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.

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.
%d bloggers like this: