Advent Farewell 16 – A View of Christmas

Wendy Clements Wirral View (2)

“OK Wendy love, give us your best angry face…”

The bumper Christmas edition of Wirral View has landed .  A bumper edition consisting of 24 particularly pisspoor pages .

We can’t help feeling that articles titled “ Drink Less, Enjoy More”  and ” Tips To Avoid Scammers” should be directed towards a certain Labour councillor and his spouse and the ‘leader’ of Wirral Council respectively.

We have to say that the Wirral Conservatives picture to accompany the posting on their website decrying the Christmas edition of Wirral View is pure comedy gold

The full article reads :

Residents are now being asked to sign for receipt of Wirral Council’s controversial newspaper, ‘Wirral View’, when it is delivered.

As a further sign of the troubled delivery of the newspaper, the Town Hall has also compiled a list of ‘VIPs’ who must receive it and sign for it, including councilors.

One of the Councillors who was told she is on the ‘VIP List’ is Councillor Wendy Clements, in Greasby.

Councillor Clements said: “Wirral View gets more ridiculous as time goes on. To have a ‘VIP List’ of people who the Town Hall think are important and must receive it, whatever the weather, is a sign of how out of touch they have become.

“The only ‘very important people’ as far as this newspaper is concerned are the people who are paying £270,000 a year for it – the residents and taxpayers. Half the Borough doesn’t receive it and many of the rest don’t want it. The best Christmas present that the Labour Council could give us would be to scrap it.” Wirral View Goes VIP

As you can see from the picture above Cllr Wendy Clements has got her glum face on – and who can blame her ? It’s straight out of popular Facebook page Angry People in Local Newspapers  only in this particular case it’s more People Angry About Local Newspapers.

And finally (as once again they say on the telly) to follow up last week’s Wirral View story here’s a response from our regular commentator ‘ The Prof’ which was not published by the Wirral Globe following the letter from a certain Chris Noble asking for suggestions for alternative uses for the wretched rag.  Deja View

I agree with Mr. Noble in the last Globe: we should find positive usesfor ‘Wirral View’. I have found two. Firstly it is fun to spot and test all the false performance claims made by the council. The October / November issue claimed that ‘closer working [Safer Wirral initiative] has already led to an 11% reduction in anti-social behaviour across Wirral’. Using a Freedom of Information Act request I obtained the ASB incident data from 2012 to 2017.

The improved ‘working together’ period covered 2016 onwards. ASB fell during
this period but it had been falling steadily since 2013.’Working together’ did not
affect the rate of fall. This is not surprising since the list of  12 ‘actions’ provided
is purely administrative not street focused.
Wirral View also claimed a £50,000 saving on emergency services in 2017 from
these anti-ASB actions. Surely a good result? But the savings related to stopping
high numbers of emergency calls from just TWO people. One was demented and
put in a care home! The other was mentally ill and they changed his medicine!
This was about sick, vulnerable, people seeking help, not ASB and crime reduction.
Wirral View is full of such amusing alternative facts …it is surely a treasure.
Secondly Mr. Noble suggests using Wirral View to wrap fish and chips. Here is another thought. When I was a kid in Liverpool we could not afford toilet paper and used the Echo.The paper quality of Wirral View is far superior to the Echo and in these days of austerity it can be pressed into use instead. Thank you Wirral Council and keep up the crap work.
                                                                                    Professor D P Gregg (retired)
P.S. On 04.09.17 the Globe reported a 38% fall in ASB ‘across Wirral’ due to the above  activities. My FOI request answer was that this was ‘incorrect data’ in the press release you quoted. Apparently the note implies, the Globe should have realised this so it was  your fault really for publishing false information! By the way the 38% applied to Frank Field’s (Beirut) Birkenhead but it is also based on flawed statistical data.

 

 

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Advent Farewell 7 – Frank Field’s Permanent Bank Holiday

fairy-godmother-frank

Message to Birkenhead constituents : Frank Field will always be the Fairy Godfather if you toe the party line and be ever so ‘umble for his celestial support. If not – you’re fucked.

Apparently Frank Field has made a Tory cry. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean he kicked Boris Johnson in the nuts.

Oh no ,the Tory involved was Heidi ‘ Uriah Heep’ Allen, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire. Who clearly needs to get out of her constituency and the House of Commons more and appreciate what her political party are doing to the rest of the country. Heidi from on high (and mighty) said : 

“I’m humbled by the words from my honourable, good friend from Birkenhead [Field],” she said. “No government is perfect, no benefits system is perfect, no debate, no motion is perfect, but by God we work together and make this better.”

Field intervened to give Allen a chance to compose herself, saying: “I’m just amazed for the first time I’ve been able to report those events publicly without weeping. I’m so affected by them, I’m affected as she is. That’s the debate we’re really having – how do we represent here the desperateness of many of our constituents when many of us feel we can’t offer them hope.Earlier Field said his constituents were being hit by the cumulative impact of reforms under Labour and Conservative governments.On my last surgery Friday, for the first time ever a gentleman rose after we had spoken, I had tried to persuade him not to commit suicide, such was the desperateness that he saw the future for himself, and I realised the hand that shook my hand was wet. He’d been crying. And the hand that shook my hand was the hand that wiped away those tears,” he said. Universal Credit Impact speech

Wirral Globe upped the ante on the sentimentality by additionally quoting from Frankenfield’s poverty travelogue :

On Friday, Feeding Birkenhead – which is the most brilliant but ought to be unnecessary organisation – reported a family coming in of husband, wife and young child.The child was crying with hunger. The family was fed.The father said it had been a lucky week for him because neighbours had taken pity and invited him to a funeral so they could finish off the food after the other funeral guests had been fed.When the little boy was shown a shelf where toys were, but also on that shelf were lunch packs, he chose the lunch pack. Frank goes on sentimental journey via Wirral Globe

Bleedin’ hell  , pass the sickbag Alice. Frank puts Charles Dickens at his most mawkish to shame with that particular speech. Remember this is the man who uses the term ‘starving mites’  in the 21st century and takes no responsibility for the fact that his greatest political achievement in 38 years as an MP is ‘ Feeding Birkenhead’. A Wirral Council ring-fence funded evangelical ,ego trip.

We can’t help thinking he’s using his downtrodden constituent as a Dickensian plot device or a political prop in the vein of Little Nell  (The Old Curiosity Shop) , Pip (  No, not that one, the one from Great Expectations) and particularly Tiny Tim ( A  Christmas Carol) . It’s like a Victorian melodrama – pious ,patriarchal, sanctimonious ,self indulgent, self righteous and utterly vomitous.

The right response to his constituent’s predicament is not political points -scoring and sentimentality . It is ANGER. However we’ll leave the last word on the subject to our old friend Oscar Wilde :

From De Profundis:

A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair. Just as they borrow their ideas from a sort of circulating library of thought—the Zeitgeist of an age that has no soul—and send them back soiled at the end of each week, so they always try to get their emotions on credit, and refuse to pay the bill when it comes in. You should pass out of that conception of life. As soon as you have to pay for an emotion you will know its quality, and be the better for such knowledge. And remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism. 

Advent Farewell 6 – Deja View

There’s an interesting lead letter in the printed edition of this week’s Wirral Globe written by a certain Chris Noble asking for our views on what to do with the Wirral View. You can read the online version here : Your Views?

Mr Noble tells us he wraps his fish and chips in it. How very droll! But dare we suggest that Mr Noble is a bit late to the Christmas Party? We made the following suggestions a year ago in our Things To Do With Wirral View  post where we wrote:

Put out the flags! Strike up the band !  – not that it was delivered to Leaky Towers but we’ve finally got our hands on an actual paper copy of the second issue of the Wirral Council newspaper Wirral View .  

And was it worth the wait we hear you cry ? – “not so much”  we reply ! . Seemingly in an attempt to avert the attention of  Department of Communities and Local Government minister Marcus Jones who takes a dim view of such publications  Wirral Council seem to to have reversed the old Daily Mail ad slogan and made Wirral View – ” A snoozepaper  , not a newspaper” . Dear Lord but it’s dull.

http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2016/news/tax-boost-for-local-press-as-minister-launches-council-paper-crackdown/

The tone is set on the front page  with an exclusive story about road gritters. Now we’re sure the guys in the picture are lovely chaps and they do a wonderful job but it’s a bit of a literal and metaphorical fall back down to earth after the fireworks on the front page of the first issue .  The partly obscured word “SPREADING” (no laughing at the back) seems to a subliminal message as even by issue 2 Wirral View seems to spreading itself too thin ( down to 28 pages from 32 and no advertising!) . Her Ladyship was most disappointed there wasn’t even a follow up recipe to the spicy lentil & tomato soup recipe from the first issue.

Therefore  to avoid that empty feeling for those who feel their information deficit has yet to be filled we’ve come up with five festive fun things to do with your copy of Wirral View.  And so with a cry of  : ” Mummy dearest pass me my superman pyjamas I’m going to the spare room to crank one out for Wirral Leaks ….” here dear reader is the list we cranked out just for you ! : 

  1. RETURN TO SENDER

Buy some extra stamps from the Wirral Scout & Guide Charity Post and return the unwanted gift back .

Do_This-Return-to-Sender

2. PARTY BUNTING

Make your own party bunting – or better still your own party political bunting by personalising it with pictures of your favourite local politicians !

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   3. CHRISTMAS CRACKERS

Do as Wirral View suggest and recycle card and paper from around your home! Forget health and safety regulations (or should that be elf and safety !- geddit?) and craft your own crackers from an empty loo roll. Add some glitter to bring a bit of sparkle to your mundane existence!

things-to-do-019things-to-do-022

 

4. PARTY HATS

What better accessory to go with the wacky Christmas jumper than a Wirral View party hat ! You can surprise everyone  at the Wirral Council office party by showing what a funster you really are under that dour exterior . But remember ! – no photocopying your bottom or subsidising your festivities by raiding the petty cash tin!- or Internal Audit will be after you. Oops! no sorry they missed that particular party trick didn’t they?

things-to-do-030

5.  HAVE YOURSELF A VINTAGE CHRISTMAS

After a trip to the local foodbank to pick up a slightly dented tin of Spam for Christmas dinner why not go the whole hog and get  into the austerity spirit of rationing and make do and mend. Relive those post-war , pre-Izal days of yore and get all nostalgic about outside lavs and using strips of old newspaper for loo roll!

Newspaper loo

Advent Farewell 1 – The Beginning of the End

24th November

” Completely poisonous and insulting” – Cllr Steve Foulkes

“Caustic ” , “Mischievous” – Wirral Globe

“Excellent local blog” –  Private Eye

“I’m in favour of Wirral Leaks . If I was the Council I’d pay them money to find out was going on in my Council”  – Frank Field , MP

It was with the above picture and the words ‘watch this space’  that seven years ago Wirral Leaks was launched (originally on tumblr) to a politically apathetic local audience. Our early work 2010-12 can be found here : Wirral Leaks tumblr

Indeed in November 2010 we had two visitors, who we suspect were people who stumbled across us looking for a local plumber. However after a combined near million hits on our tumblr and WordPress sites the seven year snitch finally comes to an end. As we announced earlier this year His Lord and Ladyship will be swapping the clamour of Wirral for the glamour of the South of France.

No doubt this news will be the best Christmas present that some of the Wirral Council reprobates and associates who have featured regularly on our naughty list will have received in many a year . But fear not dear readers , there are still a few surprises sat under the Leaky Towers Christmas tree waiting to be opened.

Accordingly this year’s advent calendar will be like our very own version of A Christmas Carol featuring the ghosts of ‘Christmas Past’, ‘Present’ and ‘Yet to Come’. No need to tell you who represents Scrooge but we remain pessimistic that our advent calendar will ‘transform’ Wirral Council into a kinder, better organisation.

Although we are currently in negotiations to transfer operations to a trusted scion we have agreed that His Lord and Ladyship may make a Barbra Streisand type future comeback if there’s a particularly good tune we can whistle.

Meanwhile in the run up to Christmas we invite our dear readers join us on this advent adventure and send us your stories, memories, pictures and leaks that we have shared together on this sentimental journey . For as we all know – and to paraphrase the final line of the classic Christmas movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’  :

” Every time a whistle blows an angel gets its wings……..”

 

 

 

 

Any Old Ion

Regen 010

Currently awaiting artist’s impression.

Have you noticed how the supposed grand plans for the regeneration of Wirral (and Birkenhead in particular) are being disseminated in the the press in exactly the same incoherent , opportunistic and uncoordinated  way.

For example we’ve already covered how the charisma free zone that is Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson chose the trade press Inside Media (who?) to tease us about future major land and property deals Double Dealers

Subsequently there then followed  an announcement in the Liverpool Echo that there were plans to convert Wirral Council’s former finance building into student flats under the title ‘ Hamilton Hub’ (groan ). Here we learned that Liverpool-based developer YPG wants to convert these offices in Cleveland Street into an ‘apartment complex’ for 200 students. Hamilton Hub

Sze Ming Yeung, managing director of YPG, said: “Our research tells us there is a real appetite for this kind of student and key worker accommodation in the centre of Birkenhead, partly because of the city region’s excellent cross-river transport links.

Since YPG were set up in 2015 have been busy  helping turn Liverpool city centre into ‘Studentland’. It also won’t surprise you to read  HERE that Asif Hamid’s  Contact Company and YPG have teamed up on the controversial Monarch’s Quay development in Liverpool about which we commented on here :  Asif Attack

Well it would now appear that another one of these landscape changing deals is now out in the open. As apparently the developer behind the controversial Lime Street redevelopment in Liverpool has bought the site of an old Birkenhead railway station – and has vowed to use the land to transform the town. Into what?  Reno? Or has that desert mirage faded before our very eyes too ? We can hardly wait for the artist’s impressions !

We learn from the Liverpool Echo that Ion Property Developments has bought the site of the former Birkenhead Town station, off Tunnel Road between Borough Road and the Rock Retail Park. Ion, formerly known as Neptune Developments, has not yet revealed what it plans for the land. But it says the site is “in a strategic position for the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre”. Read the fully story here : Old Site

Wirral Leaks readers may remember that Neptune Developments had exciting plans to redevelop Birkenhead town centre and which included (gasp!) a drive-thru McDonald’s .  Mysteriously Neptune’s plans were kicked to the kerb by Wirral Council only to be replaced by new plans for  ,er,  a drive -thru Maccy D’s !

So now that Neptune Developments have had a re-branding and changed their name to Ion Property Developments could Managing Director Steve Parry be getting in on Asif Hamid’s act and is acquiring land and sitting back and waiting for the grants of public money to enable them to develop a bit of particularly undesirable piece of derelict land ? Of course Ion don’t quite have Hamid’s position of power and influence as chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board . We await developments (pun intended) with interest.

Meanwhile Wirral Globe are gamely still referring  to ‘the Wirral Waters regeneration project’ in a story about an ‘art installation’ on the site of what perhaps should have been an ‘International Trade Centre’. Forgive us for being so cynical but after the Stella Shiu debacle we feel we’re in for a continual series of piecemeal , ad-hoc developments being heralded as part of the ‘Wirral Waters regeneration project’ rather than the comprehensive transformation we’ve been sold . As a highways feasibility study tender issued last week demonstrates it would seem that there is still a long and winding road to travel before the Wirral waters regeneration project’ becomes a reality.

Regen 021

As an aside an interesting aspect of this story Wirral Waters  was the accompanying picture which included  ‘Community Arts Facilitator’ Cathy Warren alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field. Could Ms Warren be in any way related to Frankenfield’s favoured report writer and former Judge Nicholas Warren?  I’m sure all of you who know how things work round here will know the answer to that one. 

Praise for Wirral Waters' art installation

Pic : Wirral Globe

Finally a concerned correspondent from over the Mersey has been in touch to provide us with a salutary tale and timely reminder as to what can happenwhen Due Diligence is sacrificed in favour of headline grabbing developments .

According to the Department for International Trade, ‘The UK continues to attract record levels of inward investment and remains extremely attractive to foreign investors.’ In fact George Osborne went to China with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson to promote the ‘Northern Pitchbook’, with the £200 million New Chinatown development in Liverpool being the ‘centerpiece’ development 
In terms of Cash Only/Investor development investments, this is fast becoming a national scandal, which will have a very negative affect on UK/Chinese relations, and will seriously limit inward investment into the Northern Powerhouse. 
FACT 1 – Record numbers of Chinese and Hong Kong investors have been putting their money into northern developments, especially student accommodation and city apartments .Investors have to put 75% cash up front and the developments are usually ‘off-plan’. This means, in many cases, that not even the foundations have been built. 
FACT 2 – This has attracted the very ‘worst!’ of developers, which can be seen from the following information: 
[1] Angelgate Development- Manchester – which was developed by Pinnacle MC Global and went into liquidation in April 2015, leaving the development unfinished [foundations only]. By August, the developer told buyers the project had been “seriously undervalued” by around £14 million (HK$140.04 million), requiring additional funding in order to complete. The developer gave Angelgate [mainly Chinese/Hong Kong] investors two options: contribute more money to complete the project, or handle the construction themselves.According to a solicitor’s update from Pinnacle, a total of £13.2 million went to commissions and fees, with £7.9 million spent on “overheads, running costs and profits. [this begs the question: how can developers take profits when the development hasn’t actually been built]”An Angelgate investor said an estimated £32 million (HK$330 million) had been paid in deposit money from the buyers in the steering committee and they had filed reports with local police and fraud action groups.

 The Angelgate project was a scam and investors felt helpless, she said. One of the men involved in this development, Tony Freeman, has been arrested by the police. 
[2] Investors from around the world say they will never put money into Liverpool again after their experience of dealing with a city “landlord from hell”.

 They have been bombarding council chief executive Ged Fitzgerald [this man has also been arrested by the police for suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and intimidating witnesses.]with complaints about Nigel Russell, who runs a number of student properties around Liverpool. Investors say that if the council had carried out Due Diligence then they and fellow investors from as far away as Canada, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines may not have had to endure what they called years of hell.

 They had to endure months without any payments, and some had put their life savings into buying units from Mr Russell. Nigel Russell has been arrested by the police 
[3] £200 million – New Chinatown development – The companies involved in this development were given ‘preferred developer ‘status by Liverpool City Council without any proper Due Diligence being carried out. There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. With only the foundations completed, two of the construction companies involved have gone into liquidation and the development is at a halt.

[4] Baltic House – The companies involved in this development are on the point of liquidation. There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. With only the foundations and a small amount of the construction completed this project is at a halt. 
[5] The Paramount – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The development is only half built with 140 Chinese students living in the built half. This building is probably dangerous and building is at a halt

[5]Berry House – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The company involved is close to liquidation-no building work completed at all.

[6] North Point – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The company involved is close to liquidation-very little building work completed .

[7] St James Court – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

[8]Metalworks – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

[9] Eldon Grove – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

It is clear from the above information that Manchester and Liverpool City Councils [as just examples] are not carrying out Due Diligence and are leaving investors prey to criminals. It is quite evident that this is going to lead to a significant reduction in the number of foreign investors in the North West [Northern Powerhouse] and a deterioration in the Chinese/UK economic relationship. 

 

Half the Story and Double the Average

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In a classic case of getting your retaliation in first and prior to tonight’s Wirral Council meeting Cllr Bernie ‘ The Bruiser’ Mooney has been all over the press bemoaning the fact that children’s services is at ‘breaking point’. Needless to say it’s all the Tories fault.

And whilst indeed there are some government austerity measures which are nothing short of heinous Mooney needs to get real and tell us the full story.  Her version of the ‘breaking point’ story slipped out yesterday on a sleepy Sunday afternoon on the Wirral Globe website.

Breaking Point (Wirral Globe)

The story was updated today with comments from Ian Lewis the leader of Wirral Council’s Tory group. Needless to say Liverpool Echo gave the Bernie’s bleatings the full front page splash – though rather spoiled Bernie’s carefully prepared narrative by mentioning that damning Ofsted report and how the authority failed to halt a campaign of child sexual exploitation by the Rajenthiram brothers which are two things that Wirral Council’s ruling administration can’t pin on the Tories.

Apparently Bernie wants £25 million of extra funding from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to meet “increased demand for our services”. Good luck with that one !

Bernie 007.JPG

A spokesperson for the Chancellor said : ‘the cheque’s in the post ‘

The most shocking aspect of  Mooney’s moans was the revelation that the number of Wirral children is 120 per 10,000 of the child population . This is DOUBLE the national average ! DOUBLE!!

Bernie struggles to look around for a plausible reason for this and comes up with national figures concerned with cuts in early intervention and family support services. There is no mention of the specific impact on local services and more significantly no mention of one of Frank Field’s pet projects – the discredited Troubled Families Programme (TFP) into which millions have been poured down the drain.  As one of our valued contributors ‘ The Professor’ pointed out earlier this year Wirral Council taxpayers should bear in mind that our council are taking part in the useless,discredited TFP phase 2 at a minimum cost to us of £6 million to 2020.

The Miracle Workers

So enough already of this Bernie blather , surely she now knows what we’ve known for a long time – that children’s services locally are indeed at ‘breaking point’ and it’s not just about funding it’s also about Wirral Council’s toxic culture of denial which has built up over a number of years and under various administrations.

We think that Mooney finally realises the extent of the problem she’s inherited with children’s services and knows there are more bad news stories on the way . So what better way of keeping the Ofsted ‘improvement journey’ show on the road by playing the overplayed austerity card and asking the people of Wirral to docilely accept half a story ?

 

 

Police and Peeves

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Somebody call the fashion police. Anyone for a game of noughts and crosses ?   

There has been an interesting exchange in the Wirral Globe letters page over the past couple of weeks. Firstly ,  we had Wirral Leaks regular Charles Nunn who wrote in to say:

The announcement that the Merseyside Police and crime commissioner, Jane Kennedy, a former Labour MP, has appointed a female Labour councillor – the third such appointment in succession – as her deputy should come as no surprise.

When the Conservative Government announced the new appointments in 2012 it was met with total apathy by the voters but great enthusiasm by the political classes of all parties who hijacked the proceedings.

They saw it as a lucrative post with salaries up to £100,000 a year and probably generous expenses

The opportunities for empire-building and political patronage were no doubt an additional incentive. Many candidates were former MPs, with some resigning their seats in order to stand.

In the first elections in November 2012 the total turn out across the country was a paltry 13%.

In the second in May 2016 only 300,000 voters from the whole of Merseyside were prepared to cast their votes.

Ms Kennedy’s first task after her election with a salary of £85,000 was to appoint a deputy from the Labour Party ranks at a salary of £31,800 for a three-day week.

The latest appointment of yet another Labour councillor would appear to suggest the recruitment net is cast no further than the political party which dominates Merseyside.

The published letter can be found here

This elicited the following response the next week from David Burgess-Joyce , Conservative councillor for Greasby , Frankby and Irby

Your correspondent Charles Nunn (Mailbox, September 27) makes some very interesting comments regarding the police and crime commissioner’s appointment of a new deputy as yet another Labour Party internal placement.

In reality he should not be surprised because in the socialist Republic of Merseyside no alternative voices will be accepted other than those of comrade Rotherham, his acolytes and their Corbynite activists.

Having more than 30 years’ experience in Merseyside Police, including senior roles in the National Crime Squad and Serious Organised Crime Agency, I stood for the post of police and crime commissioner last year.  I was runner-up, but because I am so supportive of local policing I decided to apply for this allegedly non-political post of deputy PCC.

Having worked with Jane Kennedy previously I knew we could make a good team in delivering outstanding policing.

Given the “experience” of the successful applicant you will be unsurprised to learn I was not even given the courtesy of an interview, proving yet again Labour’s lack of transparency.

It is good to know 1980s Liverpool is waiting just around the corner!

The published letter can be found here

What Burgess-Joyce , or B-J as we like to call him, fails to mention is the brouhaha that surrounded his hapless candidacy for the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role. Read the full story here : A Fair Cop

As you can see not only did we raise the question as to why allegations that B-J was ‘sacked’ from his job with the National Crime Agency – now known as Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in 2013 were suddenly reported in the Liverpool Echo a few days before the election in May 2016 , we also pointed out :

Even more interestingly we have Liverpool Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson calling for B-J’s  resignation as a Wirral Councillor and surprisingly not Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies.

Although this appears to be a rare show of comradely solidarity  between Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip , we think that this was just another case of  Pip getting someone else to do his dirty work for him.

As it turned out B-J  was not so much a runner-up as a distant second in the PCC election. However, as we’ve commented before about B-J , this most self-regarding and pompous of councillors is now further peeved that he didn’t get the opportunity to be Commissioner Kennedy’s number two.

Whilst we do think that B-J nicked the ‘Socialist Republic of Merseyside’ line from us we do still have concerns that a red hegemony is potentially not a good thing in terms of public accountability. Political patronage and policing policy – what could possibly go wrong? Let’s just hope that local Labour politicians have been behaving themselves – we wouldn’t want Commissioner Kennedy or her Deputy to be politically compromised now would we?

STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise

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‘Defend the NHS – Wirral’ and ‘999 Call For The NHS’ have contacted us to share their concerns about ‘Sustainability & Transformation Partnerships’ (STP). Of course we’re suspicious of anything with ‘Transformation’ in the title. And certainly anything touched by the dead hand of Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.

Therefore we proudly present a crash course kindly provided by the above pressure groups as to why we all need to be concerned about  STPs.

The STPs are the vehicle to ‘slash, trash and privatise’. You can find all the gory details here:http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/mad-as-hell/4593267514

The story of Wirral Council’s leader and his steps from willing participant to Damascene conversion to unconversion along the road to health and well-being (taken from published minutes inter alia).

Step 1: 9th March 2016 Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“The Board discussion included a focus on: How the Wirral Plan and 20 Pledges related to the work of the Board; How the Plan related to the emerging NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan; and How the Board could add value to help deliver more effective and efficient partnership working to achieve our priorities.

The Board agreed that a follow up discussion was required to understand and agree, within the Wirral Plan and emerging strategies:- Which strategies were top priorities for the Board; and Which strategies does the Board wish to; Lead; Influence; or be kept informed – included in Figure 1 of the report.

To help inform the follow up discussion, the report brought together some supporting information. This aimed to draw out the strategic linkages between the draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Wirral Plan in order to help partners agree the future focus, priorities and strategic direction for the Board. 

Councillor Phil Davies cautioned against duplicating work and suggested the focus be on how, as a Board, members could add value to the whole agenda.”

Step 2: 13th July Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“Jon Develing, Chief Officer, Wirral CCG presented the report to brief members of the Health and Well Being Board on sustainability and transformation plans for Cheshire and Mersey and how this would be informed by a local delivery services plan for Wirral….…Members welcomed the report and agreed it would be a good framework and focus for the Health and Wellbeing Board with helpful ties to the Wirral 20:20 Plan.
Resolved – That the development of the Healthy Wirral Local Delivery System Plan and the mechanism by which this will feed into the wider development of the Cheshire and Mersey STP be noted and endorsed.”

Step 3: 16th November Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

This is the day the STP was officially published. Board papers included the milestones and timetable for the Sustainability and Transformation Plans and associated operational plan. Apparently glitches on the CCG web site were disrupting further dissemination. Item 4 on the agenda was the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) and a verbal report from Graham Hodkinson, Director for Health & Care. Councillor Davies refused both to take the item and to allow any questions or comments from the audience. The exchange is available on video via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTvIQwwwUWw  about two minutes in.

Step 4: Wirral Globe 21st November

Sit down before you read this…Leader of Wirral Council Phil Davies says: “we are extremely unhappy that elected members and officers have not been involved in the process of producing STPs and we will not sign up to any of the proposals until we have had an opportunity to discuss the contents of the STP and effective arrangements put in place to engage our residents.”  READERS FALL OVER IN AMAZEMENT…

Step 5: November: Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey (Wirral) statement:

”Yesterday I sat down with Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Borough Council, to discuss the Tory government’s plans for a billion pound in cuts to our local NHS. These cuts threaten the future of acute care across the whole of the Wirral. It became clear very quickly that the plans are yet another top-down set of cuts and reorganisations, imposed by the arrogant Tory government, on the Wirral, and that neither Phil nor I have had any say on the plans at all. It is wrong for the Government to act in complete defiance and without any consultation with local people, workers and their representatives. Sign our petition today at www.savewirralnhs.com to register your concerns.”

Step 6: 28th November Wirral People Overview Scrutiny Committee:

Rejected the Cheshire & Merseyside STP.

The plan was also rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Health and Wellbeing Board on 16th November, by Sefton Council on 17th November, and by the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board on 1st December. These have all been widely reported. Knowsley Council have joined the opposition.

Step 7: December 2016 full Council meeting:

 “agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Health and call on the government to withdraw these Plans immediately with a view to holding urgent discussions with key partners, including local Councils, on how good quality health and social care services can be provided going forward [sic] based on continuing to provide a National Health Service which is properly funded and free at the point of need.”  

There is no evidence that the letter was written or a reply received.

Step 8: July 2017 Phil Davies writes:

“I don’t see any sign that STPs are going away, although they have been re-badged as Five Year Forward View Delivery Plans. Locally, we have committed to integrated commissioning, and that naturally leads to the question of how the providers are going to respond.  There have been a series of workshops, led by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), to explore what our view is about accountable care on Wirral.  What has come out of that is that there are a number of options, ranging from a single ‘organisation’ through to an ‘alliance of providers’ and a couple of stops in between.  The very strong view currently expressed by the providers (and that includes the GPs) is that they do not want a single Accountable Care Organisation, so we are talking about an Accountable Care System…”

Meanwhile…

The cuts have already started – Wirral CCG ran something called a ‘consultation exercise’ late in 2016. It’s part of the STP but they don’t say that too loudly. And it asked the public for their opinions on proposals to cut a whole list of medical services. [And they’ve already been ending contracts for valuable work.]

So, rather than simple clinical decisions, the public were invited to vote in some kind of treatment beauty contest. People in other parts of the country are being asked to vote on different lists. The local NHS is becoming a postcode lottery.

Meanwhile the cuts have been happening for years because we and the NHS are being ROBBED.

Last year US drug giant Pfizer increasing the price of 100mg packs of an anti-epilepsy drug from £2.83 to £67.50.

We are being robbed by the PFI (private finance initiative) – hospitals built and then leased back to the NHS at eye-watering rates of interest, often by firms which also blacklist trade unionists.

And it’s happening close to home. Not many Wirral residents know that 20 of their local GPs are in cahoots with Richard Branson. Yes, the tax ‘avoider’ Richard Branson runs Virgin Care – and they are in a surgery near you. It’s not a huge contract BUT Branson is biding his time until the NHS collapses and he and his collaborators are asked to pick up the pieces and run a service on the cheap ‘in the community’.

We’re being robbed by accountancy firms like Price Waterhouse Cooper, brought in and paid £300,000 by the Cheshire & Merseyside STP to identify where the STP can make cuts.

Most of all we’re being robbed by the madness of running something we never used to have – an NHS market. Thousands of managers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, inspectors, regulators employed simply to oil the wheels of awarding contracts to private firms. Privatisation does NOT save money. The cost of running the NHS commissioning ‘market’ takes about 15% of the total budget.

So hospital waiting lists get longer and you can’t get an appointment with your GP despite the fantastic efforts of NHS doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff whose wages have been frozen and whose conditions get worse. Medicines previously available on free prescription now have to be bought.

Why? Not because we need to ‘save’ money. The NHS is almost the cheapest health service in the developed world.

So why the problems?

Because there have already been billions and billions of pounds worth of cuts.

Because of the robberies listed.

Because staff aren’t been recruited and trained.

But most of all because this government WANTS to destroy the NHS and force us into some US-style insurance scheme.

That’s the emergency in brief.

 

Portrait of a Gobshite

Brazil 2

Of course we’re in favour of leaks. So we applaud the leak of troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil’s resignation letter to Wirral Globe . 

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15325055.Leaked_resignation_letter_shows_Wirral_s_improvement_board_boss_was__shocked_and_appalled__by_director_s__shoddy__treatment/

Having said that we can’t help feeling that after reading her letter she’s like all those local government gobshites who have gone before ( take your pick – there’s a long list of leeches who have taken our money for mealymouthed public pronouncements)

Delicate flower Eleanor claims to be ‘shocked and appalled’ by the treatment of outgoing Head of Children’s Services ,Julia Hassall by Wirral Council . Note she didn’t mention she was ‘shocked and appalled’ by the victims of Child Sexual Exploitation.

Of course she wasn’t. In her world ‘poor’ Julia matters – vulnerable working class girls don’t.

As for the use of the word ‘shoddy’  – how about trying  ‘shitty’ to describe how the shite who govern Wirral Council treat people. How many times have we commented about how senior managers are tossed into the gutter – whilst the real trash remains in place like shit on a shoe ?

It’s simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH that to come out with statements like:

However we know that the service faces many challenges and there are also clearly some significant corporate issues hindering the ability of the service to be more efficient.

We’re sorry to have to tell you Ms Brazil  but the people of Wirral paid for your expensive gig and accordingly you’re answerable to us. No, really! – and you need, NO WE DEMAND, that you break down exactly what you mean by ‘significant corporate issues’

Name names ,  break down for us what the issues are – or are you just another local government gobshite who takes the money and runs and leaves us all ( and particularly vulnerable people) in the doo-doo ?!

 

 

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.

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