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

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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’!

Fieldwatch 3: ‘Everyone has their price…’

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We are really,really sorry we started this ‘Fieldwatch’ mullarkey .We promised we’d keep you posted on the media appearances of the political anomaly that is Frank Field. He’s the MP for Birkenhead but he’s not a Labour MP and not an independent MP either. What exactly is he? – all a bit unsatisfactory but as far as we’re concerned Frankenfield has been more than unsatisfactory for many a year.

However the alerts we get at Leaky Towers about Field are absolutely,bloody relentless . Media whore doesn’t come close to describing the media coverage this man craves from predictably, Wirral Globe and Liverpool Echo , inevitably The S*n, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph , The Guardian and surprisingly to Horticulture Week (!) to The Sydney Morning Herald… on and on and on it goes.

We’ll just concentrate on a couple of stories and taking a leaf out of Field’s playbook we admit that we’ve chosen them for our own purposes. If you want further details you’ll have to take us on trust and Google the stories yourself.

First – let us consider Frank and prostitution. He’s certainly got his money worth out of this particular ‘story’. There have been a number of press stories where he claims that women have been forced into walking the mean streets of Birkenhead directly because of the implementation of Universal Credit. It may be false,it may be true but nothing stops a Fieldian anecdote from becoming a press-worthy fact . What’s more surely he’s been well acquainted for a long time with people at Wirral Council getting big money for screwing over the people of Wirral (and sometimes each other)?

Second – and again inevitably – Field gegs in on the ‘Sir’ Philip Green being identified being ‘not a very nice person’ by Lord Hain using – some might say abusing – parliamentary privilege in the House of Lords . Who knew Green could be such a serious baddun’ ? We all bloody did!

Field’s press comments haven’t deviated from his own belief that Green is a baddun’ but skirts around the more problematic areas of NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements) where money is exchanged in return for silence, or bullying or allegations of racism. Might we suggest this could have something to do with such matters being a bit too close to home when it comes to his local political allies…

 

Is ‘Matron’ McLaughlin the next Labour resignation?

Curse of the Ugg Boots

Matron and the Curse of the Ugg Boots

A most curious message has arrived at Leaky Towers from someone describing themselves as ‘a veteran Labour member on Wirral’ who tells us :

Cllr Moira McLaughlin will resign the Labour whip tomorrow  morning ,announcing it in the ECHO

Ordinarily we’d be in ecstasies because  a) we’ve long held the view that Matron McLaughlin needed to exit from local politics a long time ago – 2012 to be precise  and b) we take pleasure in scuppering a Liverpool Echo ‘exclusive’  just as we did last week with the Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil Davies and his sudden resignation .

Indeed the Echo and Wirral Globe  seem to be taking it in turns to publish ‘exclusives’ about local Labour Party resignations/ hissyfits. ‘Orchestrated’ doesn’t come close to describing what’s going on here – all we need is cannons going off and we’d have the 1812 Overture!

However such is the fetid and febrile political atmosphere circulating around Wirral at the moment we don’t quite know what to make of the news especially as ,even more curiously , our source goes on to describe themselves as an ‘ experienced Labour member’ and provides us with this quote :

Moira’s resignation is further confirmation that hard-left elements have infiltrated the Labour Party, making it their mission to drive out hard-working community champions in a shameful power grab. These recycled Militants want to drag Wirral back to the 80s by installing disgraced former Council leader Yvonne Nolan as a Rock Ferry Candidate tonight. Nolan was hauled out of office over the poll tax debacle and like Derek Hatton shouldn’t be on the cusp of returning to front line politics under the Labour Party banner.
Cllr McLaughlin has served the people of Rock Ferry for over 20 years and has consistently stood up for her residents, helping fight against the worst effects of Tory austerity. It is a sad day for true Labour supporters. She will be sorely missed by the majority of decent Labour councillors and members.

The quote rather suggests to us that its from someone who’s not familiar with our blog , especially when it comes to Matron.  However we’ll be interested to hear of further developments and we’d particularly request a comment from Ms Nolan – who we know is a member of the Labour Party and has previously stood as a Labour councillor.

As we await further news it’s a question of pace your bets now as which Frank Field acolyte jumps before they’re pushed. The smart money is on Frankenfield’s faithful factotum and electoral agent Cllr George Davies…

Wirral Council ‘leader’ and his shock resignation : Power Boy Pip reaches the ‘Omega Point’

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Power Boy Pip’s reflects on his political career  and decides smashing the mirror is easier than doing something about the distorted image. 

There are many curious aspects to Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’  announcement that he was packing in politics – not least the fact we got to exclusively reveal the news from a leaked email . As much as we appreciate the leak we would have thought a more appropriate forum for this momentous news would have been the previous evening’s full Wirral Council meeting.

Whilst Liverpool Echo just did a hasty cut and paste job with archive photos shortly after we’d published the story , clearly other parts of local MSM were geared up for the announcement as Wirral Globe managed to get the news into yesterday’s print edition. The Globe also managed to reference to Frank Field’s recent run-ins with the resurgent Labour left despite the fact that this did not feature in Pip’s epitaph for his political career.

We’ll be analysing both the resignation message and Power Boy Pip’s political career in a special commemorative,cut out and keep, full colour supplement on Sunday  titled ‘ THE 30 INGLORIOUS YEARS OF PIP’ – but for now all we’ll say is the hackneyed comment about him wanting to spend time with his long suffering family’  was not only reminiscent of resignations of Wirral Council’s past ( ex-CEOs Maddox and Burgess spring immediately to mind) but is also the time honoured phrase used by politicians just before the proverbial hits the fan…and oh believe us, it’s about to…

There have been various theories sent to us about the sudden announcement  and we believe it may be a combination of all of them. After  Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  reign of terror came to an end in 2012 in an unprecedented vote of no confidence , Power Boy Pip had the chance  to really ,really make a difference to the toxic culture of Wirral Council but instead chose the path of least resistance.

Ultimately it is a failure of Pip’s ‘leadership’ – the reliance on a handpicked spin doctor ,the failure to rein in out of control councillors ( Crabtree, Reecejones, Foulkes and George Davies for starters) ,the inability to say ‘NO!’ to Birkenhead MP Frank Field, the all consuming reputation management and the constant denial best exemplified by the fantasy  (Local Government Chronicle ‘Most Improved Council award) taking precedence over the reality (an ‘Inadequate’ rating of Wirral’s Children’s Services by Ofsted).

However it is also what French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin titled the “Omega Point”: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! … For everything that rises must converge.”

It is about the rise of the Green Party in Birkenhead (the humiliation of defeat in next May’s local elections had become a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of Labour left (being held to account by party members had never before been a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of local blogs ( there is no hiding place for local politicians up to no good any more ) and it is about the rise of political activism from people of all political persuasions across Wirral (especially those defending the Green Belt and the NHS – the likes of which Wirral politicians have never experienced before) .

For everything that rises must converge and together we say that is what is  responsible for Pip’s demise…

 

 

Stressed Eric’s Vision : A Big Yellow Taxi Driving All Over The Green Belt

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We’ll leave the final words on putative plans to ‘pave paradise and put up a parking lot’ and proudly preview  ‘The Prof”s perfect riposte to the Cllr George Davies letter published in this week’s Wirral Globe . Let’s hope ‘The Prof’ gets equal prominence in next week’s publication.

TRUE LIES

George Davies’ Globe letter in response to mine demonstrates finally the degree to which Wirral residents have been let down by this council…and previous councils. The 20,620 sites with planning permission for building clearly EXPLICIT in Phil Davies letter to the Housing Minister in 31.01.18 were a mirage. The list of villains is increasing! First we had the ‘wicked government’ referred to by George Davies attacking our Green Belt and now the ‘wicked’  Peel Group who, to the ‘surprise and frustration’ of the council, have pointed out to the government that actually they only ever intended to build on 2,700 of the 13,521 sites under their control with planning permission. Have our naive council been stitched up by the developers or is somebody lying? Either way, Wirral residents are being poorly served. In his final thrust George Davies yet again conflates the issue of the council’s LEGAL, statutory duty to produce a Local Plan (some 18 year late) with the Green Belt issue. I repeat : we are being softened up for some hard decisions forced upon residents by decades of council incompetence and neglect. I have written and circulated an independent analysis of Green Belt sites in my own neighbourhood using the criteria defined by the council itself and and I urge local action groups to do the same in their areas and lobby local councillors as we are doing. A copy of my analyses has been sent to the Wirral Council Heritage Officer for the record. I would be happy to supply copies to any Green Belt activist groups via the Globe.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

With all this all talk of housing developments and artist’s impressions and threats to the Green Belt going on and with Wirral Council’s CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ‘s soon to be legendary comment that ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ ringing in our ears we’re minded once again to recall the lyrics to the song
‘Big Yellow Taxi’:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique ( Hoylake Golf Resort?)
and a swinging hot spot ( The Townhouse ?)
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum ( finally a use for Birkenhead Town Hall?)
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em (a new income stream for the cash strapped council?)