Men of Mystery

Men of Mystery

With all the bad news about at the moment we thought we’d lighten the mood and invite our readers to participate in some summertime fun and enter our mystery quiz.

The first mystery for you to solve is to identify the unlikely character who made the following comment earlier this year :

“I’m in favour of Wirral Leaks. If I was the Council I’d pay them money to find out what was going on in my Council….”

The second mystery is for you to identify the character in the tragic soap opera that is known as ‘Wirral Council’ .We understand that this supporting character (and who yet at the same time has a leading role) is moving on – no doubt to a less demanding role.

Prizes include:

  • An artist’s impression of a fantasy Wirral regeneration project of your choice ( Wirral Waters, Tower Gardens, Hanging Gardens of Bebington , Seacombe Palace, Hoylake Housing Estate and Golf Course, Stella Shiu Monument etc; etc;) This will be signed by either one of our leading artists Dee Mented and Hal Lou C. Nation
  • A referral to a Wirral foodbank of your choice (and let’s face it there’s plenty to choose from!)
  • A lifetime’s subscription to Wirral View* ( * If Wirral View pegs it before you do this will be replaced by an equivalent publication such as Take A Break  , Pick Me Up , Beano etc;etc;)
  • A recording device enabling you to compromise a local politician of your choice

Entries via the replies button below or wirralleaks@gmail.com 

Answers and prize winners will be announced when we get around to it! Good luck!

 

Tourist Trap

Demolition 014

It seems as though that the demolition of this infamous Borough Rd eyesore in Birkenhead has taken as long as the construction of the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

You may remember an excellent report which we published earlier this year which questioned Wirral tourist figures which were being bandied about.

Tourism Awards : Wirral-style

Our knowledgeable contributor has undertaken further analysis and apparently according to the figures Wirral has the same lure for tourists as Barcelona (hence our picture and comments above).

Therefore the moral of this story is , as we’ve often said :  question everything !

Wirral Tourist Figures – Fake News?

As a rule I hate banging on about things, but, in this case I’m going to make an exception and bang on about the Wirral Tourism figures!

I apologise for the length of this item but I am truly dumbfounded that the people who are supposed to be running this Borough believe the figures.

Power Boy Pip and our very own tourism champ Tony ‘The Hoff’ Jones have both quoted the figures.

Wirral Chamber of Horrors, Wirral View, the Liverpool Echo, VisitWirral.com and various other outlets have fallen foul of the scourge of the internet age, copy and paste (ad infinitum). Nobody questions the figures because they are on the internet, therefore they must be true! Everybody believes them.

Well after contacting Lord Leaky a few months ago I got to thinking about the figures and did some deeper digging. I have come to the conclusion they are a load of spin. Should I be surprised? Probably not.

Were they used to ‘woo the Shiu’? Or are they to reinforce the case for a golf complex? Maybe they are just to say what a wonderful job the council and our esteemed Chamber of Horrors are doing in promoting this green and pleasant peninsula? Whatever the reason, they’re rubbish!

Its difficult to present the full picture succinctly so I shall use round figures and as few as possible.

Links to the documents are scattered around if you really want to read them???

The figures quoted for Wirral are:

8 Million visitors

£385m income

Over 5000 jobs

That equates to 22,000 visitors per day each spending £48 each! Do you believe that?

Lets put this into perspective. Barcelona is introducing legislation to limit tourism as they are overwhelmed. They had 8.3m tourists in 2015. (About the same as Wirral. Ha Ha Ha Ha)

Now at this point dear reader you are probably thinking ‘I’ve read this before’ but please bear with me. (You don’t need to read all the figures below, just look at the total.)

Figures from North West Research, Tourism Data Summary published July 2016.

Top Events Attendance 2015

Top Free Events

Three Queens – 1.2m

Mersey River Festival – 220,000

Transatlantic 175 – 200,000

International Music Festival – 161,000

Africa Oye – 80,000

Top Paid Events

Grand National – 142,500

Southport Air Show – 80,000

Creamfields – 70,000

Southport Flower Show – 54,000

Musical Fireworks – 35,000

Top Free Attractions

Museum of Liverpool – 747,000

Merseyside Maritime Museum – 662,000

World Museum – 658,000

Tate Liverpool – 626,000

International Slavery Museum – 460,000

Top Paid Attractions

Mersey Ferries – 607,500

Pleasure land Southport – 500,000

Beatles Story – 250,000

Haydock Racecourse – 203,000

Aintree Racecourse – 173,500

Total attendance for all these events held in the Liverpool City region 5,395,500!!!

That means more people visited Wirral than went to all of the above attractions and events (and some). Yeh!

Are you starting to see where I’m coming from with this?

The World Tourism Organization defines tourism as people “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”

(Acronym alert!!!!)

The figures are compiled using the STEAM model, (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) by http://www.globaltourismsolutions.co.uk on behalf of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

Well, I don’t know how they do things in Scarborough but it don’t work in this neck of the woods!

Their beautifully illustrated pdf is available here

And this document gives the game away. https://www.liverpoollep.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/wpid-digest-of-tourism-statistics-12-2013.pdf

Section 1.5 tells us that:

A key component of the way in which STEAM works is its definition of ‘day visitors’; this is

defined as a person travelling to a district other than that in which they live, for a non-

routine purpose, with a stay of over 3 hours. Thus, someone making a trip to Southport Pier from Liverpool could be classed as a day visitor, but not someone making a

similar trip who lived in Formby.

Now I understand. These aren’t visitors to the Wirral, they are visits within the Wirral by people who live here. Hardly tourism or even visitor numbers.

Do you now see how useless these figures are?

So there you have it. Fake news!!

http://wirralview.com/news/wirral-enjoys-fresh-boost-visitor-economy-0

And yes, I did lose my bet on The Wro winning bar of the year 2017. They weren’t even nominated so I suspect they were asked to withdraw this year to give someone else a chance!

Demolition 012

Sagrada Familia it ain’t – but at least it’s a start.

Aintree Irony

For those of you looking for a last minute topical tip for this afternoon’s Grand National Wirral Leaks  provides you with this free cut out and keep guide to some of horses that have caught our eye:

grand national 011

This one is for fans of Martin Liptrot – that’ll be Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies then. Liptrotsky is always the perfect candidate for Pip regardless of his experience or qualifications. Who needs an Equal Opportunities Policy when your mate is the Leader of the Council? This is also one for fans of Stewart ‘Happy’ Halliday  – that’ll be his preferred referees if not our friends in York ! And again this will be popular with the Basnett clan because a) if you’re related to Princess Paula or b) you’ve  lamped the former CEO of Wirral Council over a shared perk then you’re the ‘perfect candidate’ for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce !

grand national 013

No, this isn’t for fans of the current Labour administration at Wirral Council. They’re definitely (spelt correctly) NOT red! This one is for fans of current Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘the Red’ Robinson. No, we’re not referring to the fact he’s an LFC fan among all the high profile bluenoses at Wirral Council – we’re talking about his visage and his presiding over the ‘Wirral Council High Blood Pressure Club’ alongside Cllrs Phil Davies, George Davies and Steve Foulkes. Whatever could be the reason for the beta blockers?

grand national 016

It may have been a stellar notion for Wirral Council to place their bets on a Hong Kong bankrupt Stella Shiu. However we suggest looking elsewhere for a winner as this one could end up like Stella herself –  falling in the (Wirral) Waters.

grand national 015

This is one for fans of the Hoylake Golf Resort . That’ll be Power Boy Pip again – shame the response to the desecration of the Green Belt in the name of big business has been decidedly under par.

grand national 017

This one is for  Kevin ‘Lost’ MacCallum’s Communications Team at Wirral Council. Apparently they’re not averse to a tipple at our expense. Celebrating the launch of Wirral View and recently celebrating St Patricks Day. We wonder if they’ll drown their sorrows when Wirral View ends up in the recycling bin – again.

grand national 019

This one is for all fans of Wirral Leaks as we continue to expose dishonesty,incompetence and corruption and prick the pomposity of local politicians and senior council officials. But unlike Wirral Council we ask you to gamble responsibly. When the Fun Stops Stop! 

Reference Point

 

Stewart halliday call

Reference busters : ‘Who ya gonna call? Call Kersten!’  pic courtesy York Press

The ‘Happy Halliday’ story certainly pushed a few buttons didn’t it?

Happy Halliday

Blotto?

Well we’ve got some news for you – the plot thickens or should that be sickens?

Subsequent to our posts you might have read that Wirral Globe reported that the following appointments had just been made by Wirral Council:

£188,192 for a programme manager.

£181,471 for a second programme manager.

£139,080 for an interim head of transformation.

£665,760 to management consulting company Capita.

£185,000 to two companies to provide economic and legal advice to set up a joint venture property company.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15145472.Wirral_Council_forks_out___1_3m_on_temporary_managers_and_consultants_amid_outcry_over_cuts/?ref=mr&lp=8

The first thing to say is that we wondered how long it would be before outsourcing carrion birds C(r)apita got in on the vulturine act of picking at the emaciated cadaver of Wirral Council.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/21/report_into_mega_capita_outsourcing_deal_identifies_performance_issues/

However our immediate attention was drawn to some of the eyewatering sums involved. Under the circumstances it would seem an obvious choice to assign the post of interim head of transformation to our new found friend Stewart Halliday. However we have reason to believe that ‘Happy Halliday’ may have actually been appointed to the second programme manager post on £181, 471 ! Which would mean that he could have DOUBLED his salary since fleeing City of York Council under a charcoal-coloured cumulonimbus .

Of course our sources may be mistaken and if so we would welcome Wirral Council , in the name of openness and transparency ,to put the correct names in the frames . After all it must surely be in the public interest that we should know where our money is going and who it is going to!

However, there’s more to this fast moving story. Hence the title of this blog post. So, you may be asking yourselves what kind of reference did ‘Happy Halliday’ get from his previous employer? – well , apparently he didn’t get one!

Yes that’s right ,news reaches us that Halliday was provided with a reference from the Chief Executive of Bradford City Council , one Kersten England .

Eh? – well apparently Ms England was CEO of City of York Council before moving on to Bradford City Council in the summer of 2015. So despite there being two subsequent CEOs of CoYC since her departure –  the interim, Steve Stewart, and the current incumbent Mary Weastell –  both of whom could surely have provided a glowing reference for the wonderful work Halliday did for CoYC, he curiously chose to seek a reference from England, along with a reference from an agency ‘outlining’ two years of Halliday’s employment history.

This wouldn’t be so bad , after all everyone ( including the agency involved), wants to present themselves in the best light when a six figure gig is up for grabs , however we understand that, shamefully, it was Wirral Council who made NO DIRECT APPROACH to CoYC for a reference for Halliday. Which makes us to want to wish that the whole  of Wirral Council’s notoriously appalling Human Resources Department management team ,who’s motto seems to be ‘we were only following orders’, gets swallowed up and spat out into the gutter by C(r)apita at the earliest opportunity.

It’s all very reminiscent of the Stella Shiu debacle isn’t it? And look what happened there! It’s like the interweb thingy doesn’t exist for Wirral Council or perhaps there are darker forces at work which ensure that the current administration ‘get their man’ no matter what his credentials.

Might we suggest that whilst this situation may result in big money for Halliday it’s a kick in the holiday money for the long suffering council tax payers of Wirral!

 

 

Gambling with Other People’s Money

gambler-puzo

Not that we’ve had any official announcement but it would seem that hawking Wirral Council’s tawdry wares in the Far East seems to have sank without trace somewhat like a Chinese junk ship over-laden with marrows and Stella Shiu’s false promises.

We should be at least be grateful that Wirral Council’s latest speculative jaunt is closer to home as plans are made for a Wirral Council (and no doubt Wirral Chamber of Commerce) delegation to jet off to Cannes next month. Not that it should work out any cheaper as the South of France is notoriously expensive. But hey!, when you’re speculating with public money what’s the big deal? Shouldn’t we just be grateful that our betters get a spring break at our expense?

This then led us to reflect on gambling in general and jaunts to far flung places in particular and the curious twinning arrangement with Reno . If you remember, when we heard of the plans in December 2014 , we wrote :

‘However it seems to us that Wirral is behaving like a desperate divorcee on a dating website – posting flattering pictures to prospective partners in the hope of finding true love and salvation. The Reno hook-up seems particularly dodgy – apparently the fact that “The Chamber of Commerce had a contact over in Reno with a guy who used to work in Liverpool in the video gaming industry….” was enough for the Wirral posse to metaphorically put on the lippy ,reach for the Wonderbra and fly down to Reno on a wing and a prayer.’

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/big-guns-in-tiny-town/

As we said we at the time we couldn’t understand the hook up until we recently read a review on the EscapeHere website which decreed that just before the desperate Transatlantic jaunt that Reno was considered the third worst city to visit in the United States  :

‘Often referred to as Las Vegas’ poorer cousins , the ” biggest little city in the world” suffers some BIG issues when it comes to violent crime and unemployment. With the populous of 227,509, despite the luck ,lights and glamour promised to gambling tourists, Reno residents have suffered drops in housing prices, drastic cuts in public services, and layoffs. However ,despite the setbacks Reno is attempting to reinvent itself with revitalization projects like The River Walk , a water and sculpture path built in the middle of this once,seedy run down city center’

http://www.escapehere.com/destination/10-worst-cities-to-visit-in-the-united-states/

Sound familiar folks ? doesn’t it suddenly all make sense !

However (just like Wirral Council) we’re led to speculate that could the dubious attractions of Reno have had a more personal attraction for one of the Wirral delegation as we are led to believe that when in Reno he was ‘not a stranger to the tables!’

This is reinforced by another Wirral Council casualty closer to home who tells us rather more prosaically :

 ‘I was once in a planning meeting away from Wallasey Town Hall with him when a very tragic story emerged, involving the death of a small child in Wallasey, whilst the meeting was taking place requiring the said officer to give his immediate apologies and return to the Town Hall. I stayed for the duration of the meeting and was driving past a bookmakers a little bit later in Argyle Street en route back to Wallasey and happened to see the same officer inside the premises, obviously his priorities lay in his personal gain ahead of anything else.’

Forget everything we’ve ever written – we think that ‘His priorities lay in his personal gain ahead of anything else’ is perhaps the most insightful comment ever written about how Wirral Council operates.

gambling-2

 

Year of the Chicken

foghorn-leghorn

A special Chinese New Year of the Chicken message to Power Boy Pip from Looney Tunes legend Foghorn Leghorn

Chinese New Year isn’t until February but you won’t be surprised to hear that Stella Shiu won’t be around to wish Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies : ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’  as we enter the Year of the Chicken.

It should come as no surprise to Wirral Leaks watchers and anyone with an IQ that reaches double figures that Shiu will not be appearing on the shores of the River Mersey laden with fortune cookies – not this year, Chinese New Year or any other year.

And so after all the photo-ops , press statements, Liverpool Echo exclusives, artist’s impressions , false promises , foreign delegations and the portrait of Stella hanging up in the waiting room next to the Wirral Council Chief Executive’s office it’s finally time to put this seemingly elaborate – if not particularly convincing – hoax to (the river) bed.

You may remember that after the failure to secure investors for the International Trade Centre at Wirral Waters  that Shiu was invited to move operations down river to some Godforsaken wasteland  (attractively described as former Ministry of Defence land situated on ‘a surburban industrial estate behind Port Sunlight Tennis Club’ ). We exclusively reported this locally in November 2015 after a story appeared in the Financial Times and presciently asked the question   : So we’d like to know whether this is a suitable site for an International Trade Centre or merely a very expensive and financially risky way to save face over the Stella Shiu affair?”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/chinese-takeaway-1st-dibs-2nd-course/

Now it would appear we finally have the answer courtesy of yet another question , this time asked at the Wirral Council meeting on 19th December by Cllr Phil Gilchrist:

pg-question-014

We wonder whether we’ll see the news that ‘ The International Trade Centre is not progressing because the project sponsor cannot confirm funding for the project at this time’ on the front page of Wirral View or with a centre spread in the Liverpool Echo under the headline  ‘ Shiu’d off ! – Stella Dupes Wirral Fellas’ or ‘ Due Diligence? – Don’t Make Us Laugh!’ accompanied by a picture of Power Boy Pip looking like a sad-faced emoji ?

Don’t hold your breath people of Wirral – this is the kind of ‘information deficit’ that Wirral Council have no intention of ever addressing because it doesn’t fit with their bogus ,happy-clappy narrative. Especially when Power Boy Pip and his political ilk of all parties are chicken – with an inability to say they’d been had, never admit when they are wrong or acknowledge that they’re big on promises and short on delivery .

And before we finish let’s remember it wasn’t just Pip that Shiu strung along. Here’s Stella  with Lindsey Ashworth from the Peel Group and Wirral Council Tory group leader Jeff Green wishing us a suitable Looney Tunes farewell:

green-shiu-ashworth

That’s all folks!

The Common People

rich-pickings

Rich pickings for the Basnetts and friends.

Now you all know we are totally non-judgemental at Leaky Towers so when we refer to the common people we are talking more about some of the people we discussed in yesterday’s post  who seem to have a lot in common.

They call it partnership working / networking – we call it cronyism and empire building at the expense of the ‘little people’ .The rich enriching themselves and their friends by accessing scarce public resources …..and with Grant Thornton being the common denominator when it comes to auditing there is very little chance of any awkward questions being asked.  We note that the late-to-the-party Daily Mail follow up their own concerns on the matter by belatedly bringing to their readers attention the Peel Group and particularly group director Robert Hough.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4003918/Ban-fat-cats-secret-deals-says-MPs-demand-action-Mail-exposes-old-pals-club-doles-public-money.html

Fortunately our own consultant Dr Robert B Smith has been able to remedy any ‘information deficit’ our readers may have when it comes to the following local contacts and connections that have increasingly caused us so much concern :

Board Games (of recent times)

Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority committee members

ex-Chair Cllr Phil Davies; Leader Wirral Council -, now committee member
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – committee member

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

Chair

Robert Hough; Peel Group (previous Chair until end of June 2016)
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – previously Vice-Chair, now Chair

Board members 

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company
Neil Sturmey; Head of Office & Partner, Grant Thornton

Mark Basnett; LCR – LEP (Executive Director in attendance)

Mark Basnett additional company directorships:

Merseyside Special Investment Seed Fund Ltd.
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Mezzanine Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment (Small Firms) Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Small Loans For Business Investment Fund Ltd
Small Business Loans Ltd

Wirral Council

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Kevin Adderley; ex-Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment

Paula Basnett; ex-Investment Manager
Independent Auditor, Grant Thornton

Wirral Chamber of Commerce (WCofC)

Chair

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO

Board members

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO (ex-Investment Manager at Wirral Council; ex-head of Invest Wirral; ex-Manager of Egerton House; ex-Wirral Business Partnership CEO).

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kevin Adderley; WCofC Group Managing Director (ex-Wirral Council Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment)
Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College
John Syvret; CEO, Cammell Laird (Peel Group)

Wirral Investment Network (Management) Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

Egerton House (Wirral) Community Interest Company

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

The Lauries Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Secretary

Lauries Events Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Wirral Metropolitan College – Governors

Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO
Richard Mawdsley; Director of the Peel Group
Grant Thornton (Auditors in attendance)

Join the dots

The Hive – Wirral Youth Zone

John Syvret; Chair (CEO, Cammell Laird [Peel Group])
Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce
Phil Garrigan Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Saughall Massie Fire Station proposal

Could this be the trade-off for the Birkenhead site for The Hive/Wirral Youth Zone between Wirral Council and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service…?

Wirral Waters

Peel Group
Wirral Council

Egerton House (WCofC)

Pacific Road (WCofC)
The Contact Company 26.03.2015 Liverpool Echo – The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Wirral Chamber of Commerce have also provided Asif Hamid’s company with additional support. (£11m reported costs, at least 75% reported as public funding)

Wirral Metropolitan College Wirral Waters campus for Construction and the Built Environment (£8m public funding)
Tower Road ‘A’ & ‘C’ Bridge replacements to service Ro-Ro Ferry £7.12m all public funding incl £712k from Wirral Council – Peel £0

Now join more dots…..

Who was ‘instrumental’ in the failed £175m International Trade Centre as part of a move to kick-start the £4.6bn Wirral Waters project.

Who went to China to meet Stella Shiu?

Who met Stella Shiu when she visited Wirral?

Who went to Reno?

Who went to the Isle of Man?

Who was responsible for administering and investigating the Business Investment Grants (BIG), Investment Start Up Scheme (ISUS), and Working Neighbourhoods, schemes?