His Lordship Makes An Announcement

Citizen-Leaks

Live from Leaky Towers we proudly present an important  press statement from His Lordship :

‘After serious consideration and stumping up the £500 election deposit by selling some of the family silver I have resolved to stand as the Leaky Party candidate at the next General Election.

Of course this will mean I will have to relinquish my title and forego the afternoon snoozes in the House of Lords – not to mention the expenses.

Newly appointed Wirral Leaks Press Officer Ms. McCalamity whispers in ear : ‘ I thought we agreed it would be best if you didn’t actually mention your expenses at all ! Remember that little problem you had explaining the gold-plated trouser press and the appointment of your own personal nobbler, sorry ,cobbler claiming you were only trying to emulate the incumbent MP for Birkenhead ?’ – https://order-order.com/2009/10/19/is-frank-field-really-so-saintly/

However from now I will be a commoner and appropriately enough I will be standing in the Birkenhead Constituency. For the duration of my campaign I will be known simply as Julian ( McCalamity whispers in ear) . Oh yes , we’ve agreed on a bit of rebranding and that to maximise the youth vote I will be going by name ‘Joolz’ and my election tagline will be ‘Joolz 4 Birko’ .

Her Ladyship is already busily preparing to become Birkenhead’s First Lady – as opposed to Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO Paula Basnett who is Birkenhead First’s Lady . Because as everyone knows behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes and running the show!

The Leaky Party will be standing on a platform of  investing and supporting public services , promoting openness,transparency and accountability, refusing to reward failure with public money, preventing the appointment of overpaid consultants, promoting meritocracy and rejecting cronyism , barring BS and spurning spin. Oh and whilst we’re at it stopping ‘Returning Officer’ payments at elections – if ever there is case of the undeserving rich it is Eric ‘ Feeble’ Robinson pocketing another 15 grand just before the summer hols. C’mon Eric – do as one of your predecessors once did and donate this unwarranted perk to charity . Might we suggest adding this election windfall to fundraising efforts for victims of the New Ferry  gas explosion. Put OUR money where the need is!

So in conclusion as I launch our campaign I say to the people of Wirral ( and particularly Birkenhead)  – let’s all rise up together and be something more than pitiers of the poor and do something more than promote ourselves,our friends and our own personal agendas.

Let the political games begin……’

 

Birkenhead First (Second Coming)

Birkenhead First Balloon

Is the balloon about to burst on the BID levy scam? Or are Wirral Chamber of Commerce still allowed to give Tourism Awards to one of their belligerent Director’s former love nest in exchange for screwing over local charities?

Apologies for the disrespectful Easter title – but it’s what we do best. Iconoclastic and sarcastic at the same time.

This post is a follow up to one of our most popular recent stories

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Continuing the Biblical theme , readers will remember this was the David v Goliath story of charity boss Jim Barrington taking on the might of Wirral Chamber of Commerce (or rather their enforcers Wirral Council).

Gallant Wirral Councillor Lib Dem Stuart Kelly followed up our story , asking pertinent questions of Wirral Council CEO Eric’ Feeble’ Robinson who in time honoured tradition passed it on to some highly paid underling who passed it on to a less than highly paid underling.

The answers to the questions that Cllr Kelly posed are as follows . Needless to say it starts with apologies, because apparently this is what we do , we pay public servants to apologise profusely and at regular intervals

Apologies for the delay in responding to you.  Please find below my response.

1.Is it the case that Birkenhead First have the ability under regulations to exempt not for profit charitable business from the levy ?   

Schedule 1, Paragraph 1 (e) of the Business Improvement Districts (England ) Regulations 2004 provide that BID proposals shall include “a statement of the specified class of non domestic ratepayer (if any) for which and the level at which any relief from the BID levy is to apply”. This could include charitable rate relief. The Birkenhead BID proposal did not include this optional relief. The BID levy of 1.5% applies to all hereditaments located within the Birkenhead BID boundary area. Businesses with a rateable value that is below £6000 are not liable to pay the BID levy.

2. Is it the case that the BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council.

Yes we bill and collect on behalf of the BID.

3. Is it the case that none payment is being pursued through the magistrates courts when the liability is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court, if so what is the reason for using magistrates court?

Schedule 4 of the 2004 Regulations deals with enforcement and application for liability orders if the levy is not paid. It applies Part 3 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989. Regulation 12 (2) provides that:-
“The application is to be instituted by making complaint to a justice of the peace, and requesting the issue of a summons directed to that person to appear before the court to show why he has not paid the sum which is outstanding.”
The correct jurisdiction for enforcement is the magistrates court.

4. Is it the case that Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has been established in court, is there a breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at.

No costs are awarded by the Court upon application by the Council. They are shown on the summons document. The cost make up is shown on the attached. The costs are the Council’s and not passed on to the Chamber.   

5. What is the relationship between Wirral Council and the Chamber with regard to the BID.

The chamber pays for the Council to administer the Billing and Collection of the BID.  

Thankfully our original source Jim Barrington was able to breakdown this BS response as follows :

This looks promising. Excellent work. I did not see the attachment they used to justify their court costs but I am assuming it is the same excel spreadsheets they sent to me. If so here are a few things to consider:
1) They provide the cost to run the entire revenue and benefits department. These staff are already in place so providing these costs as evidence of what it costs in court fees is a deliberate tactic to avoid providing a per capita breakdown. The staff perform other roles and functions including allocation of housing benefits, council tax benefits and enquiries, non-domestic rates and so on. As such one would need to know the total number of different activities each officer undertakes, how many hours are involved and how much of this is actual spent processing and compiling court actions. Then one needs to add the known £3 court processing fee (taking into account economies of scale) and know precisely how many people are being taken to court on any given submission. Then, since the fees must be BID specific, this must be narrowed down to a per capita cost for each BID summons. I doubt this would cost more than £3 per processing fee plus an average of £2 per individual summons for staff time. Even if this cost is more, it would be difficult indeed to justify £95 per capita.
2) The reply was this is a civil matter and the correct setting is Magistrates court. The reason for this did not seem clear to me despite a verbose explanation. 
3) If the matter is a civil matter as agreed by the Council Officer then it clearly falls under Contract Law. As such the proper setting is County Court. It would also likely represent an unfair contract due to no opt out procedure, lack of written contract, no appeal or clear complaints procedure, no refund policy or part refund policy if a person vacates their premises within the year and total lack of accountability or say over how the money is spent. This applies to all businesses affected by the BID.
4) I am still not clear why charitable organisations have not been exempted. No explanation has been given. I asked the Steering Group to consider this exemption prior to the BID vote and again after the BID vote. I have been told they did but the minutes of the meeting are confidential. So a tax is being levied on the promise it represents businesses to improve the area, but the same businesses are not allowed to see the minutes of the meetings. This is despite the BID brochure clearly stating it will listen and respond to small businesses and their needs.
5) Birkenhead First (or is it the BID Company? or is it Wirral Chamber of Commerce?) are claiming to have spent the money on activities which fall under the remit of Wirral Council and for which business rates are paid. So if Birkenhead First are now doing these things should there not be a reduction in Business Rates within the BID District? If so then perhaps this should equal the cost of the BID Levy so there is no additional cost to the small business.
6) They are claiming only businesses with a rateable value of £6000 or over are affected by the BID, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact most charitable organisations occupy larger premises on a peppercorn rent and could not afford to exist without this goodwill. Precedent for exemption of levies and taxes has been set by notable organisations such as HMRC, Customs & Excise and even Wirral Council themselves. So what justification is being given by Wirral Chamber who insist charitable firms must pay? They are strangely silent on this matter.
7) It seems unclear who is taking responsibility for these decisions. Wirral Council say speak to Wirral Chamber and they say speak to Wirral Council. 
8) I am not certain the magistrate “summons” is actually being dealt with by the court system. If you phone the court on the to enquire about the summons on the day they actually have no record of it. Could it be true the council is hiring a room in the court and hiring a judge who is not acting under oath on behalf of the courts? Surely not. Yet this is being muttered in cafes and corners of the Wirral by those being summonsed who have said the Magistrates courts have no official record of these summons. Some have even called the legality of the summons into question because it does not follow the proper form. If true, then the liability hearing may as well be heard in the Town Hall by a council officer because it has the same legal standing. The implications of this are wide reaching and expensive and could affect everyone. 
9) I suspect the Birkenhead BID is a pilot and Wirral Chamber / Wirral Council are working in concert. If this is allowed to go unchallenged then I predict further BID districts popping up all over Wirral.
10) The challenge needs to be:
– justification of court costs and fees. The Council is being evasive on this matter
– the proper setting for the liability hearing. I maintain civil matters should be heard in County Court not Magistrates.
– the legality of the contract under civil contract law. Anything less is extortion by public officials
– the lack of exemption for charitable organisations
– the lack of transparency or accountability over how money is being spent (see earlier comment re: unfair contract)
– the fact Wirral Chamber claims Birkenhead First is not subject to Freedom of Information laws. I contend they inherit the obligations of Wirral Council because they are working in concert with Wirral Council.
We are increasingly grateful that it is not just us who are concerned about the increasingly dubious relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Believe us ,and thankfully for once , these concerns spread beyond the insular peninsula.

Pop Ups For The People

Barclays 011

When we first heard that a disused bank in Hamilton Square had been taken over to house and feed the homeless we naively thought that  Wirral Chamber of  Commerce under the guise of a ‘Birkenhead First ‘ initiative were behind it.

We weren’t just convinced because the former bank was a Barclay’s – which let’s face it has to be the Chamber’s bank of choice! No! -we also found out the ‘Love Activists’ were involved . We assumed this was an offshoot of  the Chamber’s  ‘Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Things’ . All very touchy-feely, hippy -drippy and vaguely nauseating.

Fantastic Festival of BS

Plus the fact it all seemed to encompass two headlining modern themes : ‘pop ups’ and ‘homelessness’ – which all of a sudden are ‘sexy’.  As we know the Chamber of Horrors CEO Paula Basnett can’t open her mouth without using the term ‘pop- ups’  but when it comes to homelessness were not talking about vagrant love we’re talking about how homelessness (like foodbanks) have suddenly become a fashionable issue to be seen to support . Something which shames us all.

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Now we hesitate to use the term virtue-signalling because as Aesop said : ” No act of kindness ,no matter how small, is ever wasted” . However there appears to have been a worrying shift from preventing homelessness to sustaining the homeless on the street. Dare we suggest this approach only exacerbates the homelessness situation. There are sandwiches, hot drinks, blankets and even haircuts dispensed by commendable volunteers but no money for support services and a lack of affordable housing which would prevent vulnerable people ending up on the street in the first place!

As far as we’re concerned this is David Cameron’s nightmare vision for a ‘ Big Society’ made flesh . A community of volunteers providing what were essential public services to the vulnerable as there is no other option because public money has been diverted to pay inflated salaries to high level ‘public’ servants who frankly don’t care if the homeless (or any of us) live or die.

Now of course we know that Wirral Chamber of Commerce have nothing whatsoever to do with this particular ‘pop up’ we are warming to the ‘Love Activists’. They even offered our photographer a cup of tea. They seem to understand that life is is rough out there for rough sleepers especially when it isn’t for our rapacious leaders .

Barclays 012.JPG

Aintree Irony

For those of you looking for a last minute topical tip for this afternoon’s Grand National Wirral Leaks  provides you with this free cut out and keep guide to some of horses that have caught our eye:

grand national 011

This one is for fans of Martin Liptrot – that’ll be Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies then. Liptrotsky is always the perfect candidate for Pip regardless of his experience or qualifications. Who needs an Equal Opportunities Policy when your mate is the Leader of the Council? This is also one for fans of Stewart ‘Happy’ Halliday  – that’ll be his preferred referees if not our friends in York ! And again this will be popular with the Basnett clan because a) if you’re related to Princess Paula or b) you’ve  lamped the former CEO of Wirral Council over a shared perk then you’re the ‘perfect candidate’ for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce !

grand national 013

No, this isn’t for fans of the current Labour administration at Wirral Council. They’re definitely (spelt correctly) NOT red! This one is for fans of current Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘the Red’ Robinson. No, we’re not referring to the fact he’s an LFC fan among all the high profile bluenoses at Wirral Council – we’re talking about his visage and his presiding over the ‘Wirral Council High Blood Pressure Club’ alongside Cllrs Phil Davies, George Davies and Steve Foulkes. Whatever could be the reason for the beta blockers?

grand national 016

It may have been a stellar notion for Wirral Council to place their bets on a Hong Kong bankrupt Stella Shiu. However we suggest looking elsewhere for a winner as this one could end up like Stella herself –  falling in the (Wirral) Waters.

grand national 015

This is one for fans of the Hoylake Golf Resort . That’ll be Power Boy Pip again – shame the response to the desecration of the Green Belt in the name of big business has been decidedly under par.

grand national 017

This one is for  Kevin ‘Lost’ MacCallum’s Communications Team at Wirral Council. Apparently they’re not averse to a tipple at our expense. Celebrating the launch of Wirral View and recently celebrating St Patricks Day. We wonder if they’ll drown their sorrows when Wirral View ends up in the recycling bin – again.

grand national 019

This one is for all fans of Wirral Leaks as we continue to expose dishonesty,incompetence and corruption and prick the pomposity of local politicians and senior council officials. But unlike Wirral Council we ask you to gamble responsibly. When the Fun Stops Stop! 

Fantastic Festival of BS

Admit All

If you’re not on the guest list – you’re not getting in!

Wirral Leaks are always willing to promote local events that enhance Wirral’s reputation. So imagine our delight when we were directed towards an upcoming event promoted by Wirral Council called ‘ The Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Ideas’:

Wirral Council is sponsoring its first Festival of Beautiful Ideas. A series of ‘hack days’ will encourage people to share ideas that are potentially viable and will add to the atmosphere, sense of place and activity in the focus of the festival, Birkenhead and Woodside.

http://wirralview.com/news/fantastic-festival-beautiful-ideas

Are they sure that isn’t ‘smack days’? No , seriously. We’re not making this shit up. Needless to say Wirral Chamber of Commerce is supporting the festival by offering funded working space and mentors for some of the winners.

Apparently :  ‘It’s about cultural potential; reclaiming Wirral’s industrial heritage; pop-ups and meanwhile spaces. and enthusiastic; people who want to change perceptions, make a difference and try something new.’

http://thebeautifulideas.co/wirral/

Of course even we understand that in this day and age it’s all about pop-ups and you’ve got to be passionate – but WTF are ‘meanwhile spaces’?

Apparently the massive total of £5K is on offer – don’t all rush at once. Let’s face it £5K wouldn’t keep Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO  Princess Paula in frocks for their never-ending awards ceremonies.

Has anyone noticed that the Wirral Chamber of Commerce is a fake organisation, run by fakes and funded by us? If not – where have you been?

And here’s the tragedy – it’s NOT ‘admit all’ on Wirral , it’s about who you know and about how much you are prepared to sacrifice your personal integrity for cash money.

We can’t help thinking there’s a rogue apostrophe when the Wirral Chamber of Commerce are seeking people who are ‘who’re passionate’

As one of our valued sources wrote :

‘Who the hell thought of ‘Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Ideas’ I have a lot of ideas but they are not beautiful . Fix the bloody street lighting, fix the potholes, prune the trees so they don’t fall and kill people, fix the run down areas all over the Borough!
Rant over.’
To which we can only add – how about safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and then perhaps we can talk about ‘beautiful ideas’!

 

 

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Paula NWT 009

Paula Basnett : Primus inter pares in action

 

In the aftermath of the New Ferry explosion over the weekend it was reassuring to see the emergency services, the local community and indeed Wirral Council working together to help the stricken people affected by the devastating event.
Also helping out were the Wirral Chamber of Commerce in the shape of their CEO Paula Basnett  who ‘popped up’ on last night’s edition of North West Tonight to tell us that the Chamber was looking for ‘pop up spaces’ for displaced local traders.
All we can say is that with all the properties the Chamber of Horrors have at their disposal ,which they’ve been gifted or are paying peppercorn rent for, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
However it would seem that this charitable largesse on the part of  the Basnett clan doesn’t extend to charities themselves. We’ve been contacted by Jim Barrington from local charity Wiser Solutions Ltd
Jim not only provides us with a fascinating update on a story we covered earlier in the year concerning a local business initative  co-ordinated by Wirral Chamber of Commerce known as the Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) aka ‘Birkenhead First’ , but also with a frightening insight into ‘how things work’ round here.
Here we witness the increasingly unhealthy symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce and the political manoeuvrings of local politicians  and powerbrokers that we don’t see on TV :
Wirral Chamber of Commerce is taking charities and not for profit companies to a criminal court after introducing a BID Levy in Birkenhead then rejected appeals to exempt those affected who exist for the benefit of the community. Affected businesses are told they have to pay 1.5% of the rateable value of their property.
 
The BID Levy was introduced following a vote by firms in Birkenhead after they were told it would listen to their needs and campaign on their behalf to improve the area. In reality however it has refused to listen and change their decision not to exempt charitable firms, despite the BID Regulations allowing it and precedent already being set to by HMRC, Customs and Excise and even Wirral Council who all exempt or reduce the financial obligations of charities and not for profits regarding levies and taxes.
The BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council. However this contradicts Wirral Council’s own policies and commitments to support not for profits. The small business rates relief ensures the majority of rates are paid by a contribution from the Government and Wirral Council provide a discretionary exemption for qualifying charitable firms which takes care of the rest. However Wirral Chamber of Commerce insist no exemption applies to charities and not for profits, even where they cannot afford to pay. Instead they have insisted on pursuing them through the Magistrates Court in order to obtain a liability order so they can gain access to charitable funds. The use of Magistrates Court is particularly troubling since they are predominantly used for criminal matters and even Wirral Council have admitted this is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court.
Even more troubling is the fact Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has even been established in court, yet cannot provide a full and proper breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at. It is unlawful for any council to make a profit from court fees so one would expect them to be able to say exactly what it costs to take an individual or business to court. Instead however they appear to have been obstructive by providing a spreadsheet which lists the annual costs to run the entire council tax and revenues department. When asked for a per capita breakdown which takes into account economies of scale (i.e. they are taking a lot of people to court for not paying council tax and non-domestic rates on the same day and they batch process them all, plus the BID Levy collection is tagged onto the end of these), they sent the same annual totals for running their entire department. When asked again and told the costs breakdown must be BID specific they refused to send any further information.
An example of these costs would be the cost of filing fees (circa £3.00 per summons) and say an allocation of £2.00 towards staff time and other costs. An explanation therefore of what the remaining £90 costs is for has not been forthcoming. Requests to move things to the County Court, which is the proper setting for civil matters, have been ignored by Council Officers. 
Frank Field was contacted for help at least three weeks for the summons date. He responded at 5:00pm the evening before the court appearance to say his office had contacted Phil Davies who in turn had contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce and they had refused to change their decision, despite his personal feelings and views to the contrary. So the MP for Birkenhead and the leader of Wirral Council are both being dictated to by officers at Wirral Chamber of Commerce. 
Clearly this suggests Paula Basnett, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid who run Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also in charge of Wirral Council. Worse still is the fact Wirral Chamber have stated they and Birkenhead BID Company (Birkenhead First) are not subject to Freedom of Information legislation so can claim everything they do is commercially sensitive and confidential. No transparency there then.
Even the officers at Wirral Council who are collecting the BID Levy do not seem to agree with the decision to criminalise charitable firms. They contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce asking them to change their position but they were also told the it would not be changed. The attitude appears to be it is only 1.5% of the rateable value of a property so Wirral Chamber cannot understand what the fuss is about. It seems to have escaped their attention charitable firms, by definition of what they do, may have large properties on peppercorn rents and very little money, most of which is from funding or donations and some modest earned income. Which is why they have taxes reduced or are exempted entirely. But Wirral Chamber of Commerce insists everyone must pay.
The Birkenhead BID Levy purports to be there to help support firms in the Birkenhead BID district but some have argued it is instead a way to pay the high salaries of staff who, until recently had worked for Wirral Council. It claims to be there to listen to and represent business owners in the Birkenhead BID Levy District, however there is no formal complaints procedure and minutes of meetings are confidential. Clearly they are not doing a very good job of listening since they are insisting on dragging charitable firms into Magistrates Court to pay for a Levy which did not exist until recently.
To be fair, Birkenhead has been declining for years and business owners are struggling to stay afloat. But cleaning up Birkenhead is the job of the council. 
This is why people pay business rates. The BID appears to be a stealth tax method of increasing business rates without actually increasing the business rates which is the same argument successfully used by Esther McVey when the council attempted to place a levy on wheelie bins and which forced them to hastily back away and reconsider their position.
Wirral Chamber have recently released a wonderful glossy document which makes bold claims about the achievements of the Birkenhead Bid company (also known as Birkenhead First). However the majority of these are things Wirral Council would do anyway as part of their obligations to Business Rates Payers. So it seems the suggestion the BID Levy is supporting the over bloated salaries of former council employees may have some foundation.
Also since this is clearly a civil matter, why is there such a reluctance to transfer proceedings to the County Court? Clearly civil matters fall under contract law and County Court is the proper setting. The costs are similar and certainly can be itemised easier. This suggests a worrying symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Magistrates Court where proceedings are being led by Wirral Council and not the local Magistrates.
The subject of costs and lack of transparency surrounding these certainly raises more questions than answers and this spills over to affect every council tax payer, business rates payer and now BID Levy payer who has ever been summonsed to Magistrates Court and had liability order costs imposed. Whilst clearly Council Tax is a criminal matter, the BID Levy certainly is not and belongs in County Court not the criminal courts.
It has also been suggested the BID Levy and demands for payment would not stand up to scrutiny under contract law. This has never been tested but would certainly be in the public interest. Taking charities and not for profit firms to court in an attempt to access charitable funds is not. It does not matter if the BID Levy is a small token amount. It is still immoral. It is also grossly unfair. For example there is no way to spread the cost monthly, no refund mechanism if firms move out of the area part way through the year, no contract and no control or input on how money is spent. In short it represents an unfair contract under civil law and threats of heavy penalties and costs, bailiffs and similar from Wirral Council are tactics which could be viewed as extortion and threats in public office. Whilst we are not suggesting this is the case, it certainly could be viewed as such. All the more reason for the matter to be placed in its proper setting in the County Court and not the Magistrates Court.
Even more worrying is the notion if Wirral Chamber is not challenged, this could be the first of many BID Levy districts in Wirral and more struggling business owners and charitable firms will find themselves subject to this new stealth tax with no opt out clause, no appeal and no transparency over how their money is spent.

‘The Lauries’ Lingers

The lauries desperation

All of our best stories rely on sheer persistence .

God only knows what Wirral Council would get away with if we weren’t here to shove that thorn forcibly in their side.

So following on from ‘Wirralgate’ , BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods ,  ‘Crabby’ Crabtree , ‘Happy Halliday’etc; etc; we proudly present the latest development in ‘The Lauries’ debacle.

Well, not proudly actually , shamefully is the word. To think that the garbage at Wirral Council/Wirral Chamber of Commerce can just get away with their usual abuse of power, because, well they just can,are not over. If nothing else they are subject to our critical eye.

The latest development in this sorry saga is the tawdry press release above , where Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies  joins fellow human melting wax candles Cllr Jean Stapleton and sideshow MP Frank Field in a desperate attempt to defend their indefensible position when it comes to the annexing of ‘The Lauries’.

‘The Green Party’ will do anything to get publicity” claims Power Boy Pip. To which we can only say that’s a bit rich coming from someone who employed their own ‘Policy Advisor’ at our expense and then enabled his neighbour to get a further gig because let’s face it this inept fraud couldn’t run a bath let alone a toxic and dysfunctional council !

What Power Boy Pip doesn’t mention ( perhaps because he has to check with his personal handholder, Martin Liptrot, first ) is that he has FAILED (and not the first time) to reply a complaint that is now with the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) about ‘The Lauries’.

As local Green Party Councillor Pat Cleary states:

‘Wirral Council has failed to respond to the complaint and completely ignored emails from me to address the matter. As a result, the issue was taken up with the local government ombudsman. It will not investigate yet but has promised to contact the Council to ensure that our complaint is progressed properly through the Council’s procedures.’

http://patcleary2.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/we-want-our-lauries-back.html

‘Progressed properly ?’– Good luck with that one, Pat!

The Liptrot Mystery

Evans

Opposition councillors seem unusually curious about the recent controversial appointment of Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’Davies political ally , Martin Liptrot(sky) to the post of  ‘Interim’ Investment Lead .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15173137.Special_meeting_heats_up_as_Wirral_councillors_clash_over_controversial_new_job_for_Labour_s_policy_chief/

And so they might be! The ongoing saga is worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery ….. but who knows where the bodies are buried !?

Of course we anticipated such an appointment long ago The Uncanny and the Corrupt

That’s not because we have second sight, it’s simply because, by now, we know all Wirral Council’s plot devices.

So before we get to the heart of the mystery, let us set out the story so far. Are you sitting comfortably? – because we guarantee you won’t be for much longer!

Remember when we exclusively announced Liptrot’s arrival at Wirral Council and questioned how his ‘Policy Advisor’ post came about?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/all-hail-the-new-king-of-spin/

Remember when we questioned his apolitical credentials when he was appointed to a politically restricted post despite declaring his long held Labour Party affiliations all over social media ?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/a-political-mr-liptrot/

Who can forget when Wirral Globe disclosed that leaked toecurling early morning email exchange between Liptrot and Pip?  Where the former, in full on diva mode, appears to be calling the shots – complaining about his pay and bemoaning the fact that he has to hand in time sheets to Super Duper Director  Joe Blott  – oh the shame!

“Apparently I’m supposed to work for 24 quid an hour and hand time sheets to Joe Blott [strategic director].Clearly that is both insulting and wildly unrealistic for the scope of the role we are discussing.There is no way I’m going to earn even less than I am now. We need to work out what we need to agree and you will probably have to just step up and tell everyone what you want doing in the end. Let’s talk tomorrow.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14306240.Emails_give_extraordinary_insight_into_Wirral_Council_s_controversial_hiring_of_former_Labour_spin_doctor/

And so having set the scene we move on to the latest chapter in the charmed life of Mr Liptrot and his latest ‘transformation'(!) as ‘Interim’ Investment Lead at Wirral Council.

An extraordinary series of extracts from leaked emails details the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ behind this latest appointment and provides us with even more plot twists……..

Firstly , we might recall that  24 councillors  issued  a ‘Notice of Motion’ in respect of, what was at the time, the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ in response to the Labour Cabinet meeting held on 16 January .  This meeting was chaired by Power Boy Pip and included a report calling for the removal of ‘Call – in’ , thus denying opposition councillors the opportunity to ask any awkward questions about the post. The report stated :

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

Head of Law Surjit Tour clarified the situation : ‘Cabinet agreed to waive ‘call-in’ in accordance with the Constitution and the decision is therefore implementable immediately notwithstanding the request for an extraordinary council having been made and agreed. Council at the extraordinary council meeting is being invited to scrutinise the creation of the post and decide whether it is justified – but council would only be expressing its opinion/view in respect of the post and its justification. The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’

The post was advertised via  Wirral Council’s temporary worker system (Matrix) . Matrix passed on the job specification to recruitment agencies at an equivalent day rate of £195.

Initially six applications were received. However according to Wirral Council’s HR  : ‘none of the applicants met the specification. We  have received feedback from the agencies that the remuneration is not sufficient to attract calibre candidates.Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we are sourcing an Interim role – Interim Investment Lead on an interim rate, but for a shorter period of time’

HR went on to later add :‘The agencies feedback that they could potentially source some applicants at £350 day , but the calibre we required is likely to be £500 day. Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we need to increase the day rate .’

Frankly it is simply an astonishing state of affairs when so-called committed, and no doubt ‘passionate’ public servants, don’t consider it worthwhile getting out of bed for less than £350 a day!  And of course the recruitment agencies are going to advocate such a hike in the daily rate because presumably it means more money for them! All of which means that public authorities are held a hostage to fortune!

Needless to say when the post was advertised at the higher rate, 13 further applications were received !

5 candidates were shortlisted. One of the candidates was unable to make the interview date and one candidate withdrew. And in true Agatha Christie fashion :  ‘And then there were 3’. These interviews took place on 15 February 2017.

Initially we understand that Asif Hamid was due to be on the interview panel but he mysteriously withdrew to be replaced , inevitably, by Wirral Chamber of Commerce chum Paula Basnett. Clare Fish , Wirral Council’s Executive Director for Strategy was also a late absentee. This left :

  • Alan Evans, Strategic Commissioner for Growth (Chair of the Panel)
  • Stephen Butterworth, Interim Strategic Project Support
  • Sally Shah, Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment
  • Paula Basnett, Chief Executive, Wirral Chamber of Commerce
  • Ellen Cutler, Director Inward Investment, Liverpool Vision

Now as we know the successful candidate was our leading suspect Martin Liptrot who was awarded an an initial 4 month contract  @ £350 a day.

However the  mystery here is whether the panel made the appointment or was the final decision made by Power Boy Pip and his supine CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson?

The Extraordinary Council meeting held earlier this week was an attempt by some curious councillors to find the answer to this whodunnit and other mysteries surrounding the case. However the Labour group were anxious to shut this line of enquiry down with Cllr Brian Kenny squeaking up for a ‘guillotine’ thereby reducing the time available for debating the issue.

Perhaps curious opposition councillors should seek clues about the recruitment process from Alan Evans, the Strategic Commissioner for Growth, who chaired the selection panel?

We understand that Evans’ unsung team in Department of Regeneration have been doing some excellent work  behind the scenes  and we can only wonder what they must feel about the influx of Johnny-Come -Lately’s such as Liptrot  who ,under the guise of ‘transformers’ , appear to be muscling in on their act and potentially taking the credit for their work.

We await further plot developments with great interest!

Getting It Wrong

Get it Wrong

The late ,great meme-tastic Gene Wilder explains the Wirral Council modus operandi

The ‘Invitation to Tender’ (ITT) document  for ‘PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR GETTING IT RIGHT PROJECT (SUPPORTING ACCESS WIRRAL AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME)’ is most revealing for those interested in finding out where Wirral Council is heading. As far as we’re concerned its willingly over the precipice dancing to the Pied Piper of private enterprise.

ITT Getting It Right 2017

Behind the convoluted branding and language the document simply sets out the means by which Wirral Council are seeking  to outsource public services and put people out of work. Indeed the latter is explicitly stated in the specification of the contract at  2.1 of the ITT document  : Reshape services to reduce significantly, over three to five years

The former is set out in the Scope of the tender at 1.1 as follows:

We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and commissioned outcomes

The council has also set out a commitment to take a commercial approach to service design, management and decisions, encouraging innovation whilst optimising assets and services to exploit opportunities to generate income surplus for reinvestment and reduce costs.

This ‘new operating model’ (mainly filched from elsewhere) apparently also includes ‘imaginative’plans for Wirral Council to become an energy provider!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15168461.Wirral_Council_to_set_up_as_an_energy_company_providing_power_to_heat_and_light_our_homes/

This doesn’t augur well as the ruling administration at Wirral Council have an inglorious record of keeping the people of Wirral in the dark and freezing out the opposition.

Having said that the thought occurred to us that if you can’t beat ’em , join ’em . We thought momentarily that we’d join the  serried ranks of ex- council  employees topping up their pensions merrily making their former colleagues redundant and helping to hand over precious public assets into the private sector. Accordingly Leaky Towers Inc ; were  considering an application to pick up the phones and respond to complaints etc; on behalf of the people of Wirral ( in return for a mahoosive  contract). However our application stalled at Method Statement 5 which read :

How does your organisation use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems whilst demonstrating the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability?

Huh?

All we can only presume that Wirral Council are particularly hoping for an explanation as to what public transparency and legal accountability actually are as they appear to be alien concepts.

Meanwhile the likes of ‘Capita’, ‘The Contact Company’ and the ‘Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ can only be licking their lips in anticipation of things to come.

 

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Not for the first time when it comes to the ruling administration at Wirral Council we find ourselves asking : “Is it us or are we missing something?” and then we realise we are now living in the age of of ‘alternative facts’. The current epicentre of this parallel universe when it comes to local government has to be our dear own local council.

Of course the main Wirral Council conduit for alternative facts is Wirral View –and halleluljah and praise be , as for the first time Leaky Towers actually received a printed copy of what is known variously to our sources as Liprot’s Journal/ Lost Kev’s Chronicle/Pip’s Post-Truth News .

Was it worth the wait? – hardly ! However the front page caught our attention as it demonstrates to us as to why, once and for all , the tawdry rag should be halted in its tedious tracks. Here we have the now infamous ‘Spot the Muff’ photo-op and the declaration that ‘Proposals to bring in new charges at on-street car parks across the borough have been withdrawn, following feedback from Wirral residents and businesses.’

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Oh ! it was all about Wirral Council listening to ‘feedback’ was it ?. Nothing to do with protests, petitions and the highly suspect legality of most of the proposals. Feedback ?- yeah right!

The Witless, Pip and Mr Muff picture turned up again on our Facebook page due to some weird algorithm which suggests that we’d ‘like’ Wirral Labour News. We suppose it makes a change from promos for incontinence and mobility aids and ‘Superman’ pyjamas but let us state for the record it was as equally unwelcome !

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Then there was further message from ‘Wirral Labour News’ which made us think it must surely be a parody account :

alternative-facts-3-013

Keep Wirral Green ? Huh?  Fernbank Farm?, the Saughall Massie Fire Station ? and the Hoylake Golf Resort?  Our heads started to hurt at Leaky Towers as to how the increasingly self righteous Labour administration could reconcile these development plans with their new found love for the Green Belt.

How ironic that Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies talked about “protecting our precious Green Belt” at  yesterday’s Cabinet meeting whilst  we understand that all the seats in the public gallery had the following flyer on them :

alternative-facts-2-011

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However the ne plus ultra of this week’s alternative facts emanating from Wirral Council is the controversial appointment of the increasingly divisive Martin Liptrot to the post of ‘ Interim Investment Lead’ which we not only predicted but exclusively revealed on this blog:

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

The Uncanny and the Corrupt

According to a spokesperson for Wirral Council ( we assume that’ll be Liptrot’s acolyte   Kevin MacCallum)

“The post was advertised and an open recruitment process was held with external support.The panel selected the best person for the job and that person has been appointed.”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15103854.Fury_as_Wirral_Council_hires_Labour_s_policy_adviser_to_be_their_new_investment_chief___on___350_a_day/

Really ? – so you’re going with that ‘alternative fact’ are you ? Perhaps one of the interview panel chaired by Alan Evans and including the council’s Strategic Development Manager; Stephen Butterworth, Head of Transformation ( there’s that word again  !) ; Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (a surprising late replacement for a curiously unenthusiastic Asif Hamid) and Ellen Cutler, Director of Inward Investment at Liverpool Vision could publicly endorse this statement .

Alternatively they could tell the people who fund this post exactly what went on behind the scenes and whether they decided not to appoint Liptrot (or indeed anyone) but the decision was taken out of their hands and made by an increasingly desperate Power Boy Pip and the increasingly sinister Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson.

We’re led to speculate what exactly is the Rasputin-like hold that Liptrotsky  has over Power Boy Pip? All we can say is look what happened to Rasputin and the Imperial Royal Family of Wirral, sorry , Russia.  Just sayin’ !