Secret Chamber

york-council-chamber-guildhall-updated

Above is a picture of the rather splendid council chamber at York Guildhall.  The admirable  York Mix website tells us that it will be here next week that a group of senior councillors are challenging City of York Council (CYC) leader Cllr David Carr to publish  a ‘secret report’.

Secret Report

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our interest is piqued by the fact that we understand the report follows a Local Government Association (LGA) investigation into  what Stewart Halliday got up to before he landed a £200K +  ‘transformer’ gig at Wirral Council.

What also interests us is the sheer persistence of CYC councillors in pursuing this matter in the public interest. Can you imagine Wirral Council’s equivalent to CYC’s Audit & Governance Committee writing a cross- party letter to the leader of the Council asking for a report to published in the name of openness and transparency?

Indeed if they were doing their jobs properly there’s a particular ‘secret report’ that Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee should be asking to be published. The sad fact is that half of this committee don’t even know what report we’re referring to and the other half know exactly what report we are referring to and are choosing to sweep the matter under the Wallasey Town Hall carpet !

 

 

 

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Wirral Council and the Maximum Wage

Image result for maximum wage

It was whilst we were researching our piece on the appointment of Paul Boyce, Wirral Council’s new Director of Children’s Services , that we came across an interesting concept that cash-strapped Wirral Council would do well to heed.

Old Boyce Network

Of course you can read the Cllr Bernie Mooney approved version of the appointment in the following local media outlets :

Approved Version 016

You may remember that we mentioned that following an Ofsted inspection in 2010, which identified children’s services at Cheshire West & Chester ( CWaC) to be ‘inadequate’ , a certain Gerald Meehan was one of the people brought in to oversee the Ofsted improvement plan. Indeed between  2010-15 Mr Meehan was somehow working at both Halton Council as head of the children and enterprise and as strategic director of children’s services at CWaC . According to The Taxpayers’ Alliance lobby group in 2015, Mr Meehan was on £168,700.

Meehan then replaced departing CWaC  CEO  Steve Robinson in 2015 . Curiously Meehan was appointed on £30,000 less than his predecessor with a salary of £150,000. According to a report about the appointment in the Chester Chronicle

Mr Meehan will earn £150,000 compared with Mr Robinson’s £180,000 wage as it is argued the task is less onerous compared with that of Mr Robinson who helped set up CWaC from scratch in 2008 before it became a fully fledged authority in 2009.The huge restructuring of council services that followed saw thousands of posts made redundant so it is also claimed Mr Meehan will be in charge of a smaller organisation.

The full report can be read here

Meanwhile that same year neighbouring Wirral Council ,who as we know operate in a parallel universe ,actually INCREASED the CEO salary by £40,000 to £175,000 following the departure of slash and burn CEO Graham Burgess. Apparently the justification for the increase was that Wirral Council wanted to ‘attract the best’.  We suppose it all rather depends on how you define ‘the best’ – certainly best for the ruling Labour administration – but for the people of Wirral ? Is it any wonder that current CEO ‘ Stressed’ Eric Robinson has a lower profile than Lord Lucan?

And so with Wirral Council continuing to slough off  staff and services like a snake shedding its skin isn’t time we asked whether the CEO and senior officer remuneration should be exponentially lowered ? Will we look back in years to come and think that rewarding public servants to facilitate a free for all for free enterprise was a shameful period for public services. It’s not only about how central government (of all political hues) has encouraged outsourcing and asset stripping it’s also about how public servants in local government getting paid very well for placing public assets into private hands.  So whilst there are rich pickings at the top of the tree it seems that everyone else in public service are at the bottom waiting for windfall in the form of their P45.

 

 

Strange Boutique

Now that Wirral Council and Wirral Globe seem to be cosy all of a sudden ( Hmm – we wonder why?) it seems that the (piss) poor Liverpool /Wirral Echo have to make do with scraps off the table. Wirral Council is such a fickle mistress –  even though fickle mistresses always seem to get them into trouble.

Last week the Echo published a ludicrous puff piece in advance of Monday’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting where the headline screamed :

New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel

Of course if you read the report to which the article refers to – there are no such plans.

Birkenhead Town Hall – Boutique Hotel

However there are pictures of Birkenhead Town Hall with crocuses in the foreground. “What a crocus of shit….” said our butler Eldritch. And who are we to disagree?

The report itself is grandiosely titled ‘ Strategic  Regeneration Framework’  (SRF) presumably because it’s no longer good enough to have a strategy , you have to have a ‘framework’ to go with it – which of course justifies the inflated salaries of those spewing out this nonsense.

Strategic Regeneration Framework

As Wirral Council seem to be so very keen on ‘ reality checks’  lets get the Leaky Towers crew to break it down for them :  Hamilton Square is magnificent. So is Birkenhead Town Hall. And they’re wasted in Wirral Council’s hands.  So having failed to turn Hamilton Square into a glorified roundabout U-Turn On Roundabout = Dead End  

Wirral Council are now hoping that investors are going to flock to them with an open cheque for a boutique hotel .So let’s take a look around –  God bless the Station Hotel. They really, really tried to bring artisan bread to Birkenhead. Unfortunately they didn’t realise that their customer base were more interested in Frank Field getting their housing benefits sorted out. You won’t be surprised to hear they’ve since closed down because those on the breadline don’t choose artisan bread.

Boutique 009

Perhaps the model Wirral Council should be following and to which they should be lowering  their aspirations somewhat and align themselves to is a skanky drug den such as the Central Hotel.

Boutique 012

Just sayin’

Strange Boutique

 

The Gravy Train update – with special guests Anna and Bill

gravytrain

A round of applause for old Wirral Leaks favourites Anna Klonowski and Bill Norman as they make yet another guest appearance on our hallowed website.

You have to to hand it to Anna and Bill – never have such transparent blaggers made such a good living off the public purse. Needless to say their paths eventually crossed at Wirral Council –  the ground zero of local government corruption.

Having failed miserably to make a blind bit of difference to the culture of Wirral Council, whilst at the same time significantly enhancing their bank balances, we hold these particular fraudsters in complete contempt.

So what happened subsequently to these shysters? – that’s right they got found out.

Firstly – let’s deal with Anna and we reluctantly have to agree with a belligerent local Tory councillor on this one :

Blakeley - Klonowski

We noted at the time his deliberate typo ( ha! ha!ha!) but in the intervening 5 years this repugnant bulldog has just sniped from the sidelines and made NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER. Neither did Klonowski. She was too busy cashing her £250K cheque and then smugly sitting on the ‘Improvement Board’ and feeding off the blood, sweat and tears of whistleblowers like the local government parasite she is (put that on your LINKED IN profile why dontcha).

We need to thank the magnificent blog The Bristolian for keeping us up to date with Anna’s travels (or should that be be travails ? – either way she doesn’t care as long as she’s getting paid for it).

It seems that Anna picked up a few tips whilst working for the Wirral Council power elite – like paying off people to keep their mouths shut. As you can read here : Klonowski Gag

And not only that she picked up a few bullying tips from Foulkesy , who she strangely supported. Not strangely at all in retrospect – he paid her humongous bills. You can read all about her shameful progress here : Big Wedge’s Bully Shame

What we do admire is The Bristolian’s challenge to this gravy train gobshite and their rider :

NB. Any legal threats in relation to this article to the Bristolian’s email please.

Because as we know Anna is not averse to threatening people with legal action who dare to challenge her. As we’ve reported previously she set Martyn Scott from DLA Piper onto Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton, who let’s not forget made her a cool quarter of a million, because her dared question her as to why she didn’t do her job properly and fully expose , among other things , that Wirral Council and Merseyside Police were mixed up with drugs money launderers.

But let’s move on to Billyboy Norman .

And can we say we’re simply astonished that this piece of work has lasted as long as he has . What an inspiration to one and all – that no matter how corrupt,how incompetent, how damn ugly you are you can still trawl the country picking up cheques from people who are more corrupt, more incompetent and more ugly than you are.

Bill Norman – Police Probe

Anna Klonowski is no doubt taking notes and ready for her comeback.

NB. Any legal threats in relation to this article to Wirral Leaks email please.

 

 

Oh no it’s a LOBO!

 

Image result for debt resistance ukImage result for Debt Resistance UK

With all this Labour Party conference talk of Private Finance Initiative ( PFI) schemes we thought we’d turn our attention to the Local Authority (LA) equivalent of the never-never and and return to an old story concerned with LOBO loans.

LOBO-tomy Loans

For those unfamiliar with the concept -although you might not know you’re paying through the nose for one –  a LOBO stands for Lender Option Borrower Option.

The Lender Option means that periodically the lender can impose a new interest rate.

The Borrower Option is to agree to new interest rate or pay loan back in full.

However if the local authority chooses to pay the loan back in full there are punitive ‘break penalties’ which can cost the local authority (and more specifically the council taxpayer) an arm and a leg.

Last night’s Audit & Risk Management Committee confirmed that Wirral Council have taken out a LOBO loan and the reason that the annual accounts have not been fully signed off by external auditor Grant Thornton is that a member of the public has raised an objection to the LOBO loan situation.

Indeed we understand  from the excellent Debt Resistance UK website that Wirral Council is one of  46  councils that are subject to such a legal objection (see below). Full details can be read here : LOBO legal objections

LOBO Debt & “Fair (repayment) Value” for financial liabilities at 46 UK Councils where objections were lodged in 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years.

As you can see Wirral have taken out an eyewatering  LOBO loan of £157+ million and it is estimated that they will be paying back £295 + million .  The loan repayments represent 10.2% of council tax income and debt per person on Wirral is £924 .

Furthermore latest figures Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) indicate that Wirral is the 13th (unlucky for us) overall highest LA borrower in the UK. No doubt part of that that is to cover pay-offs to council managers,  contracts for consultants and salaries for ‘transformers !

Borrowing_and_Investment_Live_Table_2014-15_small-798x1024

 

The Skwawking Canary Comes Home To Roost

 

SAINT-FRANK

Yes ,we know it’s not a canary but then Frank’s no saint!

There are alternative sources out there for the politically curious beyond the usual newspaper columns, press releases and soundbites.

Indeed we’ve been inundated with contacts providing links to a couple of left -leaning blogs The Canary and Skwawkbox and telling us that they’re singing our song.

And so it would seem there’s only so much backstabbing of the Labour Party leader that Corbynistas are prepared to tolerate from Birkenhead MP Frank Field.

Firstly, The Canary rustles Frank Field’s feathers by challenging him on his reprehensible stand on paying disabled people less than the National Living Wage (NLW). Apparently this is because their work has “an economic value below the legal minimum wage”. He says his idea is to help employers “to take on low-productivity disabled workers”. Field, in his typical high handed manner ,dismisses criticism of his standpoint as “absurd” . Might we suggest as a point of comparison he checks out the “economic value” of some of the charlatans on six figure salaries running Wirral Council?

Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) believes that Field does not understand why his comments have upset disabled people. She told The Canary:

For anyone in this day and age to hold those views, and especially someone in Frank Field’s position, is abominable. It is exactly the same sort of thinking as the Nazi ‘useless eaters’ rhetoric.

John McArdle from campaign group Black Triangle also criticised Field :

The right to equal treatment and equality are human rights. Human rights are not privileges. That’s why they are called rights. I suggest Mr Field goes back to the drawing board. His comments are a disgrace and he should now apologise. Furthermore, if the Labour Party wishes to prove that it has truly changed its tune, it will need to demonstrate that the New Labour old guard are no longer calling the shots and put the voices of disabled people first.

The last time we looked, Mr Field was not a spokesperson for disabled people.

Read the full article here : Sack Field

However talking of the ‘old guard’ Field and his cabal will be facing a much more serious and pressing challenge much closer to home at tonight’s Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) AGM to be held at The Lauries.

Skwawkbox reports a local activist as saying  that :  “The cabal of right-wing, clapped-out councillors needs a shakeup. We now have a record membership – they just need to turn up, in numbers, and make change happen!”

This is like a line from our back pages as is the ‘slate’ for a member driven Birkenhead CLP  which includes the following commitments . These are the ones that stood out for us but the full list can be found here: Birkenhead CLP AGM

  •  A member driven CLP run from the bottom up ,not a top-down Cabal .
  •  A more competent CLP ; where meetings are properly organised, and managed  for the benefit of ALL members ,not just the needs of a few Councillors or the MP
  • Honesty,integrity and openness;where decisions are democratically arrived at, and nobody is bullied, disenfranchised or discriminated against by those with agendas or vested interests
  • A more visible , and active CLP ; that campaign’s on multiple fronts (locally and nationally) not just to preserve the careers of elected members ! we will be more visible and active than ever – in our Community and beyond

Ouch!

But then we’ve always maintained that it was only a long established small cabal who were responsible for bringing the local Labour Party into such disrepute. Furthermore we always said that it would be party members who would finally call time on this abuse of power.  We shall be following tonight’s developments with interest in anticipation of ,not so much a coup d’état , as a coup de grâce – for everyone’s sake it really is time to put the old guard out of their (and our)  misery.

PuppetMaster

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

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“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.

Wirralgate : 4 x 4

4x4

It was 4 years ago that Wirral Leaks first broke the Wirralgate story.  Read how the story began with the first 3 chapters from September 2013 :

Wirralgate 1

Wirralgate 2

Wirralgate 3

However little did we think that 4 years later we would still be waiting for the biggest scandal ever in Wirral politics to be fully exposed. Call it our spectacular naivety in underestimating the power that 4 politicians hold locally but it is astonishing to us that this particular 4 x 4 is still on the road. So , for those of you unfamiliar with the Wirralgate story , which for a start off means you’re not a regular reader of Wirral Leaks , we’ll break it down for you. It goes a little something like this :

4 Wirral Council complainants have a recorded telephone conversation involving the Deputy Leader of Wirral Council where he uses a racist slur to describe a senior council officer and offers the complainants what they themselves call a ‘ sweetheart deal’ . They are asked to hand over a document smearing Tory leader Jeff Green and their suspect claim for compensation will be sorted without the necessity of all those bothersome legal processes. They hand over the document which was written by one of the complainants (and just for clarity was NEVER in the files of the former head of law Bill Norman, as was claimed by former leader of Wirral Council , Cllr Steve Foulkes.) Foulkesy subsequently hands over the document to Liam Murphy – the political editor of the Liverpool Echo. Murphy later makes a covert recording of the covert recording (!) and when later outed by Emma Degg the former Wirral Council head of communications to whom he played it, suddenly Murphy  is no longer the political editor of the Liverpool Echo ! Go figure!

Council Leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies later claims that the 4 complainants were using the recorded conversation to settle their compensation claim . The complainants record a meeting they had with Pip listening to the Cllr George Davies telephone conversation. Pip asks of one of the complainants whether he is recording the meeting. He wasn’t – but another of the complainants was. So now they have a recording of Cllr Phil Davies, the leader of Wirral Council listening to a highly incriminating recording his deputy! BINGO! Pip is heard to say on the recording :

” I can’t defend this” 

But of course he has to –   George Davies is not only his deputy but Frank Field’s electoral agent and confidante. No wonder Pip agrees to a bogus ‘inquiry’ by long time Field associate Nick Warren which was nothing more than a means of securing the complainants more than the £3,000 they’d been offered for their ‘time and trouble’ and a sum of public money much more in line with what the incriminating recordings are worth to the big 4 – if not to Wirral council taxpayers.

 

Of course Frankenfield, Power Boy Pip, Foulkesy and Gorgeous George wouldn’t have got away with the cover up for so quite long without the passive local political ‘opposition’, the complicity of the local press , Merseyside Police and senior council officers past and present,  the compromising of other investigations where Cllr George Davies and Cllr Foulkes were allowed to get away with persistently lying and where the complainants refused to take part ( hey, wasn’t there a cheque in it for you guys or something?) and, most pertinently,  the failure of the complainants themselves to ‘go public’ with the recordings despite the fact they’ve played fast and loose with local media for 4 years  – and  it must be said , even us , but you may have noticed we gave up on them doing the right thing a long time ago. Wirral Leaks is NOT and never will be a bargaining tool. The irony being that whilst the complainants were more than willing to go public with allegations that they could never properly evidence they have withheld incontrovertible evidence proving that the big 4 are utterly corrupt. Draw your own conclusions ££££££££.

Ultimately to us this is just an example of Frankenfield’s feudalism – getting his own way and doing exactly what he wants and knowing he’ll never be challenged. Another example was his backing of last night’s EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons , thereby defying Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who asked Labour MPs to vote it down. Could this be the same Frank Field who voted for EU enlargement and the accession of Eastern European countries in 2003?

Frank also seems to be labouring (!) under the misconception that people in his Birkenhead constituency voted to leave. We’ve got news for you Frank  – 51.7% voted to remain. But then Frank’s not one to let facts or truth get in the way of his one man mission which is the greater glory of HIMSELF – and it seems Wirralgate musn’t be allowed to get in the way of that amoral juggernaut.

Picture the View

Picture the View 018

One of the arduous tasks we all have to endure when returning from a break is to catch up on correspondence. So imagine our delight when wading through the bills and flyers that had landed on our doormat during our absence that we found a copy of Wirral View.

As this is only the second copy we have received of this elusive publication since its launch we decided to wait a week , give the publication the attention it deserves and review the latest edition of Wirral View whilst we were perusing the Sunday papers in the Leaky Towers morning room or what we are now calling in the modern vernacular , the ‘Information Hub’ .

Needless to say we weren’t impressed. But then we never were. We had high hopes that Wirral View would provide us with  ‘endless opportunities for satire ‘ . But the man behind the hapless project – Wirral Council’s head of communications Kevin ‘Lost Boy’ MacCallum is absolutely right when he says we haven’t ‘delivered’ on this pledge mainly because it’s the dreariest thing we’ve ever read and we can’t even work up enough enthusiasm to mock it.

Communication with Kev

Communicating with Kev – Continued

However we do note that the latest edition is already now down to 24 pages (from the original 32)  and we note that it consists of  more pictures than words. Not including the Wirral councillors mugshots we lost count at 80 pictures . The front page (see above) is indicative of the content within. It reminds us of the song lyric – “let’s go through the book of life , you can just look at the pictures if you like”  .   Her Ladyship quips that it would appear that Wirral View now has more fillers than Katie Price !

It seems to us that  Wirral Council think the collective readership of Wirral View has an ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’ and need to be distracted at regular intervals by pretty pictures (or in some cases – not so pretty).

For example on page 8 there is a FULL PAGE encouraging us to, er, take a walk in the park and yet another half a page on 16 telling us to do the same – it’s just such a shame there is nearly another full page on page 23 which gives notices of parking charges in Wirral’s parks , thereby discouraging ‘one of the easiest ways to get active, lose weight and be healthier’. As ever with Wirral Council , it’s a case of left hand meet right hand.

Picture the View 010

We are left wondering just how the business case to set up Wirral View is stacking up. With just one (half page) advertisement from Goodwin’s restaurant in Greasby it’s no wonder another half page is used to flog advertising space with the questionable claim that “Wirral View is a monthly publication distributed FREE to every home and business in Wirral”

Two things  –  firstly ,Wirral View ain’t free , it costs Wirral council taxpayers at least £270K per annum and it needs to be asked as to whether those council taxpayers should be promoting  private businesses and secondly somebody needs to report Wirral Council to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)  if they cannot  provide evidence that Wirral View  is indeed distributed to every home and business in Wirral.

As far as we’re concerned this claim is all my arse and talking of which His Lordship must apologise but he has to be off to the Leaky Towers  ‘Slash & Dump Hub’.