Indecent Exposure

Is it us or does this Wirral Council business model have a feel of ‘Big Brother’s Cartel’ about it  ? Not only do Wirral Council want to be the the publishers of rose-tinted news and features via  Wirral Today but with their Wirral View branding arm , which we exposed on Friday , it would appear they also want to provide local advertising in public places.

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And as far as we’re concerned they’ve now started a turf war with Wirral Leaks as everyone knows that exposure 24hrs a day , 7 days a week is our territory!.

Although having said that recent acquisitions and developments involving Wirral Council, Wirral Chamber of Commerce and The Contact Company have left us wondering whether there will be wasted advertising space – as the way things are going there won’t be any other businesses left out there!.

 

Warped View

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Just arrived in our inbox has been information about how to advertise in a new publication what we thought was called called ‘Wirral View’.

http://wirralview.com/wirral-view-advertising

“Not another local paper in the wake of the Council’s ‘Wirral Today’”  we thought to ourselves and then we looked a little closer and saw that the contact email address was  wtads@wirral.gov.uk

We presumed wtads is an acronym for Wirral Today advertising and Wirral View is the advertising arm of the operation or have Wirral Council hit upon a third title for their tawdry rag after Wirral Life and Wirral Today ?.   So although , curiously , the Wirral Council logo is nowhere to be seen Wirral View would appear to be the accompanying website and advertising arm of Wirral Today .

However astonishingly the blurb on the website states  :

“Wirral Council is looking at ways to raise income in order to sustain its services…….”

Two words come to mind when we read this : JUDICIAL REVIEW

We say this because we’ve all been led to believe that the rationale and justification for Wirral Today or whatever the newspaper is called was to communicate with the poor folk of Wirral who don’t receive the Wirral Globe, Wirral News, don’t buy the Liverpool Echo , don’t have access to the internet and are absolutely bursting with excitement at the prospect about hearing how wonderful Wirral Council  and its partners are. Who knows if they’re really lucky there might even be a word search and as IPSOS Mori identified that the Council were failing to connect with young women in particular there might even be a feature on Justin Bieber!.

We have often asked ourselves how they intended to fill 24 pages with self-promoting puff pieces and then we read that there are special mate’s rates – so no doubt we’ll reading how wonderful the Wirral Chamber of Commerce is as well.

http://wirralview.com/sites/default/files/Documents/Wirral%20View%20non-recruitment%20advertising%20rate%20card.pdf

Wirral View’s advertising policy states that all adverts must adhere to the codes of conduct laid down by the Advertising Standards Authority. This includes the requirement that marketing communications must be legal,decent, honest and truthful !.

We’re left wondering whether these standards will apply to the news content!. As this is a Wirral Council publication we won’t hold our breath!.

We also note that the first edition was due to be distributed from 17th October . As we haven’t received a copy at Leaky Towers and neither have our many sources we await the forthcoming edition of Wirral Today scheduled for 14th November.

Whilst we are looking forward to the first edition ,mainly due to the endless opportunities it will provide for satire , we can’t help shaking our head in wonderment at the warped view of Wirral Council who seem to  have forgotten they are a local authority with particular statutory responsibilities……and running a newspaper business isn’t one of them!.

 

A Very Troubled Council

 

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Cllr Tony ‘Trouble’  Smith

We understand that at last night’s Extraordinary Meeting of Wirral Council that there were several calls for various heads to roll in the aftermath of the Ofsted Inspection Report. Prominent among them being Cllr Tony Smith the Labour Cabinet lead for Children’s Services.

It didn’t happen of course due to both a lack of  opposition votes and also seemingly a lack of shame.  

It seems that much of the criticism levelled at Cllr Tony Smith is that with his soothing,lilting,lovely Irish brogue he has reassured councillors that everything  was fine ,to be sure , so it is, when talking about how well the council was doing when it came to safeguarding vulnerable children. 

But it clearly wasn’t doing well at all, at all – and he and others knew it!.

And so this now turns out to be a  further manifestation of what Ofsted politely call  “a culture of over-optimism” and what we identified almost exactly 3 years ago as ‘The Pollyanna Principle’ with its prime proponent being Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies :

POWER BOY PIP & THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLE *

How timely then that it has been brought to our attention that  Cllr Tony Smith has a history of making statements that are not merely “over -optimistic”  but considering his position – misleading,manipulative and irresponsible.

Our regular learned contributor ‘The Professor’ informs us that an official (leaked) report has concluded that the Troubled Family Programme delivered zero improvements in families nationally and reminds us :

Last year I reported on the false claims by the Council of a ‘huge success’ in ‘turning around’ local families from hell in the Troubled Families Programme. It turned out those claims were false. Now we learn that a leaked, independent government sponsored report by Ecorys confirms and extends these conclusions nationally. But let’s remind ourselves of the Wirral Council claims first. Cllr. Tony Smith declared in March 2015 at the TFP celebrations, that

                            ‘we have seen a hugely successful outcome…’

 What actually happened? Well initially 74% of our families had workless adults. At project end just 2.6% had gained an adult with a job, or 24 in total.  The local project processed 910 families compared with 118,000 nationally. The national cost of the TFP phase 1 was ~£615 million so average cost per family was £5.2K. Our cost share would be £4.72 million. We can see that each job gained cost us ~£197,000. Is that good value? However in addition it was claimed that 77% of the Wirral troubled families had met the ‘crime / ASB / education’ target. Surely a big reduction in crime or antisocial behaviour is worth something? Except that 93.5% of adults and 89.6% of children had not been involved in ASB at project entry!  84 % of minors had not been involved in offences! Only 1.2% of the children had an ASBO or ABC!. It turns out that the 77% number is phoney and, to the extent it measures anything, that is a modest reduction in school absences, not criminality.

The Professor’s full report to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee : Troubled Families Inquiry 2016 can be read here : https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxrkIjRDgrB-ODJLNjYyY2trNVQwZThoMkxXVm1GNW5pVjBJ

Not only are we troubled that last year this was presented as a good news story ‘The Professor’ also suggests our local cost share of TFP phase 2 could be ~£7 million with NO  prospect of any benefits delivery at all except more populist political hate spin on the poorest (mainly ill) ‘families from hell’.
But of course you won’t be reading about any of this in Wirral Council’s forthcoming publication Wirral Today nor sadly it would seem about the resignation of Cllr Tony Smith……..  

 

Good News

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Her Ladyship and I were sitting round the fire , basking in the homely glory of autumn, perusing the Sunday papers and musing that Donald Trump et al would fit in well at Wirral Council.

It made us wish for the usual bread and circuses to distract us from the fact that the world seems to be run by sociopaths.

Then fortunately Verity reminded us that good news is on the way . And the name of that good news is ” Wirral Today”.

We guarantee there will be no bad news to be had in Wirral Council’s propaganda sheet “Wirral Today” . There is no doubt it will be shiny, bright and full of glorious bullshit.

But suddenly we thought to ourselves where did the inspired title come from after the gormless gits at Wirral Council realised they couldn’t use ” Wirral Life” as a) it’s already taken by a minor local publication and b) it’s an oxymoron ?.

Could it be that provincial,third rate , Floridean failure Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky) thought up the newspaper title as a tribute to his role model –  the original political editor of the failed tabloid “Today” and Machiavellian par excellence , Alastair Campbell ?.

This newspaper’s motto was “propa truth, not propaganda”.

Illiterate,deceitful and tacky – Wirral Today has found its template.

Let’s hope it meets the same fate.

 

Wirral Toady

 

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Toad of Town Hall

When we consider the  nepotism, cronyism  and obsequious careerism that pervades Wirral Council (and indeed within other parts of the ‘Wirral Partnership’) we could be forgiven for thinking the Wirral Council newspaper publication should be called  Wirral Toady and not Wirral Today.

Yes folks – they’ve finally decided on a title for their tatty rag as this extract from this leaked Stressed Eric Exec View staff newsletter reveals –

Hello,

I finished my latest set of roadshow meetings with staff last week. Thanks to everyone who came along.

I felt that I, and you, got the most out of those sessions where lots of varied questions were put forward and we could have a proper, open conversation.

It’s always interesting and useful for me to hear about what’s important to different staff groups in different areas.

Devolution was a common topic, as was the budget and whether we’re likely to see any change in our financial situation under the new Prime Minister. Questions around the future direction of the council, how we are progressing with our 2020 pledges and whether there are any plans for major restructures of the authority in coming months also came up.

There were a number of questions about the new publication we’re planning to produce so I thought it might be helpful to reflect on some of the discussions.

(There’s a lot of background information to the publication which is included in the Cabinet report, so I won’t go over that again. The Cabinet report is here.)

Fundamentally, the aim is to increase how informed our local people are. Last year’s residents survey showed us that a lot of people want more information about services and their communities. This publication, Wirral Today, will provide this.

We’ve opted for a printed publication that will be delivered through the letterbox of every home and business and copies will be available in places like libraries and train stations.

It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first. However, there is a lot of research and evidence from other councils that shows residents who receive information from their council, directly to them at home, are more informed about local services and are in turn, happier and more satisfied with their area and their council.

An online-only approach won’t work in the same way, but we will have a website and social media that links to and supports the publication.

It’s important that staff, teams and managers from across the council submit ideas for stories and features. No-one has a monopoly on good ideas so it’s vital that everyone feels they can, and knows how to, contribute.

There is a dedicated email address where you can submit ideas for stories or features and it’s WTNews@wirral.gov.uk Soon you will also be able to make suggestions and submissions through the intranet too. Our Communications and Marketing team are working on the publication and they plan to visit teams to talk about how you can be a part of the process. If you’d like them to visit you, email WTNews@wirral.gov.uk 

It’s really important that this publication includes information from our partners and community groups so we’re working on how we pull all that content together now.

Once again, thank you to everyone who came along to a staff roadshow. I’ll be doing another set in the early new year sometime, as it’s important for us to carry on the conversation.
 
If you have any further questions, comments or suggestions for me in the meantime, you can email ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

Now we have to say Stressed Eric has gone up in our estimation as he seems to be demonstrating a new found flair for comedy.

‘It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first’ he says whilst failing to add  …..‘ but then Martin Liptrot told me to get back in my corner’.

He then goes on to say – without the slightest hint of irony :’No-one has a monopoly on good ideas so it’s vital that everyone feels they can, and knows how to, contribute.’  

But surely this is what this publication is all about – managing  the message and controlling the public. To the power abusers of Wallasey Town Hall Wirral is a giant Monopoly board or as someone much cleverer than us once said  – “a monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling  elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of monopoly in the means of production” .

Having said all that we’re still looking forward to the first edition of  Wirral Toady , sorry Wirral Today  and the endless possibilities for satire it is sure to provide.

We predict the front cover of the first edition will be about how well Wirral Council is doing  supporting disabled people or children or combatting hunger. Any other suggestions send to : Wirralleaks@gmail.com

Meanwhile here’s Wirral Council’s fortnightly appearance on Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs page and their take on Wirral Today. 

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