The Usual Crap from Wirral Council

poo bags

Still one of our favourite pics sent to us by one of our devoted readers…

We’ve been asked for our thoughts on a couple of local news stories. The first concerns the pressing issue of dog crap. Now we have to declare an interest here or more accurately a lack of interest – we hate the thought that notorious bullying former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox is right when he once publicly claimed in a meeting held outside Wirral that the people who paid his wages (and ‘additional pension costs’) were only interested in ‘dog crap’.

So as you can see from previous posts such as this we’ve long applauded and supported responsible pet owners and campaigners such as ‘Wirral Good Dogs’ who don’t want to subsidise Wirral Council waste via the waste that comes out of their pet’s backsides but it is still particularly dispiriting to witness this week’s packed Council meeting about the proposed introduction of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) to combat Wirral’s dog crap problem.

If only pet owners (and indeed non-pet owners) on Wirral were equally motivated to turn out to Council meetings and express their concern about what is done (or not done) in their name perhaps the punitive measure wouldn’t have been proposed in the first place!

But hey! as long as people are exercising their democratic right to challenge the powers that be that’s OK with us. However our interest in the matter lies elsewhere and is more concerned with the potential engagement of Kingdom Security to impose PSPOs and the political/financial motivations of Wirral Council’s ruling administration.

What can we say about Kingdom Security?  Lots actually since 2015 and none of it good. But the thought of their operatives loitering around playing fields and parks in pursuit of filthy lucre (pun intended) is surely the stuff of nightmares.

Our other point of interest is the sense of deja vu that accompanied this week’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday where it was decided to ditch the proposal by a single vote. The committee’s decision will now come before Wirral Council Cabinet and specifically the environment spokesperson Cllr Anita Leech, who will make a final decision on PSPOs. Could this be the same Cllr Leech who voted against the fire station development in Saughall Massie before changing her mind and allowing it to go ahead?

We’re left wondering whether ,with elections coming up in May, the ruling administration are playing the game of ‘listening to the people’  when it comes to dog crap or will financial necessity override political expediency?

screen shot 2019-01-20 at 20.43.35

Sign the petition HERE

 

Advertisements

Good Advice

Wilde 732

Such is the sage advice we receive on a daily basis we really should do a ‘ Wirral Leaks’ self  help book.

Chapter 1 would be about the ruling administration at Wirral Council taking themselves down the steps at the back of Wallasey Town Hall and throwing themselves into the River Mersey. If this is a hate crime we are proud to say we are guilty as charged.

However in the mean time we publish the recent contributions we have received that we feel the need to share in the public interest.

First off we follow up our Wirral Council Have Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two… with this pertinent advice :

Dear Sirs,
I have as well as many other businesses received a letter stating that I will be fined if I do not process my business waste via their channels.
I urge all businesses to send the letter back minus their name and address to the sender of the letter stating that in future we do not want their waste!
Regards
Next up we have some advice from down south (not a euphemism) as we know when something is kicking off when we get loads of hits on a long lost post.On this particular occasion it is our updates on the progress of infamous local government cheque collector Anna Klonowski . You know the one , she flew in to Wirral ,made a killing telling us what we already knew  that Wirral Council was a basket case and offering absolutely nothing to rectify the situation she moved on to her next lucrative gig ticking the boxes of mutual mediocrity along the way – for cold hard cash of course.

However it has been revealed that another pay-off of almost £100,000 made by Bristol City Council to its former chief executive ‘the Blessed Anna’ was not a contractual obligation, according to auditors.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees insisted Anna Klonowski was entitled to the cash when she left in September 2017.

But the council’s auditors said it was “inappropriate” for the authority to say the payment was contractual. Read full story here : Bristol council’s £98k payout to chief exec ‘not obligatory’

So can we advise when Wirral Council wants to pay off the likes of  Webb, Noone, Fowler, Maddox, Coleman, Wilkie,Adderley ,Burgess, Degg ( we always put these 3 together – we can’t think why!) , Fish, Hassall, Blott, Norman, Lyon  etc; etc; they need to act in the public interest and remember the words :

NOT OBLIGATORY 

However we’ll leave the last word to ‘our betters ‘ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce  and particularly their Chair, Sandra Kirkham aka ‘Our San’, who advises us lesser mortals in a Tweet from last month:

Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 21.53.35

Whilst is looks as though San has also attended the ‘Sybil Fawlty School of Statin’ The Bleedin’ Obvious’, along with Anna Klonowski, it would also appear her message about skills and what we do in schools is somewhat undermined by the fact that she (or whoever writes Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s tweets) doesn’t seem to know the difference between ARE and OUR…

 

 

Wirral Council ‘leader’ and his shock resignation : Power Boy Pip reaches the ‘Omega Point’

pipmirrorkisser

Power Boy Pip’s reflects on his political career  and decides smashing the mirror is easier than doing something about the distorted image. 

There are many curious aspects to Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’  announcement that he was packing in politics – not least the fact we got to exclusively reveal the news from a leaked email . As much as we appreciate the leak we would have thought a more appropriate forum for this momentous news would have been the previous evening’s full Wirral Council meeting.

Whilst Liverpool Echo just did a hasty cut and paste job with archive photos shortly after we’d published the story , clearly other parts of local MSM were geared up for the announcement as Wirral Globe managed to get the news into yesterday’s print edition. The Globe also managed to reference to Frank Field’s recent run-ins with the resurgent Labour left despite the fact that this did not feature in Pip’s epitaph for his political career.

We’ll be analysing both the resignation message and Power Boy Pip’s political career in a special commemorative,cut out and keep, full colour supplement on Sunday  titled ‘ THE 30 INGLORIOUS YEARS OF PIP’ – but for now all we’ll say is the hackneyed comment about him wanting to spend time with his long suffering family’  was not only reminiscent of resignations of Wirral Council’s past ( ex-CEOs Maddox and Burgess spring immediately to mind) but is also the time honoured phrase used by politicians just before the proverbial hits the fan…and oh believe us, it’s about to…

There have been various theories sent to us about the sudden announcement  and we believe it may be a combination of all of them. After  Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  reign of terror came to an end in 2012 in an unprecedented vote of no confidence , Power Boy Pip had the chance  to really ,really make a difference to the toxic culture of Wirral Council but instead chose the path of least resistance.

Ultimately it is a failure of Pip’s ‘leadership’ – the reliance on a handpicked spin doctor ,the failure to rein in out of control councillors ( Crabtree, Reecejones, Foulkes and George Davies for starters) ,the inability to say ‘NO!’ to Birkenhead MP Frank Field, the all consuming reputation management and the constant denial best exemplified by the fantasy  (Local Government Chronicle ‘Most Improved Council award) taking precedence over the reality (an ‘Inadequate’ rating of Wirral’s Children’s Services by Ofsted).

However it is also what French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin titled the “Omega Point”: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! … For everything that rises must converge.”

It is about the rise of the Green Party in Birkenhead (the humiliation of defeat in next May’s local elections had become a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of Labour left (being held to account by party members had never before been a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of local blogs ( there is no hiding place for local politicians up to no good any more ) and it is about the rise of political activism from people of all political persuasions across Wirral (especially those defending the Green Belt and the NHS – the likes of which Wirral politicians have never experienced before) .

For everything that rises must converge and together we say that is what is  responsible for Pip’s demise…

 

 

Summer Shorts : The Heat is On

Green Belt Eric 008

In the absence of His Lordship we are titling this series of brief posts as ‘Summer Shorts’!

This truncated story comes courtesy of several readers who were startled to see a picture of shy and (hopefully) retiring Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson on the front page of this week’s print edition of Wirral Globe .

Whilst most of our readers were startled to belatedly discover the identity of our reclusive ‘Council chief’ (no laughing at the back!) especially when the mischievous Globe dug out the infamous picture that introduced the charismatic ‘Stressed Eric’ to us all when he got the top job at Wallasey Town Hall.

However one particularly perceptive blog follower reader asked us whether this ‘exclusive’ was the death knell to Stressed Eric’s ‘Reign of Error’ as having kept a profile lower than a rattlesnake’s belly he suddenly finds himself thrust into the public gaze.

Feebly pointing the finger at ‘guvmint’ for threats to the local Green Belt because Wirral Council’s failure to meet the statutory  requirement to have a ‘Local Plan’  is somehow the fault of Whitehall mandarins (huh?) , Stressed Eric appears to be dubiously entering the political arena in which local authority CEOs are required to remain resolutely neutral.

With the increasingly unpopular ruling Labour administration currently being under fire from the Wirral public over parking charges and their retention of litter Hitlers Kingdom Security, the cowardly bullies seem to be reverting to type . Historically, when the heat is on they like to throw a CEO and sundry senior officers into the furnace. From Maddox to Wilkie to Coleman to Burgess – especially Burgess who had the temerity to try and mark his territory and stand up to leader of Wirral Council Frank Field, sorry , we mean  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies  –  there has been a scorched earth policy where highly paid public officials are burned at the stake and the politicians rise up like a phoenix from the flames.

We are left asking ourselves how long can Stressed Eric stand the heat before he’s all burnt out?……..

Eric Gut

Living off the fat of the land : Is Eric Robinson morphing into Eric Pickles?

 

Where There’s Dog Muck There’s Brass

IMG_1399

Thanks to one of our readers this is one of the finest pictures we’ve published on Wirral Leaks . Our homage to Martin Parr.

Prior to taking the well-trod coward’s route out of Wirral Council before the corrosive  bullying culture of the council was exposed and for which he set the tone , Steve Maddox was most noted for claiming in a meeting held way outside of Wirral that all that the little people who paid his wages were interested in was ‘dog crap’.

It would seem this plug ugly ultra-bore’s time has come as Wirral Council have recently set out to prove the old dictum ‘where there’s (dog) muck there’s brass’ as they’ve recently announced plans to exclude dogs from dumping in certain areas and if they do their owners will have to pay through the their pet’s arse .

Dog Crap

Indeed it would seem that they’re so desperate to raise money that they are now reliant on your pets anal expulsions to keep them in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

Seemingly realising this campaign group Wirral Good Dogs have (inevitably) launched a petition which states :

Wirral Council has proposed implementing a Public Space Protection Order across our public parks, commons and beaches, as well as introducing huge on the spot fines, for dogs who step foot on to a ‘marked playing field’ (many of which take up large areas of our shared parks, so our parks will become unusable for off leash dog exercise)  and total bans to huge stretches of coastline, which many locals enjoy daily and rely upon as a valuable local amenity for the care of their dog. Read full petition here : Wirral Good Dogs Petition 

Having said all that it strikes us as deeply ironic and yet entirely appropriate that an administration so full of crap are seeking to sustain their bullshit operations via canine sphincters.

Advent Farewell 9 – Out of Sight , Out of Mind

Maddox & Morton 2

Two Deputy Lieutenants of Merseyside are of one mind.

From time to time we like to check up on the progress on some of the Wirral Council charlatans and chancers that have (dis)graced our pages over the years in our special ‘ Where Are They Now?’ feature.

Whilst we readily acknowledge that we featured former Wirral Council CEO  Steve ‘ Mad Dog’ Maddox in such a post earlier this year we feel the original post needs enhancing mainly because we believe that in many ways it is most instructive on the ways of Wirral.

If ever there was an example of how to evade accountability and manage your reputation then Maddox is the ultimate case study. He saw the writing was on the wall when so called independent investigator Anna Klonowski was brought in by the Tories to find out what whistleblower Martin Morton was blathering on about . On the very day Maddox was due to meet with Klonowski  , Maddox took the coward’s way out and suddenly announced he was going to spend more time with his long suffering family. This followed over two years of Wirral Council senior management covering his expansive arse . Of course Maddox didn’t even need to work his 3 month notice period and swiftly pissed off to the golf course with additional pension payments made up to when he would have retired – about which we can only ask – why?

The panicked leader of Wirral Council at the time Cllr Steve Foulkes provided this farewell quote :

“Steve is essentially a self effacing and modest man who probably has no idea of the very real and extensive legacy he will be leaving behind.We know, and are grateful for it. I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he will continue to be involved with the people of Wirral, for whom he has always been an eloquent and passionate advocate.” Steve 2 Steve

This translates as Maddox did as he was told and his greatest quality is that he could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on .  But oh what a legacy he left behind!  Whilst Maddox secured himself a tidy six figure bung , collected the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral to add to his OBE and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside to stand alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field, his swift departure meant his hapless and hopeless sidekick Jim ‘Wee Willie’ Wilkie was to reap the wild wind of what his former boss had created – a toxic,corrosive culture of bullying,incompetence and deceit which was soon to be (partly) revealed in the Independent Review in  January 2012 . Needless to say shortly after Wilkie ended up being escorted from Wallasey Town Hall premises a broken man.

What’s more when the furore over the Independent Review had died down Maddox reappeared on the local scene and within the year was appointed as a Director of  mental health organisation Wirral Mind in December 2012 .

This appointment has always intrigued us ,  primarily because it is with some irony that Wirral Mind were seemingly gifted the management of the learning disability service that was a significant feature of Morton whistleblowing case that led to the Independent Review that in turn was the impetus for  Maddox’s ‘retirement’ !

It has long been thought that Wirral Mind, with no significant track record of supporting people with learning disabilities, were rewarded  the contract for keeping a lid on the unlawful charging scandal when they were appointed as advocates on behalf of those who couldn’t speak up for themselves when the scandal blew up . Unfortunately this ‘advocacy’ service didn’t actually extend to advocating on behalf of those who had been financially abused.  An appalled Wirral Leaks reader once recalled attending a  Wirral Council meeting  where Sandra Gilbert Wirral Mind CEO , said that the tenants who had been financially abused ‘lived in the lap of luxury’ . Perhaps if  we put aside the issue of illegality and equality Ms Gilbert might appreciate that if she had £100 + a WEEK taken out of her salary over a number of years she might have fought a bit harder on behalf of disabled people instead of leaving it to Morton and others.

All the Independent Review report had to say on the matter was that there was

” a need for the Council to refresh its contractual arrangements with (Wirral Mind) in the context of EU procurement requirements.”

Funny how Frank Field wasn’t jumping up and down about this proven case of Wirral Council flouting EU procurement regulations isn’t it ? Or getting Merseyside Police and the Serious Fraud Office involved as he did with the Highways contract complainants that apparently he is still ‘gallantly’ supporting 9 years after their alleged whistleblowing exploits !

Since our report we note that in August 2017 there was a  cessation of Maddox  being ‘a person with significant control’ of Wirral Mind  August 2017.   However he still remains a Director – presumably because of the lustre and prestige that someone with his impeccable track record brings to an organisation.

 

Election Selection : Week 8

Red Braces

Labour groupies Cllr Chris Meaden and Cllr Janette Williamson admire Frankenfield’s red braces and his homage to 1980’s wankers, sorry, bankers and the glory days of Thatcherism. Pic courtesy of Wirral Globe 

We don’t know how you feel but this has seemed to be the longest 8 weeks of our lives. At last we can get back to moaning about the weather and Wirral Council.

Our interest in national politics only extends to how it affects the local political landscape. By which we mean Frank Field  – obvs. For as we know Frankenfield is the de facto political leader on Wirral. Let’s face it –  McGovern , Eagle and Greenwood are mere also-rans in Wirral’s political stakes.

With Merseyside totally in the red  when it comes to local politics – from the Metro Mayor and his cabinet to all council leaders and constituency MPs and the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy there is an unprecedented concentration of  power invested in one party. Whilst that is the democratic right of the people, it scares us to death, not only because it suggests there is no effective opposition but primarily that some of the people who wield power are just so bloody awful.

But it’s not all bad news – with a hung parliament and with fox-hunting enthusiast Theresa May now experiencing what it’s like to be hunted by the ruthless and privileged ( i.e her own party) it would appear that there could be another general election on the horizon (*sighs* all round at Leaky Towers).

This of course would mean another bumper pay day for Wirral Council’s Returning Officer Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson who as we know must be struggling on his £180K + salary which is supplemented by the bumper pay outs amounting to tens of thousands of pounds he receives for declaring the seemingly never ending round of elections.

Hey Eric – any more thoughts on donating your bonus to supporting local charities or foodbanks or the New Ferry explosion fundraising efforts like a former Wirral Council Chief Executive used to do?

No – thought not!

 

Election Selection : Week 1

Brickie 2 015.JPG

Wirral has its own NHS – who knew?

After this week’s call for a snap election we thought we’d set up a weekly report on the local political hustings fun , campaign fails and General Election jiggerypokery. Accordingly we’d like to invite our readers to send in any of their electioneering snippets and general observations on the madness of modern politicking.

The Usual Crap

First off – we’ve been forwarded the Prenton edition of the ‘Brickie to stand for Metro Mayor’ campaign leaflet first reported here : Purdah Palaver

It would seem the local Labour group are riding on the coat-tails of the Metro Mayor election and inserting information about their local wards in the middle of the glossy 4 page propaganda piece . The Prenton edition  (see above) is particularly inept featuring as it does a regurgitated press release about the Liverpool City Region by Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and the compulsory piece about dog crap – because as we know that’s all the Wirral electorate care about according to former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox.

However what is most galling is the gurning features of Cllr Angela ‘CGL’ Davies and Cllr Tony ‘Tight-fit” Norbury holding a ‘Care For the NHS’ placard. The doublethink going on here is mindblowing.  Once again these mindless hypocrites are quite happy to campaign to keep the NHS from ending up in private hands – started by the Labour Party under Tony Blair , lest we forget – but are quite happy for Wirral Council services to be farmed out to the lowest bidder. Of course Cllr Angela Davies cares for the NHS so much because not only does it pay her a good wage but when the service she worked for was outsourced to Change! Grow! Live ! (FFS!) she didn’t much like it and bolted back to the warm bosom of public service. Shame she doesn’t afford that opportunity to Wirral Council employees facing redundancy and/or less favourable employment contracts in the private sector. Just sayin’!

May Day

Tip-top local blogger Wirralinittogether (geddit?) clearly doesn’t need to go to Specsavers as he counted not one, not two but three local at Tory leader Theresa May’s election launch in Bolton .

Tory Voters in Wallasey and beyond. You’re being taken for fools

All we can say the Tory councillors must’ve felt at home in Bolton at their Labour led Council is another one that thinks it can do what the bloody hell it likes with public money! Last year Bolton Council were heavily criticised for giving £300,000 of public money to a private law firm – like you do!

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/14925029.Lawyer_to_report_Asons___300_000_grant_deal_to_national_watchdog/?lp=6

Moonlighting for Margaret ?

These must be trying times for Wirral Council’s renaissance man Martin Liptrotsky. Policy advisor, business guru and political campaigner – is there no beginning to this man’s talents? Having helped Margaret Greenwood win the Wirral West for Labour seat at the the last General Election we have to wonder with Liptrot being appointed to a politically restricted post at Wirral Council who Greenwood is going to get to do her ‘dirty work’ this time round? Now we were no fans of previous Wirral West MP Esther McVey but the Liptrot orchestrated campaign at the last election was perhaps the most vicious and nasty in recent memory. And we’re not talking about the abusive graffiti , we’re talking about “Lord” Prescott’s appearance on West Kirby beach and Labour deputy leader John McDonnell endorsing a comment by a local Labour activist to ‘hang the bitch’ . So much for Labour leader Jezza Corbyn’s call for ‘kinder,gentler politics’ !  Needless to say any reports that Liptrot is moonlighting for Margaret during the latest campaign will be gratefully received!……………..

 

Where Are They Now? Part 2 – Update

Tarby

Steve Maddox – out of sight and into Mind

As you will know our recent ‘Where Are They Know?’  post concerning public money magnet Anna Klonowski mentioned former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox.

Where Are They Now? Part 3 – Anna Klonowski

Wirral Leaks readers will appreciate that it was Maddox who personally set the tone for Wirral Council prior to the catalogue of governance and cultural failures that were later to be revealed , if not fully exposed , by Ms Klonowski in her two reports for Wirral Council which pocketed her a cool quarter of a million.

Apparently Maddox was willing to accept that being bullied by politicians was the norm and instead of resisting this, looked at his pay cheque and subjected his underlings to the same treatment and so did their subordinates and the cycle of abuse continued throughout the organisation…. with disastrous results for all of us.

Coincidentally it was Maddox who was the subject of the previous ‘Where Are They Know’ post where we asked whether anyone knew what Maddox was up to, other than playing golf , after his handsomely rewarded ‘retirement’.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/wirral-leaks-advent-calendar-16-where-are-they-now-part-2/

Well , prompted by our previous posts and our references to how local government failures later find themselves being beneficiaries of lucrative board appointments (see also Maddox’s successor Jim ‘ Wee Willie’ Wilkie and his Non -Executive Director post at the Countess of Chester hospital where he scrupulously and hilariously fails to mention he worked for Wirral Council) http://www.coch.nhs.uk/corporate-information/board-of-directors/non-executive-directors.aspx ) – one of our sources has contacted to tell us that Maddox has been ‘hidden in plain sight’ all along.

As after a short period of laying low after the publication of a series damning reports questioning his ‘leadership’ and , apparently without any shame , he subsequently popped up as a Director at mental health organisation Wirral Mind and remains as ‘a person of significant control’ to this day!

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/11pyLG4lH-iPYRY0l59SdJ3JDWA/appointments

We’re left wondering whether Maddox was involved in the unlawful awarding of Wirral Mind, and their deeply ambitious CEO Sandra Gilbert , a contract to manage a learning disabilities service as a reward for keeping a lid on the overcharging scandal that rocked Wirral Council?

All we will say is that unfortunately for us having Maddox , as a former Wirral Council CEO with an OBE and a Freedom of the Borough as a Director , won’t hinder Wirral Mind’s chances of getting future lucrative contracts with Wirral Council – especially if they link up with WIRED and others muscling in on infrastructure monies. And that , once again unfortunately for us, is the compliant, non-threatening voluntary sector on Wirral boxed off nicely.

Remember – as ever – you read it here first.

Critical Condition

Wirral logocritical-condition

 

As you must know by now we are (and have been) fierce critics of Wirral Council and their uncritical friends ( Local Government Association , Frank Field etc;) for some time.

However it is reassuring that some parts of Wirral’s mainstream media (i.e. Wirral Globe ), local bloggers and our regular correspondents not only have the gift of critical thinking they now have the means by which to express their thoughts.

Unfortunately those means of communication were not around when the power bases were formed which we believe are responsible for the critical condition that Wirral now finds itself in.

So here we find one of our valued Wirral Leaks correspondents Dr Robert B Smith giving us a brief introduction as to how we think we got to where we are and why we all need to challenge the ‘alternative facts’ peddled by the powers that be . As the redoubtable Dr Smith tells us , there’s a book to be written here – especially about missing monies. If he’s looking for a title might we suggest ‘ The Neverending Story’! – Wirral Leaks readers are invited to offer alternatives.

WIRRAL – a Critical Mass of attractions

WIRRAL COUNCIL – a Critical Mess of afflictions

As a recipient of one of then-Cllr Jim (Jumbo) Crabtree’s strident early morning emails at 2.35am, the Wirral Leaks piece reported in Private Eye regarding the exposure of his death threats to Cllr LRJ, prompted me to put a few thoughts together about Wirral Council and councillors.

To understand Wirral’s problems, and there are many, is to understand its history.

To understand Wirral Council’s problems, and there are many, is to understand its history.

Wirral Council should serve its residents, businesses and visitors, but has insidiously created the ‘insular peninsula’. Wirral Council is a stricken organisation, nationally acknowledged as an organisation where abnormal behaviour is so deeply embedded it is accepted as ‘normal’; and the organisation is in terminal decline. Wirral councillors, and chief officers now occupy a self-created netherworld. This is almost beyond comprehension in many ways as, unlike Chief and Senior officers, councillors do live in Wirral with the consequences of their actions, and presumably are friends and neighbours with Wirral residents, businesses and visitors. Maybe that defines peninsularity…or possibly vested interests?

And this is the critical factor that almost entirely divorces Wirral Council from the public it is supposed to serve. The concept of public service for the upper echelons of Wirral Council, both politicians and managers is a distant memory. Self-serving organisational protection is in full-flow, after gaining momentum over the last 15 years or so.

Wirral Council’s finances have been in free-fall since the early 1990s, although no-one in Wirral Council will admit it – but the evidence is all around in the media and archives. Gradually diminishing services, cloaked in desperate efforts to create an illusion of visionary leadership, is not actually about services. It is actually about survival of the organisation and those that significantly benefit from being part of it. That does not include Wirral’s residents, businesses and visitors.

Wirral Council’s self-perception, and its perception of Wirral (‘The Leisure Peninsula’), have led it until fairly recently to vehemently oppose any links to, or association with, Liverpool. This has changed more recently as a matter of necessity due to a now imposed concept, not at all understood by Wirral Council, of a city-region and its interdependences.

Strategic thinkers amongst senior officers are long gone. Over the years political self-interest and party-political power struggles of whatever political persuasion, have taken their toll, at the expense of a great many staff, and those Wirral Council is supposed to serve.

‘That was then, and this is now’. 7 words that embrace a few decades of disastrous planning, and financial management. If in fact there was any planning at all. Wirral residents, businesses and visitors are paying handsomely now, for what happened then. It is interesting to see which councillors were around then, and which are still around now.

When, in the late 1990s, a councillor states “this year’s budget is in a mess, but never mind. The Director of Finance will pull something out of the hat, he always does”. When successive years of budget cuts follow, it doesn’t take an Einstein to know there will be trouble ahead. Chase the regeneration grants…over £500,000,000 spent in Birkenhead by 2008…Wirral Council just walks away and allocates no additional revenue to maintain or run the new facilities. Just take a look around.

Wirral Council owes around £500,000,000 to private banks as a result of borrowing £137,000,000 from private banks between 2001 and 2008. No-one in Wirral Council appears to know where any of that money was allocated. Maybe no-one could find the hat any longer?

Parking charges…again. Another bankrupt idea from an almost bankrupt Council you may think? The Wirral Council mantra “We need to raise additional income.” “We’re having our grants cut again!” “We are the victims in this!”

Are they? And that is the key – the Council see themselves as ‘the victims in this’. It is actually Wirral residents, businesses, and visitors who are the victims.

Parking charges just keep creeping back in. It cost the Council in 2014/15 £119,000 to enforce parking penalties. So the good citizens of the borough are paying for the privilege of penalising parking offenders. However, a separate income line from the same year is ‘the full amount of Pay & Display parking income receipts banked by Wirral Council, £1,689,267’ – taken again from the good citizens of the borough.

Freedom of Information requests – one of which was asked about parking charges. How many requests are refused? There is a procedure called ‘the public interest test’. However, in Wirral it does not exist. What does exist is ‘the Council interest test’. Which is why so many refused Freedom of Information requests are overturned by the Information Commissioners Office.

From start to finish this is a very expensive process. If a request is overturned, then surely the ‘public interest test’ was ignored. How much public money is wasted by Wirral Council, defending the obviously indefensible? A ‘successful’ Freedom of Information request confirms that no records are kept…which appears to indicate there is a bottomless pit of money when the Council wants it to frustrate enquirers by refusing legitimate requests.

Then again £2,000,000 can also be magically produced when the Safeguarding Board isn’t up to the job, and £237,960 per year (with little sign of private sector income to offset the cost) public money to finance the ‘Wirral View’ of Wirral (seen through Wirral Council’s rose-tinted specs). They can’t be read at luncheon clubs now the minimal funding has been axed, can they?

Which brings me back to now. And the legacy of ‘that was then’. Only one of numerous examples…What price is being paid to service a debt of £500,000,000 owed to private banks by Wirral Council? At an average of 6% pa, around £8,000,000 per year (this is not the total of council borrowing by the way) with the final payments being made in 2078. Tell your kids and grandkids if you are in your 20s now – Wirral Council mortgaged all our futures just to save political skins.

What price is being paid by Wirral’s Council Tax and other tax payers? The price of political failure over decades. But the rewards to politicians and some senior officers have been significant. There are not many paid jobs where the serially inept are rewarded with such significant sums of money for continuous failure.

Do any occupants of positions in the upper echelons of Wirral Council management just ‘leave’ without an additional ‘package’ of some kind– if not, why not?