Bullshit Bullseye


We’d like to thank Plain English Campaign for nominating Wirral Council for a Golden Bull Award.

This award dishonours public documents which have proved to be outstanding in the field of bullshit.  SEE HERE

This particular nomination (there was also one for the Council last year ) comes from perennial underachievers , the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) and goes a little something like this…..

“The former model for integrating the integrated arrangements for health and social care were dealt with through separate streams, reablement and carers funds paid to the CCG and a special social care transfer for improved health outcomes, the section 256 agreement, these arrangements are superseded by the Better Care Fund.”


No, we haven’t the foggiest either ! Which is worrying considering that this is meant to be a document for public consumption.

But we  all know it’s not really – it’s meant to bamboozle Councillors and bemuse the public.

The purpose of the exercise is to prove that Council Officers know best – they know all the acronyms and all the buzzwords – and all are intended to exclude and enable them to retain their power over those “not in the know”.

However we were pleased to see Power Boy Pip picking up a buzzword from those “in the know” – namely Wirral Leaks – when he commented on the nomination : “I wouldn’t begin to defend it,” he said. “I agree, it is gobbledegook”

Leaky Fans will remember an article from October 2013 T titled “The Pollyanna Principle”


where coincidentally we took particular issue with the mystifying language of Wirral Council’s Annual Governance Statement commenting as follows :

“Anyway we thought we’d check out the 6 principles outlined in the Statement that Power Boy Pip referred to and although we were a little dismayed to find that there is no mention of the Pollyanna Principle, the document nevertheless provided the opportunity to play one of our favourite pastimes at Leaky Towers – Bullshit Bingo!.

Principle 1 : Focussing on the purpose of the Authority and on outcomes for the community including citizens and service users and creating and implementing a vision for the local area

Oh here we go with the visions again! How many Super Directors did it take to come up with that gobbledygook?! Because as anyone will tell you who lives here – life on Wirral would be so much better if only we had a vision! Meanwhile we’ ll have to console ourselves with the mirage that is Wirral Waters”.

Finally in celebration of this well -deserved nomination Wirral Leaks are issuing a special commemorative cut out and keep Bullshit Bingo card.

Any further suggestions of bullshit from Wirral Council documents and communications please send  to : wirralleaks@gmail.com


Spin Me a Dream – WBC and FOI


Now as you know we’ve covered some mindboggling stories about Wirral Council but this latest one can only be described in the words of Eldritch as a “complete clusterfuck”.

This story is concerned with what at first to be a fairly straightforward Freedom of Information request made by a certain I.Sevova on the always informative Whatdotheyknow website.


The original request was made in July 2012 but was eventually refused in it’s entirety by Wirral Council in February 2013, seemingly with a triumphal cry of  :”Oh give over I.Sevova” .

The annotations linked to this request (including from a certain M.Morton esq) are fascinating in themselves. However one part of the request that was refused that is particularly curious is the refusal of a copy of the infamous Martin Smith report into Bullying ,Harassment & Abuse of Power at Wirral Council.

This report has been freely available on Wirral Council’s own website at various times since February 2012 ( itself nearly 12 months after it was completed in April 2011).

So why the refusal? .

We at Leaky Towers think this story is instructive on two counts because not only does it demonstrate that Wirral Council is in dire need of an anatomy lesson as they don’t seem to know their arse from their elbow and secondly it shows exactly who wields power in the Town Hall.

Additionally, dare we suggest it isn’t the wisest move during a time that Wirral Council is the only local authority in the land to be subject to close scrutiny by the Information Commissioners Office because of their woeful response to FOI requests that they choose to mess about with people making requests in the public interest.

Consequently I.Sevova had to appeal to the ICO to get a copy of the Martin Smith report and needless to say Wirral Council caved in –  after the usual comedy of errors played out in all it’s agonising glory here:


However in what seems to be an inadvertent peak into how things work behind the scenes

someone has accidentally leaked the internal bureaucratic machinations leading to the report’s release . The link to which is here :


However I think it is useful to print the exchange fully before it disappears and at the same time ask the following questions :

A) Why is the Head of Tourism approving the release of information to the public?

B) Who is this Turgid Wotsit person?

C) Why would anyone in their right mind want a copy of the Martin Smith report ?.There’s black marker pen all over it. Even Lady Justine (who admittedly likes the gee-gees) laughed when Eldritch said ” That report has got more black -type than fucking Frankel’s formbook”

As ever scroll down to the bottom and prepare to be gobsmacked !.

Please send this one out,


Matthew Humble, Business & Performance Manager
Wirral Council
Telephone number: 0151 666 4513
e-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxx.xxx.xx
Fax: 0151 666 4338

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk
—–Original Message—–
From: Porter, Julie On Behalf Of Degg, Emma J.
Sent: 15 March 2013 09:28
To: Humble, Matthew; Tour, Surjit
Cc: InfoMgr, FinDMT; Lyon, Rosemary A.
Subject: RE: 604310 Freedom of Information request – Refused Martin Smith Report. ICO Case Reference Number FS50484498

Hi Matthew

Emma has approved this FOI.



Julie Porter
Wirral Council
Brighton Street
CH44 8ED
Tel: 0151 691 8235
Email: xxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxx.xxx.xx
Fax: 0151 691 8188

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk

Please save paper and print out only what is necessary

—–Original Message—–
From: Humble, Matthew
Sent: 12 March 2013 16:28
To: Tour, Surjit; Degg, Emma J.
Cc: InfoMgr, FinDMT; Lyon, Rosemary A.
Subject: FW: 604310 Freedom of Information request – Refused Martin Smith Report. ICO Case Reference Number FS50484498

Hello Surjit & Emma,

Please find attached a response to an Internal Review request,


Matthew Humble, Business & Performance Manager
Wirral Council
Telephone number: 0151 666 4513
e-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxx.xxx.xx
Fax: 0151 666 4338

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk

—–Original Message—–
From: O’Hare, Tracy J. On Behalf Of InfoMgr, FinDMT
Sent: 12 March 2013 14:22
To: Humble, Matthew
Cc: Corrin, Jane; InfoMgr, FinDMT; Lyon, Rosemary A.
Subject: FW: 604310 Freedom of Information request – Refused Martin Smith Report. ICO Case Reference Number FS50484498

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/refused_martin_smith_report_ico – (open on WDTK)
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/martin_morton_gagging_clause_dir#comment-36210 -(Requester has closed as refused on WDTK)

Good Afternoon

Please see request below:
Rosemary has confirmed with ICO – The internal review process is not exhausted regards this request.

Rosemary has asked if you can reply with the redacted M Smith report.

We have not issued this a new CRM number at this time.

Can you let information management, know of a time frame to complete in order for request to be acknowledged.

Many thanks, kind regards

Tracy O’Hare
FOI Co-ordinator
Information Management

TEL: 0151 691 8397
PLEASE FORWARD ALL FOI RESPONSES TO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxx.xxx.xx

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Re: ICO Case Reference Number FS50484498 Martin Smith Report

The ICO have advised me that you will conduct another internal
review regarding the following FOI request that was recently
refused, with particular reference to the redacted Martin Smith


Please provide the redacted Smith report as soon as possible and
please bear in mind that I have already waited a very long time.
You appear to have erroneously refused this request as according to
commentators who added annotations, this report has previously been
in the public domain.

As well as the report, please inform me as to the reason WHY this
part of my request was refused? The refusal makes me suspect that
Wirral Council do not always conduct internal reviews with due

***Please acknowledge this request and give me an approximate time

Yours faithfully,

I. Sevova

Shower? No! Dishwasher Yes ?

Dear Lord and Lady Wirral Leaks

Once again, I’d like to thank those employees who have responded to my
last weekly email with some helpful suggestions and ideas regarding
the savings we need to make and I will of course respond to these
individually.  I would, however, like to take this opportunity to
answer some general questions I have been asked by staff based upon
some unfounded rumours which appear to be doing the rounds.  I am
concerned that they are diverting attention from the key task of
addressing the £103 million budget gap.

Contrary to strong rumour – no shower has been installed. or will be,
in my office or anywhere else in the Town Hall.

The Council refurbished parts of the second floor of the Town Hall,
which includes decorating and standard furnishing of seven offices
(including my own) and a waiting room. One of my concerns when I
arrived at Wirral Council was that Directors have historically been
located in up to 6 different buildings; contributing to silo
management which has impacted on the way departments work together
strategically to deliver the Council’s objectives.  The refurbishments
mean that Directors will be located along one corridor and we can
therefore work together to manage the organisation much more
effectively.  Also, the Town Hall is an important meeting place for
visitors and potential investors in Wirral and the previously very
poor standards of the offices would have undermined the confidence of
key investors bringing jobs into Wirral.

Public Health is transferring into the Council and these
refurbishments were partly funded through transition funding to
accommodate those staff who are now located in Wallasey Town Hall.

These exaggerated rumours are either being spread innocently or with
an agenda to divert attention from the real issues we are facing, so I
thought it was important for me to give you the facts.   I also wanted
to let you know that I have asked David Armstrong to lead on a wider
review of Council assets and office accommodation, with the aim of
making savings, improving standards and bring together as many staff
as possible into central locations.

As you will be aware, the first people to be put at risk of redundancy
were Chief Officers and Heads of Services.  This week, I will begin
consultation on my proposals for the top two tiers of the management
restructure.  Initial discussions will take place with those directly
affected; however I will be keen to share this with you at the
earliest opportunity.  I will then bring forward proposals for
restructuring the management level who report directly to a Head of
Service for further consultation.  These changes to management will be
reported to Cabinet on the 20th December.

Last week Elected Members appointed Clare Fish to the post of
Strategic Director: Families and Wellbeing and Kevin Adderley, to the
post of Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment.
These two appointments are vital to the change and improvement
programme the Council has embarked on and – along with the expected
appointment of a third strategic Director for Transformation and
Resources shortly after Christmas – will play a significant role in
ensuring the Council can safeguard its frontline services whilst
making the savings required.

It has been widely communicated that the Council must make savings
amounting to £103 million over the next three years – this is on top
of £44 million savings the Council has already had to make since 2010.
 I have been asked questions about the national distribution of
Central Government cuts to Local Government and I have therefore
attached for your information a map which illustrates this
distribution and clearly demonstrates the disproportionate impact that
these cuts will have on the North of England.

The second stage of consultation on the proposed budget options began
last week and I’ve been enormously encouraged by the high volume of
responses received so far – a return rate in excess of 2,800 in less
than a week.

Again, I cannot stress the importance of getting involved and having
your say. The unprecedented financial challenges we are facing are
going to have a significant impact on a great number of people: it’s
vital your voice is heard.  I will be continuing my visits with staff
over the coming weeks and would be happy to receive any invitations to
come and visit your teams and hear more about the work that you do.

As part of my induction to my new role, I have made it one of my
priorities to visit partner organisations and local businesses.  This
morning I attended the first Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone board
meeting.  This board will provide a useful forum for regular meetings
between Wirral Council, Liverpool City Council, Peel Holdings and the
Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure the
successful implementation and delivery of the Enterprise Zone.

I am delighted to inform you of a local success story for one of
Wirral’s most famous companies.  John Syvret, Chief Executive of
Cammell Laird has won the business category at the recent Liverpool
Daily Post’s Leadership awards.  John received recognition from the
judges for the great job he has done turning round the fortunes of
this historic company.

This week, I will also be meeting with colleagues from our partner
organisations to discuss the setting up of a Wirral Public Service
Board.  This board will enable partners to proactively work together
to identify and deliver efficiencies and opportunities for joint
working – something that is very much on the agenda given the current
and foreseeable economic climate.

Finally, I wish to congratulate the Wirral Early Onset/Alcohol Related
Brain Injury Team, based at the Stein Centre at St Catherine’s
Hospital.  The team is a small integrated team with staff from Wirral
Adult Social Services and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust.  From
a shortlist of 6, the Wirral team was awarded national prestigious
award in recognition of their excellent rehabilitation work with
people with alcohol related brain injury.  The judging panel were
looking for examples of innovation, leadership, team work and
effective use of resources. The winning team certainly met all of
these criteria and their efforts towards excellence have been rightly


Graham Burgess
Chief Executive
Wirral Council



Giant Arrives on Merseyside

Well when we say “giant” we mean “giant salary.” Solace Associate and Council troubleshooter Michael Fratler has been drafted in to sort out beleaguered Wirral Council on a  monthly salary of  £15,000 – “based on £1,200 per day, three days a week, 4.2 weeks per month.” Nice work if you can get it. Can anyone smell a gravy train pulling into Hamilton Square ?

Michael , who bears more than a passing resemblance to a middle aged Harry Potter , will certainly need a magic wand to defeat the ‘death eaters’ who infest the corridors of power in WBC and his appointment has been greeted with much triumphant harrumphing by readers of the  Wirral Globe. It seems they have found a new hero, although looking for a hero in “Solace” would seem as fatuous as looking for enduring talent in a Simon Cowell TV show. 

Lord and Lady Wirral-Leaks are not ones to burst anyone’s bubble, but maybe, for balance, we should check out Michaels “previous.”  A blog in Nottingham, an authority were MF had been Chief Exec, doesn’t seem particularly enamoured with his particular brand of public service wizardry and states –

“Michael Frater is the 3rd Chief Exec to leave Nottingham in the past 6 years. Pay-offs to the previous Chief Execs were £110,000 and £153,000 bringing the total amount Nottingham City Council has spent on getting rid of disgruntled execs to around half a million pounds. It looks like there’s quite a bit of money to be made in not getting along with your colleagues if you’re a Chief Executive. It’s good to know that our taxes are being well spent.

It’s not the only area in which Frater has been frittering away money. At the start of the month, by which time it is claimed he had already moved his furniture back to Telford, he was enjoying himself at a Nottingham City Council funded £52,000 beach party on the Cote d’Azur. Apparently he was wooing developers to invest in Nottingham at an international property show. It seems that we don’t have enough luxury flats in the city centre, making private profit for their millionaire owners whilst pushing affordable housing further into the periphery.

Frater has also come under fire for his commissioning of a play to improve public services. Rather than engaging in dialogue with Council employees, Frater thought that it would be better if actors presented the issues according a Council-approved script. This propaganda effort was to be directed at 3,500 Council workers and cost £387,000, more than £100 per person. Why the money couldn’t have been spent taking concrete measures to address the problems staff face was never addressed.”

Hmmm, you can read more HERE

So here at  Maison Forte De Wirral- Leaks we will not stringing up the bunting or  popping the Armand de Brignac open just yet.