Saints and Sinners

St Helens

Red marks the spot 

Wirral Leaks has a history of  picking up followers from far flung ,exotic places such as Hereford, Sandwell, Bristol , York and Cheshire East –  presumably from locals interested in what Wirral Council’s cast offs were up to before they landed on their doorstep. So following on from our  York Paving The Way  story we are proud to bring you news from St Helens. 

Indeed as far back as 2015 we were wondering whether Wirral should be twinned with St Helens when we wrote :

Talking of St Helens politicians by the sound of it Wirral should forget about Reno and make enquiries as to whether Wirral can be twinned with Labour controlled St Helens Council (aka St Hellhole Council according to one of our sources).

Witness recent allegations made against the former St Helens Council leader and now St Helens South & Whiston MP Marie Rimmer who could possibly teach our local political bullies a thing or two about how to deal with dissenters. Rimmer (a great name for a politician) was recently accused of kicking a Scottish independence supporter at a polling booth in Scotland (the case was , er, kicked out this week on a technicality but we understand it may be re-opened) :

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-mp-marie-rimmer-walks-9784035

Depending on the eventual outcome if the case goes back to court it could be that if St Helens rugby league team need a new prop forward who knows how to kick a conversion they may know where to go.

We feel we need to clarify at this point that we are not kicking Labour while they’re down nationally (if not locally) we just want them (no we NEED them) to be so much better than they are – politically,morally and ethically.

Full story here : Taxi Cuts

However considering the current situation in St Helens it seems we were wrong. St Helens puts Wirral to shame :

  • A major Police investigation of serving Councillors going back years  (which is more than be said of Wirral where Merseyside Police steer well clear )
  • Leader resigned from role and is suspended from the party  ( if only the same could happen on Wirral!)
  • The Cabinet holder for Growth ( Local Plan) has been sacked from his post as Chief Parliamentary Assistant to the MP ( Sackings? – unheard of on Wirral) 
  • Interim Leader was due to be challenged at Labour AGM  ( Challenged? – ditto)
  • A Labour  local election campaign  which was described to us by a St Helen’s resident as ‘despicable’ in Rainhill (much like the campaign against Green councillor Pat Cleary in Birkenhead & Tranmere) 
  • Returning Officer gave evidence to the Police which appears to have sparked the further investigations (shame Wirral’s Returning Officer Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson didn’t give evidence to Merseyside Police on a non-electoral matter concerning Wirral councillors  – but then he’s not going to risk his £200K pa paycheck is he?)
  • Landslide victory by Independent candidate in Rainhill ( ‘Independents’ don’t get a look in on the insular peninsula )

Which us brings us round to one of our eternal pleas – the need for more independents and the independently minded in local politics. Therefore can we give a shout out to Rainhill  independent councillor James Tasker . You could say we’ve  taken to Tasker. This is from his Facebook page

I’m Rainhill born and bred. I’m standing as an Independent Councillor for Rainhill in the May elections, the only candidate who lives and can vote in Rainhill. I’m standing as a committee member of the Rainhill Civic Society, a member OF the community, FOR the community. I was a member of the Labour Party until very recently, but the local Party decisions made over the past few years, do not reflect my Labour Party values. They do not reflect your Labour Party values, they do not reflect the values, needs, and potential of our Rainhill community. Our Rainhill Councillors, represent themselves, not you, the people who allow them to make decisions on our behalf. This May, vote for someone who cares about Rainhill, lives in Rainhill, and can vote Rainhill.

 

And they did!

Dare we suggest you need some of this on Wirral ? For far too long you’ve had a group of local Labour councillors who put the lumpen into lumpenproletariat (that’s a Marxist joke – Pip’s Posse won’t understand a bleedin’ word of it! ) . They are quite happy to turn a blind eye to the excesses and abuses and hyperbole and hypocrisy of their leadership as long as get to play at being a pretend politician. Sure we get a few dissenters from time to time who question the cabal and then they get offered a Cabinet position and suddenly their concerns about how the local Labour group operates suddenly disappear ( yes, you know who you are!)

The day that Wirral is twinned with St Helens we may be tempted to return. Or perhaps not ….

House of Bamboo

bamboo lettings 2
It’s made of sticks.
Sticks and bricks,
But you can get your kicks
In the house of bamboo.
If you consider the ‘personalities’ involved and the issues it raises it might strike you as surprising that we’ve only just caught up the curious case of Bamboo Lettings. Furthermore if you ever wanted to know about how things work on Wirral and in the wider world of networking – here it is laid out for you in this deeply worrying story.
We were prompted to pursue this story by a recent correspondent who asked us:
Also can you advise re Magenta Living being a Social non profit org. starting up a subsidiary called Bamboo Lettings which is a joint venture with Torus Group (St Helens – Graham Burgess) which will increase the returns on some formerly social-rented stock by letting them at market rates for a period of five years.
At 31st March 2017, Magenta Living had transferred 5 properties into Bamboo Lettings, with the intention being that a further 95 properties will be transferred into Bamboo by the end of 2017-18. Magenta Annual Report 2016/17
It might be legal but who decides property A is Social – Property B next door is commercial and charges more? 100 now ,how many in future years? Still classed as a Charity? Stinks to high heaven……………..
However it should be noted it was a brave and curious Wirral resident who first raised the issue courtesy of a Freedom of Information request in May 2016 . You might be surprised to know this local housing development wasn’t lauded with a press release featuring fat felines grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. Maybe that’s because some deeply troubling questions might have been asked at the time – Bamboo Lettings – FOI request
It was left to Joe Halewood and his excellent welfare rights blog SPeye blog to pick up on the issues with this post in February 2017 where Joe writes :
Bamboo Lettings is owned by Magenta and Torus.  Magenta was the former council housing department of Wirral Borough Council, and Torus is the former council housing departments of Warrington and St Helens.  It has offices in Wirral and even its own Facebook page here and there you can see the strap line Bamboo Lettings is a private lettings company, with properties in Wirral, Warrington and St Helens.  Such contrived and opaque constructs are no longer needed reader!
Then belatedly, but God love him ,  Lib Dem Cllr Stuart Kelly tried to raise the profile of this dodgy development and introduced a Notice of Motion at a Wirral Council meeting in July 2017
LOSS OF SOCIAL HOUSING TO BAMBOO LETTINGS LLP (to be debated)
Proposed by Councillor Stuart Kelly
Seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia
Council notes the establishment of a private lettings company known as Bamboo
Lettings LLP between Magenta Living and a housing organisation called Torus.
Council notes that Magenta are planning to transfer under a lease arrangement up to100 social housing homes to Bamboo Lettings company for them to be let at full market rents.
Council notes that a three bedroom house offered for let by Bamboo in the
Woodchurch area will cost a prospective tenant £137 per week against the social
rent charged by Magenta of circa £97 per week in the same area (and against an
‘affordable’ rent level of £110).
In addition, Council is concerned that Bamboo Lettings also charge private sector
style ‘fees’; an example of these fees for a three bedroom house in the Woodchurch
area is:
 Application fee – £50
 Administration fee – £75
 Guarantor fee – £50
 Check out fee – £60
 Additional deposit for a pet – £100
Council believes that these fees are not linked to the service provided, are
unacceptable and extortionate and requests a justification for this regime.
Council notes the Cabinet Member for Housing has told Magenta that Wirral Council would not want to see larger 4 bedroom accommodation, those for older people and those adapted properties being transferred; and has highlighted to Magenta concerns about a number of disposals occurring in the same popular locations, thus reducing availability of social housing stock.
Council notes that there are currently 9643 people registered on the Choice Based
Lettings System, of which 2348 have a housing priority need.
Council has objections to the use of social housing in this way and requests (through the Council’s Managing Director for Delivery to Magenta Living) that the relationship with Torus/Bamboo be suspended to allow the Council the opportunity to fully investigate the use of social housing stock as de facto private rented houses https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50042720/Council%20NoMs%20-%2010-7-17.pdf8
Cllr Kelly elaborated further on his concerns about this development in this Wirral Globe article  – Councillor slams ‘unacceptable and extortionate transfer of former council houses’
Needless to say nobody took a blind bit of notice of the ‘Notice of Motion’ and that’s not just because Cllr Kelly is a Lib Dem with – let’s face it – no power or influence over Wirral Council whatsoever.
So let’s join the dots and explain why that might be the case and look at the interested parties who do have that kind of power and influence. First of all can we say that any joint venture between Magenta Living and Torus should have been called Red Bull(shit)- geddit?
First of all here’s the Torus Group Board or more accurately the Torus COMMON PURPOSE Board TORUS COMMON PURPOSE BOARD
We first highlighted the connections here : Where Are They Now? Part 4- Emma Degg
Torus 032
Wirral Leaks readers may recall the candy floss- haired one on the left is former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess who’s main claim to fame is that he once shared a hole at the ‘The Open’ with former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin Adderley when it was last held in Hoylake. The man on the right is Rob’ Narcissist’ Young – a former Assistant Director of Wirral Council’s Housing Department.
Although surprisingly for such egomaniacs they’re quite shy about their involvement in this money-making racket masquerading as Tory housing policy : Companies House Officers
See how this works yet ? If you don’t , you need to realise that Magenta Living Board includes such Wirral Council  luminaries as Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes , Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green and Cllr Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham Magenta Living Board
Which raises the question as to why they were appointed in the first place – could it be they are the last people who’d raise questions in the best interests of those who need social housing?  Ever felt you’ve been bamboozled by bureaucrats?

Taxi Cuts

Fouolkes & Niblock

When Councillor Steve Foulkes, the then leader of the Wirral Labour group, said he was very happy and that he had “a number of beliefs and principles in common” when Councillor Steve Niblock defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour it seems he wasn’t wrong http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-13416607 :

We at Leaky Towers are grateful for more masterful work from local blogger John Brace. His inquisitive nature, attention to detail and immaculate pigtail matches our very own Verity. However we’re taking the opportunity here to give his revelations the special Wirral Leaks treatment.

Brace’s latest find concerns the discovery of expenses claims made by Merseyside Labour councillors including one of Wirral’s very own – Steve “Suave” Niblock?.

http://johnbrace.com/2015/08/05/which-wirral-councillor-claimed-50-on-taxis-to-and-from-a-public-meeting/

It seems that by enjoying the benefit of  £50 return taxi ride to attend a Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority meeting in Liverpool the Lib Dem turncoat clearly demonstrated that he is now well and truly part of the Wirral Labour fold with their penchant for being driven around like royalty just like the top of the taxi rank herself – Matron McLaughlin aka the Queen of Sheba.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/carry-on-cabby/

Now in the scheme of things a £50 taxi ride paid for by the public may not be equivalent to a near enough £50K bung to keep your gob shut.However in it’s own way it somehow strikes us as everything that’s wrong with the mindset of some politicians.Whatever possesses Niblock and his ilk to think that when services are being cut and people are losing their jobs that this sickening sense of entitlement is in any way OK?.As the saying goes: “Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should”…….

Now we know that , as Her Ladyship remarked , Cllr Niblock seems to get his fashion tips from Jeremy Corbyn, but for instance the next time he wanted to kit himself with a new bib & tucker for the next council piss up would he just pop over to top notch gentleman’s outfitters Gieves & Hawkes in Liverpool and hail for a taxi there and back?

We think he needs to cut out the taxis and get on the train or better still – Get in the sea https://twitter.com/getinthesea?lang=en

Ironically Niblock recently voted to close Upton and West Kirby fire stations (no really!) alongside fellow Merseyside Labour councillors one of whom is a certain Linda Maloney who thought it OK to spend £12 on a slap up salmon dinner and a drink of coke and expect the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority to pay for it.

http://johnbrace.com/2015/08/05/which-st-helens-councillor-claimed-36-for-3-salmon-dinners-and-3-drinks-of-coke/

Again we would ask Cllr.Maloney (another one who likes to be ferried around in a taxi) to consider would she as a rule spend such a princely sum stuffing her face on a piece of salmon or is that only when the public are picking up the tab?.

No doubt Niblock and Maloney would justify their voting decisions with the mantra : ” It’s the Tory cuts” and yes the ideologically rather than economically motivated cuts to public services need to be “robustly challenged” as local government bods are wont to say- however do they not see that freeloading from those same public services which are under threat undermines their feigned outrage?.

Talking of St.Helens politicians by the sound of it Wirral should forget about Reno and make enquiries as to whether Wirral can be twinned with Labour controlled St.Helens Council (aka St.Hellhole Council according to one of our sources).

Witness recent allegations made against the former St.Helens Council leader and now St.Helens South & Whiston MP Marie Rimmer who could possibly teach our local political bullies a thing or two about how to deal with dissenters. Rimmer (a great name for a politician) was recently accused of kicking a Scottish independence supporter at a polling booth in Scotland (the case was , er, kicked out this week on a technicality but we understand it may be re-opened) :

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-mp-marie-rimmer-walks-9784035

Depending on the eventual outcome if the case goes back to court it could be that if St.Helens rugby league team need a new prop forward who knows how to kick a conversion they may know where to go.

We feel we need to clarify at this point that we are not kicking Labour while they’re down nationally (if not locally) we just want them (no we NEED them) to be so much better than they are – politically,morally and ethically.

Now more than ever we need a credible opposition we can believe in and trust and after all the political soul searching and Miliband-bashing following this year’s General Election it seems to us ,especially in the wake of MPs expenses scandal and the realisation that we are now living in “The Age of Foodbanks” that  £50 taxi rides and slap up salmon dinners at the taxpayers expense indicate to us just how far some Labour politicians have drifted from the values of their traditional core voters.