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’…

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The Cupboard is Bare – The truth behind ‘Feeding Birkenhead’

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Concerned Wirral Leaks readers have been in touch asking us whether we know anything about how Birkenhead MP Frank Field ended up with a cast on his arm.As you can see from the above publicity shot taken at a community cafe and citizen’s supermarket in the Pyramids shopping centre. This picture which has been seen all over the shop including what we understand to be Frankenfield’s first of soon to be many appearances in the glossy and vacuous Wirral Life magazine. One of the queries we received from someone who saw the picture asked : “What happened to Onan the Librarian?”

Last month the Tory’s ex- Brexit Czar David Davis presciently poked fun at Frankenfield’s arm prior to a crucial Brexit vote and quipped   ‘Hope it wasn’t the whips’

Which after this week’s Exclusive : Will Frank Field have the Labour Whip withdrawn?  story may not be so far from the truth. This exclusive has since gone national after being picked up by the Huffington Post in their Labour Members Move To Suspend Brexiteer MP Frank Field For Backing Tories post.

Now thanks to correspondence (see below) from another Tory MP, Esther McVey, we can reveal that Frankenfield has broken his arm. We will make no comment on other people’s misfortune. We just wish that the Birkenhead MP would do the same. As you can read he continues to make emotive references to particularly sad cases in his letter – which let’s face it will be totally wasted on McVey ,who as you can also read, is as policy driven as Field is publicity driven. Although ,as we’ve reported before, McVey is herself no stranger to exploiting others plight for political gain. But then again why should we expect political animals to fight their nature?

However back to our picture at the top which shows Frankenfield  and a.n.other. The woman on the left next to the man on the right (!)  is not even credited in the Wirral Life story as this is strictly The Frank Field Show. But is everything as it seems  ? A source writes to tell us that :

Feeding Birkenhead Social Supermarket that is due to open in Birkenhead has been donated £100 thousand pounds from Cammell Laird and also Labour too – complete with the re fit. No argument from me that more Social Supermarkets are opening BUT it is not open to all…  only 100 people who have been “picked” from Magenta housing will be able to shop there for 6 months…

What’s more (and we’re going to bang on about this  ’til we’re red in the face) is Feeding Birkenhead and this enterprise in particular is funded by WIRRAL COUNCIL or should I say WIRRAL COUNCIL TAX PAYERS and Magenta Living to the tune of £80,000.  The minutes of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee from January 2016 read :

Once established, the Task and Finish Group was also requested to consider a request from the Chair for £80,000 of Your Wirral funding to be used as a block grant towards a new Community Shop in the Pyramids Shopping Centre and should this request be agreed to, a formal request from the Committee be made to Magenta Living.At this point Councillor S Foulkes declared a Personal Interest by virtue of his being a Board Member of Magenta Living. Full minutes here:  Your Wirral

I’m sure you can all see how this works and we don’t need to repeat our concerns about the Magenta Living connections. But it all perpetuates the myth that ‘Feeding Birkenhead’  is a Frank Field and the local Labour Party production. Whilst the Birkenhead MP has been the driving force behind the initiative it would not have happened without public money. ‘Your Wirral’describes itself thus :

Your Wirral is a fund administered by Wirral Council and Wirral Partnership Homes (now Magenta Living)  which offers grants of up to £2,500 for community or voluntary groups right across Wirral to fund one-off projects or events.

Which leads us to wonder where the £80,000 for the Feeding Birkenhead  Social Supermarket came from? Is it any wonder that the Wirral Council website reads :

Your Wirral was a community grants programme and a joint initiative between Magenta Living and the council. Your Wirral has now ended in Wirral West, Wirral South and Wallasey constituencies. The Wirral-wide programme, for projects that affected two or more constituencies has also ended.

The Birkenhead Your Wirral fund is currently closed for applications.

Your Wirral funding programme

So it would appear to be the case that for any other community or voluntary groups seeking grants on Wirral that unless you’re part of ‘Feeding Birkenhead’ the cupboard is bare – and much like the ‘citizen’s supermarket ‘ public money is for the few and not the many!

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Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #7

THE FREE PRESS

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If nothing else Wirral is well served by free media – mainstream or otherwise . From Wirral Leaks  to Wirral Globe to Wirral View to Wirral Life – all along the news spectrum from the grime to the gloss.

However did you spot the deliberate mistake? We’ve been asked what part of  the word ‘free’ doesn’t Wirral Council understand . Those of our readers who have miraculously received their first ever print edition of Wirral View have been asking us how can it have ‘FREE’ emblazoned on the front cover when the print and distribution costs and presumably the wages of the cut and paste mob who are responsible for compiling the unwanted rag runs into hundreds of thousands of £££ each year and is paid for by council tax payers ?

For those who had the honour and privilege of finally receiving a copy of Wirral View the most frequently asked question is : “Are there elections due ?  In probably the last edition before purdah we understand it was rammed with Wirral Growth Company/Muse Developments/Wirral Waters articles replete with the obligatory artist’s impressions. There wasn’t even room for any healthy, cheap and nourishing recipes! We are sure a peep at the online edition would confirm the veracity of these claims but as the saying goes you don’t have to go to the Arctic to know it’s cold…

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Another reader was a bit alarmed by the Wirral View headline above . At first they thought it was members of the Wirral Council cabal getting a vigilante posse together and taking time out from next week’s MIPIM conference in Cannes to track down ‘His Lordship’ and give him a good pasting . That was until they read the article , which was about how not to upset the kiddiewinks with stories about all the nasty things going on in the world. Although we think telling them to get a good education, not to do drugs and get away from Wirral as fast as you can is the best advice that any Wirral parent could give to their child.

THE ART OF DOING BUSINESS ON THE GOLF COURSE

From the glitz and glamour of Cannes we glide seamlessly to the latest glossy, glamorous, aspirational edition of Wirral Life . Inexplicably the cover star is hasbeen chanteuse / gardener Kim Wilde. So is Kim –  best known for that annoying racket ‘Kids in America’  – coming to Wirral as part of her UK tour ? Er,no. She’s going to Wrexham ( oh the glamour of it all) . We couldn’t work out a Wirral connection even though the exclusive and highly insightful interview revealed that Ms Wilde only has “2 handbags and less than 10 pairs of shoes (not counting trainers) “. Now if the interviewer had asked her about what trackie she would wear to visit The Pound Bakery we might have understood why Wirral Life was plugging her tour and giving her front cover status.

However less of this celebrity flummery what did interest us was finding out about the inevitable Wirral Chamber of Commerce section. There was news of Wirral Waters ( don’t they know it’s had a re-brand to Wirral Waters One?) and the Wirral Chamber Corporate Cup as the Chamber  ‘host prestigious corporate golf day at Caldy’  . What is it with these people and bloody golf?  We’ve long known that much of Wirral Council business is conducted at Wallasey Golf Club and of course there’s that  Hoylake housing development proposal masquerading as a ‘golf resort’ but we’re definitely with Mark Twain on this one – “golf is a good walk spoiled”. The point of this anti-golf tirade (and we do have one) is that one of the 2018 teams is Morgan Sindall . Muse Developments are part of the Morgan Sindall group of companies .  Is anyone other than us joining the dots? Read more here : Morgan Sindall

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WIRRAL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL : #PROUD  – The Musical 

Following our  Wirral University Teaching Hospital : #Proud ?  story we’ve been sent a video of the opening of Arrowe Park Hospital entrance from 2014 involving a ‘flashmob’ performing the song ‘Proud’. It brought a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye – but for reasons that probably means that we’re best walking away from the keyboard. Disgraced former WUTH CEO David Allison can be seen at the start of the video doing the difficult job of encouraging someone to cut the ribbon. So David tell us what did YOU do since this was filmed to make you feel proud?

AND FINALLY…….

We have some very observant and tuned-in readers who look at the world in the same slightly skewiff way that we do . Accordingly we are grateful for both the picture taken from a Channel 4 ident along with the following comment :

My daughter has forwarded me this image today explaining that this giant monster is actually a deconstructed number 4 (as in C4).

So, not only is it a good New Brighton image but it is also, I guess, some kind of metaphor for what Wirral Leaks is trying to do – deconstructing Wirral?

(or, like those blokes in wheelchairs…maybe I am pushing it)

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Chamber of Secrets

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“Wow! – just wow” gasped Her Ladyship as she picked up a copy of Wirral Life  from a better class of supermarket “….all that advertising space for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce seems to have paid off as Princess Paula is this month’s cover star! “

Bleached , bobbed and Botoxed(?) to the max the CEO of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce must feel thoroughly at home –   glossy, bright and shiny against a stormy background . The interview can be found here:

 Wirral Life

As you can read all the key words are there – transformation, vision, partnership, empowering, small business ecosystem (eh?) , passionate (obvs!) and nepotism (oh sorry – our bad she didn’t mention that did she Sharon?)

Minus points for no mention of ‘ Hub’ though !  – oh and btw why are you still banging on about ‘Wirral Waters’ ?

Unfortunately what isn’t asked in the article is the question that was put to us about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce earlier this week :

“I would find it very interesting to know why Kevin Adderley has again been sidelined from yet another job.  
 
After being paid off from his time at WBC,  he was rewarded by joining the Chamber of Commerce and becoming a director.  Only to be stripped of the directorship in June of this year and now apparently MD of Egerton House (so manages serviced offices,  owned by the Chamber?)
 
Whats the story?”
Our response :  “It’s the Pip ‘n’ Paula show – dontcha know?”
To which our source replied :  “I was rather thinking its more to do with his involvement in the planning department in 2010 & 2011 – and WBC distancing him as much as they can before it hits the fan.”
Answers on a postcard please – as of course Wirral Life isn’t the place to go if you want answers to such difficult questions because, as you can tell from the cover of their latest edition as apparently they’re all about airbrushing.

Gutter Press

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Wirral News Goes AWOL ,Wirral Life Goes Warhol

So farewell then Wirral News. As reported in the press trade papers it now finds itself in the gutter :

http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2017/news/publisher-cites-crowded-market-for-bi-weekly-closure-after-council-newsletter-launch/

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/trinity-mirror-to-close-wirral-news-in-july-in-the-wake-of-council-newspaper-launch/

As we predicted a while ago , the writing was on the wall for this woeful rag a long time ago. Never more so than when Wirral Council launched the print edition of Wirral View. Whilst it won’t be missed , mainly because it appeared to have given up being a credible news outlet a loooooong time ago , it is a worrying development for Wirral’s independent press when publishers Trinity Mirror consider :

 “The Wirral marketplace has become increasingly crowded with free print products with now even Wirral Borough Council producing a monthly free print publication themselves.

“We believe that there is no longer a viable, scalable or long-term future for free/giveaway print products within the Wirral marketplace….. “

What made us want to snort with derision and shake our head in disbelief was the quote in the Press Gazette article from Wirral Council’s head of communications Kev ‘Lost Boy’ MacCallum :

 “We are disappointed to see a well-loved local title like the Wirral News close.
“For many years, we have seen its circulation reduce significantly and frequency fluctuate between weekly, monthly and recently bi-weekly.
“It’s been clear throughout this time that the title has been trying and struggling to find an effective place in the market where it could be competitive.
“We must make it clear however, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest Wirral View had any commercial impact on the Wirral News.
“We have deliberately not sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue, and we have ensured Wirral View is a completely different product to the existing local free-sheets…..”
Yeah right! – as we have previously reported Wirral View  have actively sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue and it was an intention that was expressly stated by Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson! It’s just that they have been spectacularly unsuccessful in attracting any advertising. Well the last time we looked anyway, as we have still only received one print copy at Leaky Towers and we can’t muster enough enthusiasm to peruse the online edition.
However even keen Wirral View enthusiasts such as MacCallum and Robinson must know that its commercial viability in a crowded marketplace is under threat when even the Wirral Chamber of Commerce prefer to choose the June edition of Wirral Life for a glossy four page spread in the hilariously aspirational ‘premium lifestyle magazine’. We particularly enjoyed the beyond parody interview with Simon Nixon founder of Moneysupermarket.com ( don’t get us started on those Godawful TV ads) . The permatanned entrepreneur is asked :
Have you ever spent any time on the Wirral, what do you think of it? He replies:
I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Wirral but I think it’s beautiful – especially around Parkgate  and Caldy.
We’re just surprised he didn’t mention the delights of Birkenhead and how he enjoys drinking in Spud Murphy’s on Charing Cross before nipping over to the Pound Bakery for a pasty!
Chamber CEO Paula Basnett obviously feels more at home in this more upmarket publication. All dolled up in white lace we find her promoting this week’s Wirral Chamber Corporate Cup golf tournament ( you too can enter a team for £500+ !) , The Lauries and its recently launched @142 bistro and er , The Sheds at Pacific Road which apparently is the perfect place to ‘dream, dare,create and share’ and has ‘reignited the atmosphere of industrious innovation’ . Oh give over, love ,they’re sheds.
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The dreaded Davies duo scheme rather than dream! But doesn’t Gorgeous George look lovely in lilac?!

Talking of sheds another publication in the crowded media marketplace that has been brought to our attention is Wirral !nspirations .
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The summer edition features the illuminating article titled : ‘We shed some light on the man cave’. Among the helpful tips is the advice to  ‘ PRETTIFY YOUR SPACE’  – Hang some pictures – but before you put up the Playboy calendar up, remember your wife may occasionally venture into the  shed, unless you keep it locked  and ‘BE SIGNAGE SAVVY’  – put a ‘Man Cave’ sign on the door so the rest of the family understand this is your territory, and yours alone’ .
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Whilst mindlessly reading features on former Eastenders actor Larry Lamb , wedding dresses, sun cream, ukeleles, lawns, listed buildings and swollen ankles we felt as though we’d been transported back to 1953 . Nevertheless we still think Wirral !nspirations addressed our ‘information deficit’ more effectively than Wirral View ever could . What’s more it is rammed with advertising and therefore has obviously been more successful in attracting business than Wirral Council. So place your bets now as to which one of the two will go the way of Wirral News and be kicked to the kerb and into the gutter!

No News is News

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Don’t know about you good people but we’re still waiting for the first print edition of Wirral View to arrive.

However, in preparation for the grand arrival it seems that the lamentable Wirral News is dutifully clearing the path of least resistance in readiness for the first print run of the Wirral Council propaganda sheet.

As if by magic and a week after the Wirral View hit the internet if not the streets, the parent paper ,the Liverpool Echo , turns Wirral News into a bi-weekly newspaper. Although we have to say we use the term ‘newspaper ‘lightly as we think Wirral News gave up trying to be a proper newspaper a long time ago. It now seems to us as though it merely served as a less flashy dry run (and boy do we mean dry ) for Wirral View. 

Apparently from the end of November the current Wirral distribution of  Wirral News of 82,500 will increase to 115,000. However rather than being a weekly newspaper, it will become a bi-weekly newspaper, allegedly focusing on community news and events.

 

With Wirral News/Wirral View /Wirral Globe/Wirral Life/Wirral Echo/Wirral Leaks – the people of Wirral should never have to complain to nosy pollsters from Ipsos MORI that they’re suffering from an ‘information deficit’ ever again !- not that they did in the first place! However we still can’t see the number of Freedom of Information requests decreasing as a result – which probably tells us more about the quality of information from Wirral Council that’s made available by the communications control freaks at Wallasey Town Hall.

Talking of which we note that Wirral Council placed an advert in the November 5th print edition of the Liverpool Echo (obviously!) for a ‘News and Content Officer’.

http://www.fish4.co.uk/job/5887665/news-and-content-officer/

We are left wondering whether the council are making yet another ‘ News and Content Officer’ appointment or has the officer that helped out with the first online edition of Wirral View saw the writing on the wall (and the local websites) and scarpered ? . If it’s the former then it’s increasingly looking like the Communications and Marketing Department is heading to be all that is left of Wirral Council. It can only be a matter of time before the council will be ‘a commissioning hub’ with a PR department attached churning out endless press statements about why they can’t provide information to the public because of commercial confidentiality or because it’s classed as personal data or because it’s subject to legal professional privilege.

However considering Wirral Council’s ‘policy advisor’ Martin Liptrotsky’s faithful assistant Kev is such a fan of our blog , perhaps one of our interns could apply for the post as long as they promise to leave their Superman pyjamas at home? A touch of Wirral Leaks would certainly liven and lighten up Wirral View dontchathink? !……

News Travels

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Well , we didn’t expect our Friday night badinage with Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev to have quite the impact it has. We just thought it was a bit of blogfodder whilst we researched a few other stories.

Little did we know it would lead to our first mainstream media headline http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14834014.Eyebrows_are_raised_over_council_media_chief_s_email_exchange_with_Wirral_Leaks_website/

As you can see we are described as  a ‘caustic website’ by Wirral Globe and ‘barely literate’ by one commentator. But then if you dish it out – you should expect to get it back. However we’ve decided to take a leaf out of Wirral View and accentuate the positive, and thank the no doubt delightful Ms. Natasha Eubank who we think sums up our raison d’être :

“Whilst Wirral Leaks has always been a satirical blog, it has previously raised , and continues to raise some very serious concerns regarding the conduct of Wirral’s Council”

Indeed , as we’ve said before , we swear by that old adage  : “If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you” . . .

However we were distracted from following the Wirral Globe story when a glossy local magazine dropped through our letterbox. We thought at first it might be a priceless first edition of Wirral View . However it turned out to be a copy of Wirral Life  – billed as Wirral’s No.1 free premium lifestyle magazine . Some of you might remember that the publishers of this magazine beat Wirral Council to the punch over the Wirral Life title .

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We were so disappointed that we endeavoured to find out when we might receive a copy of Wirral View itself. We went on to discover, appropriately enough via a circuitous route, that the company who will be printing the newspaper, Cliffe Enterprise Partnership , appear to be based in Eastbourne.This might explain why the first print edition has been so slow to reach Wirral !.

Apparently there are very few printers who can produce such a snazzy publication so Wirral had to go all the way to the South -East of England. Although we have to say we find it a bit perplexing to discover that a cash-strapped North West council is supporting  a business in the affluent and thriving South-East.

The print costs for the first edition of Wirral View are £8,100 with a further £9,000 for distribution costs. Distribution is to be provided by a company which is at least based up here. Well when we say up here – LDS Ltd are based in Liverpool !.

It’s hard to see where these arrangements fit with the pledges in the Wirral Plan and specifically Pledge 8 – ‘Greater Job opportunities in Wirral’ ,  Pledge 10 – ‘Increase Inward Investment’ and Pledge 11 – ‘Thriving Small Businesses’.

You’d have thought that , if anything , Wirral View would at least be a publication printed and distributed by Wirral companies. The fact that it’s not and Wirral Council are prepared to pay a premium for style over content further suggests to us that this newspaper is nothing more than a sophisticated and expensive PR tool and is not about ‘keeping people informed’.