Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #6

Hey! people of Wirral – we’re supposed to be semi-retired here! But in the mean time keep ’em comin’……

CONDUCT UNBECOMING 

This is a postscript to our Intimidation and the Hypocrisies of Public Life post where earlier this week we witnessed Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin desperately querying whether a particular website was intimidatory. Hey , Matron – we pay for your taxis , it would appear you now want us to pay for your phone. As Her Ladyship said : ” It’ll be bad dye jobs and manicures next !” Can we just pitch in that we agree with a recent Guardian report (that’s a first for us) where ex- Tory minister Sir Eric ‘Who Ate All The Pies’ Pickles gets a deserved kicking (or this being the Guardian – a mild riposte). It was Frank Field’s mate who dismantled the external scrutiny of Councils with the abolishment of the Audit Commission and Standards For England and my goodness haven’t councillors at Wirral Council taken advantage of the fact since? For more read here : Blame Eric Pickles for councillors guzzling high on the hog

It is apparent that electors on Wirral don’t or at least don’t in any coherent way police the conduct of councillors. So we try to instead – and if that’s ‘intimidatory’ Matron we make no apologies! Just sayin’

HUBWATCH  

Maritime_Knowledge_Hub

Her Ladyship turned to me the other day and said :

What the world needs now
Is hubs, more hubs
It’s the only thing
That there’s just too little of
What the world needs now
Is hubs, more hubs
No not just for some – but for everyone

Lord, we don’t need
Another mountain
There are mountains
And hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans
And rivers enough to cross
Enough to last – ’til the end of time

What the world needs now
Is hubs, more hubs

And who was I to disagree? So in honour of Her Ladyship we are introducing a new Wirral Leaks feature – Hubwatch. This week’s hub is the ‘Maritime Knowledge Hub’ exclusively featured in Wirral Council’s favourite website Insider Media Ltd. 

The ‘Digital Staff Writer’ for this exclusive for this is one Matthew Ord. Now we’re not being rude here Matthew but your profile pic makes you look slightly deranged. We suppose that’s what happens when you have to cut and paste press statements from various interested parties into a vaguely coherent article so that it doesn’t read like complete BS for a living. Just sayin’

WIRRAL WINDFALL 

The latest contribution from regular Wirral Leaks contributor ‘The Prof ‘ may be a bit controversial but we’re a broad church and we like to encourage debate and dispute

It was good to read in the February Wirral View that according to Cllr. Phil Davies Wirral is now the centre for ‘Offshore Renewable Engineering’! Orsted’s new ‘flagship’ site for windmill maintenance is apparently the best thing since sliced bread ! Phil must have read the piece in Renewable Energy News, etc, which reported that several hundred offshore windmills supplied by Siemens, including those of Orsted, have suffered unexpected problems including severe blade erosion requiring expensive repair or replacement. That should keep Orsted’s base busy in the short term. But, as to the medium term,  did Phil not also read the Financial Times piece (23.02.18) :’Global Renewable Energy Sector Faces Enron Style Collapse’. With the end of cheap money and subsidies and the US shale gas revolution ,the ‘windmill era’ may be ending again just as it did when coal and oil arrived in the 19th century. If Phil wants economic renewal for Wirral he should forget politically correct fantasy, embrace reality and talk to Cuadrilla.                                                                        Professor D P Gregg (retired)

 

Juergen Maier is Siemens CEO and North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) Chairman

Emma Degg (ex Wirral Council, Wirral Leaks passim) is CEO of NWBLT

Oh and DLA Piper, Grant Thornton, Orsted and Unilever have representatives on the NWBLT board. Have you all worked out how this shit works yet?

NWBLT Members

Just sayin’

STIR IT UP
Marley's E-cigs
Now you know we don’t judge here at Wirral Leaks and we fully support local businesses and recognise you gotta do what you gotta do to make a living these days. However from time to time who question the appropriateness of some sponsorship deals . We say this as we’ve been sent these pics and comment from a local resident :
Good to see Somerville Medical Centre being sponsored by the cheapest e cig shop on Merseyside……sponsored by Marley’s where (if you zoom in on this photo) you will also see that you can buy ‘spliff boxes’, ‘bongs’, and associated drug taking paraphernalia ……. ha ha
Spliff box
Perhaps Julie Webster Head of Public Health at Wirral Council could comment on the matter and at the same time confirm she has an MSc and therefore has the authority to do so. Just sayin’
AND FINALLY 
We’ve been sent this picture and asked  ” What does this former party political leader and his partner have in common with a Wirral political power couple?”
Henry & Jo
We were stumped – perhaps Wirral Leaks readers can enlighten us………

Apologies and Apologists

Apologies i have none

There was a very sorry display (or should that be ‘not sorry’ display?) at this week’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee where much of the meeting was spent discussing ” How do we solve a problem like Louise Reecejones (LRJ) ?” .

Apparently at the time of Monday’s meeting LRJ has yet to issue an acceptable apology to the whistleblowers who had made valid complaints about her but were then subject to personal attacks on social media and had to counter allegations intended to damage their careers. Furthermore doubts were raised during this week’s  meeting as to whether LRJ will comply with the requirement  to offer a  grovelling apology for her conduct to all Wirral councillors at full council meeting to be held on December 11 and whether she will actually turn up – something we had already raised as a possibility as you can read here : Standards and Measures

Having said all that it was particularly dispiriting to witness Wirral councillors flailing about and not knowing what to do if LRJ’s BSL signer is required to stick two fingers up to the sanctions imposed on her by the council’s Standards Panel . A rather excitable interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt seemed to get a vicarious thrill from reciting instances of appalling conduct of councillors from other areas as if to say ” and you thought you were bad!……”  

At which point Cllr Ron Abbey gormlessly  commented :   ” Just goes to show what’s going on out there . We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our own  good 

Really???

Meanwhile his comedy sidekick Cllr Paul Stuart seems tickled pink by his hilariously insightful comments . They’re the Chuckle Brothers without the chuckles. All of this can be witnessed at between 18- 22 minutes of the John Brace video posted below.

We’d like to ask McCourt where he thinks councillors using racial slurs to describe his predecessor , attempting smear campaigns and trying to use public money to buy the silence of complainants would rank in the scheme of councillor misconduct?  #Wirralgate ……or whether this just confirms his prissy assertion that councillors can currently be ” naughty to a fairly large degree” without it impacting on them being fine upstanding public representatives and pillars of the community.

As far as we’re concerned it’s BY FAR the very worst behaviour ever committed by Wirral councillors . However sadly the days when  councillors could be surcharged for their  misdeeds (Tesco heiress Dame Shirley Porter’s gerrymandering  in Westminster being the most prominent example ) or even referred to inept independent body Standards for England are long gone . Would you believe that despite ex-councillor Jim Crabtree’s conviction earlier this year for his repulsive behaviour (ironically) towards LRJ  that he would still be eligible to stand again as a councillor as he did not receive a custodial sentence of more than 3 months!

It would appear the bar for decent conduct for public servants has now been set so low that is it any wonder that we have the appalling shower of public representatives that we have at Wirral Council?  What’s more when you consider that councillors have been apologists for the most appalling conduct of both favoured senior officers and fellow councillors over recent  years that they now lack any MORAL AUTHORITY when it comes to trying to censure the conduct of  others.

Not that we’re apologists for LRJ but if she’s struggling to cobble together a convincing and sincere apology here’s our humble suggestion :

As a once proud upstanding member of this council I am today detumescent before you. Before I prostrate myself  in abject shame and beg your forgiveness I offer these wholly inadequate yet heartfelt words. I realise I could never hope to meet the high standards set by former Labour councillors such as Harry Smith , with his tact, diplomacy and his use of the English language ,and especially his command of Anglo-Saxon . Nor could I ever hope to attain the high office of  Jim Crabtree .  I realise that his telephone manner left a lot to be desired but in every other respect his behaviour was exemplary – at least by Bidston & St James ward standards anyway.  

As for current Labour councillors there is our supreme leader Phil aka Power Boy Pip who has been a particular inspiration to me when it comes to delegating his powers as I have long admired how he gets other people to do his dirty work. As for his deputies what can I say ? There’s big hitter Bernie and casual racist George. And as for Foulkesy? What can I say other than I am simply unworthy to keep their company.  All that is left for me to say is that I apologise for all the wrongs that the Labour group have inflicted upon Wirral and I accept my role as a scapegoat on their behalf.  

 

 

WIRRALGATE! – Protecting the Defectives

defective-by-design

This is the last instalment of our deconstruction of Patricia Thynne’s  Code of Conduct investigations.That is not to say that this will be the last you will hear about the Wirralgate scandal as our sources promise to keep spouting leaks.

This particular post concerns itself with the role of councillors. Not the specific councillors implicated in Wirralgate but the role of all councillors in protecting their own regardless of political affiliation.

It is infuriating to recount that in the light of the Independent Review published in 2012 that investigator Anna “BIG WEDGE” * Klonowski was instructed to keep any criticism of councillors out of her investigation and tried to get around this by publishing the cheerily titled ‘Refresh and Renew’ report prior to the publication of the Independent Review . This report told Wirral’s councillors , amongst other tedious procedural matters , that they’d created a ‘corrosive culture’ where the ‘abnormal was normal’.

However as a result Klonowski took her eye of her original brief which was to investigate the whistleblowing allegations of Martin Morton (and various unnamed others) . This meant that many of the issues brought to her attention have up until today neither been reported nor resolved. Consequently Wirral ‘s councillors received a metaphorical gentle slap on the wrist when what they required was a punch in the face.

And so with the abolition of Standards for  England and the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 councils were allowed to police themselves when it came to conduct issues involving elected members.

Wirral Council took full advantage of this void in accountability and almost the first thing they did after the publication of the Independent Review  was to ensure that councillors were protected no matter how many of The Seven Principles of Public Life they violated.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

We think it is instructive to examine how Wirral Council’s Code of Conduct complaints procedure works in practice. Cllr Steve Foulkes  and  Cllr George Davies  were originally subject to an investigation following concerns raised as a result of rumours swirling around Wallasey Town Hall and which were ignited by Wirral Leaks . It is significant to recall Cllr Jeff Green , the so-called complainant , chose specifically not to pursue a Code of Conduct complaint. Which surely begs the question as to why not?.

However as we know Thynne’s first deeply flawed investigative report was completed on 20th June 2014 and published the following month by Wirral Council , as it was seemingly a classic  case “no  case to answer” . And that would have been that if it wasn’t for the fact that Foulkesy and Georgie Boy had lied and lied and lied to Thynne. It took an email sent to all 66 councillors in December 2104 from key witness  Martin Morton – the man who had initiated the Independent Review  – to bring the dishonesty and deceit to their attention.

However councillors just chose to simply ignore him and seemingly their own Code of Conduct too and no further investigation took place.

It wasn’t until May 2015 when former council communications czarina Emma Degg , having heard the Wirralgate tape , belatedly came forward for reasons known only to herself and confirmed Morton’s allegations.

Subsequently Thynne was appointed to revisit her original report soon thereafter . Significantly this was at the behest of  council officers and NOT councillors and as we can see Thynne handed in her second report on 6th  December 2015.

protecting-the-defectives-012

Readers may want to ask themselves why it took until 28th June 2015 before a Standards Panel considered Thynne’s findings. The answer is that councillors can delay with impunity. In Foulkesy’s case this included a right of reply (because his rights are so much more important than us mere mortals) and of course having additional time to brief his free legal representation about his misdemeanours (courtesy of the Association of Labour Councillors ).

protecting-the-defectives-014

And after all this flagrant misconduct , what happens?. Nothing much!. An undeserved apology to an opportunistic councillor who hadn’t pursued a Code of Conduct complaint in the first place!. We note ruefully that Cllr  Jeff “Kindred” Green has failed to make that apology public.

We have to ask  whether it can be right that a public servant in the course of public duties publicly violates the principles of public life and yet is allowed to make a PRIVATE apology.

We did manage to squeeze a comment from a local councillor about this abuse of power and they replied :

“The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action.”

To which we replied :

“Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it. Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………” 

It is sickening to reflect that for a local authority that failed to protect vulnerable adults and now has been found to failed to adequately protect vulnerable children finds the wherewithal to protect themselves from any kind of meaningful and appropriate sanction . In this respect Wirral Council are truly Defective By Design.org

 

And that is the most damning indictment of  Wirral Council’s elected members that we could ever make.

*http://thebristolian.net/tag/anna-klonowski/