Where’s Wally?

Denial

Hopefully readers will be pleased to hear that Dr Robert B Smith is still on Wirral Council’s case. This time he’s trying to elicit a response from their CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson to queries he made via email over 6 months ago. Dr Smith has contacted all 66 councillors in asking whether Stressed Eric’s conduct was a) acceptable or b) unacceptable.

As far as we know the only councillor to respond was Cllr Walter Smith. We’ll leave you to read his email and Dr Smith’s meticulously researched riposte. However we would comment that as far as we’re concerned it’s a case of  ‘Walter by name , Wally by nature’. Indeed Cllr Smith has recently been observed on the campaign trail wearing a red fleece with his name printed on the back. Presumably to help him remember who he is if he get’s lost.  However if we were ever asked the question –  ‘Where’s Wally ?’ we’d have to say  : ‘In denial’……..

Dear Dr Smith,

I presume that there must be a reason for a failure to respond to your request. I suggest that you involve your local councillor. By the way WBC has never been better run than it is today. The officers do a good job, and we councillors have received the award of ‘The Most Improved Council’.

Kind regards,

Walter Smith.

Dear Cllr Walter Smith

It was my intention to circulate all Wirral Councillors with the results of my earlier survey, and reply  to you individually. I only asked for ‘unacceptable’ or ‘acceptable’ as a response. However, given your more expansive response to me, it would seem apposite to circulate my response more broadly.

Firstly, given your response, and the fact that you are a collective employer, why don’t you ask Mr Robinson what is his ‘reason for a failure to respond’? My assessment would be that he is unable to put anything in writing that would not seriously compromise his position.

Shall we take the latest development in the appalling situation regarding the Wirral Safeguarding Board, as a starting point?

The Government’s intervention by installing Eleanor Brazil to endeavour to address the numerous failings, speaks volumes regarding capability. As does Mr Robinson’s claim in the Wirral Globe given his background;

Eric Robinson, chief executive, said: “We have made some changes in terms of social care and I will now work with Julia Hassall”.
“My background is in Children’s Services so I will oversee the work”. (Wirral Globe 20 Sep 2016
)

The press coverage of the sentencing of Brothers Vinothan and Ilavarasan Rajenthiram, jailed for 40 years for grooming and sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls in Wirral, included the following comment – “Over a five-year campaign Ilavarasan and Vinothan Rajenthiram groomed and sexually abused vulnerable young girls from Wirral, all known to Wirral Council”. That would go back to 2012 and doesn’t support the assertion of your 3rd sentence. Actually, it also blows a considerable hole ‘, in the claims made in your 4th sentence as well as in the credibility of the fantasy ‘The Most Improved Council 2015′ award.

Now, with regard to ‘The Most Improved Council’ award. I have discussed this award, and its credibility with Dr Gill Taylor of the Local Government Association (LGA). You will remember her from the ‘LGA Improvement Board’. I have also corresponded with the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) and Government Ministers. It was actually a Local Government Chronicle Award, one of a range of local government awards given by a local government subscription periodical. This ‘Most Improved’ award was apparently never awarded prior to 2015, and it has never been awarded since – too many burned sponsors fingers, I suspect.

You may remember Graham Burgess? Yes, he who breezed into the ‘Improvement Board’ in 2012/13 as a peer reviewer (at the request of the LGA and Michael Frater). At the time Graham Burgess was CEO of Blackburn & Darwen Council (which incidentally had won the LGC ‘Council of the Year’ award in 2011).

The recruitment of Graham Burgess as ‘interim’ CEO of Wirral Council was an ‘interesting’ process. And as for the permanent position – 8 applications…1 successful interviewee?

Quite like self-proclaimed Labour activist Mr Liptrot and his published email thread to Cllr Phil Davies. Not to mention Mr Liptrot’s numerous conflicts of interest. It was fortunate that Mr Tour felt absolutely compelled to ‘remind him about’ occupying a ‘politically restricted’ post whilst it was reported he had several contracts across Merseyside. With Wirral Council’s plummeting reputation, and no Joe Anderson metro-mayor bandwagon to ride on, it appears that a side-step to promote unattainable investment ‘opportunities’ matches a mythical skillset. So we witness a frenetic appointment ‘crucial’ before the Cannes visit to MIPIM. Expedience which truly stretches credulity.
But back to Graham Burgess.
Wirral Council’s own press release described him as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA. He was also a regular contributor to, and endorser of the LGC. For the 2015 ‘Most Improved’ award, the ‘live panel’ presentation was made by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies to assessors comprising mainly LGA member Chief Executives. (Doncaster Council, the 2015 award runner-up is an interesting study. Even more so if you add WBC, LGA, SOLACE, ex-WBC staff and very low interest loans into the mix.)

It is a shallow exercise in massaging political egos, and self-promotion for the LGA (and the LGC) to promote the ‘LGA Sector-led Improvement programme’ and the ‘peer review’ mechanism. If you achieve some supposed ‘improvement’, by some supposed ‘measure’ or ‘other’ and provide the tea and biscuits, the LGA will bask in the glory, and parade an individual (in Wirral’s case Cllr Phil Davies) around the country, as a ludicrous example, of a ‘success story’.

It is evident that aspiring to mediocrity underpins the peer review process, and serial under-achievement is the benchmark of ‘improvement’. This is displayed in pyrotechnic fashion in Wirral Council, where documents by both the LGA and Anna Klonowski quote wording proclaiming ‘…in her report, of 2012 Ms Klonowski highlights how at Wirral Council “the abnormal has become the norm”.’

That is 5 years ago. The ‘LGA Improvement Board’ covered the period March 2012 until November 2013 and then, its job done, disbanded. The LGA produced a glossy brochure detailing Wirral’s ‘improvement journey’. The summary introducing the document makes interesting reading and includes this claim.

Eighteen months after Wirral developed and implemented their action plan with the LGA, the Improvement Board that provided advice and oversight of Wirral’s improvement journey reported that sector-led improvement had “transformed” the Council to one that was “stable, well-led, open and far more inclusive.” If you don’t recognise that description, and I certainly don’t, here is the link. http://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/wirral-councils-sector-le-40f.pdf

An interesting comment in the Liverpool Echo published 8th May 2013 from Cllr Harney at the time of establishing the ‘LGA Improvement Board’ Cllr Harney said the council needs “a great deal more openness and much more rigorous performance management”.
He added: “People, councillors, senior managers and the public, have not been aware of what has been going on.”

One aspect of the withdrawal agreement with the Improvement Board, was that Opposition Councillors would occupy the Chairs of Scrutiny Committees. Is that still the case Cllr Smith? No of course it isn’t. All scrutiny committee chairs were taken by Labour councillors in 2014. That casting vote, as required to achieve the prescribed outcome, is crucial to driving unopposed decision-making, but also negates independent scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

Coupled with other constitutional changes giving sweeping new powers to Cabinet members, and a forthcoming fallow year for elections in 2017, any prescribed outcome is attainable. Add to that heady mix the ruling group en-bloc voting and abstention regimes, and what results? Mythical resident’s surveys aside, and resident ‘information deficit’, party-political voting which mostly ignores constituents’ wishes e.g. Girtrell Court and Lyndale School thrives. As you will know, these deliberate changes effectively create the situation where power rests solely with Cllr Phil Davies. How would you describe that model of administration?

Graham Burgess’ apparently effortless ‘soft-shoe shuffle’ into Wirral’s CEO position preceded the 2015 LGC ‘Award’. The Guardian newspaper published, on 10 Apr 2014, the 3rd in the series ‘Public Service Tango’ – Headlined ‘One leader, one chief executive – and a joint vision for their council’s future’ – a far from enlightening piece by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies. A good journalist would normally extract a ‘riveting quote’, or an ‘earth-shattering insight’ from the article to draw the reader into this revelatory discourse.

This must be the best available. “Wirral council’s leader and chief executive attend each other’s meetings and welcome ideas from all employees”. An absolutely breath-taking insight you must agree – but does it actually matter? Well yes, and, no.

Actually it doesn’t in this specific case as one learns nothing, but of more interest is this extract from a paragraph beneath the published article.
Phil Davies is leader of Wirral council; Graham Burgess is the council’s chief executive. This collection of articles on the relationship between public managers and politicians is supported by SOLACE and is running on the Guardian Public Leaders Network from March to June 2014.

I know that you will be on the edge of your seat by now, Cllr Smith, but what happens next? You will take solace from what happens next.

The very, very low-key publishing of the November 2015 ‘peer review’ follow-up, of Wirral Council, by the LGA. You may not know the then-Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, but you should. His name is Mark Rogers – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-city-council-chief-executive-12625426

Mark Rogers was the CEO of Birmingham City Council, a member of the LGA and SOLACE, which if you don’t know is the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives. It is most likely that Eric Robinson (from neighbouring Staffordshire) and Graham Burgess, and Cllr Phil Davies would know him. Not only was he a member of SOLACE (supporting the Guardian article), but he was its President until October 2016.

Birmingham CEO Mark Rogers (LGA member and SOLACE President) was one of the ‘experts’ who undertook the ‘peer review’ of 2015 which unlike the ‘sector-led improvement journey’, and the farcical ‘Most Improved Council 2015’ award, was unleashed on an unwitting public without fanfare and illustrates regression, not improvement. I would imagine that even Mark Rogers would struggle signing that review off, with his background in children’s social care?

Does that look familiar, given Eric Robinson’s previous employment?
At this point, the question for me is where do I stop ‘joining the dots’?
I have only scratched the surface of the machinations of Wirral Council above, but you will get a flavour of why I have some difficulty taking your response seriously.

Wirral Council ruling administration is in serious trouble, and using great swathes of public money to defend the indefensible, is actually indefensible.

I look forward to receiving your response,
Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

ps I would be making these observations and comments whatever the political colour of any Council administration conducting itself in this manner.

Distribution Solution

 

We can’t get enough of ‘Wirral View’ – well we would if we had actually received more than one copy at Leaky Towers . Yes , we know there’s an online edition but there’s nothing like the touch of newsprint and gazing lovingly on those precious words of wisdom that fill that empty void that was once our information deficit to make us be #thankful #grateful #blessed to be living in such interesting times as these.

So imagine how relieved, nay, overjoyed we were to hear that Wirral Council are addressing this pressing issue. We dare say we need to take some credit for this. For way back in November 2016 we identified what we called the ‘Distribution Deficit’ when it comes to this vital organ.

Distribution Deficit

Subsequent Wirral Leaks posts have highlighted the fact there is no point in producing a publication which nobody ever gets a copy of and when they do they get a copy they quickly come to the conclusion that there  is definitely no point in publishing Wirral View. 

A View To A Kill

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Our distribution solution would be to chase Wirral View out of town once and for all. However belatedly it would appear that Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev MacCallum is on the case – phew! . He once was lost and now is found and what would we do without him!

Apparently the distributors that were based in Liverpool have been dumped (much like their delivery methods) and been replaced by a Wirral firm , and er, Royal Mail. This may have led to an increase in costs but Kev reassuringly tells us that  ‘This additional expenditure will be accounted for through reducing the spend associated with copy writing and photography with more work being delivered in-house.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15200280.Cost_of_pushing_council_s_Wirral_View_newspaper_through_your_letterbox_soars_to___126_000_a_year/

We’re imagining this involves the Labour Cabinet writing good news stories  about foodbanks and passing round the crayons to draw pictures of tins of beans. The next edition promises to be all very Warholian.

The media onslaught continued with Cllr Matthew Patrick Cabinet member for Community Engagement and Communications appearing on Roger Phillips’ infuriating Radio Merseyside programme to extol the virtues of Wirral View. This was  somewhat in the vein of an enthusiastic sixth former who’s proud of their media project –  ‘this is information that has to get out there’ he implored as if he was talking about a World War 2 leaflet drop over enemy territory . We confess we did snigger but then we’re still guffawing at his use of the term ‘faux outrage’ at a recent Cabinet meeting. Matty Patty (© James Griffiths , Esq) went on to deny that Wirral View was trying to take advertising revenue from the likes of the Wirral Globe and that it was saving the Council money (although he was a bit sketchy on the details).

You can hear Matty Patty at 1hr 05.20 followed by Conservative Councillor Adam Sykes  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04x0r52

However the absolute highlight was ‘Kathy from New Brighton’  who at 1hr 20 put Roger right about Wirral Council’s intentions when it came to generating advertising revenue. Kathy told us that she ran an independent business and received an email from Wirral Council in September 2016 promoting a ‘new advertising opportunity’ .

Kathy declined this opportunity on the grounds that advertising costs were ‘extortionate’ and  ‘I support my free press’ . You tell ’em!

Roger seemed a bit miffed that he’d been wrongfooted about where the advertising in Wirral View was supposed to be emanating from. ‘I was told NHS ……that sort of advertising‘ he said forlornly.  Sorry , Rog , but you seem a bit slow on the uptake that the Wirral Council crew can sometimes be rather disengenous (and we’re being polite for a change). We just wish more people would get with the programme – but preferably not yours as we find it a frustrating experience over the years as you have consistently provided the Wirral Council power elite with a platform for their mendacious BS.  Who can forget the infamous Graham Burgess ‘ mistakes’ episode for starters?

Indeed listening to Roger Phillips always makes us want to storm the Radio Merseyside studios and reinact the famous scene from the movie ‘ Network ‘ and scream : ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore…’

 

The Liptrot Mystery

Evans

Opposition councillors seem unusually curious about the recent controversial appointment of Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’Davies political ally , Martin Liptrot(sky) to the post of  ‘Interim’ Investment Lead .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15173137.Special_meeting_heats_up_as_Wirral_councillors_clash_over_controversial_new_job_for_Labour_s_policy_chief/

And so they might be! The ongoing saga is worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery ….. but who knows where the bodies are buried !?

Of course we anticipated such an appointment long ago The Uncanny and the Corrupt

That’s not because we have second sight, it’s simply because, by now, we know all Wirral Council’s plot devices.

So before we get to the heart of the mystery, let us set out the story so far. Are you sitting comfortably? – because we guarantee you won’t be for much longer!

Remember when we exclusively announced Liptrot’s arrival at Wirral Council and questioned how his ‘Policy Advisor’ post came about?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/all-hail-the-new-king-of-spin/

Remember when we questioned his apolitical credentials when he was appointed to a politically restricted post despite declaring his long held Labour Party affiliations all over social media ?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/a-political-mr-liptrot/

Who can forget when Wirral Globe disclosed that leaked toecurling early morning email exchange between Liptrot and Pip?  Where the former, in full on diva mode, appears to be calling the shots – complaining about his pay and bemoaning the fact that he has to hand in time sheets to Super Duper Director  Joe Blott  – oh the shame!

“Apparently I’m supposed to work for 24 quid an hour and hand time sheets to Joe Blott [strategic director].Clearly that is both insulting and wildly unrealistic for the scope of the role we are discussing.There is no way I’m going to earn even less than I am now. We need to work out what we need to agree and you will probably have to just step up and tell everyone what you want doing in the end. Let’s talk tomorrow.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14306240.Emails_give_extraordinary_insight_into_Wirral_Council_s_controversial_hiring_of_former_Labour_spin_doctor/

And so having set the scene we move on to the latest chapter in the charmed life of Mr Liptrot and his latest ‘transformation'(!) as ‘Interim’ Investment Lead at Wirral Council.

An extraordinary series of extracts from leaked emails details the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ behind this latest appointment and provides us with even more plot twists……..

Firstly , we might recall that  24 councillors  issued  a ‘Notice of Motion’ in respect of, what was at the time, the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ in response to the Labour Cabinet meeting held on 16 January .  This meeting was chaired by Power Boy Pip and included a report calling for the removal of ‘Call – in’ , thus denying opposition councillors the opportunity to ask any awkward questions about the post. The report stated :

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

Head of Law Surjit Tour clarified the situation : ‘Cabinet agreed to waive ‘call-in’ in accordance with the Constitution and the decision is therefore implementable immediately notwithstanding the request for an extraordinary council having been made and agreed. Council at the extraordinary council meeting is being invited to scrutinise the creation of the post and decide whether it is justified – but council would only be expressing its opinion/view in respect of the post and its justification. The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’

The post was advertised via  Wirral Council’s temporary worker system (Matrix) . Matrix passed on the job specification to recruitment agencies at an equivalent day rate of £195.

Initially six applications were received. However according to Wirral Council’s HR  : ‘none of the applicants met the specification. We  have received feedback from the agencies that the remuneration is not sufficient to attract calibre candidates.Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we are sourcing an Interim role – Interim Investment Lead on an interim rate, but for a shorter period of time’

HR went on to later add :‘The agencies feedback that they could potentially source some applicants at £350 day , but the calibre we required is likely to be £500 day. Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we need to increase the day rate .’

Frankly it is simply an astonishing state of affairs when so-called committed, and no doubt ‘passionate’ public servants, don’t consider it worthwhile getting out of bed for less than £350 a day!  And of course the recruitment agencies are going to advocate such a hike in the daily rate because presumably it means more money for them! All of which means that public authorities are held a hostage to fortune!

Needless to say when the post was advertised at the higher rate, 13 further applications were received !

5 candidates were shortlisted. One of the candidates was unable to make the interview date and one candidate withdrew. And in true Agatha Christie fashion :  ‘And then there were 3’. These interviews took place on 15 February 2017.

Initially we understand that Asif Hamid was due to be on the interview panel but he mysteriously withdrew to be replaced , inevitably, by Wirral Chamber of Commerce chum Paula Basnett. Clare Fish , Wirral Council’s Executive Director for Strategy was also a late absentee. This left :

  • Alan Evans, Strategic Commissioner for Growth (Chair of the Panel)
  • Stephen Butterworth, Interim Strategic Project Support
  • Sally Shah, Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment
  • Paula Basnett, Chief Executive, Wirral Chamber of Commerce
  • Ellen Cutler, Director Inward Investment, Liverpool Vision

Now as we know the successful candidate was our leading suspect Martin Liptrot who was awarded an an initial 4 month contract  @ £350 a day.

However the  mystery here is whether the panel made the appointment or was the final decision made by Power Boy Pip and his supine CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson?

The Extraordinary Council meeting held earlier this week was an attempt by some curious councillors to find the answer to this whodunnit and other mysteries surrounding the case. However the Labour group were anxious to shut this line of enquiry down with Cllr Brian Kenny squeaking up for a ‘guillotine’ thereby reducing the time available for debating the issue.

Perhaps curious opposition councillors should seek clues about the recruitment process from Alan Evans, the Strategic Commissioner for Growth, who chaired the selection panel?

We understand that Evans’ unsung team in Department of Regeneration have been doing some excellent work  behind the scenes  and we can only wonder what they must feel about the influx of Johnny-Come -Lately’s such as Liptrot  who ,under the guise of ‘transformers’ , appear to be muscling in on their act and potentially taking the credit for their work.

We await further plot developments with great interest!

Reference Point

 

Stewart halliday call

Reference busters : ‘Who ya gonna call? Call Kersten!’  pic courtesy York Press

The ‘Happy Halliday’ story certainly pushed a few buttons didn’t it?

Happy Halliday

Blotto?

Well we’ve got some news for you – the plot thickens or should that be sickens?

Subsequent to our posts you might have read that Wirral Globe reported that the following appointments had just been made by Wirral Council:

£188,192 for a programme manager.

£181,471 for a second programme manager.

£139,080 for an interim head of transformation.

£665,760 to management consulting company Capita.

£185,000 to two companies to provide economic and legal advice to set up a joint venture property company.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15145472.Wirral_Council_forks_out___1_3m_on_temporary_managers_and_consultants_amid_outcry_over_cuts/?ref=mr&lp=8

The first thing to say is that we wondered how long it would be before outsourcing carrion birds C(r)apita got in on the vulturine act of picking at the emaciated cadaver of Wirral Council.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/21/report_into_mega_capita_outsourcing_deal_identifies_performance_issues/

However our immediate attention was drawn to some of the eyewatering sums involved. Under the circumstances it would seem an obvious choice to assign the post of interim head of transformation to our new found friend Stewart Halliday. However we have reason to believe that ‘Happy Halliday’ may have actually been appointed to the second programme manager post on £181, 471 ! Which would mean that he could have DOUBLED his salary since fleeing City of York Council under a charcoal-coloured cumulonimbus .

Of course our sources may be mistaken and if so we would welcome Wirral Council , in the name of openness and transparency ,to put the correct names in the frames . After all it must surely be in the public interest that we should know where our money is going and who it is going to!

However, there’s more to this fast moving story. Hence the title of this blog post. So, you may be asking yourselves what kind of reference did ‘Happy Halliday’ get from his previous employer? – well , apparently he didn’t get one!

Yes that’s right ,news reaches us that Halliday was provided with a reference from the Chief Executive of Bradford City Council , one Kersten England .

Eh? – well apparently Ms England was CEO of City of York Council before moving on to Bradford City Council in the summer of 2015. So despite there being two subsequent CEOs of CoYC since her departure –  the interim, Steve Stewart, and the current incumbent Mary Weastell –  both of whom could surely have provided a glowing reference for the wonderful work Halliday did for CoYC, he curiously chose to seek a reference from England, along with a reference from an agency ‘outlining’ two years of Halliday’s employment history.

This wouldn’t be so bad , after all everyone ( including the agency involved), wants to present themselves in the best light when a six figure gig is up for grabs , however we understand that, shamefully, it was Wirral Council who made NO DIRECT APPROACH to CoYC for a reference for Halliday. Which makes us to want to wish that the whole  of Wirral Council’s notoriously appalling Human Resources Department management team ,who’s motto seems to be ‘we were only following orders’, gets swallowed up and spat out into the gutter by C(r)apita at the earliest opportunity.

It’s all very reminiscent of the Stella Shiu debacle isn’t it? And look what happened there! It’s like the interweb thingy doesn’t exist for Wirral Council or perhaps there are darker forces at work which ensure that the current administration ‘get their man’ no matter what his credentials.

Might we suggest that whilst this situation may result in big money for Halliday it’s a kick in the holiday money for the long suffering council tax payers of Wirral!

 

 

A Tale of Two Martins

lombardy-poplar-012

Did anyone notice the fascinating juxtaposition on pages 26 and 27 of the print edition of this week’s Wirral Globe?

The story on the left concerns the dubious appointment of Martin Liptrot to a Wirral Council ‘non-job’ and the story on the right concerns the even more dubious situation of Martin Morton who has ‘no-job’ as a result of Wirral Council . The above picture is for illustrative purposes only. The stories behind the headlines can be found here :

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

Truth Justice Accountability

Curiously we have found out that both Liptrot and Morton are both alumni of that hallowed educational establishment that was known as Wolverhampton Polytechnic – although we don’t know if they attended at the same time or whether their paths ever crossed or what faculty they attended. Although in Liptrot’s case we assume there was a Department of Dark Arts.

As a modern morality tale I don’t think we can get better than ‘ A Tale of Two Martins’.

The teller of truth and the spinner of truth and how we , as a society , value them.

Witness as Morton the teller of truth refuses to work with people in whom he has no trust and confidence . The corrupt liars ( Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr George Davies) and the cowardly enablers ( Cllr Phil Davies and all those council officers who sacrifice their personal and professional integrity on the altar of a lucrative career  – Blott, Tour, Armstrong , Robinson et al ) . This is detailed in a quite astonishing career-ending email sent by Morton to all 66 councillors and Birkenhead MP Frank Field in December 2014.

We’re not sure that as a spinner of truth that Liptrot would ever concern himself with the abuse of power , the corruption and the lies raised by Morton. Not when there’s £350 a day to be had anyway!

Interestingly enough Cllr George Davies was bemoaning at this week’s Cabinet meeting that Wirral Council’s woes were a result of ‘Thatcher’s children’ .  Although Gorgeous George may not be the most eloquent or insightful political commentators around and on the assumption that he didn’t mean Carol and Mark Thatcher , we have to say that we agree with him. Open your eyes Cllr Davies – the venal ,self serving and uncaring are all around you and are running the show at Wirral Council and indeed at institutions up and down the country. Might we suggest he’d do well to look beyond complaining about the austerity measures thrust on Wirral Council by central government and consider that some people are doing very well financially out of running down public services.

 

We may well look back one day and say that these were the best of times for the unholy alliance of middle class charlatans and working class chancers (Thatcher’s children indeed!) and the worst of times for everyone else.

Wirral Council – Where Transformation Means More Of The Same

york-010

A shout out to one of our many Wirral Council watchers who has sent us some news all the way from the charming city of York.

Here we pick out some of the most pertinent points from the following newspaper article published by The York Press ( who are like our own dear Wirral Globe only a little bit posher). Whilst the issues raised read like our back catalogue – serious failings, procedural breaches,cover ups, procurement issues, dodgy contracts, lack of monitoring, culture of fear , leaked reports and how City of York Council are more concerned about reputation management than exposing malpractice. Bear with us , there is a punchline :

The Press revealed yesterday, council bosses have been criticised for paying tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money without proper monitoring, and told to take “robust action” to avoid a repeat of serious failings.

The council refused to publish one of two auditors’ reports, but a copy has now been seen by The Press and adds more detail to the published report.

It alleges that another £150,000 was paid out, and a catalogue of other failures including the council official responsible not getting proper tenders, quotes or contracts for work commissioned, and not drawing up business cases or monitoring the work that was paid for.

According to the report, there was a series of policy breaches, but auditors have made clear there is no evidence of fraud or criminality.

It states:

  • Stewart Halliday, who held senior roles with the council, authorised a raft of payments to communications consultant Stuart Goulden without obtaining quotes
  • Mr Halliday sent council information to his own personal email address, and the personal email addresses of one serving and one former councillor
  • Contracts were awarded to other companies Mr Goulden was involved with, as well as to him personally
  • There was a “lack-of-recognition” in the council that Mr Goulden was being paid so much
  • Procurement staff and a former chief executive tried to challenge the troublesome contracts, but failed “possibly due to the culture within the area at the time”.

The auditors’ investigation included checking Mr Halliday’s email account after he had left the council, trying to check historic entry logs at the council headquarters, and exploring potential personal links between Mr Halliday and Mr Goulden. None were found.

The auditors said they could see Mr Goulden had carried out the work, but they could not find any evidence Mr Halliday had followed procurement rules by looking for other quotes, drawing up contracts and putting them on the council register, or monitoring the work.

Instead, the report lists ten alleged breaches including no paperwork being retained; no quotes or contracts for the work; one payment in advance of work being carried out; and a lack of contract monitoring.

Furthermore, auditors say they found emails containing council information which had been sent from Mr Halliday’s work account to non-council email addresses, including some information marked “confidential”.

The auditors raised concerns about the potential data protection implications of that.

Mr Halliday was the council’s assistant director for transformation and change in 2014, and had also held the title of head of strategy, partnerships and communications.

Mr Goulden and his company Like No Other worked for the council between 2013 and 2016.

A spokeswoman for City of York Council said: “The report was exempt from publication and our employees identities kept private because it identified individuals by name and this information related specifically to their financial or business affairs. As a responsible employer we have a fundamental duty to protect the privacy of our employees and former employees. We are taking this matter very seriously. An investigation into how this confidential report was released is being conducted and this will involve North Yorkshire Police.

The Press has made efforts to contact Mr Halliday, without success.”

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/15098444.Council_payments_row__what_the_secret_report_said___/

Perhaps  The Press could contact a certain Mr  Stewart Halliday at Wirral Council  – stewarthalliday@wirral.gov.uk

Could this be the same  Mr Halliday  who is now responsible for Wirral Council’s  ‘Transformation Programme’ ?. I think we should be told!

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50038045/Delivering%20Wirrals%20Growth.pdf

If so Wirral Council were clearly impressed that Halliday can do a powerpoint presentation and utter council-speak at the same time.

Moreover we can almost guarantee he used the word ‘passionate’ if he had an interview. But then again we can’t understand how many of these people get appointed in the first place. Is it a Masonic thing ? Common Purpose? Knights of St Columba? or do they just have to like playing golf and support Everton FC?.

As for this bogus ‘transformation agenda’ it comes to something when even enriched municipal mandarins tell us it’s ‘time to stop the lies ‘. Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy chief executive, Rob Whiteman, and chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Martin Reeves say that local government should stop lying about its financial problems and give up pretending transformation will solve the massive underfunding it faces.

https://www.themj.co.uk/EXCLUSIVE-Time-to-stop-the-lies/206737

As far as we’re concerned at Wirral Leaks the ‘transformation agenda’ is nothing more than opportunists setting themselves up to benefit from the demise of public services. The hope being  that one day they will get a cushy number sitting on a trustee or management board. Locally one only has to check out the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Magenta Living . Nationally there are Arm’s Length Organisations (ALO’s) and private enterprises which are awash with local government failures supplementing their engorged pension pots by picking at the corpse of local government.

So remember when you see or hear the word ‘transformation’ – be afraid, be very afraid.

 

 

Say ALO , Wave Goodbye

alo-pip

Power Boy Pip’s public services philosophy – not so much arm’s length as throwing them to the dogs and/or Wirral Chamber of Commerce

We are grateful to another contributor with inside knowledge and an enquiring mind. ‘Retired WBC Officer’ writes to us with the following observations:

Hi Guys
 
Reading Granty in the WG (Wirral Globe)  today led me to the following……….
 
 
 
I was struck by …………..
“A core aim of the team will be to encourage new businesses to set up shop in Wirral, and Cllr Davies believes the borough’s thriving visitor economy, maritime sector and reputation as a leading manufacturing hub will be among its key draws.
 
The company will also champion Wirral assets including the Wirral Waters regeneration zone, Hamilton Square, Woodside, Birkenhead town centre and the revamped Hoylake Golf Resort.
 
Cllr Davies adds: “I’m confident that these plans will enhance the opportunities on offer in areas like Wirral Waters. Obviously we work very closely with Peel and Wirral Waters is an enterprise zone so hopefully we’ll be able to promote that more effectively with these plans in place.
 
“There are a myriad of regeneration opportunities in the borough and I think this new company will be an excellent delivery vehicle to more effectively promote them.”
 
ALOs the new way forward?  Google the recent history.
Soon only the top brass will be employed at local authority,everyone else privatised.
We advise our readers to check out the above the links and we’d be grateful if someone   can tell us exactly what Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies means when he says:“Risks can be mitigated by looking ahead and using business intelligence and expertise out there in Wirral to ensure that we act in a timely and appropriate way.”
We tried Google Translate but they messaged us back to say they don’t do BS.
However whilst we know that Arms-Length Organisations (ALOs) are not-for-profit companies and, by establishing them, councils retain a discrete degree of control through funding agreements and boardroom influence we think they’re merely a staging post to full privatisation.  So say ALO and you can wave goodbye to public services! We are appalled (but not surprised) that a Labour council would embrace the move towards them quite so enthusiastically.  However we certainly understand why the current Wirral Council  administration would – as whilst they retain a measure of control over services the public accountability would be greatly diminished. And as we know they’re not great fans of any form of scrutiny or accountability.
‘Retired WBC Officer’ is absolutely right when they say that ‘ Soon only the top brass will be employed at local authority,everyone else privatised.’  Indeed it has been Wirral Council’s long stated intention to become a ‘Strategic Commissioning Hub’ . Talk about being hidden in plain sight!
 
What we deeply resent at Leaky Towers is those being paid handsomely for dismantling public services are usually the same municipal mercenaries sitting in waiting to benefit from the deliberately underfunded demise ( see also the NHS).
If you want to know why bullying thrives in organisations such as Wirral Council you need to look no further than the self serving mediocrities making a good living overseeing the destruction of underfunded public services and woe betide any one who questions them!
Notwithstanding the fact that one of the reasons Liverpool’s Director of Social Services Samih Kalakeche  recently resigned included the desire to go travelling – oh to have that luxury!-  we give him kudos for acknowledging that the way things are going social care may not exist soon if we don’t defend our public services.
Therefore might we humbly suggest on Wirral that politicians of all parties , council employees , unions and council taxpayers join together in saying ALOs are not the way to go. And yes – that particularly includes Wirral Evolutions…………….

Tourism Awards : Wirral-style

tourist

Whilst talking tourism we’re not talking about Wirral Council’s Head of Law Surjit Tour and his own personal philosophy here – especially when we dread to think what that might be! No – we’re talking about tourists coming to Wirral or more accurately people who find themselves lost by taking the wrong exit on to the M53!

Now don’t get us wrong there are many lovely places to visit on Wirral but judging by recent reports some parts of the peninsula are submerged in a sea of deprivation and crime . So forgive us if we’re not taken in by the announcement of yet another glittering ceremony celebrating commercial enterprises favoured by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Indeed, we’re left wondering where does their CEO , pouting ‘Princess’ Paula Basnett , fit all her frocks ? The way things are going Wirral Council are going to have to hand over another building at peppercorn rent so she can store them all!

As a result of this announcement yet another correspondent joins us on the road to enlightenment to give us their considered views on the matter .

We just need to declare an interest here and let you know that we turned down a nomination for Leaky Towers in the ‘Hidden Gem’ award category as frankly we try to avoid any contact with riff-raff – no matter how well dressed or well connected! Moreover we wouldn’t want our readers to think that we received an award for the same reasons as ‘The Spotty Blue Teapot’ or ‘Mere Brook House’. Just sayin’……………..

Dear Julian,
Last night I read the Wirral Globe report on the upcoming Tourism Awards. I am
sure you are familiar with this back slapping piece of crap that appears to be
sponsored by Wirral Chamber of Commerce. (Asif in the photo, poor girl having to
pose with him!)

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15066440.Nominations_now_open_for_the_Wirral_Tourism_Awards/

What intrigued me were the financial details. £385,000,000.00 per year from
8,000,000 visitors for good old Wirral.
I ‘Googled’ tourism figures for Wirral and they appear to stand up, but only in
the greater Liverpool area and I can’t decide if the figures are for Wirral or
the greater Liverpool area!
Now I am sure you have a calculator at hand so you will see that the figures
quoted from Wirral are that 21917 people per week visited Wirral spending £43.75
each. What a load off bollocks! In the words of somebody famous ‘I don’t believe
it!’
I would suggest that these figures have been compiled from footfall figures at
bars, restaurants, soon to be closed leisure centres, Tranmere Rovers and the
odd hotel that does weddings and WCC black tie nights, pubs and anywhere else
that might have somebody pop in.
If that is the case then these are not tourism figures but local people going
about their daily business.
I leave my thoughts in your capable hands and would suggest you pop down to the
bookies and put a fiver on ‘The Wro’ in West Kirby winning ‘Bar of the Year’.
Once again, keep up the good work.

P.S. Forgot to say I didn’t realise that Tony Jones is the Wirral tourism champion,ha ha!

 

SPECIAL REPORT : Where Your Money Goes

where-your-money-goes

It must be this time of year, as we’ve been musing on money matters (or rather lack thereof). Clearly Wirral Council have been doing the same as they gear up to set their forthcoming budget and pursue a number of punitive charging regimes to offset central government funding cuts.

Yeah,yeah, yeah – we get it when they drone on about how badly they’ve been done to by central government and they have to make tough choices and priorities. But that’s what we take issue with Wirral Council here at Leaky Towers – it’s the choices that they make which indicate to us that their priorities are all wrong. Consequently they lose all moral authority when they start bleating about lack of finances.

So let’s take a quick look at where that money comes from and where it goes :

As we all know Wirral Council’s income stream is increasingly going to be us via Council Tax and any supplementary fund raising scams they can come up with.We look forward to their budget proposals now that they’ve been given the go ahead by central government to put up Council Tax by 3% to pay for the rising costs of social care. Rather frighteningly they also have the the opportunity to raise even more money via this route.Surrey County Council are looking at a total Council Tax rise of 15% but to do so they would have to put it to the local vote. We suggest that this is not something that the ruling group at Wirral Council wouldn’t risk but nothing ,nothing would surprise us about this shower of chancers.

David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, announces proposal to seek a council tax rise of 15%

So , down to business –  we’ve previously discussed the charming operatives from Kingdom Secrurity and their cash for trash extortion agency for the Council. As anyone who has seen a Kingdom Security in action – they go after vulnerable people who don’t have the means to  retaliate . Much like the people they get their contract off.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/cash-for-trash/

It’s not  about caring for the environment. Neither are other money-making scams devised by an increasingly desperate council. Similarly their car park charging proposals have absolutely nothing to do with maintaining the roads or traffic measures. It’s all about the moolah. Your moolah! – so cash cows out there prepare your teats for action as they’re going to be bled dry.

Park and Get Taken For A Ride

We’ve already reported the squandering of £80,000 on the appointment of an Investor Development Manager – rumoured to be a shoo-in for current leading Wirral Council puppet master Martin Liptrot.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-power-abusers/

Which again begs the question as to why there isn’t someone on a humongous salary with the requisite skills at Wirral Council – because well ,apparently there just isn’t ! Let’s not even mention what the likes of David Armstrong, Clare Fish and Joe Blott  get paid  – if you throw in Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson that’s half a million big ones per annum between them.

Never mind the recent ridiculous ‘Are Wirral’s 66 councillors Value For Money?’ exercise conducted by themselves and to which the unsurprising answer was a resounding YES! – how about we have a VFM consultation on the above gang of four/flaw? – especially when we consider the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services.

This has necessitated the appointment of troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil and former Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Maggie Atkinson as the new ‘independent’ chairwoman of Wirral Safeguarding Children’s Board. The appointment of such big hitters suggests us to that Children’s Services is in an even bigger mess than the Ofsted report indicated. Not that we’ll ever know because the Children’s Services Improvement Board meets behind closed doors. Lessons have obviously been learned from the last Improvement Board – no openness, no transparency, no public accountability suits the powers that be. We’re just asked to stump up the bill.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15032232.Government_troubleshooter_who_dealt_with_aftermath_of_Baby_P_scandal_to_lead_rescue_of_Wirral_children_s_services/

These consultants seem to be mainly tasked with finding out why Wirral Council can’t recruit and retain staff in Children’s Services. We can tell them free of charge : because it’s rammed with poor calibre middle managers who bully their staff on the instructions of passive/aggressive senior managers who earn a nice wedge spouting platitudes and duping councillors.Plus the fact that who in their right mind would want to do Child Protection work in Birkenhead. Think about that for a moment  – beyond grim.

Another drain on resources that we never to get to hear about are the court cases that Wirral Council get ensnared in because they simply don’t know the difference between right and wrong….but they’ve got plenty of well paid people particularly in the HR and Law Departments who are prepared to blur the lines between the two in return for a big fat salary. We understand that there’s a court case coming up at the end of this month that could prove to be the defining moment of how Wirral Council chooses to ‘move forward’.

We’ll keep you posted.

Crabby : Guilty as Charged

Jumbo

After initially pleading not guilty to offences under the Communications Act 2003 a subsequent change of plea meant that today ex Wirral councillor Jim ‘Crabby’Crabtree was given a 12 week sentence (suspended for a year) plus asked to pay costs,compensation and a victim surcharge at Wirral Magistrates Court . The allegation of his offence was first reported on Wirral Leaks

Dial M for Mute : Update

Dial M for Mute

However for the full shocking story of today’s events in court read the Wirral Globe (you know the local newspaper that Wirral Council want to put out of business!) :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15016582.COURT__Ex_Wirral_Labour_councillor_admits_making_death_threat_to_colleague_on_day_MP_Jo_Cox_was_murdered/

Finally we are able to publish the details of Crabtree threatening to kill Cllr Louise Reecejones if she didn’t pay him £19,000 . This incident happened on the same night Cllr Reecejones’ colleague and friend Jo Cox was brutally murdered.

As shocking as this – sadly it comes as no surprise to us. Not only did we know about the incident but we’ve been well aware of Crabtree’s increasingly worrying conduct over a number of years.

Astonishingly for a man who was once appointed to be Chair of Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee, we’ve always known his communications haven’t always been in keeping with someone destined to hold high public office.

Who can forget his response Jim O’Neil the campaigner wanting  to keep Wirral’s libraries open when they were under threat ? :

“Jim, I’m fed up with all your childish crap, please keep it too[sic] yourself and don’t send me any more – I’m fed up deleting your trash.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/councillor-childish-crap-email-blast-3461816

Now it would appear that the contempt he had for members of the public also extended to elected members and over time escalated and became much more sinister.

We think the big lesson that needs to be learned from this case that if politicians  and officers think that they’re untouchable this is where it ends up  : Court 6 of Wirral Magistrates Court .

For many years Crabtree was one of the gang , the inner ring that rules Wirral Council. We’ve always maintained that the trouble with the local Labour group is that there is a small cabal of Labour councillors who for far too long were used to getting their own way both in and out of the council chamber  ( we understand that the question ‘Do you know who I am ?’ has got them out of many a scrape ). And of course they had the abiding support of an influential , national political figure in Birkenhead MP Frank Field – someone who has turned the three wise monkey act into an art form when it comes to the conduct of certain local Labour councillors.

The frightening thing is we don’t even think Crabtree was the most heinous member of this cabal . So our message goes directly to council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies  : This is what happens when there are no sanctions, no accountability and nobody takes responsibilities for their actions. You have a duty of care to protect all your party members not just those who are part of ‘the inner ring’….and by protect we don’t mean ‘cover up’ !

Indeed it is highly unlikely that Crabtree would ever have been suspended by the local Labour group if it wasn’t for concerned party members repeatedly raising their concerns about his conduct with Wirral Leaks . No wonder the Labour Party North West Regional Director Anna Hutchinson later decreed :

“That the leadership of the Labour Group are required to undertake training in order to ensure that any future issues raised with them that are of serious concern are dealt with in a prompt and appropriate way “

To which we can only respond by saying that the local Labour group don’t need training when it comes to addressing serious issues – they need a moral compass!

It remains to be seen whether the party faithful will rally round Crabtree after today’s ruling as  Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes previously did (see above) when Crabtree was having troubles over his suspension and subsequent de-selection ……

Jim Crabtree : A  selected Wirral Leaks history

Dark Night of The Soul

Cry- Bully Crabtree – Updated

Eulogy for Jimbo

The Curse of Leaky Towers

Fiddling the Meter

Master of Suspense

Rotten To The Core