Happy Talk

Wirral view Latest 492

Imagine our delight at Leaky Towers to receive a rare ,hand delivered copy of Wirral View on a Sunday afternoon. If truth be told we were briefly entertained by the sheer brain numbing , desperate, relentless positivity of it all.

As it would appear that this comic (without the laughs) is not attracting enough advertising revenue to make this vacuous vehicle viable we are instead treated to 28 pages of relentless intelligence insulting  BS ( we can almost feel our cranium escaping out of our earholes).

In lieu of addressing our ‘information deficit’  we get a free full page plug for relentless self promoter Nisha Katona and her Mowgli chain of Indian eateries. Ms Katona eulogises about Wirral without mentioning she hasn’t yet opened a restaurant in the place where she chooses to call home.

But don’t despair Nisha dispenses her wisdom on how to start a successful start -up. Might we suggest the income earned from being a barrister for 20 years might have helped somewhat and that attending Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s Enterprise Hub (FFS!) wasn’t the key to Mowgli’s nationwide success (just sayin’!)

However we acknowledge that Nisha is just trying to make a (very good) living and instead we reserve our opprobrium for Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and his ‘leader’s column’ ( no laughing at the back) .

Pip makes reference to the recent Rightmove website survey which suggests that Wirral  is ‘officially’ the happiest place to live in the North West of England and the third happiest in the UK (  yeah ! whatevs!)

As we’ve alluded to before , perhaps ‘happiness’ on Wirral is predicated by on which side of the M53 you live and whether you have a property to sell with Rightmove ( just sayin’). Even after using the word ‘officially’  Pip concedes that these surveys are ‘ a bit of fun’.   But fun for who?  lazy press officers?  It should as come as no surprise that Pip concludes ‘What a wonderful place we call home’

But then when a monumental mediocrity like him reaches the top of the Wirral tree – a la Mandy Rice Davies – he would say that wouldn’t he? For others who don’t live in the right postcode he fails to acknowledge that life on Wirral can be pretty grim.

Meanwhile other highlights from this latest edition include Cllr George Davies cutting a tape ( Freud would have a ( Frank) Field day) and the headline ‘Everything you want to know about Wirral’  juxtaposed ,with no irony whatsoever, with  ‘ Secret Bunker of New Brighton’ .

You really couldn’t make this shit up ! – but  Wirral Council do – and at our expense. But at least thanks to Wirral View we know to make a ‘CHEEKY CHILLI!’

 

 

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Wirral Evolutions : Origin of the Specious

Stop Following Me

Public services in private hands is NOT the way to go

When Chris  Beyga , Acting Managing Director of Wirral Evolutions , declared at its launch : ” It is great to see so many people here as we move from a public service to a commercial entity” we asked the question “What could possibly go wrong?…….”
 
The answer to our question would appear to be  : ” The same as usual”
For those who don’t know what ‘Wirral Evolutions’ is – although we all pay for it –  it is a  : ” Local Authority Trading Company (LAC) bringing together nine key day centre and daytime services from across the area to continue to offer high-quality care for people with long term and learning disabilities” 
Beast

Feed the beast!

Whilst those in charge at Wirral Council are relentlessly and recklessly pursuing the ‘public services/assets are best held in private hands’ model, let’s see how that works in practice with a couple of examples.
Firstly, a Wirral Council manager with a penchant for awards ceremonies and expensive shoes ends up being the Chief Executive of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce (Paula Basnett) .
Secondly, a rather more dowdy persona is made ‘Managing Director’ ( ha! ha!ha!) of a pretend company called ‘Wirral Evolutions’ ( Chris Beyga)
Other than power crazed empire building using public assets and public money what do they both have in common ?
That’s right the “The ‘N’ Word”. Needless to say the dirty ‘N’ word in this case is nepotism.
What we can’t understand is how Wirral Council are prepared to pump public assets into both enterprises whilst throwing public accountability out of the window.
However we have to give a round of applause to Wirral Council for keeping a lid on the Chris Beyga , ahem, situation using their timeworn strategy – ‘If it’s unmentionable , it’s manageable‘ – but then they can’t let their bogus flagship ‘commercial entity’ hit the rocks can they?
We’ve known since July that Beyga has been conspicuous by her absence. No doubt tending the flowerbeds (but not at Dale Farm). As one of our sources writes  : ” She also has always blanked the union but as soon as this happened she joined it.”
Let’s hope Unison (for it is they) give Beyga the same kind of support they give to the rank and file who come to them when they’re being victimised by their managers. If so Beyga’s a gonna.
Perhaps ‘ Independent Chair’ of Wirral Evolutions , Carey Bamber can clarify for us exactly what is going on just as she did with the ‘open and transparent’ (yeah, whatever)  appointment of Beyga as ‘ Managing Director’ . Or perhaps she just lives up to her name – ‘ Carey’ – an imitation of caring. Or even better Cllr Adrian Jones can tell us what he knows about the allegations that were made against Beyga before she was appointed MD?
Meanwhile all we know is that it doesn’t Beyga belief – it’s just business as usual!
 Bamberbitch 011

 

Chamber of Secrets

Image may contain: 1 person, text

“Wow! – just wow” gasped Her Ladyship as she picked up a copy of Wirral Life  from a better class of supermarket “….all that advertising space for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce seems to have paid off as Princess Paula is this month’s cover star! “

Bleached , bobbed and Botoxed(?) to the max the CEO of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce must feel thoroughly at home –   glossy, bright and shiny against a stormy background . The interview can be found here:

 Wirral Life

As you can read all the key words are there – transformation, vision, partnership, empowering, small business ecosystem (eh?) , passionate (obvs!) and nepotism (oh sorry – our bad she didn’t mention that did she Sharon?)

Minus points for no mention of ‘ Hub’ though !  – oh and btw why are you still banging on about ‘Wirral Waters’ ?

Unfortunately what isn’t asked in the article is the question that was put to us about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce earlier this week :

“I would find it very interesting to know why Kevin Adderley has again been sidelined from yet another job.  
 
After being paid off from his time at WBC,  he was rewarded by joining the Chamber of Commerce and becoming a director.  Only to be stripped of the directorship in June of this year and now apparently MD of Egerton House (so manages serviced offices,  owned by the Chamber?)
 
Whats the story?”
Our response :  “It’s the Pip ‘n’ Paula show – dontcha know?”
To which our source replied :  “I was rather thinking its more to do with his involvement in the planning department in 2010 & 2011 – and WBC distancing him as much as they can before it hits the fan.”
Answers on a postcard please – as of course Wirral Life isn’t the place to go if you want answers to such difficult questions because, as you can tell from the cover of their latest edition as apparently they’re all about airbrushing.

Asif Attack

 

asif hamid themed call centre liverpool

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

If ever you needed confirmation of how things work round here look no further than the inexorable rise of Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid. Of course we’ve reported regularly on his ability to attract public monies in the pursuit of his personal business empire by exerting influence over local politicians via his chairing of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

Christmas day in the call centre

The Common People

Contacts and Connections

Pie Chart In The Sky

Now it appear the modus operandi has been repeated over the River Mersey as his chairing of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has seemingly enabled him to secure the final remaining plot on the iconic Liverpool waterfront.

Call Centre Fury

Needless to say the ultimate cynic Mayor Joe Anderson called the King’s Dock deal with his LEP colleague “brilliant news for Liverpool” and said it “could ultimately lead to the creation of a new riverside destination, boosting our visitor economy and creating jobs for local people.”

We’d prefer to stick with our original analysis that call centres are the ” dark satanic mills of the 21st century”

If Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site was under threat before now this cynical philistine decision should finally seal the deal. The Liverpool Preservation Trust must be hanging their heads in despair.

World Heritage Site In Jeopardy

Meanwhile we’re left wondering just how long it will be before Hamid’s , ahem, “hands on” management practices will hit the headlines.  But hey! –  he’s been awarded an MBE and so is obviously beyond reproach. And confirms that it’s not  just the way works round here but how things work nationally.

Time to emigrate.

Gutter Press

Media 017

Wirral News Goes AWOL ,Wirral Life Goes Warhol

So farewell then Wirral News. As reported in the press trade papers it now finds itself in the gutter :

http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2017/news/publisher-cites-crowded-market-for-bi-weekly-closure-after-council-newsletter-launch/

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/trinity-mirror-to-close-wirral-news-in-july-in-the-wake-of-council-newspaper-launch/

As we predicted a while ago , the writing was on the wall for this woeful rag a long time ago. Never more so than when Wirral Council launched the print edition of Wirral View. Whilst it won’t be missed , mainly because it appeared to have given up being a credible news outlet a loooooong time ago , it is a worrying development for Wirral’s independent press when publishers Trinity Mirror consider :

 “The Wirral marketplace has become increasingly crowded with free print products with now even Wirral Borough Council producing a monthly free print publication themselves.

“We believe that there is no longer a viable, scalable or long-term future for free/giveaway print products within the Wirral marketplace….. “

What made us want to snort with derision and shake our head in disbelief was the quote in the Press Gazette article from Wirral Council’s head of communications Kev ‘Lost Boy’ MacCallum :

 “We are disappointed to see a well-loved local title like the Wirral News close.
“For many years, we have seen its circulation reduce significantly and frequency fluctuate between weekly, monthly and recently bi-weekly.
“It’s been clear throughout this time that the title has been trying and struggling to find an effective place in the market where it could be competitive.
“We must make it clear however, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest Wirral View had any commercial impact on the Wirral News.
“We have deliberately not sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue, and we have ensured Wirral View is a completely different product to the existing local free-sheets…..”
Yeah right! – as we have previously reported Wirral View  have actively sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue and it was an intention that was expressly stated by Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson! It’s just that they have been spectacularly unsuccessful in attracting any advertising. Well the last time we looked anyway, as we have still only received one print copy at Leaky Towers and we can’t muster enough enthusiasm to peruse the online edition.
However even keen Wirral View enthusiasts such as MacCallum and Robinson must know that its commercial viability in a crowded marketplace is under threat when even the Wirral Chamber of Commerce prefer to choose the June edition of Wirral Life for a glossy four page spread in the hilariously aspirational ‘premium lifestyle magazine’. We particularly enjoyed the beyond parody interview with Simon Nixon founder of Moneysupermarket.com ( don’t get us started on those Godawful TV ads) . The permatanned entrepreneur is asked :
Have you ever spent any time on the Wirral, what do you think of it? He replies:
I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Wirral but I think it’s beautiful – especially around Parkgate  and Caldy.
We’re just surprised he didn’t mention the delights of Birkenhead and how he enjoys drinking in Spud Murphy’s on Charing Cross before nipping over to the Pound Bakery for a pasty!
Chamber CEO Paula Basnett obviously feels more at home in this more upmarket publication. All dolled up in white lace we find her promoting this week’s Wirral Chamber Corporate Cup golf tournament ( you too can enter a team for £500+ !) , The Lauries and its recently launched @142 bistro and er , The Sheds at Pacific Road which apparently is the perfect place to ‘dream, dare,create and share’ and has ‘reignited the atmosphere of industrious innovation’ . Oh give over, love ,they’re sheds.
Media 2 021

The dreaded Davies duo scheme rather than dream! But doesn’t Gorgeous George look lovely in lilac?!

Talking of sheds another publication in the crowded media marketplace that has been brought to our attention is Wirral !nspirations .
Media 027
The summer edition features the illuminating article titled : ‘We shed some light on the man cave’. Among the helpful tips is the advice to  ‘ PRETTIFY YOUR SPACE’  – Hang some pictures – but before you put up the Playboy calendar up, remember your wife may occasionally venture into the  shed, unless you keep it locked  and ‘BE SIGNAGE SAVVY’  – put a ‘Man Cave’ sign on the door so the rest of the family understand this is your territory, and yours alone’ .
Shed 016
Whilst mindlessly reading features on former Eastenders actor Larry Lamb , wedding dresses, sun cream, ukeleles, lawns, listed buildings and swollen ankles we felt as though we’d been transported back to 1953 . Nevertheless we still think Wirral !nspirations addressed our ‘information deficit’ more effectively than Wirral View ever could . What’s more it is rammed with advertising and therefore has obviously been more successful in attracting business than Wirral Council. So place your bets now as to which one of the two will go the way of Wirral News and be kicked to the kerb and into the gutter!

Billionaire Boy’s Club (Plus Princess Paula)

Tower Gardens

Tower Gardens : ‘Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you’ll have to drug me’

We had previously questioned whether the cancellation of the Special Meeting of Wirral Cabinet on 22 May had something to with purdah during the run up to the General Election.

Political Manoeuvres In The Dark

As you can also see we asked whether there would be a surprise waiting for us when the interminable electioneering period was over . We anticipated that council “leader” Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and the rest of the burgeoning Billionaire’s Boy Club that went to the MIPIM event in Cannes earlier this year would reveal to us all the international trade deals that had been expertly negotiated during their spring break.

And sure enough this morning  there was a launch of a ‘£1 billion Wirral regeneration plan’ . Although Power Boy Pip shared his Wirralian hallucinations in Cannes it would appear there weren’t any takers and so deploying that old maxim ‘if you want something doing – do it yourself’  the council-led ‘Wirral Growth Company ‘ has been set up. Sadly what we have is not £1 billion of investment but  ‘a shared our vision for £1bn worth of development opportunities’ .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15342545.Council_unveils___1_billion_Wirral_regeneration_plan/

So it would seem we’re back in the realms of ‘possible new look Tower Gardens’ and ‘possible redevelopment in Brighton Street Wallasey, and Hamilton Square’. All very much a case of dream the impossible dream and absolutely no mention of the Wirral Waters International Trade Centre. That particular fantasy seems to have been assigned to a watery grave as judging by the pictures in the Wirral Globe we now have a new set of artist’s impressions to laugh at and which suggest to us that someone has been let loose with the watercolours whilst under the influenceand some serious mind -altering drugs.

We have undertaken an Ipsos MORI  inspired vox pop of Wirral Council’s new shared vision at Leaky Towers. This may just have involved asking Her Ladyship, Eldritch and Verity what they think –  might we suggest their respective responses of : “Yeah! whatevs!, ” Here we f*cking go again”  and “Srsly?” is a more valid representation of public opinion than most pollsters have come up with lately!

Needless to say among the audience at today’s launch held at Woodside was ‘ Princess’ Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

She announced :  ” We have been awarded the business engagement and support contract for Wirral….”

Yes , of course you have Paula. And we’re sure it was a rigorous, open and transparent process!  We are therefore led to conclude from today’s historic announcement that there are 4 growth industries on Wirral – artist’s impressions , foodbanks , the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and whoever supplies their CEO with the frocks for the never-ending cycle of press launches and awards ceremonies!  It’s as simple as ABC….

I’ve seen the future, I can’t afford it
Tell me the truth sir, someone just bought it
Say Mr. Whispers! Here come the click of dice
Roulette and blackjacks – gonna build us a paradise
Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you’ll have to drug me

Maybe these luxuries can only compensate
For all the cards you were dealt at the hands of fate
So tell me
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire!

Millionaire! Billionaire! Trillionaire!

Hardly surprising if you might consider
Loyalties go to the highest of bidders
What’s my opinion? I’d give you ten to one
Give me a million, a franchise on fun
But there are millions who often get nowhere
And there’s just one secret I think you should share

Maybe these luxuries can only compensate
For all the cards you were dealt at the hands of fate
So tell me
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire!

Who wants to be millionaire?
I do! – I don’t! – I do!
Who wants to be millionaire?
I do! – I don’t!

I’ve seen the future and I can’t afford it

 

Election Selection : Week 4

ANGRY-GET-IT-RIGHT

The Curse of Pip (Part 1)

Our commiserations go to Tranmere Rovers as their hopes of promotion to the Football League were dashed today in their clash with Forest Green Rovers at Wembley.

As much as we would have liked to see our local team reach the lofty heights of League Two football we have to say that defeat was seemingly inevitable as it would seem the dreaded ‘Curse of Pip’ has struck again.

By which we mean anything council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies touches turns to sh*t.

As we’ve said before he appears to be King Midas in reverse.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/king-midas-in-reverse/

As we all know he has previous form when it comes to endorsing Tranmere Rovers. Who can forget when he held a reception at Wallasey Town Hall to promote Tranmere Rovers unofficial role as ambassadors of Wirral and then, hey presto ,their then manager Ronnie Moore was suspended by the Football Association for alleged breach of betting rules ( of which he was later cleared). Then the next thing you know Tranmere are relegated to non-league football .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/wirral-leaks-updates-lowdowns/

We reiterate this as we understand Pip’s toxic touch continued today as a well placed source informed us prior to today’s sporting event that :
Paula (Basnett)  is going ! On a coach with ‘Councillors’ paid for by the Chamber and The Merseyside Maritime Museum!! All very strange…… , So xxxx councillors and no idea about Maritime Museum guests………So these ‘hand picked ‘ councillors are getting the VIP treatment. But  who actually pays for this ‘perk!! Well if it’s the Chamber no doubt  Power Boy Pip and his beloved Paula will have that covered.
Also I am told that certain Councillors Anita Leech, Foulkes, Comb over Davies and their personal ‘friends’ are also afforded complimentary tickets at TRFC, (all matches) for EVERY  GAME. Is that a perk they declare on ‘members interest! Of course not!!
And more to the point why do they get these perks?

Can we suggest that if TRFC want to ascend the football ladder they need to distance themselves from the snakes who want to make political capital out of other people’s sporting achievements particularly during an election campaign. Just sayin’

The Curse of Pip (Part 2)

We were delighted to read that long time Mayor Joe Anderson was rejected by the Labour Party as their prospective MP  for Walton – now that current incumbent Steve Rotheram has gone on to greater things as Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region.

(And boy, did Martin Liptrot’s plans to be the power behind the throne when Mayor Joe was elected as Metro Mayor come back and splatter him all over his deeply unappealing face  – no wonder he sailed the gravy boat back over the Mersey).

Apparently perennial bad loser Joe has now refused to work with freshfaced Daniel Carden, the guy that Labour parachuted in over Joe to serve the people in the safe seat of Walton. Keepin’ it classy as ever Joe!

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mayor-joe-tells-colleagues-never-13033635

Once again we have to say we’re tempted to attribute this demise to ‘The Curse of Pip’. We state this as we are grateful to John Brace for his recording of Pip indulging in world class sphincter licking action at the last City Region meeting in the vain hope that Joe will end up as a Member of Parliament . Just think about that for a moment-Mayor Joe as an MP !

Pip’s eulogy to perhaps the most repellent politician on Merseyside outside of Frank Field is so toe-curling it’s almost like watching Diane Abbott reading her times tables. If you can bear to watch Pip starts flexing his tongue at approximately 13.48.

Fox Hunt

We don’t know what PM Theresa May thought she was doing this week by endorsing fox-hunting. We know we’re members of the landed gentry here at Leaky Towers but even we know that fox-hunting with hounds is barbaric and what’s more, a vote-loser.

Now if she endorsed the hunting of ‘The Crafty Foxes’ that would be another matter. As you may have noticed it’s our favourite pastime!

The Crafty Foxes

 

Tourist Trap

Demolition 014

It seems as though that the demolition of this infamous Borough Rd eyesore in Birkenhead has taken as long as the construction of the famous Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

You may remember an excellent report which we published earlier this year which questioned Wirral tourist figures which were being bandied about.

Tourism Awards : Wirral-style

Our knowledgeable contributor has undertaken further analysis and apparently according to the figures Wirral has the same lure for tourists as Barcelona (hence our picture and comments above).

Therefore the moral of this story is , as we’ve often said :  question everything !

Wirral Tourist Figures – Fake News?

As a rule I hate banging on about things, but, in this case I’m going to make an exception and bang on about the Wirral Tourism figures!

I apologise for the length of this item but I am truly dumbfounded that the people who are supposed to be running this Borough believe the figures.

Power Boy Pip and our very own tourism champ Tony ‘The Hoff’ Jones have both quoted the figures.

Wirral Chamber of Horrors, Wirral View, the Liverpool Echo, VisitWirral.com and various other outlets have fallen foul of the scourge of the internet age, copy and paste (ad infinitum). Nobody questions the figures because they are on the internet, therefore they must be true! Everybody believes them.

Well after contacting Lord Leaky a few months ago I got to thinking about the figures and did some deeper digging. I have come to the conclusion they are a load of spin. Should I be surprised? Probably not.

Were they used to ‘woo the Shiu’? Or are they to reinforce the case for a golf complex? Maybe they are just to say what a wonderful job the council and our esteemed Chamber of Horrors are doing in promoting this green and pleasant peninsula? Whatever the reason, they’re rubbish!

Its difficult to present the full picture succinctly so I shall use round figures and as few as possible.

Links to the documents are scattered around if you really want to read them???

The figures quoted for Wirral are:

8 Million visitors

£385m income

Over 5000 jobs

That equates to 22,000 visitors per day each spending £48 each! Do you believe that?

Lets put this into perspective. Barcelona is introducing legislation to limit tourism as they are overwhelmed. They had 8.3m tourists in 2015. (About the same as Wirral. Ha Ha Ha Ha)

Now at this point dear reader you are probably thinking ‘I’ve read this before’ but please bear with me. (You don’t need to read all the figures below, just look at the total.)

Figures from North West Research, Tourism Data Summary published July 2016.

Top Events Attendance 2015

Top Free Events

Three Queens – 1.2m

Mersey River Festival – 220,000

Transatlantic 175 – 200,000

International Music Festival – 161,000

Africa Oye – 80,000

Top Paid Events

Grand National – 142,500

Southport Air Show – 80,000

Creamfields – 70,000

Southport Flower Show – 54,000

Musical Fireworks – 35,000

Top Free Attractions

Museum of Liverpool – 747,000

Merseyside Maritime Museum – 662,000

World Museum – 658,000

Tate Liverpool – 626,000

International Slavery Museum – 460,000

Top Paid Attractions

Mersey Ferries – 607,500

Pleasure land Southport – 500,000

Beatles Story – 250,000

Haydock Racecourse – 203,000

Aintree Racecourse – 173,500

Total attendance for all these events held in the Liverpool City region 5,395,500!!!

That means more people visited Wirral than went to all of the above attractions and events (and some). Yeh!

Are you starting to see where I’m coming from with this?

The World Tourism Organization defines tourism as people “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”

(Acronym alert!!!!)

The figures are compiled using the STEAM model, (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor) by http://www.globaltourismsolutions.co.uk on behalf of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership.

Well, I don’t know how they do things in Scarborough but it don’t work in this neck of the woods!

Their beautifully illustrated pdf is available here

And this document gives the game away. https://www.liverpoollep.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/wpid-digest-of-tourism-statistics-12-2013.pdf

Section 1.5 tells us that:

A key component of the way in which STEAM works is its definition of ‘day visitors’; this is

defined as a person travelling to a district other than that in which they live, for a non-

routine purpose, with a stay of over 3 hours. Thus, someone making a trip to Southport Pier from Liverpool could be classed as a day visitor, but not someone making a

similar trip who lived in Formby.

Now I understand. These aren’t visitors to the Wirral, they are visits within the Wirral by people who live here. Hardly tourism or even visitor numbers.

Do you now see how useless these figures are?

So there you have it. Fake news!!

http://wirralview.com/news/wirral-enjoys-fresh-boost-visitor-economy-0

And yes, I did lose my bet on The Wro winning bar of the year 2017. They weren’t even nominated so I suspect they were asked to withdraw this year to give someone else a chance!

Demolition 012

Sagrada Familia it ain’t – but at least it’s a start.

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.
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