Election Selection : Week 8

Red Braces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No – thought not!

 

Where’s Wally?

Denial

Hopefully readers will be pleased to hear that Dr Robert B Smith is still on Wirral Council’s case. This time he’s trying to elicit a response from their CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson to queries he made via email over 6 months ago. Dr Smith has contacted all 66 councillors in asking whether Stressed Eric’s conduct was a) acceptable or b) unacceptable.

As far as we know the only councillor to respond was Cllr Walter Smith. We’ll leave you to read his email and Dr Smith’s meticulously researched riposte. However we would comment that as far as we’re concerned it’s a case of  ‘Walter by name , Wally by nature’. Indeed Cllr Smith has recently been observed on the campaign trail wearing a red fleece with his name printed on the back. Presumably to help him remember who he is if he get’s lost.  However if we were ever asked the question –  ‘Where’s Wally ?’ we’d have to say  : ‘In denial’……..

Dear Dr Smith,

I presume that there must be a reason for a failure to respond to your request. I suggest that you involve your local councillor. By the way WBC has never been better run than it is today. The officers do a good job, and we councillors have received the award of ‘The Most Improved Council’.

Kind regards,

Walter Smith.

Dear Cllr Walter Smith

It was my intention to circulate all Wirral Councillors with the results of my earlier survey, and reply  to you individually. I only asked for ‘unacceptable’ or ‘acceptable’ as a response. However, given your more expansive response to me, it would seem apposite to circulate my response more broadly.

Firstly, given your response, and the fact that you are a collective employer, why don’t you ask Mr Robinson what is his ‘reason for a failure to respond’? My assessment would be that he is unable to put anything in writing that would not seriously compromise his position.

Shall we take the latest development in the appalling situation regarding the Wirral Safeguarding Board, as a starting point?

The Government’s intervention by installing Eleanor Brazil to endeavour to address the numerous failings, speaks volumes regarding capability. As does Mr Robinson’s claim in the Wirral Globe given his background;

Eric Robinson, chief executive, said: “We have made some changes in terms of social care and I will now work with Julia Hassall”.
“My background is in Children’s Services so I will oversee the work”. (Wirral Globe 20 Sep 2016
)

The press coverage of the sentencing of Brothers Vinothan and Ilavarasan Rajenthiram, jailed for 40 years for grooming and sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls in Wirral, included the following comment – “Over a five-year campaign Ilavarasan and Vinothan Rajenthiram groomed and sexually abused vulnerable young girls from Wirral, all known to Wirral Council”. That would go back to 2012 and doesn’t support the assertion of your 3rd sentence. Actually, it also blows a considerable hole ‘, in the claims made in your 4th sentence as well as in the credibility of the fantasy ‘The Most Improved Council 2015′ award.

Now, with regard to ‘The Most Improved Council’ award. I have discussed this award, and its credibility with Dr Gill Taylor of the Local Government Association (LGA). You will remember her from the ‘LGA Improvement Board’. I have also corresponded with the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) and Government Ministers. It was actually a Local Government Chronicle Award, one of a range of local government awards given by a local government subscription periodical. This ‘Most Improved’ award was apparently never awarded prior to 2015, and it has never been awarded since – too many burned sponsors fingers, I suspect.

You may remember Graham Burgess? Yes, he who breezed into the ‘Improvement Board’ in 2012/13 as a peer reviewer (at the request of the LGA and Michael Frater). At the time Graham Burgess was CEO of Blackburn & Darwen Council (which incidentally had won the LGC ‘Council of the Year’ award in 2011).

The recruitment of Graham Burgess as ‘interim’ CEO of Wirral Council was an ‘interesting’ process. And as for the permanent position – 8 applications…1 successful interviewee?

Quite like self-proclaimed Labour activist Mr Liptrot and his published email thread to Cllr Phil Davies. Not to mention Mr Liptrot’s numerous conflicts of interest. It was fortunate that Mr Tour felt absolutely compelled to ‘remind him about’ occupying a ‘politically restricted’ post whilst it was reported he had several contracts across Merseyside. With Wirral Council’s plummeting reputation, and no Joe Anderson metro-mayor bandwagon to ride on, it appears that a side-step to promote unattainable investment ‘opportunities’ matches a mythical skillset. So we witness a frenetic appointment ‘crucial’ before the Cannes visit to MIPIM. Expedience which truly stretches credulity.
But back to Graham Burgess.
Wirral Council’s own press release described him as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA. He was also a regular contributor to, and endorser of the LGC. For the 2015 ‘Most Improved’ award, the ‘live panel’ presentation was made by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies to assessors comprising mainly LGA member Chief Executives. (Doncaster Council, the 2015 award runner-up is an interesting study. Even more so if you add WBC, LGA, SOLACE, ex-WBC staff and very low interest loans into the mix.)

It is a shallow exercise in massaging political egos, and self-promotion for the LGA (and the LGC) to promote the ‘LGA Sector-led Improvement programme’ and the ‘peer review’ mechanism. If you achieve some supposed ‘improvement’, by some supposed ‘measure’ or ‘other’ and provide the tea and biscuits, the LGA will bask in the glory, and parade an individual (in Wirral’s case Cllr Phil Davies) around the country, as a ludicrous example, of a ‘success story’.

It is evident that aspiring to mediocrity underpins the peer review process, and serial under-achievement is the benchmark of ‘improvement’. This is displayed in pyrotechnic fashion in Wirral Council, where documents by both the LGA and Anna Klonowski quote wording proclaiming ‘…in her report, of 2012 Ms Klonowski highlights how at Wirral Council “the abnormal has become the norm”.’

That is 5 years ago. The ‘LGA Improvement Board’ covered the period March 2012 until November 2013 and then, its job done, disbanded. The LGA produced a glossy brochure detailing Wirral’s ‘improvement journey’. The summary introducing the document makes interesting reading and includes this claim.

Eighteen months after Wirral developed and implemented their action plan with the LGA, the Improvement Board that provided advice and oversight of Wirral’s improvement journey reported that sector-led improvement had “transformed” the Council to one that was “stable, well-led, open and far more inclusive.” If you don’t recognise that description, and I certainly don’t, here is the link. http://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/wirral-councils-sector-le-40f.pdf

An interesting comment in the Liverpool Echo published 8th May 2013 from Cllr Harney at the time of establishing the ‘LGA Improvement Board’ Cllr Harney said the council needs “a great deal more openness and much more rigorous performance management”.
He added: “People, councillors, senior managers and the public, have not been aware of what has been going on.”

One aspect of the withdrawal agreement with the Improvement Board, was that Opposition Councillors would occupy the Chairs of Scrutiny Committees. Is that still the case Cllr Smith? No of course it isn’t. All scrutiny committee chairs were taken by Labour councillors in 2014. That casting vote, as required to achieve the prescribed outcome, is crucial to driving unopposed decision-making, but also negates independent scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

Coupled with other constitutional changes giving sweeping new powers to Cabinet members, and a forthcoming fallow year for elections in 2017, any prescribed outcome is attainable. Add to that heady mix the ruling group en-bloc voting and abstention regimes, and what results? Mythical resident’s surveys aside, and resident ‘information deficit’, party-political voting which mostly ignores constituents’ wishes e.g. Girtrell Court and Lyndale School thrives. As you will know, these deliberate changes effectively create the situation where power rests solely with Cllr Phil Davies. How would you describe that model of administration?

Graham Burgess’ apparently effortless ‘soft-shoe shuffle’ into Wirral’s CEO position preceded the 2015 LGC ‘Award’. The Guardian newspaper published, on 10 Apr 2014, the 3rd in the series ‘Public Service Tango’ – Headlined ‘One leader, one chief executive – and a joint vision for their council’s future’ – a far from enlightening piece by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies. A good journalist would normally extract a ‘riveting quote’, or an ‘earth-shattering insight’ from the article to draw the reader into this revelatory discourse.

This must be the best available. “Wirral council’s leader and chief executive attend each other’s meetings and welcome ideas from all employees”. An absolutely breath-taking insight you must agree – but does it actually matter? Well yes, and, no.

Actually it doesn’t in this specific case as one learns nothing, but of more interest is this extract from a paragraph beneath the published article.
Phil Davies is leader of Wirral council; Graham Burgess is the council’s chief executive. This collection of articles on the relationship between public managers and politicians is supported by SOLACE and is running on the Guardian Public Leaders Network from March to June 2014.

I know that you will be on the edge of your seat by now, Cllr Smith, but what happens next? You will take solace from what happens next.

The very, very low-key publishing of the November 2015 ‘peer review’ follow-up, of Wirral Council, by the LGA. You may not know the then-Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, but you should. His name is Mark Rogers – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-city-council-chief-executive-12625426

Mark Rogers was the CEO of Birmingham City Council, a member of the LGA and SOLACE, which if you don’t know is the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives. It is most likely that Eric Robinson (from neighbouring Staffordshire) and Graham Burgess, and Cllr Phil Davies would know him. Not only was he a member of SOLACE (supporting the Guardian article), but he was its President until October 2016.

Birmingham CEO Mark Rogers (LGA member and SOLACE President) was one of the ‘experts’ who undertook the ‘peer review’ of 2015 which unlike the ‘sector-led improvement journey’, and the farcical ‘Most Improved Council 2015’ award, was unleashed on an unwitting public without fanfare and illustrates regression, not improvement. I would imagine that even Mark Rogers would struggle signing that review off, with his background in children’s social care?

Does that look familiar, given Eric Robinson’s previous employment?
At this point, the question for me is where do I stop ‘joining the dots’?
I have only scratched the surface of the machinations of Wirral Council above, but you will get a flavour of why I have some difficulty taking your response seriously.

Wirral Council ruling administration is in serious trouble, and using great swathes of public money to defend the indefensible, is actually indefensible.

I look forward to receiving your response,
Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

ps I would be making these observations and comments whatever the political colour of any Council administration conducting itself in this manner.

Public and Private

Bad Hair day 012

For all you local government careerists who want to ride the gravy train . This is the look you need to go for. It’s apparently irresistible when it comes to high office. No, really!

Now we always thought that Eric Robinson was an odd choice to be the Chief Executive of Wirral Council . But then news has belatedly drifted in from his previous outpost and suddenly it all makes perfect sense. As does his response to appalling malpractice which thus far has not been reported on this blog.

We’ll  draw a discreet veil over the information we’ve received from interested parties in Staffordshire  because everyone is entitled to a private life.

All we will say is dark horse or what? – or should that be dark force?

The relative good news is that as far as we understand  Eric ‘Not So Feeble” is at long last domiciled on Wirral. We found that out because apparently the internet works even in the remotest parts of Staffordshire. This was confirmed after we received the following message:

I find your blog most entertaining. Did you know that Stressed Eric’s partner is the CEO for the Centre of Public Scrutiny? 
After this tip-off and bit of research it would appear that Eric Robinson and Jacqui Mc Kinlay apparently worked together at Staffordshire County Council, which is when they started their , ahem, collaboration .
As our source writes :
Just thought it was interesting. Don’t suppose she’ll be scrutinising the ethics of massively inflated wages or bonus for returning election officers any time soon…..
I will keep enjoying the blog! I think you’re providing much better public scrutiny for the people of the Wirral than Jacqui and her lot will and it’s delivered in a much more entertaining fashion!
Amen to that!

Blank Halliday

Blank Halliday 011

Wirral Council – experts in blanking the people who pay their wages/expenses/allowances

As the denizens of Wallasey Town Hall breath a sigh of relief that they’ve survived another week (well those not on long term sick leave anyway) and can look forward to a bank holiday weekend we provide an update on the Stewart Halliday situation.

Readers will remember Stuey ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ Halliday is the recipient of a humongous salary courtesy of Wirral Council taxpayers despite leaving his previous employer City of York Council (CYC) with questions to ask about his rather casual approach to contracting arrangements.  

Indomitable local resident Charles Nunn is particularly aggrieved that his Council Tax and that of many other Wirral tax payers appears to be being spent on a series of snake oil salesmen and has pursued this matter with Wirral Council CEO (the ‘O’ seemingly standing for ostrich) Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric provided the following response:

Dear Mr Nunn

Thank you for your email  dated 13 March 2017 and follow up email on 26 March 2017.

The Council’s Human Resources Team has confirmed the following:

Mr Halliday is engaged via an agency through the Council’s contract with Matrix Ltd.  Under the process, Matrix require supplying agencies to supply references for the previous two years employment history.

These references were sent directly to the line manager recruiting the worker.  There is no requirement for our Human Resources Team to be involved in all such engagements.  The line manager also elected to seek an additional reference from the former Chief Executive of York Council and subsequently a further reference was provided to the agency by the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods still currently working at York.

We have been advised by Mr Halliday that he refutes all the allegations which are matter of ongoing dispute between him and his previous employer. It is not appropriate for Wirral Council to comment any further on these allegations.

Regards

Eric Robinson
Chief Executive
Wirral Council

Charles tells us that in his opinion , of the three statements made in Robinson’s response, which is presumably based on from information supplied by Halliday, ‘one at least is certainly untrue, one probably untrue and another open to conjecture……’
He added further :
‘Halliday may “refute” the allegations but anyone who has read the damning report from York will scratch their heads in wonder  at such a statement………..
That the CURRENT holder of the exalted title of Director of Communities and Neighbourhood at York would not have supplied a reference and indeed the post holder would not have been the right person so to do as Halliday did not report to that person.
I have suggested that Robinson must be very embarrassed (I doubt it to be so) at passing on duff information and await his reply with interest.
I should also have asked why a Line Manager has the authority to dish out such highly paid posts.’
Charles has based his assertions on information he has received from contacts in York. Most notably CYC Cllr Mark Warters who was rather more robust in his enquiries than our very own Stressed Eric.
A blameless CYC  underling contacted Cllr Warters to explain :
‘Mary (Weastall – CYC CEO) asked me to apologise for the delay in responding but to confirm,  as far as the council is concerned we do not have a dispute with Stewart Halliday’
Indeed councillors seem to be made of sterner stuff than our own when it comes to questioning what’s has been going on with taxpayer’s money and now that the Local Government Association (LGA) has been called in to carry out a ‘peer review of the Council’s approach to procurement, including governance’ Cllr Warters remains undaunted by the  LGA’s dilly-dallying  to ‘identify suitably qualified and experienced people who could investigate specific issues and events at CYC.’   Which as Wirralians know means appointing a ‘safe pair of hands ‘ such as the likes of  LGA alumna Dr Gill Taylor  or Joyce Redfearn who shake their heads, give a slap on the wrists, take the money and run to another lucrative gig……..and make NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER.
Cllr Warters asks of LGA  : ‘Without knowing the answers to the questions I posed to you it is hard to assess whether waiting for your investigation to conclude is reason to hold off any longer taking the matter to the police.’
Isn’t it a shame that our own dear councillors don’t take this more rigorous approach and report what we regard to be much more serious concerns to the local police ?

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

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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 ……….