A Special Case

We’ve just returned from our summer break and as we continue our big wind down do we detect the winds of change with the onset of autumn?

We say this as we arrived back to find our inbox rammed with two breaking news stories. The first is the news that the concept of truth,justice and accountability may slowly be gaining traction on Wirral. We say this as we hear there have been significant developments involving a story that we leaked titled Wood is out but Wirral Children’s Services are not out of the woods  where we wrote :

Moreover we also understand that John Wood was involved in leading an investigation that is being described to us – and with apparent justification – as a cover up by Wirral Council. The case involves an allegation of abuse at a special needs school.

It would now appear that there have been SACKINGS at Stanley School the special needs school involved in what was alleged to us was a cover up of abuse of a boy who couldn’t speak up for himself. The cover up has now apparently unravelled due to the sheer persistence and determination of parents and brave witnesses  at the school who it would appear stood up to bullying and intimidation…

Part of the harrowing story can be found on this Facebook post :

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Deputy Dispute

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We resisted calling this post ‘Deputy Dawg’ .  We’re better than that. Unfortunately our elected representatives aren’t.

However we have to thank our source who, in the dogged pursuit of truth,  asks the pertinent question   :

Just who is Deputy Leader of Wirral Council?

As the new administration gets “its feet under the table” there appears to be some confusion as to who is the Deputy Leader of the Council.  Pat “ the healer” Hackett decided to have a Deputy Leader of the labour group, Cllr Jeanette “ milly tant” Williamson, and Cllr Anita “dog shit supremo” Leach as the actual council deputy leader.  This is causing all kinds of confusion though, especially for Cllr Williamson who keeps telling everybody and attending conferences as “Deputy Leader of Wirral Council”  now we know that dear old Milly has a fragile ego but this is ridiculous!  However what would be truly ridiculous is if Cllr Williamson is also receiving the paid allowance of Deputy Leader as well as cllr leach. 

It would be great if Wirral Council could tell us what positions and allowances these two giants of Wirral politics actually hold and are paid for!
 Needless to say we have previously and ruefully commented on the fact that the local   Labour group have pulled this stunt before. Remember when Cllr Ann McLachlan and Cllr George Davies were both Deputy Leaders and both presumably gorging themselves on the trough of plenty?…
Apparently you don’t – hence it’s a case of history repeating itself  and you’re paying for it!
Meanwhile  can we just pause for a second  and consider the fact that ardent royalist Cllr Janette Williamson might actually be the Deputy Leader of Wirral Council…and you thought that Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and Donald Trump as US President heralded the end of days?…

 

Wirral Leaks Word of the Day

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All this fuss today about the word prorogue when let’s face it Wirral Council have been pro rogue for years.

Has there been a local government chancer and charlatan that hasn’t passed through the doors of Wallasey Town Hall and failed miserably at their job and at being a decent human being and left clutching a cheque as a reward for their manifest failure?

Moreover is there a Council in the land that has consistently served as a safe haven for rogue politicians such as ( INSERT NAME HERE) … ?

 

Deep Diving For Cave Information

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Our Seaside Special post certainly sparked a reaction. Not least from those who want to deny any culpability for the ongoing Hilbre Island environmental debacle : 

Good evening . 
It is an affront to the people of Wirral to firstly put a nasty chemical in a cave on one of our iconic islands and then lie about the cause of the fire .It was not an arson attack. That’s the cover up. 
If you look at the time of the fire you will note that the Island would have been vacated due to the tide. Unless it was an act of terrorism and they had a submarine or a boat in the harbour as to plan their escape.  But I don’t think so…
The contractor North West Construction who lost all council work due to their poor performance are the culprits again. And strangely they were given this contract and concerns raised yet again about their performance and capability were ignored .It was  asset management who appointed and planned the works . Your previous contributors have put the blame on parks and countryside staff, we want the record put straight. Those working on and with Hilbre Island love the island , the friends groups and staff are all deva
devastated and they all collectively care and we all want answers !!!!
They can’t keep on brushing things under the carpet. The management and the councillors need to get a grip. 
The fire and the river pollution was caused by the contractor as they were in charge of the cave not us . End of. Everyone knows it . Stop treating us as fools… 
Now we don’t know whether North West Construction were previously dumped by Wirral Council for shoddy work or whether they are responsible for recent failings on Hilbre Island . Therefore we’d appreciate some clarification on the matter and not least from someone at Wirral Council who commissioned the work and who surely will be able to confirm or deny these allegations . If it is the former they may want to clarify further as how the contractor in question got this particular gig…

Seaside Special

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New Brighton : Bank Holiday Sunday lunchtime 

One of the few compensations of living on the insular peninsula is the fact that Wirral is  surrounded by water . This gives plenty of opportunity of a bank holiday weekend to be beside the seaside, beside the sea (or the river or the shore…)

Unfortunately as you can see from the picture above the inhabitants don’t always seem to appreciate this . Nor indeed do their elected representatives and the contractors they hire seem to appreciate what they’ve been gifted and continue to abuse their habitat.

The past week as seen the story that made the national mainstream media and which reads like Enid Blyton gone bad and could have been titled Wirral Council Go Mad On Hilbre Island . Polyurethane foam to infill caves ? Yeah that’ll work! And inevitably when the foam ended up floating in the sea the cave was then boarded up and then according to Wirral Council subject to an arson attack. However according to Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces Facebook page all may not be as it seems…

Meanwhile our friends at  ‘For Trees’ have been in touch with us to give an insight into the above incident and their wider concerns about how Wirral Council is failing to protect its precious local environment :

WBC are responsible for the highly toxic chemical fire that started in the cave they were ‘filling’, compounding the pollution already caused by the devastating decision to ‘fill’ the cave with toxic plastic foam.

Hilbre Island is part of the Marine Conservation Area.  

This latest environmental crime by Parks, Coast & Countryside is on top of the Glyphosating schedules that continue to spread the  highly toxic herbicide across this small peninsula. Every year a stretch of the North Wirral Foreshore, between West Kirby and Meols is sprayed with tens of gallons Glyphosate, dispensed from quad bikes. It has just been applied again, even though a Council decision to ‘phase out’ Glyphosate was taken weeks before at full Council meeting.

This assault on its own coastline is on top of the felling programmes that have removed thousands of trees from Wirral’s parks, verges, open spaces, cemetries and other Council-owned land.
For despite an agreement to review the practice of dismembering and felling secured by campaign group For Trees, a new round of  WBC tree ‘works’ is swinging into action, removing the understorey and major limbs from trees around the perimeter of Birkenhead Park and  from outside Meols railway station. This butchery has continued (illegally) throughout the nesting season.  

Of the ongoing Hilbre pollution, WBC’s ‘spokesperson’ ( who is so confident that s/he doesn’t wish to be named) had the effrontery and arrogance to assert that “the work that is taking place at Hilbre is essential as it will strengthen support for part of the cliff face where movement has been noted.” I submit that the only movement that should concern us is  movement of a human variety,  clicking a mouse to sign off dodgy contracts, allowing contractors to deposit isocyanides and other plastic in the sea and on our island; allowing the subsequent arson  and its abuse of the isalnd and of marine life to take place.

The ‘spokesperson’ added, without a hint of remorse,  ‘ this work is being carried out by contractors and is taking place in three distinct phases, with the first phase – to infill a cave beneath the cliff – beginning last week.’ 
It seems, too, that containers of the toxic chemical Isocyanate had been left for at least two weeks on the island. Isocyanate is classified by HSE as a ‘construction hazardous substance’

Caves do not need to be infilled.  never did and never will do.The geomorholgy of the island should be allowed to evolve, to change naturally, without any human interference. This is the most judicious, not to mention objective approach to marine and other conservation. If the Council is really concerned about coastal erosion it should stop poisoning  the grasses that hold it together ( our natural coastal and flood defences) and consider  protecting  the island from the excessive human impact that can damage its natural features.  What about closing the island to visitors for part of the year to allow the habitat to recover?

It seems to me that WBC could pursue a legal remedy for a breach of contract or look to terminate if it was so minded;- but it isn’t.

WBC is digging itself into a plastics -filled, Glyphosate saturated,  log-strewn hole if it thinks that Wirral residents should continue to fund its reckless and relentless environmental clobbering. We live on a small peninsula.  Looking after it isn’t about throwing money at it. Not misspending it would certainly help?

Hilbre Island is a Local Nature Reserve and hosts many vulnerable wildlife species, it is also part of the Dee Estuary SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) as is the North Wirral Foreshore. that is routinely poisoned. It has been recognised as a unique place for wading birds and wildfowl for hundreds of years and shelters important populations of wetland species, especially birds. It is also on a major migratory route.
There is legal protection for the wild life and penalties for disturbing breeding species.

Both WBC and the contractors are responsible for these crimes.The contractors and the persons who approved and signed off the work should be named and appropriate action taken against them.

Louise Stothard (For Trees Team)

 

 

 

A View To A Kill

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Wirral View’s inevitable destination

We said we’d get back and report on the inevitable demise of the most misbegotten, woebegotten and soon forgotten contribution to ‘journalism’ known as Wirral View.

And –  Oh! What at a wretched rag it was.

Apparently according to the Wirral Globe , who ironically got the ‘exclusive’ on this story, Wirral Council is pulling the life support machine on this ‘information deficit’ atrocity funded by public money in October.

Needless to say we called this pisspoor propaganda paper from the get go in our Warped View post from 2016.

Despite the fact that the former and not missed at all CEO of Wirral Council Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson lied about the fact that Wirral View was not seeking advertisement revenue to achieve the infamous Martin Liptrot’s aim of putting Wirral Globe out of business,  Wirral View was allowed to stagger on until the editor of Wirral Globe got his hands on the ‘Wirralgate’ tapes in July 2017 and Wirral View’s days were inevitably numbered.

Consequently we were drawn to this comment in the Wirral Globe report:

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You don’t say?

Triple vodka and oranges all round eh, Leigh?

 

Wirral View’s Life Cycle Comes To An End

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As part of our parting shots we promise to get round to commenting on the demise (?) of the Hoylake Golf Resort and that journalistic milestone/tombstone formerly known as Wirral View.

However we leave it to our betters to get the first shots in and call upon ‘The Prof’ to comment on Wirral View’s reckless promotion of ‘healthy living’ on Wirral. As far as we’re concerned the only healthy living option would involve using any form of transportation to get off the hell off the insular peninsula as fast as you can…

Wirral View is continuing its irresponsible campaign to have us all embrace cycling…including riding to schools.

Top tips for the ride ahead

Exercise is good for us…but only in clean air. If you can get into the countryside, say to the Wirral Way or Leasowe embankment, go to it! But cycling east of the M53 is dangerous. Wirral View tells us ‘Wirral Council monitors air pollution as part of its commitment to clean air.’ This is so for nitrogen oxides, but highly dangerous particulate matter is measured at only one AURN site…in the middle of Victoria Park, far from major roads. On this basis it tell us it has not identified ‘any illegal air pollution levels.’ This is strictly true for annual average, current national exposure limits but not for WHO (World Health Organisation)  limits on particulate matter. The WHO say this of their own stricter, current limits

‘Annual PM concentrations are associated with all-cause mortality to a high degree of confidence. There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure to PMs or to a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur.’

In other words: our Wirral average air pollution is (just) legal but you will put your health and that of your children at significant risk if you take exercise near any major, and many minor, roads on Wirral. Even the UK government has an aim to ensure that under 50% of the population will experience more than the WHO limit on PMs by 2025. Much of Wirral is above that limit. It’s your choice…

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

Cold Calling For Wirral Council

 

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We’ve had a few people contact us asking about cold calling from Wirral Council or more accurately  an organisation called NEMS asking  Wirral residents to take part in a planning /shopping survey for Wirral Council.

An inquisitive recipient of such a call asked who had commissioned the survey and was told it was a certain John Entwistle from the Planning Department. Could the Planning Department finally be cottoning on that it would be useful to find out what Wirralians want to see happens to where they live and to pop that info into some kind of ‘Local Plan’?

Alas we can’t tell you what information that NEMS are gathering at the moment because none of the people who received the unsolicited call  fitted a particular demographic…

So just giving you all the heads up that if the number 01642 680947 pops up on your phone you know it’s NEMS and you can choose whether to participate or not – as long as you fit a set criteria that is…

Planning An Intervention ?

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There was a timely reminder this week about just how incompetent Wirral Council’s Planning Department is with the publication of the full Court of Appeal judgment from April in the case Regina (Thornton Hall Hotel Ltd) v Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

The full citation can be read here

Someone who had read The Times law report contacted us and posed these questions :

Good Afternoon

So yet again, the marquee saga at Thornton Manor has managed not to reach the local press, I wonder why?

The planning permission quashed by the high court, Appeal dismissed with more criticism of WBC and Thornton Manor. It even made The Times on Wednesday!

Are weddings at risk now the Marquees are continuing to operate without planning consent?

Is WBC going to do anything about it?

Is planning permission worth the paper it’s written on (or not written on) should you bother with it if you can just carry on regardless?

All very pertinent we’re sure you’d agree. However could help be on the horizon for our exasperated source as it would appear that they’re not the only one getting increasingly frustrated with Wirral Council’s ineptitude when it comes to planning  issues.

There is another report from earlier this month which once again seems to have bypassed the local mainstream media but potentially has serious implications for local planning.

Indeed a recent contact commented to us :

Any update on the Green Belt? I’ve heard that MHCLG are about to trigger an intervention on Wirral soon due to constant delays and lack of capability.

Could this have been prompted by the following damning report which can be found on the Planning Resource website  ?

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As you can read below the worst of all was, yes you guessed it- Wirral Council! It is interesting to note that under the government’s special measures programme, Wirral Council could have planning decisions taken out of its hands by the Planning Inspectorate if they fall below specified thresholds for the speed and quality of their decision making. And as we can see from the Thornton Manor marquee saga case study above speed and quality is not exactly a strong point ! Never mind at least Wirral Council are top notch when it comes to getting artist’s impressions of planning developments in the local press. It’s just such a shame they never make it through the planning process!…

 

The councils that determined the fewest applications within government time limits up to March 2019

2 July 2019 by John Geoghegan

Eight local authorities are now below the government’s ‘special measures’ threshold for the proportion of application decisions made within the statutory timescales, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Wirral Town Hall: council determined the fewest major applications within government time limits up to March 2019

Under the special measures programme, councils can have planning decisions taken out of their hands and dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate if they fall below specified thresholds for the speed and quality of their decision making.

Authorities that decide fewer than 60 per cent of major applications within the statutory deadline of 13 weeks or 70 per cent of non-major applications within the eight-week deadline face the sanction.

In December 2018, the government announced the programme would continue until 2020.

However, no council has been penalised under the initiative since January 2015, despite many falling under the sanction thresholds.

Last week, the government updated its figures showing how many major and non-major decisions that each English local planning authority determined within the prescribed timescales in the two years up to March 2019.

It shows that a total of eight councils fall below the thresholds for major and non-major decisions: Wirral, Craven, Barrow-in-Furness, Ealing, Wakefield, Stoke-on-Trent, Southampton and Worcester.

In the previous quarter’s data, the two years up to December 2018, a total of ten councils fell below the three thresholds for speed of determination.

The latest data for major decisions shows that Wirral, Craven and Barrow-in-Furness councils are below the 60 per cent threshold (see below).

Wirral Council is still the worst-performing authority in this category, deciding just over than half of its 75 major applications within the 13-week deadline. Wirral and Craven remain below the threshold from the last quarter’s data.

For ‘county matters’ major application decisions, which covers mineral and waste development, Ealing and Wakefield Councils remain below the threshold (see below).

However, both authorities only dealt with one ‘county matters’ major application each over the two-year period.

They are joined below the threshold by Stoke-on-Trent, which only determined two applications.

For non-major decisions (see below), the data shows that Craven, Southampton, and Worcestershire are all below the 70 per cent threshold – the same three councils as the last quarter but with Craven now replacing Southampton as the worst-performing authority.

Out of a total of 1,070 decisions, Craven Council made 65 per cent of them within the eight week deadline.

Last December, the MHCLG announced that designation decisions in the first quarter of 2019 for speed of decision-making would consider the two-year timeframe between October 2016 and September 2018.

Meanwhile, for quality of decision-making, the assessment period would be between April 2016 and March 2019

 

CCG and Mrs Jones

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Our health correspondent Dr Love provides us with a commentary on recent events concerned with the proposed closure of two local walk in centres and the role of the  Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Cllr Christine Jones. It really makes you wonder whether they’ve ‘got a thing going on’…

Dear chum

Councillor Christine Jones is the joint chair of Wirral’s Joint Strategic Commissioning Board.

She acquiesced when their recent meeting was turned into – for the most important item on the agenda – a meeting of the CCG Board. ‘Legal’ because Council and NHS budgets aren’t ‘pooled’ for the related purpose, but a smack in the gob for councillors. (And see the John Brace reference below.)

The CCG agreed unanimously to close two walk-in centres.

Cllr Jones forgets to say that ANY closures had been opposed unanimously the previous week by a joint meeting of Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester Councils attended by Labour and Tory councillors.

She repeats the argument that people were ‘confused’ about existing services. NO reasonable evidence has ever been presented for this.

She accepts that there will be improvements in NHS111 (now rechristened variously ‘Ask Alexa’ and ‘Fuck off and die’).

She accepts that axed services will allegedly be covered by extra GP appointments, ignores the 100,000 missing NHS doctors and nurses, and accepts the CCG’s clear statement that this appointment system won’t necessarily be with a GP but with various assistants (less skilled, lower paid).

She fails to follow her own Council’s and her Party’s policies to oppose any closures.

She forgets that her party’s policy (nationally and locally) is to oppose the whole ‘sustainability and transformation partnership’ edifice, of which the CCG and its cut and pasted plans are part.

Her colleague who follows her is also worth listening to – for different reasons.

Here’s the video of the meeting with Cllr Jones’ comments from 31 minutes in. https://wirral.public-i.tv/…/webcast_interactive/429803

But the most jaw-dropping feature of this sorry episode is that last month she wrote to a local campaigner and said, “The community consultation the CCG delivered on the urgent care review proposals showed unequivocally strong opposition to any closure of walk in centres. I stand by the wishes of Wirral residents and council and will oppose any closure of services”.

Campaigners expect councillors (especially from the ‘people’s party’) to have a grasp of the ideology behind the rapid dismantling and demoralisation of the NHS. Our little local difficulty is simply a tiny part of the ambitions of those who would beg a trade deal from Trump and leave any bits which they haven’t already plundered to the slavering jaws of United Health of Minneapolis (the previous employer of NHSE boss Simon Stevens and with huge existing NHS contracts including via its Optum system).

BTW the other joint chair (and chair of CCG) Dr Paula Cowan is a key part of the whole unedifying process. She has form in forcing through cuts https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/fertility-treatment-cut-back-part-12583527

So is it the ‘aristocratic embrace’ that subverts Cllr Jones? Or is it just lovely to sit next to the NHS’s own Emily Maitlis?

She’s going to feel rather conflicted when her council colleagues refer the decision back to the Secretary of State for Health especially now that the whole process has been exposed by local video man John Brace https://johnbrace.com/is-the-decision-to-close-2-walk-in-centres-at-moreton-and-new-ferry-last-week-unlawful/?fbclid=IwAR3fGmjIDxS7NSjvNft2xoyqmX38vmOUERnSCo9tQP4U9P-5qIepFTQXrqw

The meeting video also shows Cllr Tony Norbury saying what a blow this is to the people of Birkenhead. Perhaps he’s failed to notice that elements within Birkenhead Labour – as well as Frank N Field and the local GP who runs an excellent ‘saved’ walk-in centre – are jubilant because ‘their’ Globe-splashed campaign had such a victory.

Yours, Dr Love