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

 

 

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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

 

Red Card 009

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!

Red Card 013

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 :

Screenshot_20171113-164701

 

 

 

 

Consultant Insults – Continued

£

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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To Sandwell In A Handcart

Colin as Surjit 009

Less than 5 years of dedicated public service at Wirral Council seem to have taken their toll on poor Surjit Tour  pic: courtesy of John Brace

We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch video footage last week’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting as we understand Power Boy Pip et al  gave outgoing Wirral Council law lord Surjit Tour a rousing round of applause as it was his last ever council meeting – yes , even from Cllr George Davies – but then the deputy leader of Wirral Council must be relieved to see the back of this particular chink in his armour.

The plaudits were all very reminiscent of the time when the subsequently convicted criminal Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree chaired the the Audit & Risk Management Committee  – yes we know ! – can you believe that actually happened ? – and led the handclapping for Audit Commission/Grant Thornton gobshite Mike Thomas. We suspect the applause for both was much for the same reason – keeping a lid on Wirral Council malpractice and getting paid well to do it.

Having said that Tour must be shooting off to his new gig at Sandwell Council like shit off a shovel. And it would appear he will be right at home. As a local source commented –‘Labour controlled and crooked forever’ 

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/10/10/sandwell-council-shake-up-fourth-senior-officer-leave-post/

We’re sure the six figure salary was particularly enticing for this status – conscious public servant. All we can say is that you can earn as much as you like but at the end of the day you’re still Surjit Tour.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/2017/05/26/sandwell-council-looking-to-appoint-top-roles—one-earning-100k-pay-packet/

We’re just staggered that out of four candidates interviewed for Sandwell Council’s top legal job that Tour came out on top.  Isn’t it reassuring that our public services have such a deep well of talent to draw upon?

Sandwell Council  must be particularly dear to Tour’s heart as a legal case involving his new employer was brought to attention in 2016.  A Wirral Council whistleblower had told their senior managers that they weren’t complying with the law when it came to administrating Discretionary Housing Payments  (DHP)- which are what they say on the tin, discretionary payments made to people who are having trouble paying their rent for one reason or another and presumably some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wirral Council seem particularly reluctant to promote this fund they have available to help people in need so we’re saying loud and clear if you find yourself struggling to pay your rent contact Wirral Council and ask about DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS!

Needless to say the public-spirited  whistleblower who identified that Wirral Council were acting unlawfully was cruelly hounded out of their job for showing up their managers for the bullying incompetents they were.  There will be much more to come on this story but changes to procedures and belated thanks from Tour doesn’t cut it when someone’s career is needlessly destroyed for,once again, wanting things done properly and dare we say LAWFULLY!

Is it just us who thinks that if we don’t speak up about such abuses we’re all going to hell in a handcart?

Subject: Re: Whistleblowing Matter (Case Ref: 22/2016)

Dear X

Further the above matter, I have now completed all requisite enquiries into this matter. I have received and considered the report prepared by XX (Senior Auditor) into the matter you raised in your confidential report [CRF1] dated 22nd February 2016.

The review conducted by XX showed that whilst an assessment of income was undertaken in respect of DHP applicant’s income, the assessments were not fully compliant with the post Sandwell case and revised DWP guidance (issued in August 2015) on such claims.

In light of this, supplementary guidance has issued and explained to all relevant members of the team at the Transaction Centre so that DHP claims are assessed in accordance with the Sandwell case and revised DWP Guidance. Moreover, changes to procedures have and are being implemented to ensure consistency and compliance with the Sandwell case and revised  DWP guidance.

May I take the opportunity to thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the council.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

Pond Life

Fish 2 010Fish 2 012

You may remember a recent post about a Wirral Council  Employment and Appointments Committee held on June 28th where we referenced a particular agenda item and commented  : Curiously there was (inevitably) an exempt item on the agenda which we understand involved discussions about yet another high profile departure who has been allowed to slip the net (if you get our drift). Suffice to say there’ll be more on that particular catch of the day at a later date.   

Comings and Goings

As we alluded to last week we can now confirm it’s farewell then to cartoon character Dolly Pond lookalike and Wirral Council Super-Duper Director Clare Fish.

We’ll miss her. Mainly because of the endless punning opportunities this overpaid failure provided – wet fish, fish out of water , out of her depth etc; It really was like shooting Fish in a barrel.

It always struck us that Clare was content to be a small fish in a stagnant pond and suddenly found herself swimming with sharks who were either screwing each other or screwing each other over.

Inevitably she found herself to be yet another Wirral council senior officer responsible for social care who has been thrown overboard having netted a big fat cheque – think Miller, Webb, Noone, Fowler ,Hassall . Meanwhile  the overseer of a series of failures, Cllr Moira McLaughlin, sails serenely on like an ocean going tanker full of toxic waste.

In this particular case Fish netted £105,000 . Wirral Council will have you believe with some financial jiggerypokery that they didn’t splash out another six figure sum to reward failure – but they did. It’s what they do, because they don’t know any other way. We say try sacking people or let them resign – that’s how it works in the business world that Wirral Council seem so determined to replicate.

However the most curious aspect of this hasty departure , and a demonstration of Wirral Council’s usual commitment to openness,transparency and accountability is the fact that having applied an exemption, thus excluding press and public from the Employment and Appointments Committee where the pay-off was discussed, they then had to refer the matter for approval at last night’s full Council meeting as Ms Fish swam through the magic six figure mark meaning it needed to be agreed by elected members.

Outgoing Head of Law Surjit Tour seems to have forgotten to tell Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson how this council business works as Stressed Eric merrily revealed in his ExecView  internal newsletter ( which is a bit like Wirral View but without soup recipes and pictures of smiling tots)  that Fish had already slipped through the net .

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As you can see ExecView  was dated July 4th and the CEO revealed that Fish had already left the previous week ! So what was the point of even bringing the matter to the Council meeting to agree Fish’s leaving terms ? None whatsoever! But it appears the pond life who are our local elected representatives get along swimmingly and don’t like to make too many ripples when it comes to spending our money on rewarding failure!

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Comings and Goings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dirty Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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