposing sanctions on a councillor who contacted us in the public interest clearly imposes a ‘chilling effect’ on all those who might be considering it, doesn’t it? Thankfully we can always rely on Wirral Council’s oppressed staff for information and not politically motivated councillors.

LRJ’s position is now being considered by Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies. Once again we have to declare – ‘Oh the irony!’

Power Boy Pip is the last person to pass judgement on councillor conduct and LRJ knows it!

We know this because we had the following exchange with LRJ on the 25 March 2016 :

Dear Wirral leaks,
The Story you have received is not true, I am fully reinstated as a Labour Party Councillor, I am also completely cleared of any wrong doing.
I was treated terribly by most of Wirral Labour group with only a few who were decent.
I have faced abuse by a group of parents who have tried to discredit me and make up false, slanderous statements including one post by a person who is a governor at Kingsway academy, chair of Merseyside Autistic Children’s society were you can only receive support if you agree with her, she is also and more worryingly working with WIRED the Carers charity commissioned by Wirral Council to support Parents in education who have SEND.
I have enclosed a screen shot of her post.
I only want to make a difference, I don’t stand on parade nor do I ask for thanks, I never want another young person go through what mine has. That’s my motivation nothing else.
 

Kind Regards,

Cllr Louise Reecejones
Proud trustee at TLC Network charity

Everything in our story is true. You were reinstated yesterday.

Read it again. Believe us – you got off lightly.We didn’t print all of the email because they couldn’t provide the evidence.
“I was treated terribly by most of Wirral Labour group…”  and ” I never want another person go through what mine has”  
Don’t play the victim –  do something about it!.
I have a right to play the victim after receiving what I have. 
We understand the suspension still stands and suspect the council will be taking matters further as well as dealing with the public spat with outgoing councillor Jim “Crabby” Crabtree.

Yehuda Bauer – the respected authority on the holocaust said : ‘Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.’ The choice is yours

The bold part makes it sound like it still relates to me, I have been fully cleared because I am completely innocent, I gave full accounts and documentation to the police, no money was ever missing but false invoices had been created when I was in hospital very poorly, this was an attempt to discredit me, nothing else and it hasn’t worked because unlike other I am not up to no good.

As for Crabby well he is one vile disgusting bully who goes around picking on women.

His words to me were, ” your a f@@@ing Deaf, Fat Bitch”

This was I front of school children at the holocaust memorial service.

Crabby refuses to answer to the complaint and will slope off as he has been deselected.

There is another one you may be interested in but I will give you her next week after I’ve met with the whip, some interesting times ahead with key people leaving the group at May’s elections, positions are up for grabs and scary times ahead for who will become chair of the group etc.

And I haven’t I have had him suspended and took him to task, I’m not an easy push over I just don’t believe this man should be near politics or vulnerable people.

You need to look higher up. Crabtree is a nonentity.

Oh I have stuff from a high up, all in good time xx
It’s prob worth noting that if I did as I was told over this case Labour would not of took it any further and I would not of been suspended. I was given an ultimatum and they were willing to brush over the accusation. I knew 100% I had done nothing so refused the offer with no hesitation. 
I had no idea what it was over until October when I went to see the CEO so that’s a lot of time to set me up.
First mistake – you put your trust in Burgess.
Oh no I’ve never put my trust in him at all, nor have I in the leadership of the group.

You do surprise me.Actually you don’t.Without being oppressive ,anyone with half a brain cell can see they’re winging it.  

Of course LRJ will never came up with the goods and Power Boy Pip won’t take her on because it’s mutually assured destruction. Moreover we’re sick to death of being told Crabtree had an incriminating file on the Labour group  if he ‘went down’ or that a file had been passed to the former wife of a former leader of Wirral Council as a negotiating tool during their acrimonious divorce.
And yet these pieces of crap are still allowed to make decisions about our lives and frankly we’ve had enough of it.
But we’ll leave the last word to someone in the know who tells us :
The police investigation had been underway for some time without LRJ’s knowledge and they were ready to arrest her Autumn 2015 when she presented herself at a police station after being tipped about the investigation by none other than the CEO Eric Robinson. We only found out a few weeks ago as they were trying their best to stop us finding out. 
So LRJ was sanctioned for breach of confidentiality and Stressed Eric wasn’t?
How does that work?  Perhaps the Standards and Constitutional Committee can explain?