Is There Anything Wrong With This Page?

Is there anything wrong 009.JPG

We notice that the Taxpayer’s Alliance have published their annual list of the highest paid, so called, public servants . You know , the ones we pay through the nose so they can keep their noses in the trough – purely because they can speak BS and do a powerpoint presentation AT THE SAME TIME! Glory be! we need to grovel in admiration!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15216874.Wirral_Council_bosses_back_on_the_Town_Hall_Rich_List___and_one_earns_more_than_the_PM/

Needless to say Wirral Council features on the list.

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/taxpayersalliance/pages/6911/attachments/original/1491491587/Town_Hall_Rich_List_Master.pdf?1491491587

To which a couple of our commentators responded as follows :

‘Good to know town hall fat cats across the country are doing their bit in the face of savage guvmint cuts by awarding themselves massive pay rises. 
Funny that Wirral Council is cutting adult social care at the same time it’s introducing an adult social care precept. 
Not hard to guess which adults it is providing care for…..Step forward Blotto and Feeble.’
As they stole ‘Blotto’ and ‘Feeble’ from us . We’re stealing ‘guvmint’ . Genius!
Meanwhile someone who seems to have spent some time at the newly opened, glorified ‘yoof club’ that is ‘The Hive’ says :
‘Forget ASBOs – it’s these MOFOs that have caused downfall of society. 4 real! ‘
Who are we to disagree?

Meanwhile an exasperated Wirral Council officer shakes their head and with hands on their hips says:

“This information is published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance every year, and every year is inaccurate.

In this particular case, the salary quoted for the chief executive is wrong – and there are no council officers earning more than £300,000.”

Might we humbly suggest that the £371,848 remuneration to an ‘unknown strategic director’ best known for smoking, shagging and fighting included a £250,000 bung for him to slither off to the Wirral Chamber of Commerce?  We may be wrong, but let’s face it, we very rarely are!

The deeply aggrieved Wirral Council mouthpiece helpfully points us towards the Wirral Council website for clarification:

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/about-council/performance-and-spending/chief-officer-pay

It is interesting to note that at the end of the page it asks the pertinent question:

IS THERE ANYTHING WRONG WITH WITH THIS PAGE?

To which we at Leaky Towers can only reply : ‘Hell, yes!, where do we begin?’

For starters – Eric ‘ Feeble’ Robinson is on £178K ? – everything that is wrong with the world right there when that elusive mediocrity is on that kind of money.

As for Blott/Armstrong/Hassall – they were put on God’s green earth to be despised by us. They have succeeded. They now need to take their pensions and disappear.

We reserve judgement on Fish as apparently she had a bit of beef with Emma Degg and the former unexpectedly won. Go Clare!

Paul Satoor as Transformation Director is a new one on us. Jeezus his Department must be bigger than Dr Jekyll’s laboratory. But with the same results – full of havoc-wreaking, cash guzzling monsters like Mr Halliday, sorry Mr Hyde.

The rest of the list is a dispiriting roll call of overpaid nonentities but we were particularly drawn to the name Nicola Butterworth. Any relation to ‘Stressed Eric’ acolyte Stephen Butterworth? Or shall we just rejoice in the influx of Butterworths to Wirral that make all our lives just so much better?

Is there anything wrong 010

Transformers

Transformer

Take a walk on the mild side.

A frightened and downtrodden Wirral Council employee has written to us to throw some light of the ‘transformation agenda’ and throw some shade on those responsible for it :
“I’m a regular reader of your blog and would like to say congratulations on the good work you do. I am also a Wirral Council minion so although I have often wanted to contribute I kept quiet.  But I am moved to write by reading all about the amounts the council is spending on ‘Transformation’ consultants. In your blog you asked if anyone knew about the ‘interim head of transformation’.  I can tell you some things that might help. The interim head of transformation is called Stephen Butterworth.  He previously worked in Staffordshire with Eric Robinson, and has been working at Wirral since Eric got him in in the summer of 2015…….. He certainly makes sure everyone knows how close he is to Eric.  I would reckon that the amount mentioned in the  (Wirral) Globe has to be a tiny fraction of what he has pocketed so far.
The council have just appointed a Director of Transformation and already have a Senior Manager of  Transformation, they are now trying to recruit a temporary Head of Business Change as well as the ‘interim head of transformation’, not to mention Stewart Halliday and Jane Clayson – the programme managers all with their noses in the trough. 
Butterworth’s achievements so far in Wirral appear to be absolutely nothing but spending tax money on overpaid consultants.  I think he is the one driving all this crap about ‘alternative delivery models’, but nobody dares to argue with him because he’ll just run off to Eric.  
I read that he was on the interview panel for Liptrot’s job.  No wonder Eric couldn’t stop Phil Davies employing his mate, as Eric has brought his own mate in in the same way just not with as much publicity. 
  
It is disgusting that the council is spending so much on these vultures when services are being cut.
Our source did indeed call it correct when they said that they read somewhere that Butterworth sat on the interview panel that ‘appointed’ Liptrot to the post of ‘Investor Development Manager’
We reported it here first : Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe
Indeed Conservative councillor Lesley Rennie damned us with faint praise at last night’s Extraordinary Council meeting to discuss ‘The Liptrot Affair’ by revealing that she only found about who was on the Liptrot appointment panel  : ‘ via Wirral Leaks. Thank goodness for them in some ways, but that’s no way to run an open and transparent Council ‘ (cue muffled jeers from the Labour benches).
You can see footage of this revelation at 20.50 of John Brace’s recording here :
However just to clarify we understand the panel didn’t actually appoint Liptrot(sky) – Cllr Davies aka Power Boy Pip did – but let’s not split heirs (to a fortune)!
We also note from last night’s meeting how Pip and co were doing the ‘affronted maiden aunt’ routine – a trick no doubt picked up from Auntie Frank Field’s repertoire – a man who has feigned outrage down to a fine art – and were bemoaning the ‘ lambasting’ of poor ,defenceless public servant Liptrot(sky).
However if the ruling Wirral Council administration continue to make a series of dubious high cost appointments, what do they expect?  Public scrutiny and ‘distasteful’ criticism comes with the territory and if Liptrot doesn’t like it he can fly off back to Florida!

An Extraordinary Council

an-extraordinary-council-010

An email has been sent to all Members of the Council concerning an extraordinary meeting to take place to discuss the urgent appointment to the soon to be notorious/infamous  ‘Investor Development Manager’ post

To all Members of the Council

Dear Councillor,

Would you please note that the Mayor has called an extraordinary meeting of the Council to be held on Monday, 6 March, 2017, at 5.30pm.

This extraordinary meeting has been called at the request of 24 Members, in accordance with Standing Order 1(4), to consider a Notice of Motion in respect of the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ (requisition notice attached).

This extraordinary meeting will precede the Budget Council meeting which will be held at 6.00pm, or upon the rising of the 5.30pm meeting, whichever is the later.

A summons for the meeting will be published nearer the time.

The story has already been reported here:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15056994.Twist_in_the_tale_as_special_meeting_called_after_Wirral_councillors_are_banned_from_asking_questions_over_new_business_chief/

And previously a report to Cabinet on 16 January 2017  dealt with the appointment as follows…

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

A request for the extraordinary meeting of the Council was called by 24 opposition councillors as  ‘we believe that the creation of this post requires further scrutiny, to enable council to decide whether it is justified’.

However the extraordinary meeting has been called for 6th March – AFTER the appointment has been made! Which rather suggests to us that the matter was NOT ‘urgent’ in the first place and in fact the waiver was a means of preventing anyone asking any awkward questions as to why , at a time of cuts and punitive charging measures , that the council taxpayers of Wirral are being asked to fund Council leader Power Boy Pip’s special friend to hobnob in the South of France at their expense as apparently one of the ‘key events’ is described as follows : ‘MIPIM Cannes is the premier event in the European Real Estate calendar and has become Europe’s showcase for major cities, property developments, investment opportunities and international networking’

http://www.liverpoolvision.co.uk/MIPIM/

Nice work if you can get it and you can get it – even when it’s a politically restricted post and you’re part of a corrupt political cabal!

We’re also becoming increasingly concerned by the role of the Assistant Chief Executive David Armstrong’s enabling role and his very dodgy decision making in the absence of the Chief Executive  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric seems to have abdicated all responsibility when it comes to decisions which may come back and bite him on his plushly upholstered backside. Meanwhile Armstrong seemingly sails serenely towards a sizeable pension pot and is quite happy to acquiesce to whatever his political paymasters ask of him. Witness also his decision to commission Nick Warren to stitch up the council taxpayers over the ‘Wirralgate’ scandal in the power/moral vacuum that followed Graham Burgess’s hasty departure and proceeded Stressed Eric’s appointment.

All of which leads us to conclude that ‘bureaucratic machinations’ doesn’t come close to describing how Wirral Council operates and what makes it  truly ‘ an extraordinary council’ for all the wrong reasons!

SPECIAL REPORT : Where Your Money Goes

where-your-money-goes

It must be this time of year, as we’ve been musing on money matters (or rather lack thereof). Clearly Wirral Council have been doing the same as they gear up to set their forthcoming budget and pursue a number of punitive charging regimes to offset central government funding cuts.

Yeah,yeah, yeah – we get it when they drone on about how badly they’ve been done to by central government and they have to make tough choices and priorities. But that’s what we take issue with Wirral Council here at Leaky Towers – it’s the choices that they make which indicate to us that their priorities are all wrong. Consequently they lose all moral authority when they start bleating about lack of finances.

So let’s take a quick look at where that money comes from and where it goes :

As we all know Wirral Council’s income stream is increasingly going to be us via Council Tax and any supplementary fund raising scams they can come up with.We look forward to their budget proposals now that they’ve been given the go ahead by central government to put up Council Tax by 3% to pay for the rising costs of social care. Rather frighteningly they also have the the opportunity to raise even more money via this route.Surrey County Council are looking at a total Council Tax rise of 15% but to do so they would have to put it to the local vote. We suggest that this is not something that the ruling group at Wirral Council wouldn’t risk but nothing ,nothing would surprise us about this shower of chancers.

David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, announces proposal to seek a council tax rise of 15%

So , down to business –  we’ve previously discussed the charming operatives from Kingdom Secrurity and their cash for trash extortion agency for the Council. As anyone who has seen a Kingdom Security in action – they go after vulnerable people who don’t have the means to  retaliate . Much like the people they get their contract off.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/cash-for-trash/

It’s not  about caring for the environment. Neither are other money-making scams devised by an increasingly desperate council. Similarly their car park charging proposals have absolutely nothing to do with maintaining the roads or traffic measures. It’s all about the moolah. Your moolah! – so cash cows out there prepare your teats for action as they’re going to be bled dry.

Park and Get Taken For A Ride

We’ve already reported the squandering of £80,000 on the appointment of an Investor Development Manager – rumoured to be a shoo-in for current leading Wirral Council puppet master Martin Liptrot.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-power-abusers/

Which again begs the question as to why there isn’t someone on a humongous salary with the requisite skills at Wirral Council – because well ,apparently there just isn’t ! Let’s not even mention what the likes of David Armstrong, Clare Fish and Joe Blott  get paid  – if you throw in Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson that’s half a million big ones per annum between them.

Never mind the recent ridiculous ‘Are Wirral’s 66 councillors Value For Money?’ exercise conducted by themselves and to which the unsurprising answer was a resounding YES! – how about we have a VFM consultation on the above gang of four/flaw? – especially when we consider the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services.

This has necessitated the appointment of troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil and former Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Maggie Atkinson as the new ‘independent’ chairwoman of Wirral Safeguarding Children’s Board. The appointment of such big hitters suggests us to that Children’s Services is in an even bigger mess than the Ofsted report indicated. Not that we’ll ever know because the Children’s Services Improvement Board meets behind closed doors. Lessons have obviously been learned from the last Improvement Board – no openness, no transparency, no public accountability suits the powers that be. We’re just asked to stump up the bill.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15032232.Government_troubleshooter_who_dealt_with_aftermath_of_Baby_P_scandal_to_lead_rescue_of_Wirral_children_s_services/

These consultants seem to be mainly tasked with finding out why Wirral Council can’t recruit and retain staff in Children’s Services. We can tell them free of charge : because it’s rammed with poor calibre middle managers who bully their staff on the instructions of passive/aggressive senior managers who earn a nice wedge spouting platitudes and duping councillors.Plus the fact that who in their right mind would want to do Child Protection work in Birkenhead. Think about that for a moment  – beyond grim.

Another drain on resources that we never to get to hear about are the court cases that Wirral Council get ensnared in because they simply don’t know the difference between right and wrong….but they’ve got plenty of well paid people particularly in the HR and Law Departments who are prepared to blur the lines between the two in return for a big fat salary. We understand that there’s a court case coming up at the end of this month that could prove to be the defining moment of how Wirral Council chooses to ‘move forward’.

We’ll keep you posted.

The Leaky Awards 2016

leakys-2016

No disrespect to the local worthies who voluntarily undertake good deeds ,  but we have a natural aversion at Leaky Towers to honours and awards given to people who either have :  a)  made a lot of money ( well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money… if what you want to do is make a lot of money….) or b) achieved riches and recognition for doing something they love ( while everyone else tediously toils away in jobs they hate with people they loathe just so they don’t end up living on the street).

Patronage for peerages has brought the awards system into total disrepute and we doff our hereditary ermine trimmed coronet to the increasing number who have turned down the tawdry badge of dishonour that the New Year’s Honours List has become.

We have three words on the subject of honours: “Sir” Jimmy Savile.

We have three words on the subject of awards : Most Improved Council.

Therefore we consider the annual Leaky Awards the natural antidote to the sordid status quo and rejoice in the fact that the awards that we bestow at Wirral Leaks are much more representative of the charlatans who run the show than the complicit smiley celebrities and their gleaming gewgaws.

Awards Award – ….and the winner is the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Awards ceremonies appear to be the entire rationale for this empire building, family-run organisation. Whilst it appears to be a mere excuse for pouting Paula Basnett to buy another frock and flaunt the spray tan we need to remember the public grants and public properties that come their way and ask ourselves do we really want the non-elected personal empire building Basnett clan running a never-ending awards show at public expense?

Labour Councillor of the Year – This is obviously an inaugural award as in previous years this would be an oxymoron (or in some cases – just moron) . However this year we’d like to offer the award jointly to  Cllr Anita Leech and Cllr Christina Muspratt for annoying  fellow Labour councillors Foulkesy and Matron McLaughlin respectively. The former did so by casting the deciding vote at a recent Planning Committee whilst a clearly agitated Foulkesy laid the foundation for a potential appeal by questioning the planning process (see Campaign of the Year below). This is staggering hypocrisy coming from someone who has regularly circumvented due process in the name of managing his (bad) reputation.But then Foulkesy has built an entire political  career on being hardfaced and shameless so this should come as no surprise to anyone. Meanwhile Muspratt was the inspiration behind a tetchy display from McLaughlin as the latter tried to shut down Muspratt for trying to hold council officers to account over their failure to appraise staff. However as we know this is not how the Matron rolls – personal loyalties to officers will always take precedence over public accountability.

Quote of the year  – “From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council). Now we don’t know whether Stressed Eric has been buying some powerful hallucinogenics with his megabucks salary but this can surely be the only explanation for this ludicrous claim that Wirral Council is the pinnacle of local government. When it comes to public service peak performance we’re talking more Moel Famau than Mount Everest!

Runner-up : ” It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first …….” (Eric Robinson talking about Wirral Council’s decision to publish Wirral View ) “Until I was told to get back under my desk ….”  he might of added to prove once again why he’s the perfect CEO for Wirral Council.

Publication of the year –  Wirral Council  yawn-fest Wirral View . Having seemingly failed to a) attract advertisers  b) sort out its distribution problems or c) address anyone’s ‘information deficit’ this award is in recognition of the fact that Wirral View could soon become a collector’s item .We advise those who’ve actually received a copy should retrieve it from the cat’s litter tray or the budgie’s cage , as with the threat of central government intervention hanging over it it may not be around for  much longer!

Runner up – Cllr Tony Jones’ (aka Tones) election publication which broke election rules by failing to show name of agent, candidate or printer on the leaflet.  As one of our eagle-eyed readers has pointed out Tones does not seem to have learned any lessons from this faux pas as strangely he is the only one of Wirral Council’s 66 councillors whose council email contact details are not included with the Council mugshots in Wirral View. Campaign Fail  

Campaign of the Year –  ‘Save our Greenbelt – Say NO to the Firestation’  campaign may, thanks ultimately to the casting vote of  Cllr Leech than the campaigning local Conservatives , halted plans to build a fire station on green belt land in Saughall Massie.

However it will be interesting to see if Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service submit an appeal whether this continuing fight ends up being thwarted by powerful interests as was the ill fated Save Girtell Court campaign.

Similar can be said of the Stop Hoylake Golf Resort campaign who are arguably up against even more powerful interests as Wirral Council attempt a ‘money no object’ bid to ensure even more Wirral green belt is sacrificed to enable a housing development in the guise of a ‘golf resort’ to go ahead.

We’ll be following both campaigns in 2017 with great interest.

Picture of the year

jeremy-corbyn-cooking-at-the-neo-community-cafe

There is so much going on in this picture than ‘Jezza Makes Pizza For Starving Mites’. The supporting cast – Frank Field MP , Cllr McLaughlin, Cllr Meaden , Margaret Greenwood MP makes for fascinating viewing if we consider the various political intrigues,allegiances and betrayals that occurred throughout 2016 . However what intrigues us most on the right of the picture , ‘recording’ events for posterity, is the presence of ‘Person C’ . Adding further intrigue to the local political scene we understand the former political editor of the Liverpool Echo and reluctant witness in the Wirralgate saga has, for reasons unknown, apparently ceased working for the council’s favoured external publication ……….

 

Panto Season

Fairy Godmother Frank.jpg

The Fairy Godfather

Some might say it’s always panto season at Wirral Council but we think it officially kicks off at tonight’s full council meeting which features a special guest appearance from whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro.

To join in the festive fun Wirral Leaks have been working on a pantomime production of our very own . Coming soon is ‘ Pipperella’  which is our unique take on the Cinderella story starring the following :

Pipperella – Cllr  Phil Davies aka Power Boy Pip. Will Pipperella be asked to attend the Queen’s Ball to pick up an OBE or even better a knighthood for services to the BS industry and the business community?

The Ugly Sisters –  Cllr Steve Foulkes / Cllr George Davies aka Foulkesy and Georgie . Typecasting we know  !. Will Foulkesyetta and Georgetta De Combova spoil Pipperella’s plans by their bungling incompetence and inability to tell the truth?

Wicked Stepmother – Cllr Moira McLaughlin aka Matron. Will the bossy old trout continue with her unquestioning devotion to the unworthy?

Baron Hardup – Asif Hamid aka  Massive. Will struggling millionaire get another grant of public money and bail everyone out of trouble?

Dandini – Paula Basnett aka Pouting Paula . Will the dandy highwaywoman break the budget with awards ceremonies and costume changes?.

Prince Charm Offensive   – Martin Liptrot aka Liptrotsky .  Will  Wirral Council ‘cheerleader’  ensure that Pipperella has a happy ending ?

Buttons –  Wirral Council  Chief Executive Eric Robinson aka Eric Feeble/Stressed Eric. Will the one who doesn’t get paid ‘buttons’ get out from under his desk and do the right thing?

and finally

The Fairy Godfather – Frank Field aka Frankenfield  . Will all troubles disappear with one swish of his magic wand? –  be it hunger , poverty or protecting your political agent with public money !………

The Pain of Failure

pain

 

Now that we’ve had time to fully absorb Ofsted’s less than flattering  inspection report of Wirral’s Children’s Services we thought we’d wade in with our thoughts.

The horrorshow of a report speaks for itself :

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/local_authority_reports/wirral/051_Single%20inspection%20of%20LA%20children%27s%20services%20and%20review%20of%20the%20LSCB%20as%20pdf.pdf

So having last week made our position on the latest Wirral Council car crash clear we’d particularly like to concentrate on the debris .

Inevitably Frank Field has melodramatically (if belatedly)  entered the fray saying that the report is “simply devastating” . However for a man who in the past has been quick to condemn he’s treating those responsible for the manifest failings in the report with kid gloves (no pun intended).

“Now is not the time for scapegoating”  he magisterially declares taking time out from calling for public accountability and monstering panto villains like former BHS boss “Sir” Philip Green. Which is a bit of a surprise from someone who makes such a public show of his deep concern about Wirral’s kiddiewinks. Although it’s perhaps not so surprising when you consider that one of the main people who should be driven into the desert is People Overview and Scrutiny Committee chair and long-time  Frankenfield acolyte Cllr Moira “Matron” McLaughlin , who having failed spectacularly when she steered a totally out of control adult social services department has been given the opportunity  to fall asleep at the wheel again and fail to ensure the proper scrutiny of children’s services under the  stewardship of Labour cabinet lead  Cllr Tony Smith . That’s quite a track record – it can only be a matter of time before she’s awarded an OBE.

But then what constantly perplexes us at Leaky Towers is that the people who are responsible for Council failures are given the responsibility to clear it up. We are not re-assured by the fact that Wirral Council Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson has informed us that will be holding Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall’s hand whilst they clear up a mess partially of their own making. Stressed Eric described the Ofsted report as “painful” – but then we’re sure that the  near £300,000 per annum of public money that Eric and Julia earn between them must go some way to easing that pain.

Has anyone noticed that Clare Fish the Strategic Director for Families & Wellbeing has been conspicuous by her absence from the public eye?. Whilst we always considered Fish to be out of her depth we wouldn’t like to think that this particular Super Duper Director has become yet another big fish who’s been let off the hook and been rewarded for their failure.

However it’s not all bad news as we’re particularly gratified, alongside a former Wirral Council head of safeguarding, that the current incumbent of the post – simpering Simon Garner – has been rumbled.

And finally  with reference to the Ofsted report we think that whoever thought up the acronym MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) needs to be put out of their misery.

children-fail

Memo to Frank Field

 

Wirral Toady

 

Toad

Toad of Town Hall

When we consider the  nepotism, cronyism  and obsequious careerism that pervades Wirral Council (and indeed within other parts of the ‘Wirral Partnership’) we could be forgiven for thinking the Wirral Council newspaper publication should be called  Wirral Toady and not Wirral Today.

Yes folks – they’ve finally decided on a title for their tatty rag as this extract from this leaked Stressed Eric Exec View staff newsletter reveals –

Hello,

I finished my latest set of roadshow meetings with staff last week. Thanks to everyone who came along.

I felt that I, and you, got the most out of those sessions where lots of varied questions were put forward and we could have a proper, open conversation.

It’s always interesting and useful for me to hear about what’s important to different staff groups in different areas.

Devolution was a common topic, as was the budget and whether we’re likely to see any change in our financial situation under the new Prime Minister. Questions around the future direction of the council, how we are progressing with our 2020 pledges and whether there are any plans for major restructures of the authority in coming months also came up.

There were a number of questions about the new publication we’re planning to produce so I thought it might be helpful to reflect on some of the discussions.

(There’s a lot of background information to the publication which is included in the Cabinet report, so I won’t go over that again. The Cabinet report is here.)

Fundamentally, the aim is to increase how informed our local people are. Last year’s residents survey showed us that a lot of people want more information about services and their communities. This publication, Wirral Today, will provide this.

We’ve opted for a printed publication that will be delivered through the letterbox of every home and business and copies will be available in places like libraries and train stations.

It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first. However, there is a lot of research and evidence from other councils that shows residents who receive information from their council, directly to them at home, are more informed about local services and are in turn, happier and more satisfied with their area and their council.

An online-only approach won’t work in the same way, but we will have a website and social media that links to and supports the publication.

It’s important that staff, teams and managers from across the council submit ideas for stories and features. No-one has a monopoly on good ideas so it’s vital that everyone feels they can, and knows how to, contribute.

There is a dedicated email address where you can submit ideas for stories or features and it’s WTNews@wirral.gov.uk Soon you will also be able to make suggestions and submissions through the intranet too. Our Communications and Marketing team are working on the publication and they plan to visit teams to talk about how you can be a part of the process. If you’d like them to visit you, email WTNews@wirral.gov.uk 

It’s really important that this publication includes information from our partners and community groups so we’re working on how we pull all that content together now.

Once again, thank you to everyone who came along to a staff roadshow. I’ll be doing another set in the early new year sometime, as it’s important for us to carry on the conversation.
 
If you have any further questions, comments or suggestions for me in the meantime, you can email ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

Now we have to say Stressed Eric has gone up in our estimation as he seems to be demonstrating a new found flair for comedy.

‘It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first’ he says whilst failing to add  …..‘ but then Martin Liptrot told me to get back in my corner’.

He then goes on to say – without the slightest hint of irony :’No-one has a monopoly on good ideas so it’s vital that everyone feels they can, and knows how to, contribute.’  

But surely this is what this publication is all about – managing  the message and controlling the public. To the power abusers of Wallasey Town Hall Wirral is a giant Monopoly board or as someone much cleverer than us once said  – “a monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling  elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of monopoly in the means of production” .

Having said all that we’re still looking forward to the first edition of  Wirral Toady , sorry Wirral Today  and the endless possibilities for satire it is sure to provide.

We predict the front cover of the first edition will be about how well Wirral Council is doing  supporting disabled people or children or combatting hunger. Any other suggestions send to : Wirralleaks@gmail.com

Meanwhile here’s Wirral Council’s fortnightly appearance on Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs page and their take on Wirral Today. 

Bad News 2 011

 

Private Ambition and Political Alliances

 

Private and Public

Before we return to dissecting the Wirralgate saga we couldn’t help commenting on a couple of developments on Planet Wirral.

Firstly we were delighted to hear that ‘Mayor’ Joe Anderson was ‘heartbroken’ (snigger) not to get the Labour nomination for the Metro Mayor election . The nomination went to Walton MP Steve Rotheram . Of course we were backing Luciana Berger – but it would appear that when it comes to Metro Mayors – the progressive Labour Party prefers all their candidates across the country to have a penis and just like the Liverpool City Region leaders it doesn’t matter if they’re a bit limp.

Northern Outhouse

We were especially delighted that Mayor Joe’s ambitions come unstuck as we suspect that there were others on this side of the River Mersey who were anticipating riding on the coat tails of his mayoral robes.

Gleeful sources are commenting to us that Martin Liptrot’s masterplan to be the power behind the throne and Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies exit strategy to be Mayor Joe’s Deputy Mayor have sunk in the River Mersey. Once again we note how “The Curse of Pip” comes into play  – a ringing endorsement from him – as Pip did for Joe’s Metro Mayor nomination – is invariably the kiss of death.

Oh well never mind Liptrotsky ( the self proclaimed”cross river power broker”) will have to be content with being the de facto Chief Executive of Wirral Council as further demonstrated by the fact that supposed  CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson is left to front the justification for yet another appointment to Liptrotsky’s growing public relations empire . The new appointment of a ‘Public Affairs Manager’ (it has been reliably estimated that there are currently 14 – yes 14 Wirral Council  officers already involved in aspects of this work) is justified by Stressed Eric thus:

“The  Public Affairs Manager will support the delivery of the Wirral Plan through leading the development and delivery of a public affairs and outreach strategy for the organisation. In addition they will be responsible for developing and maintaining effective connections with policymakers and key influencers regionally, nationally and internationally to help shape policies, decisions and legislation for the benefit of Wirral.”

This appointment will leave Liptrotsky more time to run Wirral Council and tells you everything you need to know about Wirral Council’s priorities – less public services, more public relations.

We asked our faithful factotum Verity Snoop whether she was going to apply , she told us she was suffering from severe personal integrity and therefore didn’t meet the essential criteria of being a complete and utter professional arselicker.

 

Wirral Council’s Got A Brand New Organ

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We take a break from the Wirralgate saga today to bring you the work of Dr. Robert  B.Smith who has undertaken some excellent research trying to discover how the currently unnamed Wirral Council newspaper stacks up. Firstly he considers the ideological /strategic/operational impetus behind the newspaper and secondly the financial and practical implications.

Meanwhile we consider the pictures – taken from the Management Journal – serve as a warning as to the shape of things to come when the newspaper is published. As you can see  “Stressed” Eric Robinson describes Wirral Council as going “from the brink of intervention to the pinnacle of local government” as he tries to lure  2 overpaid policy wonks to Wirral. Unfortunately we fear we are going to get much more of where that came from!…….

The burning question on everyone’s lips must be…”Why a newspaper?” When newspapers are folding (pardon the pun) and as technology and social media advances…”Why a newspaper”?. When the Council has what passes for a website with a ‘faceless’ homepage with ‘uber-cool tile icons’, but with inbuilt navigation problems, what does that say to visitors? Hardly welcoming when the world’s window on Wirral Council is obscured. It is like trying to see through thick fog, or into a room that has the blinds closed. But is that intentional?

Has anyone else noticed how much previous ‘archive’ stuff has not been moved on to the new, improved website, and, is it my imagination, or is it deliberately slow as well as being difficult to navigate? All subtle hurdles to frustrate the outside world seeking information.

Now Twitter…fantastic in the right hands…but you need to know your market, and how to use it, and Wirral Council has no idea.. Now, to Facebook…who doesn’t use Facebook nowadays? Not many people, but if you can squeeze the life out of a FB page, then Wirral Council is a success story. However, when Recycling is regularly recycling its own recycling information, that is the essence of recycling, captured on Facebook and when, by example, recycling comes into its own.

Wirral Council’s communication has always been poor, but maybe it suits Wirral Council for it to be poor? Not only might it suit for communication to be poor, but making what is available difficult to locate, or even understand, may that be part of a broader strategy?

But, back to the ‘newspaper’. The proposition made absolutely no sense to me on any level. Council services are being decimated, asset disposal underway, privatisation is a priority, and operational staff levels are being severely reduced. Girtrell Court has been closed, Lyndale School has been closed, both against massive public opposition or ‘the will of the people’. Consultants and chief officers are paid exorbitant salaries, and the council is failing as an organisation. However, council tax has increased, but budgets are reducing, and the best use of some of this increasingly scarce funding is…a monthly council NEWSPAPER!

If incompetence is going to be shrouded by smoke and mirrors, what better way to conceal incompetence than to be the sole source of information about your own organisation?. And here is the problem – for mandatory public notices, road closures, planning, etc., and other supporting council business editorial/copy, 4 quarterly editions will not be sufficient to influence public opinion, accommodate scheduling and deadlines for responses/objections, etc.

The ‘newspaper’ issue (pardon the pun) also brings a number of other questionable episodes of Wirral Council’s conduct into focus. Why does Wirral Council act in ways that indicate it thinks that it can flout its own policies, procedures, and codes of conduct, make many questionable decisions regarding legislative compliance, and actively ignore government guidelines, and not report a Minister’s critical letter in a report to Cabinet…or reveal the new staff posts?

The range of options for this ongoing ‘corporate behaviour’, given the range of dubious ‘episodes’, must start with stupidity at one end of the spectrum to knowledge of absolute impunity at the other. The question then being at which point in the spectrum is the reality?

And this is where the ‘bloody-minded pursuit’ of this ‘newspaper’ is such an important consideration.

Government guidelines regarding the issuing of a council newsletter/newspaper are very clear. Nobody needs to spend £1,400 of public money for legal advice regarding the number of issues that can be produced. You just need to be able to read (and understand). But why put the Council in a position of direct conflict with government regarding 12 monthly issues of this ‘newspaper’? In my opinion, it is the need for total control of council information from a council in crisis.

The Ipsos Mori ‘resident survey’ result which led to this ‘rude awakening’ for the Council and ‘a critical response from the public’ is totally at odds with many other ‘critical concerns of the public’ which have been passed over, or systematically bulldozed out of the way.

I have undertaken my own research into the costs of producing this Council ‘organ’ and requested some additional information from Mr MacManus, who was very helpful during the Ipsos Mori survey. It made a refreshing change from FOI requests, and that is how things should be, for an accountable Council. Not everything contains commercially sensitive information, an impression created continually in certain quarters of WBC.

Your readers may wish to examine Wirral Council’s latest organ specification, and make their own estimates. The environmental impact assessment I have undertaken is rather scary as well. Maybe the Council hasn’t done one…?

The financial and environmental costs will be significant, and far in excess of the estimates. More service reductions then…except in Legal, the Press Office, and Recycling maybe…didn’t someone mention ‘jobs for life’ somewhere along the way?

WIRRAL COUNCIL proposed ‘NEWSPAPER’ – all estimated budget figures from Wirral Council Cabinet report, or directly from Wirral Council.

Year           Full Cost

                  Re-directed
current
advertising spend                    Income         Net Cost

2016-17*  £118,980                                            £39,000            £79,980

2017-18     £237,960                                           £85,800            £152,160

2018-19    £237,960                                            £94,380            £143,580

2019-20   £237,960                                            £103,818           £134,142
* 6 editions are planned and budgeted for in 2016-17.

“The publication will be delivered to all 147,000 Wirral households, all 7,500 Wirral businesses and see an additional 15,000 copies distributed to high-footfall locations such as supermarkets, hospitals and train/bus stations. We will additionally develop a new website to carry similar information as well as make better use of social media and other digital channels”.
Facts
…council expenditure and income estimates; print run; distribution; pagination range
…total no of copies per edition 169,500
…total number of editions 12
…first full financial year – 2017- 2018 base estimates used
Assumptions
… to estimate the overall cost an average of 32 pages per edition is the datum
…finished to A5 is not an option as a newspaper/newsletter carrying paid-for advertising promoting a council
…advertising rates are pro rata from full page advertising cost – and advertising may be distributed throughout the edition
…to estimate the quantity of stock (paper) required, the reference sizes are finished A4, and finished A3
…to estimate the total weight of paper required, an average of 80g/sq.m is used.
Assessment
12 monthly issues – total 2,034,000 units printed in 2017 – 2018
2017-18 Full year cost £237,960
Income £85,800
Net cost £152,160
Unit cost 7.5p including promoting and securing advertising, setting, printing, collating, finishing, delivery and distribution, plus presumably, additional ‘lifecycle/environmental costs’ of disposal/collection and recycling.

2017-18 – Advertising income total for full year £85,800 (£7,150 per edition)
2 pages of adverts 16 eighth page @ £446.88 per eighth page
8 quarter page @ £893.75 per quarter page
4 half page @ £1787 per half page
2 full page @ £3,575 per full page
…or the above in combination, and distributed throughout

4 pages of adverts 32 eighth page @ £223.44 per eighth page
16 quarter page @ £446.87 per quarter page
8 half page @ £893.75 per half page
4 full page @ £1,787.50 per full page
…or the above in combination, and distributed throughout

12 editions create 65,088,000 pages whatever size format is used @32 pages per copy
A4 finished size is A3 folded; 4 A4 pages per sheet of A3; 8 sheets of A3 provide 32 x A4 pages.
A4 finished ‘newspaper’ @ 80gm/sqm – total unit weight = 80g
A3 finished size is A2 folded; 4 A3 pages per sheet of A2; 8 sheets of A2 provide 32 pages.
A3 finished ‘newspaper’ @ 80gm/sqm – total unit weight = 160g

Annual weight of ‘news’paper to be produced, delivered, set, printed, finished, distributed and discarded/collected and recycled is:-
A4 finished size – 162,720 Kg (358,736 Imperial lbs, or just over 160 Imperial tons of paper)
A3 finished size – 325,440 Kg (717,472 Imperial pounds, or just over 320 Imperial tons of paper)
Considerations
Given the estimated unit cost it will not be Royal Mail, or an equivalent, delivering to every household, business, or ‘pick up a copy’ distribution ‘hub’.
It will not be sent out in the Wirral Globe or equivalent, as it has been stated they do not deliver to a significant number of areas.
If household and business delivery factors in a ‘minimum’ wage, or ‘living wage’ element for individual distribution of copies, what will be the average delivery time in rural Wirral v urban Wirral for complete distribution?
Further to my independent ‘review’ of the proposal, this ‘newspaper’ cannot possibly be produced, printed and distributed to in excess of 154,500 individual addresses, (and disposed of?) for 7.5p per copy.

For info – stock paper sizes and area (apologies to all who know this already!).
A0 has an area of one square metre.
Divide it in 2 you get 2 A1,
divide again you get 4 A2,
once more 8 A3,
and again 16 A4,
and finally 32 A5

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