Advent Farewell 9 – Out of Sight , Out of Mind

Maddox & Morton 2

Two Deputy Lieutenants of Merseyside are of one mind.

From time to time we like to check up on the progress on some of the Wirral Council charlatans and chancers that have (dis)graced our pages over the years in our special ‘ Where Are They Now?’ feature.

Whilst we readily acknowledge that we featured former Wirral Council CEO  Steve ‘ Mad Dog’ Maddox in such a post earlier this year we feel the original post needs enhancing mainly because we believe that in many ways it is most instructive on the ways of Wirral.

If ever there was an example of how to evade accountability and manage your reputation then Maddox is the ultimate case study. He saw the writing was on the wall when so called independent investigator Anna Klonowski was brought in by the Tories to find out what whistleblower Martin Morton was blathering on about . On the very day Maddox was due to meet with Klonowski  , Maddox took the coward’s way out and suddenly announced he was going to spend more time with his long suffering family. This followed over two years of Wirral Council senior management covering his expansive arse . Of course Maddox didn’t even need to work his 3 month notice period and swiftly pissed off to the golf course with additional pension payments made up to when he would have retired – about which we can only ask – why?

The panicked leader of Wirral Council at the time Cllr Steve Foulkes provided this farewell quote :

“Steve is essentially a self effacing and modest man who probably has no idea of the very real and extensive legacy he will be leaving behind.We know, and are grateful for it. I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he will continue to be involved with the people of Wirral, for whom he has always been an eloquent and passionate advocate.” Steve 2 Steve

This translates as Maddox did as he was told and his greatest quality is that he could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on .  But oh what a legacy he left behind!  Whilst Maddox secured himself a tidy six figure bung , collected the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral to add to his OBE and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside to stand alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field, his swift departure meant his hapless and hopeless sidekick Jim ‘Wee Willie’ Wilkie was to reap the wild wind of what his former boss had created – a toxic,corrosive culture of bullying,incompetence and deceit which was soon to be (partly) revealed in the Independent Review in  January 2012 . Needless to say shortly after Wilkie ended up being escorted from Wallasey Town Hall premises a broken man.

What’s more when the furore over the Independent Review had died down Maddox reappeared on the local scene and within the year was appointed as a Director of  mental health organisation Wirral Mind in December 2012 .

This appointment has always intrigued us ,  primarily because it is with some irony that Wirral Mind were seemingly gifted the management of the learning disability service that was a significant feature of Morton whistleblowing case that led to the Independent Review that in turn was the impetus for  Maddox’s ‘retirement’ !

It has long been thought that Wirral Mind, with no significant track record of supporting people with learning disabilities, were rewarded  the contract for keeping a lid on the unlawful charging scandal when they were appointed as advocates on behalf of those who couldn’t speak up for themselves when the scandal blew up . Unfortunately this ‘advocacy’ service didn’t actually extend to advocating on behalf of those who had been financially abused.  An appalled Wirral Leaks reader once recalled attending a  Wirral Council meeting  where Sandra Gilbert Wirral Mind CEO , said that the tenants who had been financially abused ‘lived in the lap of luxury’ . Perhaps if  we put aside the issue of illegality and equality Ms Gilbert might appreciate that if she had £100 + a WEEK taken out of her salary over a number of years she might have fought a bit harder on behalf of disabled people instead of leaving it to Morton and others.

All the Independent Review report had to say on the matter was that there was

” a need for the Council to refresh its contractual arrangements with (Wirral Mind) in the context of EU procurement requirements.”

Funny how Frank Field wasn’t jumping up and down about this proven case of Wirral Council flouting EU procurement regulations isn’t it ? Or getting Merseyside Police and the Serious Fraud Office involved as he did with the Highways contract complainants that apparently he is still ‘gallantly’ supporting 9 years after their alleged whistleblowing exploits !

Since our report we note that in August 2017 there was a  cessation of Maddox  being ‘a person with significant control’ of Wirral Mind  August 2017.   However he still remains a Director – presumably because of the lustre and prestige that someone with his impeccable track record brings to an organisation.

 

Where Are They Now? Part 2 – Update

Tarby

Steve Maddox – out of sight and into Mind

As you will know our recent ‘Where Are They Know?’  post concerning public money magnet Anna Klonowski mentioned former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox.

Where Are They Now? Part 3 – Anna Klonowski

Wirral Leaks readers will appreciate that it was Maddox who personally set the tone for Wirral Council prior to the catalogue of governance and cultural failures that were later to be revealed , if not fully exposed , by Ms Klonowski in her two reports for Wirral Council which pocketed her a cool quarter of a million.

Apparently Maddox was willing to accept that being bullied by politicians was the norm and instead of resisting this, looked at his pay cheque and subjected his underlings to the same treatment and so did their subordinates and the cycle of abuse continued throughout the organisation…. with disastrous results for all of us.

Coincidentally it was Maddox who was the subject of the previous ‘Where Are They Know’ post where we asked whether anyone knew what Maddox was up to, other than playing golf , after his handsomely rewarded ‘retirement’.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/wirral-leaks-advent-calendar-16-where-are-they-now-part-2/

Well , prompted by our previous posts and our references to how local government failures later find themselves being beneficiaries of lucrative board appointments (see also Maddox’s successor Jim ‘ Wee Willie’ Wilkie and his Non -Executive Director post at the Countess of Chester hospital where he scrupulously and hilariously fails to mention he worked for Wirral Council) http://www.coch.nhs.uk/corporate-information/board-of-directors/non-executive-directors.aspx ) – one of our sources has contacted to tell us that Maddox has been ‘hidden in plain sight’ all along.

As after a short period of laying low after the publication of a series damning reports questioning his ‘leadership’ and , apparently without any shame , he subsequently popped up as a Director at mental health organisation Wirral Mind and remains as ‘a person of significant control’ to this day!

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/11pyLG4lH-iPYRY0l59SdJ3JDWA/appointments

We’re left wondering whether Maddox was involved in the unlawful awarding of Wirral Mind, and their deeply ambitious CEO Sandra Gilbert , a contract to manage a learning disabilities service as a reward for keeping a lid on the overcharging scandal that rocked Wirral Council?

All we will say is that unfortunately for us having Maddox , as a former Wirral Council CEO with an OBE and a Freedom of the Borough as a Director , won’t hinder Wirral Mind’s chances of getting future lucrative contracts with Wirral Council – especially if they link up with WIRED and others muscling in on infrastructure monies. And that , once again unfortunately for us, is the compliant, non-threatening voluntary sector on Wirral boxed off nicely.

Remember – as ever – you read it here first.

WIRRALGATE! – The Road Makers on the Make ?

road-makers-012

For those with their finger on the ‘record’ button the streets of Wirral are lined with gold.

We’ve never been able to settle on a collective name for the four men of mystery at the centre of the Wirralgate saga. Various reports and articles have referred to them as ‘The Group’, ‘The Complainants’ and  The Colas/HESPE/Highways ‘whistleblowers’. However their elusive nature and their absence from the Thynne investigations suggests to us they have a slippery quality – a bit like phlegm.

Similarly does anyone know what their gripe with Wirral Council was ever about?. We know they were a bit peeved about not getting a contract to mend the roads and replace the bulbs in the streetlights and they claimed there  was some jiggerypokery about how the contract was awarded to Colas . Something to do with EU contract regulations being flouted – like that’s something new with Wirral Council!. For example their dodgy arrangement with Wirral Mind springs to,er, mind. Nothing was ever done about that one for a start.

For a group of people who prize their anonymity it is surprising they were quite happy at one time to appear on the Channel 4 Despatches programme. However we understand they were so unconvincing they were replaced by the man who has championed their cause  – Birkenhead MP Frank Field who in his inimitable style stabbed his protegees in the back by claiming that Wirral was a small place and if a council officer bumped into a contractor during a tender process , well that was to be expected, now all move along  there’s nothing to see here.

Inexplicably Frankenfield was to later take claims of alleged nefarious wrongdoing to Merseyside Police and the the Serious Fraud Office – unsurprisingly neither were interested.  An Audit Commission report was, as ever with auditors , inconclusive and there was also an independent investigation into claims undertaken by external investigator Richard Penn whose “no case to answer” conclusion may be open to question but again nothing was ever proved.

Nevertheless our “heroes” , the men who Frankenfield claimed the people of Wirral owed so much (£192,000 to be precise) , have continued to pursue a compensation claim against Wirral Council. Other than briefly naming one of them  years ago on the Wirral Council website no-one has ever been able to tell us what exactly why they think they deserve compensation.

The best that Frankenfield could come up with was the vague notion as to whether they’d been treated “fairly” and then completely “unfairly” got his old mucker Nick Warren to undertake an inquiry!. Let’s face it if there was a bespoke inquiry every time people from  Wirral claimed to be hard done by the council there’d be a long and winding road between the two town halls and we’d be here ’til kingdom come.

But then when we consider that one of the main protagonists in the Wirralgate scandal is Frankenfield’s political agent Cllr George Davies it might explain why St. Frank has too much to lose and isn’t prepared to play Pompeia on this one.

Strangely the infamous recording where Cllr George Davies tries to secure what The Group/Complainants etc; themselves called a “Smear Deal”  is not in the Terms of Reference for that inquiry. You’d think if the Group/Complainants etc; were so keen to expose wrongdoing and wanting to make Wirral Council better for all of us you’d have thought the first thing they would have done would be to publicly release the tapes , especially when Cllr George Davies reneged on the arrangement to “sort them out”. The “Smear Deal” being reliant on them providing a signed copy of an old letter they’d sent to former council head of law Bill Norman . It would appear that not only did they hand over the document they then started touting the recording of Cllr George Davies left right and centre. Talk about wanting your tape and playing it too!. It’s no wonder it’s reported in the first Thynne investigation report that they received threats that if they produced the tape the “Smear Deal” was off.

Road Makers 009.JPG

We can’t help thinking that if the Warren inquiry was legit it should have been a pre- condition that if an inquiry took place then the recordings – and we understand there’s a number of them – should have been handed over . Then there could be no accusations , including from council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies , that a recorded telephone conversation was being used to extort money from Wirral Council.

Davies - Thynne 1 008

As it stands the only sensible conclusion is that the tapes are indeed a sordid means to a seedy end . Although it needs to be said that this is a situation which was created and dictated by a group of corrupt politicians and not by The Group etc; themselves. Having said that , ordinarily we’d support anyone taking on Wirral Council but these guys seemed to have played fast and loose with politicians, the press , us , other whistleblowers – anyone who could help progress their dubious claim for compensation.

Why we feel particularly let down here at Leaky Towers is that we have always understood that the Wirralgate scandal  was a once in a lifetime opportunity to expose the dark heart of Wirral Council and to hold accountable those who’d abused their power for many years whilst all the while destroying people’s lives and careers in the name of self enrichment and self-aggrandizement. This small cabal of  conniving, lying , scheming politicians should have been thrown out of office years ago.

Sadly it would seem that because of the road makers on the make politics on Wirral will remain forever in the gutter.