Courting McCourt

McCourt 011

Courted and feted : McCourt enters ‘The Inner Ring’

And so after a previous meeting behind closed doors of the Employment and Appointments Committee it would appear that full Council on Monday 19th March will rubber stamp the permanent appointment of current interim Assistant Director : Law and Governance Philip McCourt to the new post of Director – Governance & Assurance (Monitoring Officer)

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We have to doff our coronet to McCourt on this one. He sat back as Wirral Council struggled to appoint to this poisoned chalice of a post and watched gimlet-eyed as they had to bump up the pay (funny how there’s always money to be found for the upper echelons of local government isn’t it?) and upgrade the post from Assistant Director to Director enabling McCourt to sit at the top table of council chief officers. And from what we understand there was none of that tiresome psychometric testing or bothersome interview process for such a high profile post. Oh no it was a shoo-in for fêted Phil.

Canny McCourt has cleverly manoeuvred himself into a strong position by getting the lowdown – and boy do we mean lowdown – on Wirral Council. This was not only on the job – when he could fit Wirral Council business in around his other consultancy commitments that is. Checking out his LinkedIn profile this included not only work for solicitors Weightmans LLP , where no doubt he would have encountered former Wirral Council legal alumni Morris Hill and Simon Goacher, but also during a stint at Bristol City Council in 2016 where he would have compared cheques with Anna Klonowski – author of damning Independent Review and Corporate Governance reports about his latest employer. The man who took over from McCourt at Milton Keynes Council in May 2013 was a Stephen Gerrard (no, not that one) . Coincidentally enough Gerrard was Interim Head of Legal and Member Services at Wirral Council October 2012 -May 2013 during the then permanent head, Bill Norman’s suspension (Norman later went on to become involved in all kinds of shenanigans at Hereford and Cheshire East councils) . Gerrard also left somewhat hastily , whether it was because he and his deputy Surjit Tour were not the best of buddies we can only speculate. However ,as we know, Tour was later to make the most of an unguarded (and racist) comment from Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Cllr George Davies and astonishingly ascend to the top legal job at Wirral Council before escaping back to Sandwell Council. We don’t know about you but this local government merry go round makes us dizzy (and slightly nauseous).

Whether McCourt will prove to be as controversial appointment as Norman and Tour only time will tell but we do know he’s inherited some very thorny legal issues and knowing his political paymasters as we do there will no doubt be more to come. As ever the real test for a head of law at Wirral Council will be how they reconcile protecting powerful politicians with protecting the public purse and the public interest. We shall be particularly interested to see whether McCourt follows the path of least resistance trodden by his predecessors and favours the former over the latter.

 

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LRJ : An Unofficial Announcement

Resignation letter

Here we have a social media post from our old friend and correspondent Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ). We’ve omitted 2 paragraphs ( containing either personal details or plugs for her charity) , other than that all words , as far as we know, are LRJ’s own. We’ve decided to publish in the public interest mainly because it would appear that LRJ has “made the move to withdrawn (sic) from politics” and therefore surely the local electorate need to know exactly what this means:

Last night I made the move to withdrawn (sic) from politics due to the extreme stress the constant targeting I have faced personally that has put extreme pressure on my health , this is not stress from those residents that I have served as that has been an absolute pleasure.

I would like to thank the one Labour councillor who had wished me well ……., it shows there is at least one good person . I won’t name them as I wouldn’t want them targeted. (Although I believe they can hold their own)

I believe in Jeremy Corbyn and what Labour stands for , I have principles I will not push to one side in order to make friends , I will not stand by an watch bully’s (sic) at work and I will not keep quiet to stop myself being bullied as I was not brought up that way.

My purpose was to make change and make a difference to children and adults with disabilities. I don’t believe in the current climate that there is any intention to change things on Wirral. I see so many children and their families in crisis and more energy is given to try and discredit me through the press , than change a way of working xx

I’ve not gone anywhere and will be back stronger than ever ,just without the noose … 

First thing to say is that we have no problem believing that some local Labour councillors ” can hold their own” – let’s face it many of them don’t have a choice! The second thing to say is that LRJ doesn’t paint a pretty picture of what it’s like being a local Labour councillor does she?  However we don’t appear to have had any official confirmation from the local Labour group or Wirral Council that indeed LRJ no longer features among their ranks . Whilst LRJ is still listed on Wirral Council website as a councillor for the Pensby and Thingwall ward – and presumably still collecting her council allowances  – she was a notable absentee from this week’s annual Wirral Council budget meeting held earlier this week.

foulkesy-lrj-012

The Nolan Principles in motion : Comrade LRJ putting on a show of solidarity with Comrade Foulkesy (mate of Comrade Crabby)  – awks!

If she is true to her word we have to say we will be sad to see LRJ go ( pass us an onion) as she was such good source of stories for us if nothing else. Who could forget her epic feud with ex – Labour councillor Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree  and how that ended up with him getting a criminal conviction ? LRJ then went from victim to victimiser and ended up falling foul of Wirral Council’s pisspoor ‘Standards’ ( ha!ha!) regime, refusing to apologise to either members of the public that she’d badmouthed on social media or councillors who feigned being ‘appalled’ at her conduct. Let’s face it the councillors were just miffed she didn’t meekly ‘ Do-a-Foulkesy’ and say she’d been very naughty and she wouldn’t do it again……..until the next time. She then threatened Wirral Council and former and current Monitoring Officer ( Surjit Tour and Philip McCourt respectively) with legal action. We also understand she made further allegations against another Labour councillor ( but respect and decorum prevents us from pursuing that particular story any further).

We have to say that from our first post that mentioned LRJ and which dealt with her original suspension by North West Labour Party in May 2015 we always thought her days were numbered. Therefore she appears to have done well to have lasted this long before apparently throwing in the towel. As we said at the time her only hope was to foster a friendship with Frank Field. He wasn’t keen and her fate was sealed. Read more here : Suspension Suspense

Whatever the situation we suspect that the local Labour group will want to keep very quiet on this one – at least until after the local elections in May.  But will LRJ?

Social media strategy

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

 

Whistling in the Wind

Whistleblower

A senior Wirral Councillor writes :

I have been reading your recent postings with considerable interest.Your commentary on ‘life’ at the Town Hall has always been useful both as a background and a signpost, often well informed.You must have had well placed sources. I hope your successor rises to the occasion. I hope that your move to sunnier climes provides you with the retirement living you have looked forward to.

His Lordship replies :

Just to let you know we’re as probing of our sources as we are of our subjects. Unfortunately we have so many more stories that we haven’t published because our sources get frightened or they want to use us for personal grievances. We’d rather not know. The shame of it is though – we didn’t make a blind bit of difference,did we?

We shall observe local developments from afar and hope that the people of Wirral realise they deserve better representation. 

It’s rather endearing that Wirral Council have blocked us from accessing their website as if it was our main source of information . Bless! Of course our sources were always well placed and often surprisingly well placed to the throne of lies.

However we have to say we think the heady days of whistleblowing are about to become a distant memory. And that’s not to say that Wirral Council have changed their ways – it’s just that potential whistleblowers have learned the lessons from history and now seem either want to simply keep schtum, use what they know as an opportunity for career advancement /financial gain or to armourplate their arse against potential retribution. The public interest doesn’t come into it !

Jericho

But who can blame them ?  Whereas we can provide a long list of the dishonest,the incompetent and corrupt who went on to be Chief Executives,Directors, Trustees elsewhere we can’t find one example of a Wirral Council whistleblower who’s career and livelihood wasn’t destroyed.

Will scandals such as the financial abuse of disabled people, Wirral Council doing business with an Organised Crime Group, the illegal 4 week delay in care packages in the Department of Adult Social Services , the illegal implementation of the Discretionary Housing Benefit scheme , Misconduct in Public Office,the sexual indiscretions of senior management , the misuse and abuse of grant monies , theft, fraud,racism, gross mismanagement and waste of public money etc; etc; ever see the light of day again?

Let’s consider a couple of examples – firstly the Wirralgate complainants. They have been called many things but ‘whistleblowers’ they ain’t. We were always being told by others that they’d send us their tawdry tapes. They never did – as they knew we’d publish in the public interest in a heartbeat. They’re quite happy for Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe to have the incriminating recording as they know that they’d never publish the contents in a million years. And what’s more it makes a great bargaining tool doesn’t it?

Which brings us to the latest incarnation of a Wirral Council ‘whistleblower’. This time it’s someone emanating from the department with perhaps knows the most about Wirral Council’s wicked ways  – the Department of Legal Services.

We understand that a solicitor in this department has suddenly remembered her Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct and has cried she can’t go along with the cover ups anymore , dropped out of a highly contentious case and engaged a solicitor of her very own to make sure she doesn’t suffer any detriment for doing so . Is it any wonder Wirral Council can’t recruit a new head for this department following the departure of the utterly appalling Surjit Tour who succeeded the absolutely appalling Bill Norman and have had to resort to what they call a ‘market supplement’ and what we’d call a ‘hush money premium’ to recruit an Assistant Director – Law and Governance?

The Employment and Appointments Committee held on 18 December 2017 were asked to consider the following :

In June 2017, Employment and Appointments Committee agreed to proceed
with recruitment of Assistant Director Law and Governance. This is currently an
Assistant Director/Director 2 post with a salary range (£79,259 – £92,854)
The Council advertised this post in August 2017 but did not appoint at this time.
As set out in the 27 June 2017 report this remains a competitive market across
the Country. This is a statutory post and a critical role within the Senior
Leadership Team. It is therefore proposed to re-advertise at Director 2 level with a market supplement of up to 5% for the right candidate (£83,568-– £92,854(+5%)

We’re sure we all know what they mean by ‘ the right candidate’  to take this poisoned chalice don’t we boys and girls? The sad fact is that they’ll undoubtedly find someone!

But to finish on a more optimistic note here’s to all the leakers, whistleblowers , mavericks, outsiders, truth tellers, truth seekers and good people of Wirral . May 2018 be our year!

MM

 

 

Advent Farewell 13 – Kill Bill

Vampire

Has Bill made another killing ? 

As we promised we thought we’d comment on the latest instalment involving the travels and travails of infamous former Wirral Council head of law Bill Norman.

Yesterday we were flooded with gleeful emails telling us that Norman  had ‘resigned’ from Cheshire East Council (CEC) . Among many of the the emails was the following attachment telling us the story :  Norman Resigns

Of course this is nowhere near the full story but sounds strangely familiar to the circumstances surrounding Norman’s departure from Wirral Council . The only difference being that the usual Wirral Council cock-up gifted him a cool £146K  golden handshake. You can read the full horror story here : Trick or Treat

However just to recap on the CEC situation there were reports in April of this year that Norman had asked a colleague to ‘dig the dirt’ on a CEC auditor who had previously raised legitimate concerns about CEC  leader Cllr Mike Jones dodgy contract with his personal physio. Jones eventually resigned over the scandal. In July Norman was suspended pending an investigation. Full story here. The announcement of his resignation ” with immediate effect” in December leaves us , as usual, with more questions than answers.  For starters we don’t know whether Norman pocketed more public money for being not so much an abject failure for his latest gig or for allegedly being a nasty piece of work. As we’ve commented before in our  Comings and Goings story the ‘dig the dirt’ strategy was allegedly deployed by Norman’s successor at Wirral Council , Surjit Tour, as part of the infamous ‘ The Sex List’ probe (no pun intended)

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? 

Full story here : Dirty Work

Tell us – are these the type of practices they teach in Solicitor School? It’s like the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct doesn’t exist.

Consequently ,as once again, Norman’s departure from a local authority is shrouded in mystery we have to ask ourselves where will he rock up next ?  You’d think after trouble in Torbay, woe in Wirral, havoc in Hereford and sleaze in Cheshire East that future potential employers might want to ask some searing questions about his employment history.  However a chequered past doesn’t  seem to be an impediment to high office and high salary. We often get asked for an explanation for this strange phenomena in local government where there is always,always,always public money to be found to reward failure. Our incredulous readers have often asked us whether we think this phenomena is linked to Common Purpose? , the Freemasons?, Knights of St Columba?

We don’t know the answer to that but we do know that it’s got to stop. And hopefully that explains the title of this post – we’re not suggesting a vigilante group turn up with pitchforks and torches at  Norman’s no doubt beautifully appointed home. We just need to find a way to put an end to the Bills of this world making a killing and sucking the very lifeblood out of local government.

P.S. Contacts in Cheshire East are asking questions about Daniel Dickinson who is supposed to be acting director of legal services, in place of Bill Norman at CEC . Allegedly he hasn’t been seen at the CEC Westfields office in Sandbach for quite some time now and no one ‘on the ground’ seems to know where he is. Someone must know where he is and what he’s doing. Answers on a postcard please.

 

Advent Farewell 12 – LRJ : The Naughtiest Elf On The Shelf?

Elf 2 006

Now we don’t know if it’s the thought of  our imminent demise but we have been flooded with leaks and links to interesting news stories these past few days including news that ‘The Curse of Leaky Towers’ has struck again as we hear that well travelled serial cheque collector Bill Norman has ‘resigned’ from Cheshire East Council. But more on that story later as they say on the TV news……….

Today’s story is concerned with another of our irregular regulars – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ). As we harked and heralded  LRJ was due to  appear at last night’s full Council meeting. And according to a few of our sources appear she did …… somewhat like a fallen angel.

However despite being shamed into making an apology by  Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin for being a very naughty girl – oh the irony! – no apology was forthcoming. Instead LRJ told the members in the Wirral Council chamber that she was taking legal action against the local authority in general and current and former head of law (Philip Mc Court and Surjit Tour respectively)  in particular . Oh and she was also reporting these two legal bods to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) . We understand that it’s not the first time that Tour has been reported to the SRA – but LRJ need not hold her breath that the Brotherhood of Law will take any action. They’re like the Local Government Association (LGA) for lawyers.

Exasperated elected members wailed ‘why ,oh why’ couldn’t they take any ‘meaningful sanctions against LRJ , conveniently forgetting that the Standards regime was set up BY THEM to avoid any  councillor ever having to face any meaningful sanctions in the first place!!!

Meanwhile, as apparently McCourt comes and goes as he pleases and is a mere interim he clearly wasn’t prepared to be around when LRJ was having a pop at him. Therefore local Tory leader Cllr Ian Lewis asked the Council legal rep for the night  (Vicki Shaw) was there anything they could do to make LRJ bend to their will ?

‘Fuck all’ was the answer.

Obviously this isn’t a direct quote from Prissy Miss Shaw , who apparently seemed to be enjoying feeling very important sitting on the podium to the left of Mayor Ann ‘Moving Forward’ McLachlan (but then most people in the Council chamber seemed to be left of McLachlan).

Indeed we hear that Shaw is currently making a name for herself among the Council power elite for being ‘a safe pair of hands’ and we don’t mean that as a compliment!

As it would seem that both within the Council and the Labour group LRJ is essentially Ellen MacNomates  (the female version of Billy No Mates , and so named after lone round-the-world yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacNomates ) her days as a councillor must surely be numbered .

However we are led to question as to whether LRJ deserves to be known as Wirral Council’s naughtiest elf . We’d nominate Cllrs Phil Davies, George Davies and Steve Foulkes over LRJ any day of the week. But then in the unlikely event they were ever called out publicly like LRJ has been we suppose the whole shelf would come tumbling down with all of Satan’s little helpers wouldn’t it ?

 

Advent Farewell 2 – Twin Towns in Hell

Tour - Nuremburg

Be it Wirral and Sandwell , how did we get to the point where Tour adjudicated on other people’s lives/careers or indeed anything of any importance. Frightening. Pic courtesy @CrowMultimedia 

Ghost of Christmas Past and Christmas Present 

It was three years ago we commented on the Wirral Council delegation that was whoring itself out in Reno desperate to hook up with somewhere that had even less attractive features than itself.

Consequently recent events tell us that our Big Guns in Tiny Town post needs re-posting in full here :

Following our earlier story about the beano in Reno Verity has been doing some further research into other towns who have had the dubious honour of being twinned with Wirral.  Apparently Wirral has been rather wanton with it’s unique charms and has previously wooed (in no particular order) Gennevilliers (France) ,Lorient (France) ,Latina (Italy) and Midland (Texas ,USA not the Black Country).
Then of course there was the Eurowirral office in Brussels which achieved er, well nothing much at all really.

As we’ve said before it seems to us at Leaky Towers that never has so much public money been spent on air miles by so many globetrotting councillors and officers to achieve so very little………

Of course the Twin Town debate is something that has concerned the great and the ghoul of Wirral for sometime.
Leaky Towers have always maintained we should be twinned with Jericho in recognition of our local whistleblowing community whilst Frankenfield seems to think that Birkenhead should be twinned with Beirut!.

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

Finally we’d particularly love to know what clean living local Councillor Paul “Danceaway” Doughty thinks about twinning with Reno – famous for gambling and quickie divorces.

Let’s just hope if we get a delegation from Reno visiting that Wirral tops up the Botox to prevent “The Biggest Little City in The World” seeking a quickie divorce…….

It would appear that the Reno beano has finally come up trumps (no pun intended) with the announcement, in the form of a leaflet distributed with the Wirral Globe ,that a ‘gentleman’s club’ is opening up in Birkenhead.  On hearing this news Her Ladyship commented : ” But there’s always been a gentleman’s club in Birkenhead. It’s called the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP)”

I had to rudely interject and inform Her Ladyship that ‘Peachez’ was certainly not the kind of gentleman’s club that fine upstanding, God-fearing Birkenhead MP Frank Field would frequent – although we had to admit we’re not so sure about his less enlightened acolytes. For any avoidance of doubt we’re talking about Foulkesy. Just sayin’.

Peachez 016.JPG

We also queried as to where this fitted with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and their Birkenhead Improvement District (BID). Although we’re sure that that one of their prominent ‘ members’ ( pun intended) would approve. For any avoidance of doubt we’re talking about Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley.  Just sayin’.

So can we just say in our public service role that Wirral Council should instead lower their sights and twin with the Black Country paradise that is Sandwell (aka Sadwell).

As we commented previously when Surjit Tour escaped there in his personalised number plated car to Sandwell Council that it was very much a case of  To Sandwell in a Handcart . And as Her Ladyship declared on his locally celebrated departure :

” There’s goes a man with low self -esteem issues. And never have they been more justified.” 

So let’s justify for you why we think Sandwell is a better fit for twinship with Wirral than previous speculative suggestions by referencing the superb local blog The Sandwell Skidder which makes Wirral Leaks seem like Wirral View. And that is very much a compliment.

Read for yourself here : http://thesandwellskidder.blogspot.co.uk/

Meanwhile consider this Sandwell Skidder comment as an example :

The bent Labour Council in Sandwell (aka Sadwell) have, as we have seen many times, appointed weak and feeble characters to the top echelons of the paid service in the benighted Borough. Head honcho, the pathetic Jan Britton, had a very thin CV but was appointed as Chief Executive. A selection of weirdos formed the second tier – like now-disgraced “Head of Legal” Neeraj Sharma who already had a record of  dismal failure at Walsall Council.

Sound familiar? – simply insert the name Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson in place of Jan Britton and Neeraj Sharma with Surjit Tour and you have Wirral Council.

Wirral and Sandwell – twin towns in hell who both have had Surjit Tour as the head of their legal departments. Just sayin’.

Apologies and Apologists

Apologies i have none

There was a very sorry display (or should that be ‘not sorry’ display?) at this week’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee where much of the meeting was spent discussing ” How do we solve a problem like Louise Reecejones (LRJ) ?” .

Apparently at the time of Monday’s meeting LRJ has yet to issue an acceptable apology to the whistleblowers who had made valid complaints about her but were then subject to personal attacks on social media and had to counter allegations intended to damage their careers. Furthermore doubts were raised during this week’s  meeting as to whether LRJ will comply with the requirement  to offer a  grovelling apology for her conduct to all Wirral councillors at full council meeting to be held on December 11 and whether she will actually turn up – something we had already raised as a possibility as you can read here : Standards and Measures

Having said all that it was particularly dispiriting to witness Wirral councillors flailing about and not knowing what to do if LRJ’s BSL signer is required to stick two fingers up to the sanctions imposed on her by the council’s Standards Panel . A rather excitable interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt seemed to get a vicarious thrill from reciting instances of appalling conduct of councillors from other areas as if to say ” and you thought you were bad!……”  

At which point Cllr Ron Abbey gormlessly  commented :   ” Just goes to show what’s going on out there . We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our own  good 

Really???

Meanwhile his comedy sidekick Cllr Paul Stuart seems tickled pink by his hilariously insightful comments . They’re the Chuckle Brothers without the chuckles. All of this can be witnessed at between 18- 22 minutes of the John Brace video posted below.

We’d like to ask McCourt where he thinks councillors using racial slurs to describe his predecessor , attempting smear campaigns and trying to use public money to buy the silence of complainants would rank in the scheme of councillor misconduct?  #Wirralgate ……or whether this just confirms his prissy assertion that councillors can currently be ” naughty to a fairly large degree” without it impacting on them being fine upstanding public representatives and pillars of the community.

As far as we’re concerned it’s BY FAR the very worst behaviour ever committed by Wirral councillors . However sadly the days when  councillors could be surcharged for their  misdeeds (Tesco heiress Dame Shirley Porter’s gerrymandering  in Westminster being the most prominent example ) or even referred to inept independent body Standards for England are long gone . Would you believe that despite ex-councillor Jim Crabtree’s conviction earlier this year for his repulsive behaviour (ironically) towards LRJ  that he would still be eligible to stand again as a councillor as he did not receive a custodial sentence of more than 3 months!

It would appear the bar for decent conduct for public servants has now been set so low that is it any wonder that we have the appalling shower of public representatives that we have at Wirral Council?  What’s more when you consider that councillors have been apologists for the most appalling conduct of both favoured senior officers and fellow councillors over recent  years that they now lack any MORAL AUTHORITY when it comes to trying to censure the conduct of  others.

Not that we’re apologists for LRJ but if she’s struggling to cobble together a convincing and sincere apology here’s our humble suggestion :

As a once proud upstanding member of this council I am today detumescent before you. Before I prostrate myself  in abject shame and beg your forgiveness I offer these wholly inadequate yet heartfelt words. I realise I could never hope to meet the high standards set by former Labour councillors such as Harry Smith , with his tact, diplomacy and his use of the English language ,and especially his command of Anglo-Saxon . Nor could I ever hope to attain the high office of  Jim Crabtree .  I realise that his telephone manner left a lot to be desired but in every other respect his behaviour was exemplary – at least by Bidston & St James ward standards anyway.  

As for current Labour councillors there is our supreme leader Phil aka Power Boy Pip who has been a particular inspiration to me when it comes to delegating his powers as I have long admired how he gets other people to do his dirty work. As for his deputies what can I say ? There’s big hitter Bernie and casual racist George. And as for Foulkesy? What can I say other than I am simply unworthy to keep their company.  All that is left for me to say is that I apologise for all the wrongs that the Labour group have inflicted upon Wirral and I accept my role as a scapegoat on their behalf.  

 

 

Show ‘Inappropriate Comments’ The Red Card

 

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Tony tells the truth : ‘The darkness around us is very deep”   Pic : John Brace

Little did we know when we published our Sorrento Shame : Holidaymakers claim they faced ‘racist abuse’ from ex – Wirral Mayoress  story ,that with some perverse synchronicity, it coincided with the 3rd annual ‘Show Racism The Red Card’ campaign.

To mark the event at the full meeting of Wirral Council held on 16th October Cllr Tony Norbury recited a poem.  Fortunately John Brace was able to capture the recital for posterity HERE . Now we can’t say it was one of the greatest orations we’ve ever heard but for those of you with strong stomachs and no gag reflexes it’s well worth enduring – if only for the closing line. Which was :

The darkness around us is very deep 

No seriously, Cllr Norbury uttered those immortal words , seemingly without a trace of irony. Under the circumstances the assembled throng of elected members holding up red cards with ‘ Show Racism The Red Card’ emblazoned on them with different translations of the slogan on the reverse has to be a contender for the empty political gesture of the year (and that’s always a particularly strong category).

Needless to say when it comes to certain councillors we know already that the hardfaced don’t get redfaced but as far as we’re concerned nobody’s hands holding those cards were clean .

Of course whilst councillors wouldn’t know about ‘the Sorrento incident’ they can’t say they didn’t know about the ‘Wirralgate incident’ involving Cllr George Davies , which although now 4 years old still reverberates around the corridors of power at Wallasey Town Hall.

Although the racist slur that forms part of the ‘Wirralgate’ recording is by no means the only disturbing aspect of the telephone conversation between Cllr Davies and a disgruntled ex-employee of Wirral Council , we have to say we had our doubts when we heard that Cllr George Davies had been recorded saying that former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess had thought that his former head of law was a “bloody useless Chink” . Whilst we had no trouble accepting the “bloody useless” bit – the pejorative description of  Surjit Tour as a “Chink” didn’t seem to make any sense in terms of ethnicity, race or heritage. However the slur has subsequently been confirmed by a disparate range of sources – so who are we to dispute it? What’s more, and on reflection, it made perfect sense as a particular kind of old school casual racism which is deeply ingrained and borne out of sheer ignorance and an appreciation of Bernard Manning.

However what we have never been able to reconcile is that after hearing the ‘Wirralgate’ tape recording himself why didn’t namesake and Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies suspend Cllr George Davies and refer the matter to Wirral Council’s Standards Panel ? Instead he facilitated the means by which a racial slur becomes sanitised and minimised as an ‘inappropriate comment’ in a report written by a certain Peter Mackay that never saw the light of day.  Way to go, Pip!

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Under these circumstances  it seems to us that it’s a case of ” Show Racism the Red Card – unless it’s a well connected Bluenose”  ……and no race awareness/race equality course or waving a red card in the air is ever going to remedy that kind of hypocrisy. We just wish councillors would spare us the self righteous, sanctimonious empty political gestures when we know that certain councillors are clearly comfortable in the company of people who make racist comments.

Caption competition :

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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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