EXCLUSIVE : Thick As Thieves (Update)

3 wise monkeys

You may  or may not be aware of a story emerging from Liverpool Crown Court which appeared in the local press earlier today.

Petty Cash Thief

As you can read above the story concerns the theft of petty cash money by a former Wirral Council employee. But when you consider that Wirral Leaks first revealed the story HERE  in January 2016, following leaks from aggrieved Wirral Council whistleblowers, it becomes clear that there is much more to this story than has been reported in today’s press.

You will see from our original story that the person we coyly referred to as Mr T (and now revealed to be Carl Thompson) has indeed now been convicted for stealing £7,000+. However we don’t wish to focus here on Mr T especially as he has now faced justice and has been held accountable (which as we know is unusual for someone involved either in the past or the present with Wirral Council). Equally unusual is a rare example of openness and honesty from a Wirral Council senior manager . As a certain Simon Cuerden is quoted as saying this particular case ” had adversely affected the staff morale and the reputation of the authority and rebuilding trust and transparency is still ongoing”    

If you look at our original story (re-published in full below) you can see why Mr Cuerden saw fit to make this comment. Consequently, and as was the case with former Labour councillor Jim Crabtree, we have to ask ourselves if whistleblowers hadn’t contacted us as to whether various crimes and misdemeanours would just have been buried by the council:

Now from what we’ve observed of an increasingly desperate Wirral Council leadership is that they’ve been told to do two things  : a) praise council staff publicly even when treating them like crap and b) mention the utterly vacuous and meaningless window dressing that is their 20/20 Vision Wirral Plan at every opportunity ( “We have a plan ,we know what we’re doing – honestly”).

Well can we tell Wirral Council that judging by the increasing amount of correspondence we’re getting from the crime scene that is Wallasey Town Hall that council staff are getting increasingly pissed off with the fakery – seriously pissed off.

Nothing is pushing their badly-done-to button more than a case which in some ways is a microcosm of how Wirral Council operates. It’s a case which has been knocking about our inbox for some time and when one of our sources writes : ”  I would appreciate anonymity as we all know what happens to WMBC whistleblowers…”  This tells us everything we need to know about the poisonous culture which still seemingly infects the alleged “Most Improved Council in Britain” than any number of feelgood press releases.

Council staff are not so much singing like a canary but singing like Shirley Bassey and their song goes something like this:

“Lightfingered – he’s the man, the man with the petty cash , Council-tax payers cash……” 

This doleful refrain concerns a certain Mr.T – T in this case stands for thief
We understand that Mr.T was suspended under that polite euphemism “misappropriation of funds” (something that Wirral Council have been quite adept at themselves) and although apparently Mr.T owned up the act, he was suspended on full pay during a lengthy investigation before he was recently dismissed.

However what is vexing Council staff is that it is alleged that this matter “was not reported to the police, central government, the audit commission or Wirral council tax payers and has been swept under the carpet in true WMBC style”.

No change there then you might say (no pun intended) – especially as this was someone caught with their hands in the petty cash till  – as Wirral Council  have an inglorious record of lurching towards the twin perils of  “reputation management”  and “cover up” when it comes to situations such as this.

We understand that the figure that has been filched is approximately £30,000 but common opinion among council staff is that as there was no thorough investigation that the actual figure could be much more than this.We understand that Mr.T could have been stealing money over a number of years and nobody knows the exact amount as Wirral Council only investigated what was stolen within a particular financial year.

Of course Wirral Council are welcome to deny any of these allegations…..

Questions and comments that have been put to us – although perhaps they should be put to Wirral Council leaders or even more pertinently to Merseyside Police are :

  • Why was it so easy for Mr.T  to steal thousands of pounds?
  • Who countersigned any monies/petty cash? If not why not?
  • I suspect this is due to the fact that said colleague had access to thousands of pounds in petty cash and was able to spend from the council budget until his heart was content as he was not managed for a minimum of 3 years
  • Staff reviews should take place every year! but his line Manager left and he was then left to his own devices!! You have to ask why internal audit were not doing an annual audit? If they had this would have been picked up very early.
  • It is now believed that he is working elsewhere and had faced no consequences for his actions besides dismissal
  • This person has taken the Wirral taxpayers money and needs to be held to account.Where is the deterrent? Where is the accountability? Where is the public interest? Where’s our bloody money?

I think the only question we can actually answer is the one about Internal Audit.They were doing their usual job of obeying their political paymasters and/or being inept .However for the rest it would seem it is the usual tale of Wirral Council failing to take any responsibility for their own negligence in allowing this situation to arise in the first place.

We’re left wondering as to whether someone with £30,000 + of Council Tax arrears would avoid legal action quite so readily?. Indeed Wirral Council  seem to be labouring (no pun intended again) under the misconception that the money they lose through their negligence/incompetence is THEIR money – so it can just be written off and forgotten about.

Consequently Wirral Council leaders rap sheet of cases where they protect their positions of power by protecting wrongdoers continues to grow.

However when you’re thick as thieves with thieves,liars,bribers and bullies might we suggest to those in power it’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror and decide as to whether you still have the moral authority to run a local authority.

 

Whilst some of the questions raised by one of our sources may have been answered , some haven’t, such as how come an  “unsuspecting solicitor colleague” signed off some the petty cash slips – until suddenly a new member of staff joined his department? What the hell were Internal Audit playing at ? Did Wirral Council provide a reference for Mr T ? and whether being Mayor Foulkesy’s former chauffeur influenced the (in)actions of Wirral Council ?

 

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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.”

 

Hot Flush

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Firstly , thanks go out to fellow Wirral blogger John Brace who generously tipped us off about a Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) decision made earlier this year which was published this week:

http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/education/school-transport/15-020-236?cn=bWVudGlvbg%3D%3D

Serendipitously it coincided with our regular leaks direct from Wallasey Town Hall and combined together they tell you everything you need to know about Wirral Council’s warped priorities.

As you can see the notoriously stingy LGO ,  who are rammed with local government failures , ruled in favour of parents who had made complaints on behalf of their disabled children who had been denied transport by Wirral Council. The LGO financially penalised Wirral Council accordingly. Well ,when we say Wirral Council, we really mean us ,the long suffering Wirral council taxpayers, as let’s face it, the people responsible for this injustice never pick up the tab – we do!

Compare and contrast this decision with the fact that a disabled super-toilet has been installed on the ground floor of Wallasey Town Hall. When we say a super-toilet we mean a toilet equipped with a heated seat and a douche facility. As let’s face it we all know the most prominent inhabitants of Wallasey Town Hall are full of crap!

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Meanwhile another leaker provided pictures of new chairs being delivered this week to the Treasury Building on two consecutive days . We can’t help feeling that both leaks serve as a perfect metaphor for Wirral Council  – as they appear to be forever protecting their own arses!

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Under the circumstances we can only suggest that Wirral Council employees wanting to climb the slippery pole press the ‘Turbo’ button. The symbol represents your tongue kissing someone’s arse. This may mean the people who pay your wages evidentially don’t get a decent service but hey! what do you care ? –  you get to pay your mortgage and pretend you’re a pillar of the community.

Blank Halliday

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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 ?

Dirty Work

Norman PE 009.JPG

Once again we have the opportunity to report on the travels and travails of Wirral Council’s former Head of Law Bill Norman. The reason we take such an interest in this particular ‘public servant’ is because, for us, he is something of a town hall totem. Symbolising  everything that is wrong with the local government gravy train. Serenely sailing from Torbay to Wirral to Hereford and now to Cheshire East Council (CEC), Norman has picked up a sizeable cheque at each port of call whilst leaving waves of controversy in his wake.

Norman Wisdom

Now we hear that ‘concerns’ have been raised about  his conduct in his latest role as Head of Legal Services and Montoring Officer at CEC  as we learn that a special committee has recently considered potential disciplinary matters concerning CEO Mike Suarez, Monitoring Officer Bill Norman and Chief Finance Officer Peter Bates.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-39495102

According to a further reports in the latest edition of Private Eye Norman has been caught up in the scandal which they dubbed ‘Physiogate’ which has startling similarities to our very own ongoing ‘Wirralgate’ scandal – of which Norman was an early casualty . Indeed he is apparently keen to explain to anyone who’ll listen that he was ‘stabbed in the back’ by Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies. However we’re sure the £146k he received (+ £10k legal fees) must’ve eased the pain somewhat.

Private Eye had exposed that valuable contracts had been awarded to CoreFit a firm owned by one Amanda Morris. Morris just happened to be the ‘close friend’ and the personal physio of CEC leader Mike Jones . However these contracts somehow bypassed usual tendering processes – oops! – and  consequently ‘Physiogate’ led to the resignation of Cllr Jones in 2015. The disciplinary hearing mentioned above summoned Norman to give evidence but it is not clear as to whether he faced disciplinary measures. However we do know that CEC CEO Suarez has been suspended.

According to Private Eye Norman could be implicated in ‘Physiogate’ because of his alleged treatment of CEC’s Head of Internal Audit, Andrew North. Apparently North had reported his concerns about the CoreFit contract to Suarez and Norman . Needless to say in true local authority fashion the person wanting to do things properly was treated as the villain of the piece consequently wanted to bring a grievance against Suarez and Norman.

Private Eye understands that Norman approached the CEC Head of Communications Beverley Walkden to ‘dig the dirt’ on North  – like you do. Usually in these cases senior managers close ranks but miraculously in this case  ,Walkden refused and , yes you guessed it, was suspended. Even more predictably North went off sick , left CEC in February 2017 and now claims to have been ‘bullied’ and forced out of CEC.  So far, so familiar – there is even a missing audio recording of the disciplinary committee meeting (more parallels with Wirralgate!).

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?

Somehow in this crazy , mixed up world of local government we are led to believe that the people doing such ‘dirty work’ should be valued and paid silly money . To add insult to injury these are the same people who value themselves so much that think they’re better than the ‘little people’ who pay them the silly money!

We’re here to remind them that they’re not.

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DOLLAR-BILL

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

MARTIN LIPTROTSKY AT WORK :

Dont’cha just lurve it when a plan comes together….

As more details emerge on the shameful appointment of Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky) as Wirral Council’s International Schmoozer -in- Chief you may have noticed that whilst opposition councillors fulminate we are the only ones prepared to name him.

We stated yesterday that the ‘Interim Investment Lead’, as Liptrotsky will be more formally known , would be on an annual salary of approximately £127,000 . We just need to clarify that whilst this calculated a sum assuming a whole year appointment we now understand that ‘the successful candidate’ ( ha! ha! ha! ) will be paid a mere £350 per day and the contract is currently only for 4 months. However don’t be fooled  – council correspondence we have seen states that the 4 month contract is just to ensure the appointment ‘is within budget’.  The decision to extend the contract beyond 4 months is a mere formality or in Council-speak ‘The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’ In other words neither councillors nor the council tax paying public get a say – it’s up to Power Boy Pip and Liptrotsky whether they want to squander more of your money.

Additionally might we suggest that this appointment will involve additional costs to the public purse. The day rate of £350 comes ‘with flexibility should we require it’  – and we all know that flexibility will probably involve more public money being spent rather than less. We also need to take into account that the post will involve  international flights and hotels , starting with an arduous spring trip to Cannes. Perhaps Pip and Liptrotsky , being West Kirby neighbours, can do a car share to Wallasey Town Hall to cut down on travel expenses!

As an aside we’d also like to know what happened to Liptrotsky’s ‘Policy Advisor’ post – have the costs been offset against his new appointment or is the £350 day rate in addition?

The apparent urgency to make this appointment , the circumventing of criticism about the post and the fact that details were selectively seeped out –rather than leaked out- last Friday in the knowledge that Liptrotsky will take up his new position tomorrow (20 February 2017), all suggest that the Labour administration know that in the current financial climate that this appointment is politically unpalatable. 

It will be interesting to see how Liptrotsky’s appointment will  be dealt with at tomorrow morning’s Cabinet meeting. No doubt the Labour group will put on a public display of hand-wringing over “savage government cuts” whilst picking our pockets to put Pip’s pal on the payroll.

 

Question Time

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Let’s draw a discreet veil over last night’s ‘Question Time’.  All we will say is that if the audience in Wallasey Town Hall is what passes for the politically aware of Wirral it explains an awful lot!

Meanwhile , it’s not like us , but we’ve been a bit ambivalent about the local debate to reduce the number of local councillors. Our take has been that fewer elected members would mean a concentration of power and reduce  opportunities to challenge the powers that be , but then we had to remind ourselves that a) that rarely happens and b) party whips and council procedures can quell all rebellion.

We think that what we ‘d really like is a reduction in the number councillors who think a Nolan Principle is the latest winner of Celebrity Big Brother.

However such discussion is purely academic as councillors decided last month – quelle surprise! – not to suffer , like the rest of us , the consequences of the squeeze on public spending and to retain their numbers.

This decision was trumpeted by Cllr  Foulkesy – of all people! –  at a meeting of Wirral Council’s Labour Cabinet last month.

The conclusion that a reduction from 66 to 44 councillors would lead to the need for ‘full -time councillors’ and would apparently inhibit opportunities for women,ethnic minorities and disabled people to hold public office.  It would also lead to what Foulkesy called ‘a different shade of councillor’ being required as opposed,we presume, to a ‘shady councillor’ like himself. And suddenly we’re sold on the idea !  – in fact let’s go all the way and do away with councillors altogether and all the party political baggage that goes with it . Think about it – wouldn’t it be great to have full time professional public servants who are not compromised by toxic politicking?  So we say less councillors and more council staff ! – we can dream can’t we?

As we’ve been anxious to find out what Cllr Janette ‘Milly Tant’ Williamson called the ‘evidence based analysis’ which led to the decision not to refer the matter to the Local Government Boundary Commission we not only read the Scrutiny Review Panel report but considered a Freedom of Information request made by John H Hutchinson which has been brought to our attention and which reads :

“In his Cabinet report “Number of Councillors Scrutiny Review” November
2016, Cllr Brightmore makes many broad statements the most vague of which
is “significant resources in terms of officer and councillor time” and,
later, to support this statement “significant amount of time and
resources”.

What, please, was the formal and recorded estimate of time and resources
to support these statements?

If no estimate was made, could Council make an estimate to complete this
FoIA request, please?”

The Council can advise that Cllr Brightmore’s statements relate to the
Scrutiny Review Panel’s estimation of the time and resources required for
the Council to prepare a submission document to the Local Government
Boundary Commission for England (the Commission), and to undergo an
electoral review (See page 9 of the report)
[1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents…

In reviewing a number of lengthy and detailed submission documents from
other local authorities, the Panel was able to gain an appreciation of the
time and resources likely to be required to compile a submission in
preparation for an electoral review.  Technical guidance from the
Commission, indicating an 18-24 month timescale to complete each stage of
an electoral review also informed the statements. Beyond this, no detailed
assessment or estimation of the time and resources required to make a
submission was undertaken.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cost_of_reducing_councillor_numb

So it would seem that the  Scrutiny Review Panel Chair and rising Labour star Philip ‘Brightboy’ Brightmore –  who’s previous claim to fame was grassing up former Wirral West MP Esther Mc Vey for using House of Commons stationery and postage for Tory electioneering

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/wirral-leaks-advent-calendar-7-the-stamp-of-disapproval/

– was talking about an ‘estimation of the time and resources required for the Council to prepare a submission document to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (the Commission)’ .

So it would transpire that the Scrutiny Review Panel have basically made some comparisons with some neighbouring councils and councils with a similar profile and decided they are value for money.

It is significant there are no surveys or consultations undertaken canvassing the views of council taxpayers nor an analysis of how much additional council officer time and resources would be needed if the number of councillors were to be reduced. This was firmly put in the ‘too difficult tray’ by the Panel as follows : ‘The impact of a reduction of councillors on back office and support functions was also acknowledged by the Panel. Whilst this is difficult to quantify, it was agreed that that these functions would have to increase in order to fill the gap left by councillors, so any cost savings identified by reducing councillors would have to take account of any increase in officer workloads.’

Meanwhile Panel chair Brightboy says in the introduction :

‘I believe the findings of this investigation speak broadly for themselves. To speculate further upon those findings here risks undermining the analytical, data-led approach I and others have been careful to maintain.’

Which just about sums up some local councillors view of the local electorate.  It’s a case of : ‘We don’t want your views .We know best – even when we don’t ’cause we don’t have the data !’  

Which is why in the light of such a lack of investigative rigour we say to our readers :  keep on making those Freedom of Information requests and most important of all –  QUESTION EVERYTHING.

 

Picture Gallery

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Our thanks go one of our spotters who sent us this picture taken yesterday outside Wallasey Town Hall. We were asked if we could throw any light on the matter as to why a mahoosive shredding vehicle was parked there ( we do hope they were charged by the way) .

We welcome suggestions from our readers – but our top 3 guesses are a) There’s an investigation going on – but hey! isn’t there always?! b) Wirral Council need to deal with all those returned, unwanted copies of Wirral View  – but hey! every little helps when it comes to recycling trash targets ! and c) They’ve finally got round  to disposing of discarded undergarments of past Wirral Council senior managers – but hey! let’s hope the shredders were equipped with surgical gloves!

Our second picture comes courtesy of Twitter. Now we know we have a Twitter account but to be honest we try not to go there. It’s a bit like Grange Road, Birkenhead – 140 characters and they’re usually mindless.

However it is very kind of Wirral Council to keep us informed of their hi (sic) street cleaning schedule. For future reference : the only cleaning we’re interested in is when they fumigate Wallasey Town Hall and remove the vermin currently inhabiting the place.

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We know that the next one is a bad picture  – but it’s deliberate and a case of a picture painting a thousand words. It’s details of Wirral Council’s plans to charge you for basically parking anywhere on Wirral except your own driveway – although we suspect that a Super-Duper Director has been sent off to drum up a dastardly plan to enable them to do that too! – especially when none of them actually live here !

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And finally we have a heartwarming closing picture of Cllr Steve Foulkes so you go to bed all warm and fuzzy. So here’s Foulkesy stroking a pussy – what’s not to love?

Foulkesy and pussy

 

This Gun (Ain’t) For Hire

 

this-gun-for-hire

Our attention has been drawn to a number of interesting Facebook posts this week. This includes one posted yesterday by Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley which read :

Earlier this evening I was at Wallasey Town Hall for a special scrutiny meeting requisitioned by the Conservatives to look into the activity of Wirral Community Patrol and try to find out why it provides free security checks to private business and individuals.

The debate was interesting, with former Leader of the Council, Labour’s Steve Foulkes accusing the conservatives of trying to make political gain, and referring to me as ‘A hired Gun’. I must have done something right then!

Anyway at the end of the meeting and to try to be helpful i moved a motion that read:

‘Committee resolves to set up a Task and Finish group to carry out a full review of Wirral’s Community Patrol service and on completion of the review the findings be reported back to the Environment Committee.’

Now I thought, being an innocuous and non political motion that it would get all party support. How wrong was I with the Labour Councillors and the Lib Dem voting against. Just what have they got to hide?

First of all we see that the long running Blakeley v Foulkesy feud continues. Oh how Blakeley must’ve loved being at the Standards Panel earlier this year where Foulkesy’s serial mendacity was discussed ad nauseum. However the satisfaction must’ve been purely personal as Foulkesy staggeringly continues to be a councillor and therefore able to bait Bulldog Blakeley with his old standby about Conservatives trying to make ‘political gain’ by requisitioning pointless political point scoring meetings. As for ‘political gain’ how does Foulkesy reconcile this statement with asking his badly bequiffed bestie Cllr George Davies asking for a document smearing the Conservative group leader Jeff Green in exchange for cold, hard cash?.

However let’s get back to the political pantomime that is Blakeley v Foulkesy.  The respective Rottweilers of Wirral’s leading (and constantly) feuding political parties. Shame the pair of them were neutered a long time ago and this is purely for entertainment purposes with Blakeley keeping his powder dry and Foulkesy firing blanks.

Witness as Foulkesy  refers to Blakeley as a ” A hired Gun” (sic) – so tell us Foulkesy who is Blakeley hired by?. Meanwhile Blakeley asks the question about Labour and Lib Dem councillors :“Just what have they got to hide?” . So tell us Blakeley what exactly have they got to hide?

The fact is you’ve all got something to hide. As this missive to Leaky Towers seems to testify :

Councillor Blakeley posted on Facebook today that the conservative party has lodged an investigation into Wirral community patrol to the councils scrutiny committee.

The reason believed to be community patrol officers security checks on Angela Eagle’s headquarters in Liscard is just not a big deal at all.
They should be investigating how the Wirral Community Patrol Limited came about and what was the reasons for Atlas Fire and Security owner Mr Piggott branding this council service – illegal by the way.
Also ex – Wirral Community patrol manager John Kenny and his ex -Assistant manager Mike Collins setting up Atlas Security Patrol and then plundering over 40% of Wirral Community Patrols business using insider knowledge of their pricing structure.
This is well known by the head of the Wirral Conservative Party and Mr Blakeley but inspection of Facebook sites shows they are both friends with Mike Collins who is also a Conservative Party member who only last year ran in the Bromborough ward.They always protect their friends no matter what party.
Atlas Patrol are now part of the Wirral Chamber elite with their best mate Adderley – head honcho.  Watch this space…… 
We note that the former Conservative councillor Leah Fraser , who was the most prominent champion of the Community Patrol guys, is no longer a Conservative councillor. She follows on from Simon Mountney – the Conservative councillor who championed the notorious Martin Morton whistleblowing case. Seems to us that if you speak up for those treated unfairly by Wirral Council – you have no future with the local Conservative Party.

All this does from our perspective is to reiterate our clarion call to all the talented , intelligent , ambitious young people of personal integrity on Wirral and that is to get out of this incestuous, pernicious peninsula as fast as you can………..

Oh , and finally we don’t expect Cllr Blakeley to retweet or like this blog post on Facebook because we don’t and never will be seeking his or any other Wirral councillor’s approval. We ain’t for hire. EVER.

Where The Paranormal Is Normal

Leaky towers

Infamously Wallasey Town Hall was once described in a damning report as a place where the abnormal is normal.

Well it would appear that in yet another  case of you-couldn’t-make-this-shit-up that there will be a Wallasey Town Hall Ghost Hunt held next month where the abnormal is now paranormal .

http://www.trinityparanormalteam.co.uk/#!wallasey-town-hall—sat-11th-june/m12az

Yes – apparently there will be a Paranormal Team on hand at the event and guests are encouraged but not forced to participate in “experiments ” which  include:-

Vigils and seances in your groups – this will be very familiar to a lot of people already as let’s face it trying to get a response from Wirral Council on some issues is like trying to commune with the dead. So save yourself from making a time consuming Freedom of Information request – join hands , close your eyes and chant :  ” Eric can you hear me ? …..is that you Eric ?…….Eric you’re very faint …….what’s that you say ?……you want to apply an exemption and can’t be full and frank with the living ?…..”      

Table tipping we assume this must mean getting rid of all those excess desks floating like ghosts round Wallasey Town Hall following the arrival of shiny new office furniture earlier this year

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/well-furnished/

Ouija board and glass divination (both optional) – Watch as the powers of darkness spell out W-I-R-R-A-L-G-A-T-E   

Lone vigils (optional) – This will be for all the Wirral Council whistleblowers sent to Coventry or Occupational Health  or the dole queue . Remember this is optional – the option being to keep your mouth shut and your head down.

Human pendulam (sic) – As we all know a pendulum is a body suspended from a fixed support so that it swings freely back and forth under the influence of gravity. We’re guessing that a human pendulum at Wallasey Town Hall consists of senior managers swinging freely back and forth under the influence of those who have power in the hope that they’re not the latest human sacrifice tossed into the gutter once they’ve served their purpose.  

Full use of equipment throughout the night including K2 metres, hand-held thermometres (sic) and voice recorders –  Sssssssh! –  we don’t know what the first two are for but if there’s one thing that will scare some councillors more than anything at Wallasey Town Hall it’s the use of voice recorders!!!.

Ouija