York Paving The Way

 

 

With news filtering through that Wirral Council may have gotten themselves in yet another procurement pickle we thought it would be timely to catch up with our friends in the north – and it would seem that the procurement scandal that highly remunerated Wirral Council officer Stewart Halliday left behind at his former local authority, City of York Council (CYC), refuses to go away!  It would seem that Halliday whilst long gone from York Council is most certainly not forgotten!
Last week saw yet another attempt by CYC councillors to see a report into the scandal which has been withheld and then censored. Although as we know council officials all over the land like to use the term ‘redacted’ to make the act of censorship sound bureaucratically palatable. The report concerns the conduct of officers and members at the infamous 22 February 2017 Audit and Governance Committee meeting which we reported here
As we commented at the time : “That’s decided – we’re moving to York”.  OK it must be said we subsequently moved in the complete opposite direction but in spirit we are at one with the Yorkists. Not necessarily CYC  – but the eloquent, knowledgeable,challenging , citizens of York who are concerned about the not insignificant matters of openness, transparency, integrity, accountability, honesty and democracy. We do recommend Wirralians watch the highly instructive video of the Audit & Governance Committee held on 30 April 2018 and ponder on how they too can at least attempt to hold public servants to account.
Firstly note how CYC film their own meetings. Unfortunately they preface comments from the public with a reminder about making defamatory comments , which to us looks like nothing more than bureaucratic bullying.  As we’ve long maintained – those who want to control the public discourse want to control everything .
Note particularly the robust challenge of a CYC councillor and 4 ( count’em) members of the public and  note also it is the independent member of the Audit & Governance Committee who picks up the mistakes in the minutes . There’s also incidental pleasure to be had from the CYC councillor sporting a A Flock of Seagulls hair don’t!
From what we can gather from the video the latest twist in that scandal involves the continuing refusal of senior CYC staff to release a report into the conduct of a meeting on the 22 February 2017 in which a report into Halliday’s actions in handing over £000s of public money to a ‘communications consultant’ without following correct procurement procedures was, following an attempted cover up made public and discussed at that meeting, leading to ‘conduct issues’ when officers clashed with members. So a report into the conduct at a meeting that degenerated into little more than an unseemly slanging match between CYC officers and elected members over an attempted cover up is now the subject of a cover up attempt by senior CYC officers!
This cover up over a cover up scenario  ( #Wirralgate) is very familiar to Wirral Leaks readers if not to the Wirral public at large mainly due to the power of local politicians and a complicit local press.
We think it’s time for the people of Wirral to start channelling our friends from York who have paved the way when it comes to demanding public accountability!
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Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #4

WW1

WW1 : Artist’s impression # 256

                                                                   WW1

As far as ‘Wirral Waters’ press releases goes this really is the best one yet. You can almost smell the desperation.  Note how the quietly abandoned ‘Wirral Waters’ scheme has suddenly and mysteriously been ‘transformed’ into ‘Wirral Waters One’ . Whoever thought of that new branding needs shooting – say it out loud , it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? Can we also point out that when it comes to acronyms WW1 has already been taken? Just sayin’

Apparently Wirral Council’s Cabinet will announce tomorrow that a massive (! )£100,000 will ‘kick start’ a £90,000,000 residential development in ‘Wirral Waters One’ !

The proposal is a joint venture between the council and landowners Peel Holdings, and includes the Legacy Foundation – an investment fund established by former Tranmere Rovers player Aaron Cresswell………..The Legacy Foundation will provide £100,000 of funding in the first year to be invested in community activities. Full story : Wirral Waters One

We don’t get a breakdown of the total investment between Peel Holdings/ Wirral Council/Legacy Foundation but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be Wirral Council (or more accurately Wirral council taxpayers) who will be putting their hands the deepest into their pockets when it comes to ‘kick starting’ this proposal. Nor do we get an explanation as to what is meant by ‘community activities’

Instead stepping up to take credit for the momentous investment was Birkenhead MP Frank Field  (huh?)

“An idea bringing the largest programme of new housing to Wirral in living memory, announced today, is the brainchild of Andrew Forsey who is the head of my Parliamentary office.Through his work in making contact with footballers interested in making long term investments from their pensions. Andrew helped to persuade a crop of current and former Premier League players – including Aaron Cresswell, who was a Tranmere Rovers player and now plays for West Ham – to see whether it would be possible for his investment fund to begin work in Wirral Waters.”

Is it just us ? – or is is there something vaguely nauseating about poverty tourist Frank Field’s parliamentary office brainstorming about the ‘loadsamonies’ who they can approach with the begging bowl without considering whether it’s morally right that footballers and the like can earn such huge sums of money or question as to whether as a society we’ve got our values all wrong? Nevertheless it is interesting to discover that Wirral’s ‘largest programme of new housing’ is somehow the responsibility of Frank Field’s Parliamentary office isn’t it?!

NUMBER – CRUNCHING   – Aaron Cresswell’s  current fortnightly salary at West Ham Utd  = £100,000 ! (well fancy that!)  See here : West Ham Utd Salaries 2018

So what we’d like tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting to do is finally come clean and announce that ‘Wirral Waters One’ and indeed the ‘ Hoylake Golf Resort’ proposal are merely opportunistic housing developments and quit the soft soap.

 

                                                              Vexatious , Moi?

Wirral Council seemed to have backed off the desperate claim that Wirral Council taxpayer Charles Nunn is ‘vexatious’ for asking pertinent questions about the continuing employment of highly paid consultant Stewart Halliday . See their latest response here : Halliday FOI

Mr Nunn comments :

At last a part reply to my F.of Information request.
Halliday has had his contract extended for a further SIX MONTHS from 1st. January, 2018.
Another £90,000 odd from the Wirral Council Tax payer.
It may be worth a mention in your esteemed publication.
Charles

                           

                                           CGL:  “……and nobody seemed to care “

Many thanks to those who keep us appraised of national charity Change,Grow Live who are the grateful recipient of Wirral’s largest ( £7 million +) Public Health contract. Their latest mishap involves them in a massive data breach involving abandoned files found in an empty Tameside office  containing highly personal details about the lives of vulnerable young people – including abuse survivors. Once again we fear we have seen the future of health and social care. Be afraid, be very afraid.

CGL- Tameside

 

                                                     Posted Truth

A source writes :

By way of obscure and tenuous response to you excellent ‘Post Truth’ contribution/blog

… I am sending you this ‘Posted Truth’ image… I reckon you could say it is both a statement of fact…. and a protest. (Which I obviously feel to be a good thing).

Posted Truth

 

 

                                                       De-Stressed Eric 

A local barfly informs us :

Eric (Robinson) was recently seen in a pub in Liverpool when he should have been working – the pub being ‘Brew Dog’ dressed in casuals.
The council is no better than when we had the other 3 – it’s probably worse.

Now we can’t confirm whether Stressed Eric was on council duty or not whilst allegedly quaffing the craft ale – but we have to ask as to whether anyone would notice the difference ? Plus we simply don’t want to think about him dressed in his ‘casuals’.

Having said that we don’t need convincing that Wirral Council is worse than ever under his , ahem, ‘leadership’  As for ‘the other 3’ – whoever could they mean?!

       

                                               A Cautionary Tale

In Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2 we commented on recent developments where Mayor Joe Anderson was interviewed  by Merseyside Police ‘under caution’ in relation to the ongoing fraud probe involving Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others. We now hear of someone closer to home who it is alleged was also interviewed under caution by Merseyside Police in relation to an altogether different matter. However such are the extreme sensitivities surrounding this particular case we are precluded from reporting any further. Nevertheless we will be following developments with interest….

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #1

Following on from last week’s post and with our readers continuing to send us dispatches of despair from dystopia we thought we’d instigate a weekly foreign exchange. Be warned – it might not be weekly. We’ll be treating these titbits like we’re shopping in the local market – keeping it fresh,seasonal and whatever catches our eye.

Tag Hag 

Several of you have been in touch to tell us that Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram plans to fudge a mayoral election pledge to ‘slash’ Mersey Tunnel toll charges . It now transpires he wants to reduce tolls for off-peak fast tag users but to raise charges to £1.80 for everyone else ! We believe the word for this type of manoeuvre is sophistry. However all we can say on the matter is that the £1.70 we paid to get out of Wirral and onward to Liverpool John Lennon Airport for a flight to Nice was the best £1.70 we’ve ever spent. Just sayin’!

What’s in a Name?

We have been sent a very sad story about the death of a young man named Mark Potter –  Wirral Man,32, who died in his sleep was very much loved   

Mr Potter’s family attended the inquest and they repeatedly quizzed mental health workers about how their son would know how to access their services.

Mr Potter’s dad asked Marion Blackburn, from Wirral Ways To Recovery: “Since 2015, how many people have died in your care?

She replied: “We have learnt things and [we’re] to make changes to make things better for people.”

Mr Potter said: “How do we [the public] know you are there?

“People are falling down the cracks. I hope you’re sorting that organisation out because people like Mark might be dying all over the place.”

Needless to say we’ve long raised the same concerns about Wirral Ways To Recovery and particularly the services that operate under the Change Grow Live  (CGL) banner. This of course led to an investigation which concluded the high mortality rate associated with the takeover by CGL of services previously provided by NHS was due to an ageing population. We’re still not convinced.

Public Health england brought in to investigate concerns first raised by Wirral Leaks

Wirral Council are having Nunn of it !

What better way of avoiding scrutiny and accountability by pulling the ‘vexatious’ card from the bottom of the pack. The latest target of this dubious tactic is our old friend Charles Nunn – who has been denied information about consultant Stewart Halliday’s ongoing (?) inflated remuneration because he might say mean things on social media. Wirral Council solicitor Rosemary Lyon , who must be a delicate little flower ,  is also upset by Charles’ ‘tone’ and writes:

I consider that you as a third party are pursuing a legitimate interest.
However I consider that that legitimate interest has been lessened by the
tone of your request in asking the Council to confirm whether “there will
be no further contract extension for this man?”

I have had regard to the guidance issued by the ICO “Dealing with
vexatious requests (Section 14) 20151218 Version 1.3. Paragraph 56 states
that “The context and history in which a request is made will often be a
major factor in determining whether the request is vexatious.” Having
regard to your previous requests about the same individual and also having
regard to comments you have made in the public domain concerning this
individual, I consider that the tone of part of this request for
information is potentially vexatious.

I consider that the processing of personal data ie the release of personal
data in respect of  Mr Halliday is unwarranted  by reason of prejudice to
the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of him as the data
subject………..I consider that disclosure of the requested information would be
unwarranted having regard to the prejudice that would be caused to the
rights and legitimate interests of Stewart Halliday. 

For full details : Stewart Halliday FOI Request

Ms Lyon appears to have cut and paste her response from various other FOI cases she’s been involved with and one in particular which she suddenly withdrew from. Now that would be a really interesting FOI request for someone to make . The Lyon sleeps tonight? – might we suggest she’ll sleep soundly if she’s got her own solicitor to back her up in case she suffers any detriment for refusing to front a case for Wirral Council that is riddled with corruption. We can only hope the tone of that particular comment doesn’t upset Little Miss Snowflake too much!

All’s not well in Sandwell  

If Rosie Snowflake thinks she’s got it bad she needs to spare a thought for her old boss Surjit Tour who we know she admired immensely. As we’ve previously reported Tour is now fitting in nicely at Sandwell Council . We know this because we have been sent details of a threatening missive he sent last week to the magnificent local blog The Sandwell Skidder . Tour’s full hilarious rant including the immortal phrase ‘ excitable language’ can be read below, but we have to say that we’re a tad disappointed that we never received such a threat of legal action from Tour when he was at Wirral . Hmmmmm- why was that we wonder? He certainly wasn’t averse to issuing such threats as local blogger John Brace can testify. If he would have had the gonads to send such a threat to us we guarantee he would have got the same response from this Julian as he did from The Sandwell Skidder‘s very own Julian Saunders  :  

Dear Mr Saunders

Sandwell Skidder (“the Blog”)

Allegation of Harassment

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council.

The Council considers that your behaviour and conduct over the past few years cannot be left unchallenged any longer. Whilst it had hoped that your activities would die down over time it is clear that that has not happened and instead they have only increased. In addition to using your blog to attack Councillors and employees you are targeting the same individuals on Twitter and other social media sites. You are regularly seen outside of the Council offices seeking to obtain information.

The Council fully accepts that, as a body, it must be subject to criticism but as an employer it has a duty to its staff to ensure that they can work in peace and are not harassed and targeted, and a duty to Council tax-payers to ensure that their needs are not neglected whilst having to expend considerable time and effort trying to dealing with a persistent and vexatious individual such as yourself.

Whilst the Council has carefully considered whether there would be any merit in trying to engage in dialogue with you again unfortunately it does not seem to be possible or be likely to achieve any measure of success. Only today, 25th January 2018, you have posted a witness statement in a blog entitled “The Statement Sandwell don’t want you to see!” that was produced for a quasi-judicial standards hearing that was held on 24th January 2018. You were put on notice that the Council objected to the content of this statement yesterday. You have nonetheless gone ahead and not only published your statement but presented a skewed account of what took place.

The excitable language you use on your website is indicative of a motive to do damage. Unlike newspapers or news websites you fling out with abandon accusations of corruption and criminality against individuals. Nor do you appear to verify your accusations. Your persistent publication of a photograph of the Council leader with the captions on it, is designed to harass him. That is why you are doing it.

We would ask you to go through your blog and consider carefully the appropriateness of the accusations you are making and the language you are using.  The council requests that you remove all unfounded abusive/offensive remarks and images immediately.

We consider that when you do you should recognise that the language is excessive and much of the content inappropriate and together it is harassing of individuals and is unacceptable.

To that end, we are engaging specialist Counsel to assist us with this matter but would hope that you will take steps to ensure that no further action is in fact necessary.

For the avoidance of doubt, if action is taken by the Council, we will comply with the relevant pre-action protocols. At this stage, we hope you will act to ensure that there is no need to proceed any further.

If necessary, we reserve the right to show this letter to the court.

Yours sincerely

AND HERE IS MY REPLY:

To: Surjit Tour <Surjit_Tour@sandwell.gov.uk>
THIS IS NOT A PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION

My reply is – you are well out of order and can fuck off.

For the full response : An Exchange of Correspondence with Surjit Tour

 

The Leaky Awards 2017 – the Grand Finale

Fireworks

And so we finally reach the grand finale of the Leaky Awards 2017 and taking our cue from the #TimesUp  contingent at the Golden Globes we’ll be wearing black. The clock may been ticking down for us but may it also do the same on the abuse of power – wherever it takes place and in whatever form.

Times Up

However we’ll spare you the dreary , self-righteous speeches – it’s on with the show and our first award of the evening…….

Campaign of the Year

Winner – Defend Our NHS (Wirral)

The local branch of the DONHS have throughout the year provided us with information about future plans for the NHS  and particularly about Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) that should concern us all  , especially as Wirral Council are a key strategic player via the Clinical Commissioning Group.

davies

Runner Up – Wirral Needs

If only for the chant ” Labour Council listen to the people”. Our advice to them after  7 years of banging our head against a brick wall is that they won’t so you’ll  have to make them ! The only way they will be forced to listen is at your local constituency party meetings and in the run up to the local elections this May.  After that it’ll be the same old,same old – personal interest and political ambition taking precedence over the public interest. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!

Wirral Needs

Campaign Fail of the Year

Winner – Wirral Labour ‘Keep Wirral Green’ campaign

alternative-facts-3-013

How Wirral Labour reconciled this campaign with proposals and developments for assaults on the Green Belt at Saughall Massie, Hoylake and Thornton Hough etc; we can only hazard a guess but full marks for the sheer PR chutzpah .

Runner up  – Frank Field/Wirral Globe nurses car parking charges at Arrowe Park Hospital (aka Wirral University Teaching Hospital – WUTH )

Whilst it was undoubtedly a worthy campaign we noted how  WUTH CEO David Allison received the petition from Field, gave some bland assurances and then promptly disappeared in a cloud of controversy.We suspect that any incoming CEO will have their work cut-out just keeping WUTH afloat and car parking charges won’t be a priority . Meanwhile  we note that Field is strangely silent about more wide reaching proposals for car parking charges across Wirral that are set to be introduced by Wirral Council. And once again we have to ask is this the only income generation scheme that Wirral Council can come up with and is it even legal?

 

Allison field

David Allison : Yeah whatevs Frank I don’t need this right now. But love your tank top .

Comeback of the Year

Winner Esther McVey, MP for Tatton

Back from the dead

The former MP for Wirral West returns to high office as Work and Pensions Secretary in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle . Somehow this cat on a hot tin roof always manages to land on her kitten heels . And for all her talk of female empowerment we think that McVey is the quintessential beneficiary of modern day political nepotism , where ambition exceeds talent .  The only contribution of note to the local political scene when she was a Wirral West MP was when she hijacked the Martin Morton whistleblowing case for personal and political advantage at Prime Minister’s Questions (apparently Morton knew nothing about it) . What happened after she raised the issue with David Cameron is a particularly worrying episode but alas we won’t be able to do it justice here. Perhaps one day the full shameful tale will be told. 

Runner Up  Stewart Halliday – the economic migrant/consultant from York who crossed the Pennines escaping infamy to make his fortune on Wirral with his two consultancy stints earning him circa £200K. So will Wirral Council kindly tell us whether he’s still around and what exactly we got for our money?

smug-halliday

This man can do a powerpoint presentation and bullshit at the same time ! Therefore Wirral Council must give him as much money as they can.

Comrades of the Year – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) and Cllr Steve Foulkes (Foulkesy)

foulkesy-lrj-012

 

Were LRJ and Foulkesy separated at birth? Whilst they share so many characteristics none of them can be found in the Nolan Principles! See for yourself :

LRJ Standards Panel investigation report : The  Panel found the evidence of Cllr Louise Reecejones to be inconsistent,vague and misleading. The Panel did not therefore find Cllr Reecejones to be credible.

Foulkesy Standards Panel investigation report : I found it difficult to get Cllr Foulkes to be precise or detailed . His responses were vague,inclined to be evasive and I found them ‘economical with the truth ‘ and unconvincing. 

Yes, just the kind of low lifes we want making decisions about our lives,eh?

Accessories of the Year  –

Winner – Paula Basnett ,CEO Wirral Chamber of Commerce for those shoes.

Shoes

These understated little numbers were considered suitable daywear to shortlist nominees for yet another awards ceremony and did not in anyway reinforce our perception that Ms Basnett and her organisation are all about flash presentation and very little else.

Runner up All Wirral councillors wielding ‘Show Racism the Red Card’placards as a virtue signalling accessory. But especially the local Labour group who tolerate  racists in their midst. But can anyone spot Deputy Leader Cllr George Davies in the picture?

Screenshot_20171113-164701

Best Picture of Unwanted Copies of Wirral View

Winner 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Runner Up

wirral-view-twister-010

Whilst appropriately enough both pictures position copies of woeful Wirral View next to their final destination –  a bin – we’d like to think the winner of this category contributed to the dumping (no pun intended) of the original Liverpool -based distributor of Wirral View. Unfortunately a £750,000 3 year print deal with Trinity Mirror means we’re burdened with this lumbering white elephant for the forseeable future. Compare and contrast with Wirral Leaks which has cost council taxpayers of Wirral £0 and we would argue has been more effective in addressing the ‘information deficit’ of local people, particularly when we’ve been providing information that Wirral Council don’t want you to know about!

Wirral’s annual entry in Rotten Boroughs Awards 2017

Winner  Ex- Wirral councillor Jim Crabtree

Crabtree PE 012

Crabtree PE 009

Included in Private Eye’s  Rotten Boroughs 2017 ‘Quotes of the Year’ is this fine example of ‘doublespeak’ from former Wirral Councillor Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree. It’s a year to the day that Crabtree pleading guilty to offences under the Communications Act 2003 and it’s frightening to think that his well deserved fall from grace might never have happened if his increasingly appalling conduct hadn’t been reported on Wirral Leaks. As a quote from one of our Labour sources testifies when they raised concerns about Crabtree’s fitness to be a councillor    – “The comment from George Davies was ‘better the devil you know’ while Frank (Field) thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread” –  the local Labour group were reluctant to rein him in . Furthermore we understand that they failed to address allegations made by a whistleblower about grant monies which Crabtree allegedly should have paid back to Wirral Council.

Leaky awards   Leaky awardsLeaky awards

 

Advent Farewell 24 – Feeling the Pinch at Christmas

Pip Grinch

As we await Santa’s arrival at Leaky Towers we have been reflecting on money matters – as most of us do at this time of  the year. But in this instance we’re talking about Wirral Council (just for a change) .

Does anyone think it was a bit Grinch-like of  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies to announce plans at this week’s Labour Cabinet meeting for Wirral’s promenades and coastal walks to be subject to the same parking charges as our parks . This latest plan is projected to raise £245K per annum . Pip seems to be forever deriving pleasure from spoiling other people’s enjoyment of Wirral’s natural assets doesn’t he? Pip + The Grinch = The Pinch.

But does anyone think it is particularly obscene that at the same meeting (and behind closed doors obviously) the Cabinet made the recommendation to bung failed Super Duper Director Joe Blott £390K to get rid once and for all.  Is it just us who’s making the connection that rewards for failure are increasingly paid by us on a daily basis?

Isn’t it sickening to think that the likes of Blott and consultants like incompetent?/negligent?/corrupt? Stewart Halliday never have to feel the real pinch courtesy of  ‘The Pinch’. For when it comes to Wirral Council there’s always money for pay-offs , for consultants, for Frank Field’s pet projects and somehow income generation is not a concern when it comes to Wirral Chamber of Commerce and their peppercorn rents and gifts of public assets.

Meanwhile these are locations where you are going to have to scramble for change :

  • North Parade, Hoylake / Meols
  • South Parade, West Kirby
  • Derby Pool, Wallasey
  • Kings Parade, Wallasey
  • Gunsite, Wallasey
  • Leasowe Lighthouse

Might we suggest the change that really needs to come is at the local elections in May 2018.

Secret Chamber

york-council-chamber-guildhall-updated

Above is a picture of the rather splendid council chamber at York Guildhall.  The admirable  York Mix website tells us that it will be here next week that a group of senior councillors are challenging City of York Council (CYC) leader Cllr David Carr to publish  a ‘secret report’.

Secret Report

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our interest is piqued by the fact that we understand the report follows a Local Government Association (LGA) investigation into  what Stewart Halliday got up to before he landed a £200K +  ‘transformer’ gig at Wirral Council.

What also interests us is the sheer persistence of CYC councillors in pursuing this matter in the public interest. Can you imagine Wirral Council’s equivalent to CYC’s Audit & Governance Committee writing a cross- party letter to the leader of the Council asking for a report to published in the name of openness and transparency?

Indeed if they were doing their jobs properly there’s a particular ‘secret report’ that Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee should be asking to be published. The sad fact is that half of this committee don’t even know what report we’re referring to and the other half know exactly what report we are referring to and are choosing to sweep the matter under the Wallasey Town Hall carpet !

 

 

 

Comfortably Dumb

This Bitch be Trippin'

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our trans -pennine correspondent Charles Nunn is most definitely on the Stewart Halliday case ( even if our local public servants haven’t been -or more accurately- don’t want to be).

Charlie Boy tells us :

As you probably know Mark Warters submitted a F.of I. request to York to try and establish whether, or not there was a conversation between Robinson and their C.E.O. about Halliday`s contract extension.

You may recall my request to Wirral told me that Robinson was “comfortable” with it.
This is what Cllr Warters sent to City of Council York’s FOI bod Cath Murray:

Dear Cath,

I understand that former CYC employee Mr S. Halliday currently employed by Wirral Council has had his contract/placement recently extended to the end of the year there and a conversation took place between the Wirral Chief Executive and the CYC Chief Executive that led to Wirral Council concluding that “there is no impediment to Stewart Halliday’s continued appointment with Wirral Council”

I would like to submit a FOI act request for the following;

(i) Confirmation that the conversation (s) took place and if emails were exchanged copies of the correspondence.

(ii) Copies of all correspondence between CYC and Wirral Council in relation to Mr Halliday’s employment.

Thank you for your assistance.

Regards,

Cllr. Mark Warters

As you can see from our pic below Cllr Warters perfectly reasonable request met with institutional obstruction and inevitably foundered on the grounds of  ‘ personal data’.
CYC 020
Charles tells us :
As I suspected. Refused on the grounds of “confidentiality” although it may well have cost the Wirral Council Tax payers over £200,000 in total for taking on a shyster.
How frequently we get that response from Councils.
How indeed – but then when we get ‘public servants’  who appear to be prepared to sacrifice their professional integrity for the price of the opportunity to peruse the Boden catalogue at their leisure what are we to expect?
Time to wake up and realise that this is how it works folks – private phone calls between CEOs on the public purse. Massive public expenditure all done on a nod and a wink.
Know your place serfs – you’re just there to pay for the executive lifestyles. Leave our betters to get through Monday to Friday with the least possible effort. Please allow them to have comfortable lives at our expense. It’s the least they deserve.
Although it should be said we all deserve somewhat better.

Local Government Association – Hand In Glove With The Glove Puppets

Glove Puppet
Today we have decided take the Trans-Pennine Express and visit our friends in York. Not only to update you all on Stewart Halliday affair but to enable us to vent about local government in general and the Local  Government Association (LGA) in particular.
Firstly we’d like to thank the excellent website York Mix for providing comprehensive coverage of the bounteous beneficence bestowed from Stewart to Stuart aka  ‘ The Goulden Showers’.
For those who can’t decipher this code might we suggest you read an introduction here : Transparency v Secrecy
Here you will find independent City of York (CYC) councillor Mark Warters showing up our supine Wirral councillors for the waste of space that they are and daring to ask pertnent questions in a CYC Audit & Governance meeting about a draft LGA report into the Halliday affair that has been with the council for some time :

 

“And according to the people who really run the council – the senior officers – this report, even after it has been sanitised between the council’s HR department and the LGA, is to remain secret. Are you as a committee willing to condone this state of affairs? He said the committee should insist on seeing the “full, unsanitised draft report”. Otherwise it would confirm the scenario “that elected members are merely the glove puppets of the senior officers riding the local authority gravy train”.

Further understanding on how things work in York, in local government and indeed closer to home can be found in the following report on the Supply Management website:

The Local Government Association (LGA) was called in to review procurement at the council in the wake of controversy over how consultancy services were acquired in the past.

The LGA said procurement was held in high regard internally, with “many solid achievements” and delivering “good quality services”, but it was “subject to heightened scrutiny in York due to past internal control issues”.

“There remains a negative external perception of council procurement, including among members of the public,” said the report. “This negative perception needs to be addressed if the council is to secure public confidence in its procurement processes and the wider corporate governance arrangements.”

A previous audit report by Veritau in November 2016 focused on the appointment of a communications consultant and their associated company between 2013 and 2016. One particular chief officer, who no longer works for the council, was found to be mainly responsible for employing and making payments to the consultant and the company. These totalled more than £174,000.

The audit could find no material to back up claims contract procedures were followed. “At best this represents a failure to be transparent and to retain all relevant procurement documentation,” said the report. “However, it seems likely that there was a failure to follow proper procurement processes, including obtaining written quotations, ensuring sufficient potential suppliers were approached and agreeing a formal contract.”

The LGA review, carried out in June 2017, said it was “reassured to find that the council has a good corporate procurement function and that the compliance issues are being addressed”.

“However, as the council itself recognises, there is more to do in regard to procurement’s enabling role within the council’s developing commissioning framework and to address the residual negative perceptions of historical procurement issues.”

Full article can be read here : Negative Public Image
Doesn’t the excruciating, bureaucratic language of the LGA make ya wanna puke? Unfortunately this wretched organisation is stuffed to the gills with highly paid nonentities who think that what goes on in local government can be anonymised, rationalised and sanitised as long as it involves one of their own.
Fortunately for the truth -seekers out there we understand that after the meeting Cllr Warters collared the LGA representative giving the public report into procurement at City of York Council (CYC) as he left the meeting and left him in no doubt that the Halliday/Goulden business will end up with the police.
Now this is the kind of local representation we are crying out for and reinforces our long held view that INDEPENDENT candidates are the way to go and that DIVISIVE PARTY POLITICS HAS NO PLACE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT and that the LGA ARE HAND IN GLOVE WITH THE GLOVE PUPPETS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT .
Even closer to home we are grateful that local resident Charles Nunn understands the issues at stake and comprehends that someone with apparently no understanding of even the most basic concepts of public procurement can wangle a near cool £200K + gig from long suffering Wirral Council tax payers :
I find it somewhat ironic that the major political upheaval in York is over dodgy contracts worth £175,000. Halliday, courtesy of the ever benevolent Wirral Council Tax payer, will be bunged about £50k more than that as a result of his contract extension.
Read it and weep.

Consultant Insults – Continued

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The long running saga involving Wirral Council’s love of costly external consultants continues.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/consultant-insults/

As following on from our interims story – The £Million Interims – we understand that there are full details knocking about of consultants performing an interim role for Wirral Council.

However the people who actually pick up the DAILY tab of £8,404 – that’s us folks! – apparently aren’t allowed to know who we are paying, what we’re paying and what we’re paying them for – go figure!

This is because Wirral Council consider the information to be confidential and the poor downtrodden consultants that are not directly employed by the Council will have confidentiality preserved when it comes to cold hard cash.

Huh ?! – not at Wirral Council it won’t, especially when much of the information is rightly already in the public domain. We think that whoever  made up this diktat on the hoof realises that someone who does work for a local authority and is paid with Council taxpayers money somehow has a right to keep their paypacket a secret is not a particularly convincing argument.

That might explain why they usually throw in ‘commercial confidentiality’ as an additional back up as to why the Council need to keep a lid on the gory details of their expensive consultancy habit.  Apparently it could inhibit the Council from recruiting future interims. Whaaaat?! – can we therefore assume that the remuneration listed on recruitment sites will just henceforth state : ‘ Fill yer boots !’

It’s such a shame that the information about the 18 interims that are currently on the Council payroll is not more readily available as we’re sure that Wirral Council taxpayers would find it most illuminating/infuriating . Indeed we’re sure that one of Wirral Leaks’ regular contributors , Charles Nunn, will be particularly pleased to hear that we understand that Stewart Halliday’s contract , at a daily rate of £705 , and which was due to end in August has now been extended to the end of 2017.

However it should be noted that ‘Happy’ Halliday is not the highest paid interim on the list. We understand that accolade goes to Surjit Tour’s replacement . Philip McCourt ,the interim Assistant Director – Law & Governance has to get by on a mere £800 a day …….making him pro rata , at £200K + per annum, on more than Wirral Council’s CEO, Eric Robinson.

Wirral Council watchers may find some consolation in knowing that one of the 5 ‘transformers’ on the list , Martin Liptrot, finds himself ranked 16th out of the 18 interims listed in terms of his day rate – a paltry £350!

And finally before we go we’d just like to inform our readers that we’ll be taking a long overdue summer break throughout August – unless of course THAT story breaks . In the interim (!) we’ll  be considering how we co-ordinate the ‘managed decline’ of Wirral Leaks when we return in the autumn.

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Comings and Goings

Pit 011

If you want to play the Wirral Council  corporate game be prepared to get down and dirty!

Last night’s Employment and Appointments Committee officially confirmed our previous reports that Wirral Council’s Head of Law / Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour is leaving Wirral Council.

There were no glowing eulogies from committee members at the announcement that Wirral Council was engaging a recruitment agency to find his replacement. Furthermore Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ran through further proposals for senior management personnel changes to implement his New Operating Model – or should that be Non -Operating Model?  This included the appointment of a Director of Children’s Services on an increased salary of £115,000. This was justified with the usual excuse that we have to pay top whack to get the very best. To which we can say it hasn’t worked in the past so why will it work now? What has clearly been demonstrated by previous CEO Graham Burgess’s appointment of Super Directors which has been an abject and costly failure. And let’s not get on to Stressed Eric himself!

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=197&MId=6003&Ver=4

Of course we know that Tour was on his merry way  but curiously there was (inevitably) an exempt item on the agenda which we understand involved discussions about yet another high profile departure who has been allowed to slip the net (if you get our drift).  Suffice to say there’ll be more on that particular catch of the day at a later date.

As Surjit didn’t exit to rapturous appreciation for all he’s done for the people of Wirral we thought we’d do the decent thing and give him the eulogy he deserves.

However we’ll leave it to a clearly well placed source to provide a fitting tribute to Tour which consists of a comment from ‘ Whatever’ that is far too good to languish in our replies section. For those who may have missed it we reproduce that comment in full  below. What it demonstrates to us yet again is that Wallasey Town Hall is the absolute pits. Whilst we’ve known about the infamous ‘Sex List’ for sometime and referenced it previously it stands as the epitome of how low senior managers will go to get their man (or woman). As we commented :

So it would seem that the ‘dig the dirt’ tactic is a favourite approach of senior council officers when faced with a pesky employee who won’t play the corporate game, have served their purpose or they just want shut of. We’re wondering whether it was a trick that Norman picked it up at Wirral Council or it was part of his legacy that he left behind? We say this as we are reliably informed that two acting very senior officers at Wirral Council went digging for dirt from staff in an infamous case from 2015 .The dirt concerned allegations of sexual impropriety involving a now departed senior council officer . So far, so sordid. However, for us , what is even more sleazy is that the approach came with the  inducement that it would be beneficial to staff member’s careers if they dished the dirt. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you have absolutely no morals,ethics or integrity. What did we say in yesterday’s post about Wallasey Town Hall being a cesspit?

Dirty Work

We can only hope that the next victim of the ‘Curse of Leaky Towers’ is slimy Deputy CEO David Armstrong ( and we know how upset he gets being badmouthed on social media). He can boo-hoo all the way the bank as as far as we’re concerned as in his own way, he’s absolutely everything that’s wrong with Wirral Council. In another time and another place and where the get out was ‘ I was only following orders’ he’d be a very dangerous man indeed.

Meanwhile courtesy of ‘Whatever’ here’s ‘Surjit’s Eulogy’ :

I hope we can send to Mr Tour’s new employer a list of Wirral tax payers issues as the tax payers of York did with Mr Halliday.

Mr Tour’s replacement will have a long list of “things to do” which he/she should read asap –

For example perhaps, whatever happened to the letter signed by Mr Foulkes (probably written by labour policy adviser and Labour scrutiny support) sent to Mr Wilkie outlining in a way not appropriate for public office ( yet more training needs) just what Mr Foulkes et al thought about Mr Wilkies staff structure which included the promotion of none other than Ms Degg to deputy CEO ?

Indeed what happened to those 2 people (Adviser and Scrutiny) from Leeds way *  (* Hebden Bridge actually) ?- well whatever you say about Norman, he was the only one who at least tried to tackle them. Norman left and Mr Tour picks up the rotten dirty baton and title. Did Mr Tour prevent the “not in line with guidelines” payments made to one of those women – er, no and has he closed this case or as he let it drift into obscurity, a key feature of Tour is drift, drift long enough and it will be forgotten.

These 2 women were loyal supporters of Foulkes, (nothing wrong with that other than inconsequent personal opinions on bad judgement) when Mr Foulkes was told to get legal advice after his letter writing. Cllr Foulkes stood down as forever leader and up popped Mr Davies, who was told to drop the supporters or no leadership role for him. Mr Davies did as he was told for the sake of group or himself and his awaiting career of leadership.

Can’t quite remember the figure of toxic debt written off, in the high millions, these 2 women summoned the Council directors separately to go to Leeds (or wherever it is up that way) where they would “tell” the directors what their budgets were. Everyone knew it was these 2 women running WMBC for years Foulkes was the willing puppet and the Directors racking up excessive mileage claims for Wirral Tax payers to pay.

Mr Davies had to be trained in fist clenching and smoke screens, up pops Mr Field with some tale of whistleblowers and Hespe contracts (Labour group hated with a passion anyone who was perceived to work too closely with Cllr Green .. Ms Degg and Mr Green to name 2). Did Mr Tour ever write a letter to Frank Field telling him that WMBC is not his private purse to pursue his smoke screens with payments to non whistleblowers ?

So back to Ms Degg, well we have all read and heard enough about Ms Degg and what we consider to be un sound judgement on the men in her life but that is of no concern to us unless it prevented her from carrying out her paid function, whatever that was. However when it does become our business is when 2 members of staff are paid off one via the ever helpful EVR (normally given to failed directors without spine and employee jumpers) and the other a recent settlement. These 2 members of staff were hauled in by Mr Armstrong Ms Hyams and of course the ever present in the shadows “it wasn’t me” Tour, this trio on our behalf felt compelled to get to the bottom of £48k payment made to Ms Degg by one of the too many ex chief execs as an apology again on our behalf for not becoming the deputy chief exec and for the hurt feelings caused by the school ground tactics of certain Labour councillors and senior officers (including the Trio). If only they wouldn’t but again on our behalf this highly paid Trio (with the knowledge of Cllr Phil Davies) asked, no demanded to know the ins and outs of Ms Degg’s sex life, asked for rumours anything these 2 members had on Ms Degg.
Thank the lord these 2 members of staff stuck two fingers up to the bullying trio .

“list of things to do”; clearly through actions Mr Tour thought this payment made to Ms Degg (although he must of agreed it in the first place) was unlawful in some way.

The 2 well liked members of staff wouldn’t play ball and you didn’t get your own underhand way, Tour, Hyams (who really didn’t like Degg and the feeling was mutual) and Armstrong (who once was a nice bloke I hear) even though 2 of the trio pulled out the appalling and should be left for the movies, tactic ” signing the statements would / would not help their careers”

The poor person going round asking for money for Tour’s leaving present probably stopped saying “awww he’s a nice man its a shame” pdq. I don’t think it was his match made in heaven (how many grievances !!) PA who accepted her redeployment to Tour’s PA role with “I’m not working for him” but soon shut up when she realised she was onto a good thing, the amount she read and helped shred would, like her boss keep her in a job as long as she wanted it.”