Local Democracy in Peril : “…and here is some very late news…”

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but we’re not seeking anyone’s approval, least of all that of a ‘Local Democracy Reporter’ serving the local main stream media , but really would it be a crumb of comfort if we said he’s really taken the biscuit this week?

First we published this on May 2nd:

Wirral Council – “The antithesis of good administration “

ONE WEEK  later we have this published in the Wirral Globe

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And then we rocked up with this on May 6th:

Birkenhead – A Prevalence for Depression

A mere 4 days later we had this from the lazy plagiarist :

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What we really loved though is that a virtually identical article appeared in the Liverpool Echo two days later. We’ve got to give it to the lanky scribbler he’s making a little talent go a long way as he earnestly asks:  What’s being done to tackle the town’s crippling mental health problem?

What is particularly chucklesome is that an article about why is Birkenhead such a depressing shithole is accompanied by a picture of our favourite Local Democracy Reporter chillaxin’ in Venice, which may stink like a shithole, but at least it doesn’t have Frank Field as it’s MP. Just sayin’…

Local Democracy In Peril

What differentiates the Echo/Globe articles from us is that the former gets quotes from the main man himself as Birkenhead’s MP Frank Field has called the reports  “horrifying”, and has this week tabled a parliamentary question, asking the Department of Health and Social Care to look into and act on the root causes behind them.

Mr Field added: “All too many people in Birkenhead are being pushed into the depths of poverty and despair. I’m seeking answers in Parliament around the difficulties that people often encounter when trying to access mental health services.I’m also pushing the Government on the need for firm action to address the root causes of depression and poor mental health in our town.”

Seeking answers in Parliament ?  We’re sure they’ve got bigger fish to fry right now and might we suggest Frank that you won’t find them there anyway. Have a good look around the constituency you have ill-served for 40 years – it’s the scum that run Wirral – including you – that are the problem and NOT the solution. Of course it would be impolite and impolitic for a Local Democracy Reporter, keen for a quote, to express such a view but at least he won’t be leeching off us as a news source for much longer. We’re clearing the decks for news features that you definitely won’t see featured in Wirral Globe/Liverpool Echo even when the biggest scoop in Wirral’s political history has been sitting on the Wirral Globe editor’s desk since July 7th 2017…

Birkenhead – A Prevalence for Depression

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You won’t be reading this in Wirral View or Wirral Globe and certainly not Wirral Life but research by the Guardian shows the most depressed neighbourhoods in England are all in the north and the Midlands and as you can see above four of the top 15 are in and around Birkenhead.

But then that’s what you get when the local MP invites a ‘stunning lawyer’ who he worked with in the Child Poverty Action Group with the expectation of career advancement via the endless supply of poor/depressed people to Birkenhead.  What a ‘stunning’ legacy they leave behind.

The good news for those hitting the Sertraline and other unprescribed supplements of their own choice to get them through the daily grind of living in Birkenhead is that Frank Field is well and truly on his way out .

With the election of not one but two Green councillors in Birkenhead it has to be the case  that in the words of that great pop philosopher Yazz ,  ‘ The Only Way is Up’…

The Genuine Article 2 : Where ‘Tory Cuts’ is not a typo…

For political balance we had to comment on last week’s Wirral Globe wraparound following our The Genuine Article : Can you spot the difference between news headlines and political adverts?  post where we questioned the ethics of paying for ‘Advertisement Features’ that look like news stories.

This time it’s the local Labour Party that are at it (for circa £5K a pop). And needless to say what a pisspoor job they make of it. In the absence of any radical political ideas of their own they just resort to the mantra ‘ Tory Cuts’ (not a typo) which seems to be the order of the day. The front page contains 5 variations on this theme  (count ’em). Valid maybe, but bloody repetitive and lazy at the same time…

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Talking of right wing the big news on the Labour front is that right out of left field (or should that be right field?) we hear that Cllr Paul Stuart is currently being promoted as the future Labour Group leader of choice of those who get a bit upset when it comes to the words ‘socialist’, ‘democracy’ and ‘Corbyn’.

We’re not complaining . With Cllr Stuart as ‘Leader’ of anything whatsoever it will be like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to political satire…

Kingdom Consensus

The redoubtable Wirral Against The Litter Police (Kingdom Security) Facebook page is currently a meeting point/melting pot for interested parties seeking to expunge Kingdom Security from our shores and high streets and car parks and promenades and country parks and bus stations and …you get the drift …

All political denominations are there – look there’s the Lib Dems belatedly requisitioning a ‘Special Council meeting’…

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…and oh look over there , the 4 Labour CLPs are calling for Kingdom to be kicked to the kerb and elsewhere high flying Labour councillor Jo Bird offering her support…

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…and then there’s the Green Party reminding everyone that their sole councillor Pat Cleary  was the only one to vote against a motion where Wirral Council rejected criticism  of Kingdom’s conduct…

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…and of course there’s Tom ‘Media’ Houghton picking up the scraps promising write ups in the Echo and Globe (in that order obvs) and celebrity shop owners Sean Martin and Cathy Roberts brandishing their letters and sweet wrappers respectively and now mainstream media favourites. Ms Roberts also achieved what we consider the ultimate accolade in social media by appearing on the Angry People in Local Newspapers Facebook page.

Indeed we understand that the Fry’s Chocolate Orange wrapper , although not being the sweet wrapper that resulted in a threatened £300 fine, has its own agent and publicist and is in negotiations for a reality TV series.  Oh and there’s even  a link to Wirral Globe’s Granty’s Infernal column where there was no conflict of interest acknowledged but at least we got a passing mention…

Don’t get us wrong these are observations not criticisms .We’re celebrating both a growing political consensus and the tireless efforts of campaigners. Nor are we after bragging rights that Wirral Leaks first raised concerns about Kingdom way back in 2015. After all we are commentators not campaigners and our weapons of choice are sarcasm and satire.  However the point we want to make (and we do have one) is that much of Wirral  only get involved in local politics when something impacts on them directly – be it  being hassled on the street or issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice by Kingdom operatives. But remember whilst you may not always be interested in local politics ,  local politicians are always interested in you and involved in almost every aspect of your life…

Love ACTUALLY

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Here’s what’s ACTUALLY going to happen to the Vue cinema site bought by council for £7m

This is what’s ACTUALLY going to happento Vue cinema site bought by council for £7m

We continue our series of commenting further on this week’s news stories by asking you to spot the difference between these two reports published yesterday in the Liverpool Echo and the Wirral Globe  

Our first comment was that we loved the use of ACTUALLY ,  in UPPERCASE – the written equivalent on standing with your hands on your hips and saying we know better than you,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner…

Although ACTUALLY we don’t think ACTUALLY is the right word here as it refers to the truth and the facts of a situation not the usual Wirral Council pipedream.

However what we didn’t love was the further erosion of local press plurality as BBC funded ‘Local Democracy Reporter’, Tom ‘Media’ Houghton , provides an official BBC approved version of the local news which follows a familiar pattern of the same story being a big splash in the Liverpool Echo before becoming a little ripple in the  Wirral Globe .

Clearly this was Wirral’s finger-wagging riposte to the negative response from commentators and bloggers to the press announcement earlier in the week that Wirral Council had bought Vue cinema for £7 million and which we reported in our  Birkenhead – A Tomb with a Vue  post.

Luckily for Wirral Council there was a fearless ‘Local Democracy Reporter’ at hand ( or more accurately on the receiving the end of an email from the Wirral Council Press Office) to put the record straight ( or rather unquestioningly publish some quick copy and a picture from the photo library) .

The MSM message being : ‘Oh no you nay-sayers and doubters, cash -strapped Wirral Council, who are reknowned for their business acumen, haven’t spent £7 million on a fleapit ! Nay,nay and thrice nay we’ve paid £7 million to demolish it!…’

Well, that’s alright then!…and what’s more they’re going to replace it with artist’s impressions. Lots of ’em – and they’ll all be dutifully published in the Liverpool Globe and then the Wirral Echo or the the other way round  – we get confused!

As to whether these artist’s impressions ACTUALLY happen is open to question but we’re going to put this out there – and it may surprise you but we think they just might! However looking at some of the councillors who would be involved in making the decisions , particularly the Cabinet Member for Housing & Planning and the Chair of the Planning Committee, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was ACTUALLY as dodgy AF…

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Chariots of Ire : The Oval Upgrade Charade

Earlier this week there was an announcement in the Wirral Globe that there was a Major revamp planned for Bebington’s Oval leisure centre . We were told that plans were to be approved by Wirral Council’s ruling cabinet later this month for the £775,000 upgrade and Cabinet member for leisure, Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore, said (no doubt in a press release written by someone else) :

The Oval – which famously was used to film key scenes of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire – is one of Wirral Leisure’s flagship leisure centres, unique in the borough boasting a 25m competition pool, athletics track, football pitches, and tennis courts.

These improvements form part of a larger investment in Wirral’s leisure services, ensuring that they remain accessible and affordable for all residents, and represents another excellent example of Wirral Council’s careful management of its budget at a time of continuing pressure on local government finances.

Our services are extensive and Wirral Council invests £5 million a year in making sure that statement remains true, in addition to more than £8 million invested in the past few years on making sure our services are of the best possible quality…

So as is our wont we thought we’d bring you the reality behind the pre-election spin and report on events at The Oval from last night and from information we received late last year about a previous £1 million upgrade .

‘A concerned parent of a child who attends The Oval swimming club’ writes :
I think the council needs to be reminded about the cost in lives and not pounds that failure in fire safety can have if a real emergency took place. Remember Grenfell???
There was a power failure in Bebington last night whilst my child was in the pool at the Oval and it was very dark in quite a lot of areas. It was quite a scary experience.. staff to be fair did well, but when we stated it was the dark areas that upset us , and scared the children they quite openly and honestly stated that they have had problems for years with the emergency lights, and that the pool area only came on because staff constantly complained about it and it was only recently repaired otherwise that would have been also in complete darkness .
This is a big shock and I and many other parents are seeking reassurance from the council that the building is safe. Whilst staff were helpful the biggest surprise was their anger. We could hear one staff member say : “ I am *** fed up telling them but they never listen , they never come out, they don’t want to see what we have to put up with, they won’t move from the Concourse *** the lot of them.” When we asked another staff member what that meant , they said it was a reference to senior managers who never visit  and never listen to staffs real issues like emergency lights not working.”
So what happens when there has been upgrades at The Oval in the past ? We were sent this photo and comments last November
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The Oval Bebington

Newly built kitchen cafe at least 6 months old. Inc in the fixtures and fittings a £3500 coffee machine, a new oven sat for months unpacked (now possibly missing) value £10,000+

None of this has ever been used and may never be used.

Needless to say we asked ‘How come?’ only to be told:

No idea, it appeared soon after the gym renovations at the Oval. It got built/fitted but has not been used. A lot of wasted cash. Maybe they can’t get anyone to run it within. Or not financially viable to external operators. Either way it’s very expensive and all quality stuff. Likesay the oven was sat there still unpacked for months and I’m not sure if now fitted or disappeared.

Although we understand the above was part of a previous  £1 million upgrade  of The Oval announced in 2016 more recent enquiries of a well placed source suggest the situation remains the same:

The white elephant .They had plans to hire someone. I think there is a tale to tell on that. Badly designed and not fire compliant. Also as asset management don’t seek planning permission to alter a structure because they are a law unto themselves… 

However we’d be quite happy if Cllr Brightmore could reassure us that this is no longer the case and that there are ‘robust’ plans to ensure that in the future £775,000 of public money will not be going down The Oval’s notoriously dodgy drains. Might we suggest it’s time to move on from past glories as Wirral Council are rapidly running out of money as fast as Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams on anabolic steroids…

 

Cllr Chris Meaden : Not so much a declaration of independence as an exercise in pointlessness

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We were alerted to the fact that Cllr Chris Meaden had changed the party status on the Wirral Council website and that she now classed herself as ‘Independent’.  This struck us as somewhat ironic as Cllr Meaden aways struck us as one of those councillors who did as they were told by the local Labour Party elite and was quite content to be swept along on Rock Ferry councillor Moira McLaughlin’s coat-tails as it was an easy ride. We were once again minded to recall that old joke  Q:   What’s the difference between a supermarket trolley and Cllr Chris Meaden ?  A:  A Supermarket trolley has a mind of its own.

The belated declaration of ‘independence’  was all very reminiscent of an adolescent flouncing off  Facebook when no-one is paying them any attention and hoping for a few ‘U OK Huns ?’

Despite the Liverpool Echo headline  Yet ANOTHER top Labour politician quits party -blaming ‘hard-left’ takeover  our initial reaction to such a political hasbeen was CBA.   However reading the local media coverage it is clear that Meaden  has taken her acting out her adolescent angst to another level and be seen a-bitchin’ and a-snipin’ and a-moanin’ all over the local papers (the story in the Wirral Globe written by the same ‘Local Democracy Reporter’ Tom Houghton is a barely disguised re-write ) . As washing your dirty linen in public goes, the soon to be ex- councillor Meaden seems to have dug out the skiddy undies from the bottom of the washing basket , talking of ‘verbal attacks’ , ‘public attacks’ and ‘double standards’ . Much of her bitterness is directed towards Yvonne Nolan , her successor as Labour Party candidate for the Rock Ferry ward.

I believe over the coming months more information about Ms Nolan`s past involvement with politics will emerge and I don’t believe she is fit to serve the people of Rock Ferry. With her term coming to an end this spring, Cllr Meaden was ousted at a selection meeting back in October. But she said some of those present had “never attended” a branch meeting, while others had “never so much as delivered a leaflet’.That makes me believe that the meeting was packed with the aim of removing me and replacing me with Yvonne Nolan and the intention is to bring her in to lead the group.

Now we can’t comment at this stage whether Nolan is fit to serve the people of Rock Ferry but we do know that there are a few current Labour councillors who are DEFINITELY unfit for public office but has Cllr Meaden ever publicly voiced her concerns about them?  No, she hasn’t ! – and it suggests to us that the Rock Ferry selection committee made the right decision in getting rid of someone who was quite happy to follow the orders of a PROVEN dishonest,bullying and controlling Labour cabal whilst it suited her which makes her  declaration of independence nothing more than an exercise in pointlessness.

 

 

 

Wirral University Teaching Hospital : Imagine…there’s still no announcement on appointment of Chairman

WUTH

Following on from our Ruthless WUTH post there was the inevitable Wirral Globe headline story which read 400 new parking spaces to be created at Arrowe Park Hospital after Globe campaign . Although it must be said that 400 new car parking spaces doesn’t necessarily mean that car parking charges for nurses at Wirral University Teaching Hospital (WUTH) sites will cease.  But hey! any excuse to publish  a letter sent to Birkenhead MP Frank Field – jointly signed by interim chairman Sir David ‘Diddy’ Henshaw and CEO Janelle Holmes.

Meanwhile we have reason to believe that there are bigger issues affecting WUTH in general and Henshaw and Holmes in particular as a well placed source writes :

Wirral Leaks of 10/12/18 says the announcement of new WUTH chair imminent
This is now at least 15 days overdue and there is limited intel only.
It seems the only applicant for the post has been interviewed the process is stalled at the governors. None of whom will give any more away – for real!

You may recall when former staff nurse Janelle Holmes CEO-bulldoze-through-fest stalled – Sir David Henshaw attended, met the governors to put them right. He’s a candidate this time so there are barriers that – even a rainmaker like him -cannot be circumvented so he can’t repeating his best and only trick – the Henshaw hardline.
It seems he also lacks  insight to now take the hint and withdraw his application in a dignified manner – suppose when the good Lord gives one the hide of a rhinoceros it’s there to be used.

Sir Dave’s track record is of some latter day Red Adair – called in when things boil over to put the lid back – obviously stifling any inconvenient discussion. Then like some mountebank he leaves town before the consequences of the quick-fix become evident.
The CSA went into melt down after this approach.
At St George’s NHS Trust; once he left the problems remained.
It only required matters to enter the real world when a St. George’s surgeon challenged the regimes legitimacy in court and won for the folly of Sir Dave’s only-trick to be exposed.
WUTH has a long-enduring, deeply dysfunctional culture. The directors (he has chaired for 9 months) wilfully fail to either recognise or address this.
Industrial psychologists ought to be highly visible. No really industrial psychologists ought to be on every corridor corner and tasked with re-introducing a fair culture – no sign yet!
What has likely changed at WUTH is jeopardy- I guess (and I don’t know) that the governors have woken up to realities. The execs have for years spoon-fed pap to the governors and have cowed the non-execs. One NED (Non -Executive Director) memorably told BMA (British Medical Association) reps they would never challenge an exec – despite that being in the Non-Exec’s job description.
Simply put – in 1 year execs have put 15% of the consultants out-of action [5% suspended, 10% now work elsewhere] it’s a simple calculation: if WUTH carry on like this there will be no senior doctors left.
This ought to be clear to Sir Dave – the execs don’t seem to have got the memo – not sure about the non- execs.
Stand by for the palace revolution; if the governors have  initiative – and it’s only  exercise of their  will – the executive and non-executives will become administrators held to account by the governors.
The remuneration committee that doubled executive salaries may be reconvened – CEO Janelle Holmes earned between £300 – 305,000 (including benefits) last year; yet to hear what she got when she was promoted. The governors may – choose to pay execs for what they do and not the multiples of clinician’s salary to show who’s boss.

You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one…

 

A Cammell Laird Christmas Carol – POSTPONED

Shortly after we published our Frank Field’s Casual Approach to Casualisation story  Wirral Globe inevitably and belatedly waded in with two stories providing the approved narrative that :  a) Cammell Laid CEO John Syvret is claiming that strike action is jeopardising future contracts and employment prospects and that b) Frank Field is working relentlessly behind the scenes to safeguard jobs. Unfortunately neither article addresses frigate in the dry dock and discuss what the strike action is actually all about.  Casualisation is obviously the new ‘C’ word !

Sadly for those wanting to show solidarity with striking Cammell Laird’s workers – especially those who received their redundancy notices this week –  and find out exactly why they are picketing the shipyard will be unable to do so as today’s planned gathering has been postponed. We’ll keep you posted about future developments:

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Futility

Today is the 100th anniversary of the day that Wilfred Owen was killed in the First World War. The irony being that Owen somehow managed to survive living in Birkenhead’s Willmer Road to write some of the world’s most celebrated war poetry.

Birkenhead has long made an issue of Owen’s tenure in the town. So what a terrible indictment and yet such an appropriate ‘tribute’ that the anniversary was marked by this picture :

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We are with the statue on this one. Complete and utter futility.

The unveiling of the sculpture was widely heralded on MSM including BBC -read here and inevitably Wirral Globe ,who as ever indulged Birkenhead MP Frank Field with this piece of work titled Poppies spring up around Birkenhead for Wilfred Owen Commemoration . As Field says :

To commemorate, of course, is to do more than simply remember. It is to enshrine in the memory that which must never be forgotten.

We’d like to ask whether any of the MSM were around when the sculpture was due to be unveiled. An eyewitness tells us that at the specified time that there were a couple of people milling around complaining that there was nothing on social media to tell them the event was cancelled, a war veteran proudly wearing a poppy and a confused tourist astonished that the sculpture was placed opposite a building that was in the process of decay. For those who were there it will indeed be a memory that will never be forgotten – and for all the wrong reasons.

Now we don’t whether North West Construction were responsible for the debacle or whether they’ve been called in to rectify the situation but what a complete and utter shambles.

This was the shoddy scene that greeted visitors at the time the sculpture was due to be unveiled :

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But then the people of Wirral are used to cover ups.Perhaps this was indeed the best way to commemorate the occasion . ‘Futility’ is the word…

Memo to Frank : When Owen wrote ‘ Move him into the sun’ he was asking for the last earthly enjoyment to be bestowed on someone about to die . It was NOT an exhortation to write for the ghastly rag of the same name… just sayin’!