Masterplan 2

We sincerely hope it’s not the last hurrah from long time Wirral Leaks contributor Dr Robert Smith. But if it is – what a way to go. The ‘Good Doctor’ shows ‘His Lordship’ up for the flâneur that he truly is.

Now whilst we all would like to live in those alluring artist’s impressions this the harsh reality – expertly and forensically laid bare :

Wirral, Wirral Council, and the development of the ‘Masterplan’ over the last 30 years.

Given that Wirral Waters is a 30-year programme of regeneration of derelict docklands, and a number of now-senior councillors in 2018 have been Wirral Councillors for a similar period, I have been taking a look at the history of ‘Masterplanning’ in Wirral and searched for the successes of the last 30 years. With a few exceptions, the greatest success of the last 30 years of Wirral Masterplanning appears to be a huge growth industry in ‘artist’s impressions’, and very little else.

Masterplanning, as opposed to planning or even developing a scheme (remember them?), appears to come into its own in local authorities, with the adoption of quasi-military and business terminology such as ‘strategic planning’, ‘resource development’, and ‘business case’ justifications in the early 1990s, to demonstrate coherent planning, business-like operations and efficient use of resources. Followed swiftly by ‘blue-sky thinking’, ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘joined-up thinking’, ‘picking the low-hanging fruit’ and ‘going on a journey’, etc., etc.; management-speak jargon, as like what it is frequently spoke…

As multiple regeneration funding sources were amalgamated to form the Single Regeneration Budget in the 1990s, and European funding sources and Objective One status came to Merseyside, a more integrated approach to planning and regeneration was required to achieve external funding support. Wirral Council officers were good at that in the 1990s.

After extensive research of Wirral Council and other partners’ efforts at planning across a wide range of services, facilities or developments, it appears that those who claim regularly to have ‘vision’ are proven by results to be the least well-equipped to hold such a self-aggrandising view.

Wirral Council whose motto may as well be ‘Lectiones sunt didici, sed nihil mutare non’ (‘lessons have been learned, but nothing will change’) is an organisation that does not learn from experience, either its own, or that of others. Now there is neither innovation nor inspiration, just copy and pasting of others’ ideas, there is little public ‘buy-in’ due to imposition, and that is why it mostly doesn’t work. And that lack of truly innovative thinking with genuine public consultation generally leads nowhere, except to bitter resentment. Wirral is never now the first to generate and implement an idea (what Wirral used to be famous for, ferries, town planning, trams, guide dogs, ship building, and lots more), but this mediocrity and endless consultancies creates exactly the pattern that has produced Masterplan after Masterplan after Masterplan, few of which have been fully or partly realised.

The pattern of Wirral Council Masterplanning is this: –

Aspiration (‘I have a vision’) – Perspiration (usually other people’s to promote the ‘vision’) – Degeneration (ongoing decline through delay during ‘visioning’) – Desperation (produce another Masterplan) …eat, sleep, rave, repeat…ad infinitum…

It is notable that Cllr Phil Davies, elected as a councillor in 1991, was having a 2020 Vision for Birkenhead in 2001, but only having a 2020 Vision for Wirral in 2015.

Also worthy of note is that between 1990 and 2008 the regeneration programmes of Wirral CityLands, Hamilton Quarter Project, New Wallasey, Lairdside, New Opportunities for Wirral and Wirral Waterfront, represent a collective investment in excess of £500,000,000. The greater part of it spent in Birkenhead. The Council was the accountable body with ultimate responsibility for the programmes and their continuation. Just to note that there has always been a £1bn investment opportunity in Wirral…why not just add more noughts nowadays to look impressive in the media?

However, in recent times when Wirral Council states that is going to be more ‘business-like’ (shouldn’t this have always been the case?) ‘with a private sector head but with a public-sector heart’ as stated by Cllr Ann McLachlan – when a council spokesperson states that Wirral Council collecting statutory Council Tax and Business Rates is business enterprise representing commercial success of the Council, we should know we are really in trouble.

I took more of an interest in the non-statutory range of Masterplans produced by and for Wirral Council (there is a lot of statutory masterplanning as well, such as in 2017 when Ofsted rated Wirral’s Children’s Services “inadequate” after “widespread and serious failures” were found. This is one element of council core business).

When you fail to deliver a number of crucial core public services (the local authority raison d’etre), you’ve ‘taken your eye off the ball’ for far too long. You then descend into the realms of ‘reputation management’ often similar to propaganda, and create the smokescreen of column inches and artists’ impressions, or even local media allies and an in-house ‘newspaper’ to control publicly available information.

But, I digress, the list below is indicative rather than definitive, and focusses mainly towards the north of the borough, as that is where the Council has chosen to concentrate its efforts. I have included relevant media quotes as appropriate.


30+ ‘Masterplans’ in 30 years…that really is Masterplantastic!!


1990-1997 Wirral CityLands April 24th, 1997 Wirral Globe. Council Leader Dave Jackson writes “The work done on Birkenhead town centre is an achievement, but it has also given the impetus to make further commercial development possible.”

1995-2002 Hamilton Quarter Project – £82m to create a cultural and creative industries quarter, rebalance the local residential demographic, and develop attractions. The programme centred on Hamilton Square with a brief to unify the Woodside/Hamilton Square link to the retail centre. Also, to continue the ‘Heritage Trail’ museums package initiated by MDC. “Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies believes the success of the Hamilton Quarter Project, which has completely rejuvenated this part of Birkenhead, has shown what can be achieved.” (Mike Hornby 11th Jan 2002, Daily Post)

1998-2003 New Wallasey – “More than £9m had been allotted to carry out work in New Brighton and Wallasey, and, at the time, it included ambitious plans to build a Merseyside Imperial War Museum. But many of the hopes fell by the wayside and the scheme came in for much criticism when one of its lasting legacies was the New Brighton clown – a sculpture welcoming people to the town.” Mar 31, 2005 Daily Post

1996-2003 Lairdside – reclamation of derelict land and buildings for re-development and creation of Tranmere Urban Village.

1998-2004 New Opportunities for Wirral – A 6-year scheme aiming to tackle social exclusion and reduce poverty in the Pathways areas on the Wirral.

2000-2008 Wirral Waterfront – £144m programme to implement a comprehensive physical and social regeneration strategy for the Wirral Waterfront from New Brighton taking in Seacombe, pathway areas in Birkenhead, Tranmere and Rock Ferry.

2001-2008 LOBO Loans financial strategy – £137m borrowed from private banks at 6% pa; interest payable £8m pa. Total repayable in excess of £500,000,000 finally to be paid off in 2078; expensive exit penalties making it super-expensive to get out of the loans.

2001-2020 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision and Strategy January 11th, 2002 Liverpool Daily Post – Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies added: “This is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved over the next 20 years. The document sets up a framework which we will use to attract additional investment and create jobs. It is something which will benefit the whole of the borough, not just Birkenhead, and will enable us to compete with places such as Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks.”

2002 Enriching Our Lives – Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, never properly promoted, understood or implemented.

2002 Birkenhead Park £11.3m HLF restoration (completed 2007) a successful project undermined by the Council’s cavalier attitude to the agreed management plan, park maintenance and security.

2004 West Wirral Hoylake & West Kirby Masterplan designed to raise the profile of coastal towns Hoylake and West Kirby,. Consultants brought in by Wirral Council submitted their ideas in 2004. (Shelved 2014)

2006 Woodside Masterplan by Building Design Partnership (BDP) 28th February 2007The first phase of works will include the creation of a ‘development spine’ running from the Woodside Ferry Terminal up to Hamilton Square Station”. (Shelved)

2006 Wirral Waters 14th December 2009 Wirral Globe Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes said: “This is a significant step in our vision to regenerate Wirral.” Plans for a £200m International Trade Centre (ITC) in Birkenhead that could provide up to 3,000 new jobs have been approved by councillors. The centre, planned for the West Float former docks site, makes up part of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters regeneration scheme planned by developer Peel. 21 September 2011 BBC News

2007 Peach Developments/Neptune Woodside Masterplan May 2007. “The exclusivity agreement between Merseytravel and Neptune Developments and Peach Developments means ambitious plans to redevelop the Woodside area of the Wirral waterfront will go ahead”. Liverpool Echo. Martin Lowe, who runs Peach Developments, said: “I first took the drawings to the council four years ago, and when they saw them, they could see the potential for developing the area, so asked me to work with them. Since then, others have come on board, but the Woodside Hotel remains the lynchpin in the development.”

2007 Brand New Brighton – Neptune Developments scheme to redevelop the Floral Pavilion Theatre, and to develop Marine Point. 2nd September 2013 “New Brighton finally reaps rewards as successful revamp takes off” Wirral Globe. Except that Wirral Council has tried to strangle it at birth by introducing parking charges.

2008 Wirral Council Strategic Asset Review – Epic fail

2011 Wirral Heritage Strategy 2011-2014 ‘Making Our Heritage Matter’ Private Eye writes… “that a fire at historic buildings in Wirral is often followed by demolition.” Liscard Hall, Birkenhead Market, ESWA Sports and Social Club, Central Hotel, British Leather Tannery, Woodside Hotel…

2013 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited – £30m redevelopment of Birkenhead town centre. The project was due to regenerate the town’s market and rebuild the Europa Pools leisure centre, with restaurants, a food court and a hotel also proposed.

2015 Wirral Council £1.1m Hamilton Square traffic plan – The plans were revised after criticism from businesses, residents and Birkenhead councillor Pat Cleary – who called it a “giant waste of public funds” – and they have now been shelved altogether. Liverpool Echo

2015 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited 27 October 2016 BBC News – Cllr Davies said the council continued to have “huge ambitions” for Birkenhead and believed it could be a “fantastic destination”. (Ion, previously Neptune Developments 2013 agreement scrapped 2016 – Council leader Phil Davies said the decision was linked to “more ambitious” development opportunities.)

2015 Wirral Council 2020 Vision (see 2001) – 20 ‘Pledges’. In his own words, Cllr Phil Davies to be held accountable by Wirral public.

2015 Wirral Partnership to pool £2bn public sector budgets by 2020 17th September 2015 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “It is our ultimate aim to have a pooled budget by the end of the five-year plan.” Never going to happen.

2015 Hoylake Golf Resort Masterplan 7th December 2017 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “This is another example of Wirral Council being commercial, ambitious and innovative.”

2016 Downtown Birkenhead CH41 25th Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo Cllr Phil Davies “This is the biggest regeneration plan I have ever been involved with.”

2016 Wirral’s Culture Strategy – would you know there was one? Not Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, and will never be properly promoted, understood or implemented.

2016 Wirral Healthcare Masterplan STP – is WBC in or out and for or against, as a Wirral NHS CCG ’partner’…who knows?

2016 Wirral Growth Plan – is this a school project?

2017 Wirral Growth Company – “The prospect of bringing thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment, into the borough will be life-changing for many of our residents who look to us as a council to set these ambitious visions.”; states Cllr Phil Davies. Wirral Council Chief Executive states it is ‘asset rich, but cash poor’. However, it will transfer publicly-owned assets to the Wirral Growth Company, a private company with its own board. The Council will buy more assets (Birkenhead Market £??, parcels of land £??, Europa Building £8.4m) for which it will borrow many millions to buy. It will then take additional multi-millions in loans to lend to the developers, who presumably won’t be credit-worthy enough in their own right? More interest payments, even asset-richer, loadsa-cash poorer, is the likely outcome for Wirral’s public finances. The financial risk assessment must make for interesting reading.

2017 New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel – Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of the Council, said: “Driving regeneration, creating jobs and ensuring sustainable, long-term growth in our economy is vitally important”.

2017 Birkenhead Market Masterplan – “Birkenhead market could become such a foodie paradise that even celebrity chef Paul Hollywood could be tempted back to Wirral” states Cllr Phil Davies – maybe if Paul Hollywood (celebrity baker, duh) lives long enough….

2018 Wirral Waters1 WW1 – Wirral Waters £175m “International Trade Centre” sunk without trace, and diluted more with a splash of Urban Splash (modular) prefabs…what chance will all the Wirral Met College apprentice brickies have before their retirement?

AS WE COME UP TO DATE FROM CLLR DAVE JACKSONS QUOTE (1997) FROM CITYLANDS (started 1990), I THINK OF THE ‘LOST GENERATIONS’ OF WIRRAL, AND BIRKENHEAD IN PARTICULAR…it looks to me as if another generation will be ‘lost’ to ‘visions’, Wirral residents will be ignored, whilst crucial public services ‘wither on the vine’ due to neglect.

Here are 2 quotes from 2001 and 2017…

2017 Wirral Council Strategic Regeneration Framework Cllr Phil Davies states – “We have not been standing still in recent years, much has been achieved, but we look forward to working together with greater drive and pace in order to realise our shared vision for the borough”.

…and in 2001 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision – Wirral Council deputy leader Cllr Phil Davies says of the 20-year plan: “After consultations with businesses and the public what has emerged is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved.”

Vision…? …nah…same old, same old…it’s now obviously delusion…

Masterplan 1


Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #8


Our loyal readers get us and know exactly what – and who – we like (and don’t like). Accordingly the following information was sent to us by a few members  of the Leakerati and was described as an “open goal” by one and came with the message “please, I implore you. Have some fun with this….” from another. So channelling that laid back Sunday vibe here goes : Wirral Council are commissioning a pantomime.

Panto 006

As you can see we are not making this shit up . Yes, yes we know it’s always panto season at Wirral Council but we’ll leave you to do your own punchlines . Suffice to say this year’s pantomime has been confirmed as ‘Aladdin’. Freud would have a field day with that choice – keeping the genie in the bottle , the rubbing of lamps etc. For future years might we suggest that ‘Sinbad’ would be the obvious choice (think about it) …..then there’s  ‘Pinocchio’ (the audition for the lead would be right down New Brighton prom) or how about old favourites ‘Spinderella’ and  ‘Puss In (Ugg) Boots’? Indeed someone going by the name ‘Dazzler’ suggests to us a bawdy retro look at how car parking charges at country parks are impacting on the local dogging community with a production of ‘Babes In The Wood’. What does Wirral Council Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies think ?

Pip's panto


Talking of outmoded sexism (and racism) we’ve been asked how the Wirral Council delegation got on dans notre coin de pays at this week’s MIPIM (‘Le marche international des professionnels de l’immoblier’) event in Cannes. Unlike last year where they were seen flogging themselves all over social media like a Cannes courtesan (see below) it appears that curiously they’ve been keeping a low profile. They even left the latest ‘Wirral Waters ‘announcement to Peel’s Richard Mawdsley . Read more here : Wirral Waters

Despite the fanfare it was merely confirmation to us that what we have here is a private housing project kick-started by public money. Although we did note that all concerned are still including a ‘speculative industrial project’ as part of future plans. Let’s face it ‘speculative’ is the word – and when it comes to ‘Wirral Waters’ it has been all along !

Checking out the #MIPIM tweets and social media posts it would appear that when it came to Wirral it was as usual case of the Wirral minnow and the Liverpool whale (no that’s not a reference to Mayor Joe) as Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson took centre stage – although when it comes to the latter we have to ask – who on earth thought that was a good idea?

During our research we couldn’t help notice that there was there was a great deal of national coverage – including The Financial Times and The Guardian – about how sex workers had been banned at this year’s MIPIM event as the sleazy property industry tries to shed its sexist and racist image. As one delegate named Jane said : “What other industry on the face of the earth in 2018 needs to remind businessmen that they can’t bring prostitutes to an industry conference?”

Might we question that whilst the Wirral Council delegation might have felt at home at why did Wirral council tax payers have to pay for this sleazy jamboree?

The most prominent Wirralian we could find referenced on social media was Wirral Olympian Chris Boardman who rocked up to speak on behalf of er…..Manchester. Although we suppose we should be grateful that at least it wasn’t the ubiquitous Sam Quek.

One thing we did find out is that the outfit responsible for all those bloody artist’s impressions are called Uniform Architectural Visualisation . Didn’t you just know they’d be called something like that ? This latest one one is for Egerton Village/Square  – about which we expect to hear much more.

Egerton Visualisation


One of the twitter feeds we checked out for MIPIM news was  @WirralWellMade which is as far as we can make out is the Martin Liptrot-led  PR arm of the Wirral Growth Company .The latest Tweet we looked at goes like this :

Sunday Times 012


It transpires that this refers to Heswall being named fourth best place to live in North West in a poll published in today’s The Sunday Times. What we are waiting for Marty is an accurate reflection of what it’s really like to live on Wirral. Relentless positivity is all Wirral well made and good but might we suggest that accurate reporting and reflection of reality is even better ? Even The Sunday Times described The Wirral (sic) as “a different world” .

Sunday Times 016

Ain’t it just! and one we don’t recognise or no longer care to be part of !


West Wirral

We’ve been sent this screenshot from this week’s West Wirral Constituency meeting. Now either that’s a misplaced seating arrangement or we need to send Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive David Armstrong our best wishes on his/her transitioning as currently this is the least convincing gender reassignment since boxing promoter Frank Maloney decided to become Kellie.



Bamboo- zled – The Future of Social Housing?

We received a cryptic reply to our House of Bamboo post from someone called ‘Frank’ ( ha! ha! ) who asked :

Are you bored? 

And to which we replied :

More weltschmerz than ennui.

Why do you ask?

We used the word weltschmerz because it is a feeling that emerges from the realisation that things could be and should be better. This feeling is particularly aroused when it comes to  housing ,and specifically social housing on Wirral . For the moment we’ll  resist commenting on Wirral Waters and the Hoylake Golf Resort when it comes to Wirral Council’s approach to affordable housing and return to the worrying story of Bamboo Lettings.

Fortunately we’re not the only ones who regard the annexing of social housing for profit and personal gain to be deeply concerning. What makes it worse for us is that it involves some Wirral Leaks old timers who would no doubt justify their actions when it comes to social responsibility and just like Wirral Council blame ” Tory cuts”. Once again ,if only it were as simple as that…………….

Firstly our thanks go to Chelsea Guy who reveals on her Facebook page :

Bamboo Chelsea

Magenta Living’s attempt to “explain” Bamboo in their Spring 2018 magazine.

“In order to help fund existing services and build new affordable housing we looked at other ways to bring income in to meet the shortfall” – so essentially, denying people suitable housing when they’re in need of it, in order to build new “affordable” housing, to then pass it on to Bamboo and charge twice the rent in comparison to AFFORDABLE SOCIAL HOUSING.“Properties are spread across Wirral”.. but they fail to mention it’s only the more affluent areas, three properties in Eastham alone in the last 4 weeks. Along side the fact they take what should be SOCIAL HOUSING and make it; no housing benefit, working tenants only, and slap on all the fees like admin fees, application fees.Let’s just remember that Magenta own 50% of Bamboo and bring in 50% of all profits, yet fail to tend to issues their own tenants are having such as the mould in my property.Seems like a bit of a coincidence that a fuss was kicked up about Bamboo and now it’s featured in their magazine.

Isn’t it just Chelsea?

For an even more in depth analysis of what’s going on we once again guide you towards Joe Halewood’s peerless SPeye blog . The title of his latest post is  No DSS in council housing and social cleansing approved by Labour councils     where he writes :

In summary Labour councillors in Wirral – which includes the constituencies of Frank Field as the chair of the all party parliamentary working group on DWP matters and the new Labour Shadow DWP Minister in Margaret Greenwood – have voted for a policy of No DSS and a policy of social cleansing to take place by Magenta who have around 70% of all social housing in Wirral.

Even Tories in Wirral voted against this and even Tory voters would be ashamed of this social cleansing that the Labour council voted to allow.

In housing terms we see Magenta, Torus and by extension Liverpool Mutual Homes being the antithesis of the social landlords they repeatedly claim to be and then again we can add Liverpool City Council itself to that list as they are too setting up their own private sector landlord company called Foundations which will rent out at affordable rents and full market rent levels and without irony or shame called this an Ethical housing landlord!

It’s an SPeye opener!

So with so many outstanding questions and with Wirral Council’s representatives on Magenta Housing board  – Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Jeff Green and Cllr Stuart Whittingham –  either unwilling or unable to ask them and with the various bodies below being exempt from the provisions of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) we thought we’d publicly pose the following questions :

a) Three years after Golden Gates Housing and Helena Housing formed the Torus group are senior managers planning on collapsing the group and merging with Liverpool Mutual Homes?
b) Will this see the end of local companies Golden Gates and Helena Housing?
c) Will the customers who own Golden Gates and Helena Housing be asked to vote to see if they agree with these changes ?
c) Will the control of Torus pass to the senior managers in Liverpool Mutual Homes?
d) Will the plan be good news for only a small number of people such as Rob Young CEO of Torus (and former Assistant Director of Housing at Wirral Council) who could retire with an enhanced pension package just as the CEO of Golden Gates did when Torus was formed three years ago?
e) Will the plan also be good news for the CEO of Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) and his senior team who will take over a much bigger Torus with a huge pay rise just as Mr Young did when Torus was formed three years ago?
f) Will the current CEO of LMH be appointed not because he is the best candidate for the job after a rigorous selection process but because his company was selected by his old friends Rob Young and Graham Burgess?
g) Will it be good news for Graham Burgess Chair of the Torus Board who having ‘retired’ as CEO from Wirral Council once again becomes a big player in the Liverpool City region?
For everyone else – social housing tenants and staff included – the answers to these questions may not be so good . Meanwhile it’s all very reminiscent of that Carl Sagan quote we’ve used before : “One of the saddest lessons of history is this : If we’ve been bamboozled long enough we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth . The bamboozle has captured us…”


More Muse Musings


The closest we’re ever going to get to a Pre-Raphaelite joke Pic : ‘The Blessed Damozel’  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Lady Lever Art Gallery , Port Sunlight )

What warms what’s left of the dying embers of our heart is when we set the hares running and questioning, enquiring  Wirralians come running back to share their concerns with us.

So following on from yesterday’s Muse Musings story we have yet more muse musings.

The first observation concerns a report in Place North West with whom Wirral Council seem to have struck up a special rapport.  After reading about the Wirral Council/Wirral Growth Company / Muse Developments ‘preferred development partner’ hook up what particularly caught the interest of one of our readers was something not included in the bulletpointed  list of ‘initial proposals’ and which as far as we know , is not reported elsewhere (or indeed in Council leader’s Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ message to  Labour Party members – see below) . Hidden in plain sight is the comment that  ‘Place North West also understands that some of the office space is earmarked as a new headquarters for Wirral Council’ . No prizes for guessing which of those currently playing ‘let’s- pretend-to-be -property magnates -with public assets’ will be earmarked for spanking new office space if this proposal comes off . However it would seem to be politically inopportune to metaphorically shout it from the top of the Wirral Waters ‘International Trade Centre’ (see any number of previously published artist’s impressions).  Read full article here : Muse chosen for £1bn Wirral regeneration

Meanwhile another switched on Wirral Leaks reader referred us to report of  next week’s Cabinet 28th February  where the Muse Developments appointment is to be rubber -stamped.   We’re sure you all know the drill by now . Pip introduces the report and talks about challenges/ Tory cuts/ budget shortfall/20 Pledges/bigs up Wirral Growth Company and then the rest of the Cabinet chip in with carefully rehearsed variations of Pip’s paean.

We can guarantee that what won’t be discussed is some of the more problematic areas in the report identified by own of our readers :

Bidder A is Muse

Bidder B is BCEGI/Scarborough

An investigative journalist such as your good selves might want to look at how Muse develop and how this agreement is to be made. (And the so called ‘Muse tax). They are stating 50/50 but Muse never put any money into schemes. They borrow. The report states that the BCEGI/Scarborough bid matched the land value with cash.

3.32 Based on the business plans submitted, Bidder A requires a Council cash injection whereas Bidder B requires land investment as security for the cash equity that it would put into the Joint Venture (JV) on the Council’s behalf. In terms of the peak exposure, Bidder B had a peak security requirement of £7.5m whereas the peak cash requirement from Bidder A is only £3.96m. Therefore, under the worst case scenario where the market crashes and the developments stall then Bidder A’s proposal has a lower peak risk exposure. 3.33 The total returns from the proposed development of the 11 priority sites assessed under Bidder A’s proposals is c£30.4m. This is broken down as follows:
· Land Value (Capital) – £17.7m
· Profit (Revenue) – £11.7m
· Loan Note Interest – £0.8m 3.34 The majority of the financial returns from Bidder A are delivered to the council in the first couple of years of the JV being established. In fact, £27.8m would be received by 2021.

 A couple of points which whiff:

 If the market crashes, what happens to land value? Presumably it rockets towards zero, whereas cash is always cash and their £3.96m loss is absolute.

  1. If Muse aren’t completing until 2022 (one year later Bidder A), how can they possibly have realised 91% of total returns by 2021?
  2. The 7.5m land value is also Bidder B’s assessment which is much more than the actual land value!!!

 Why are they happy to bear a risk of £3.96m cash against using their land intelligently! This doesn’t fit with the revenue & financial pressures that the council is under. I would have thought that an asset based investment would be more attractive to a cash poor authority.

 You may want to also look into the relationship with WBC financial analysts GVA and their relationships with MUSE in other schemes. The whole thing is a stitch up. The Bidder B development is quicker and a much more financially sound offer without the council borrowing cash. Bidder A has 2 multi storey car parks and the council are saying this is a good thing! During the bid they were telling all bidders that they can’t fill or make pay the car parks they already have! 

By the looks of it this one will run and run (and our hares are on to it). Meanwhile here’s the Pip-approved  version of the story that the Wirral Council ‘leader’ chooses to share with the Labour Party faithful (and clearly the not so faithful!) Check out the final line (which we have put in bold) which is pure Corbyn-lite Common Purpose speak . We’re just left wondering whether Frank Field approved the Jezza references?

Dear Labour Party member

In the coming weeks, Wirral’s Labour Council will be announcing a new initiative to drive economic growth across the borough in what will be the biggest public-sector led regeneration programme in the UK.

Wirral’s development story began nearly 200 years ago when investors were encouraged to choose our peninsula to build great shipyards, factories and plan new towns and villages that were the envy of the world.

Today we face new challenges – how to fund our public services, improve job opportunities for residents, provide suitable housing, and attract new investment into our borough.

As you know, in 2021 this Tory Government will stop providing councils with the Revenue Support Grant, a vital source of income for us to deliver front-line services. While wealthy London councils may be able to get by on their council tax and business rates, for authorities like ours it will be a devastating loss of nearly £30m a year.

We have to act to secure the services we know our residents rely upon. As Jeremy Corbyn made clear in our 2017 Manifesto  – “our public services must rest on the foundation of sound finances.”

Council’s Cabinet will meet on 28th February to approve a recommendation to appoint Northwest-based regeneration specialist Muse Developments as our joint venture partner to create Wirral Growth Company.

Muse has been behind a number of impressive schemes across the North West such as St. Paul’s Square in Liverpool and urban regeneration projects in Chester, Warrington and Stockport and we are impressed with their track record of working with local authorities and meeting a wide range of regeneration goals.

In what is an ambitious but responsible public-private sector partnership, the profits from the numerous developments will be split 50-50, with the Council’s share providing income to be reinvested to help compensate for the financial shortfall we face because of decisions taken by Tory Ministers in Whitehall.

This Council’s ambitions are shared by our new partner. We have enshrined in the guiding principles of the joint venture a commitment to deliver our 2020 pledges, to hire local workers, purchase materials and services from local businesses and to provide training and work experience for local residents through our relationship with Wirral Met College.

Three years ago, our administration set 2020 Pledges and I am pleased that Wirral Growth Company will play a key role in delivering these goals. We said we would create thousands of new jobs, attract 100s of millions in new investment, and provide good quality housing and protect and improve Wirral’s attractive local environment.

Wirral Growth Company will deliver:

£1bn Growth Plan
As the economy continues to flat-line under the failing, Brexit-obsessed Tories, Wirral Growth Company will be a game changer, injecting hundreds of millions of new investment in Wirral.

Buy Local, Hire Local
As our 2017 General Election manifesto stated, we understand the creation of wealth is a ‘collective endeavour between workers, entrepreneurs and investors’. That’s why I wanted to make sure Wirral got the best possible social outcomes from this deal, so have included commitments to hire locally, buy supplies from and contract with local firms, train local workers, and meet the highest environmental, health and safety standards.

New Homes
There is a housing shortage nationally, and a need for appropriate new homes to be built here in Wirral. Our plans will include the creation of more homes right across Wirral, meeting and exceeding our affordable homes targets in a way the private sector alone never could.

Extra Care Village
With health and social care services struggling to survive under the Conservatives, Wirral Growth Company will develop an Extra Care Village to look after vulnerable residents because this Labour-led authority cares for all, especially those in the greatest need.

Thousands of New Jobs
Providing work for our residents sits at the heart of any regeneration plan. We predict Wirral Growth Company will help deliver more than 3,000 new jobs within the first three years. We will also develop and strengthen local ties with Wirral Met College to train the workforce of the future as part of  a solid foundation for a local industry strategy.

With the deal being proposed, Wirral Council won’t be selling any of its assets, we will have full involvement in every development decision, we will benefit from the economic growth any regeneration creates and, as a 50-50 joint venture, the Council will benefit from the profits.

If cabinet approve the recommendation, the next steps include starting the conversation with you and local residents about what, where, when and how regeneration begins across Wirral.

I believe this is the start of an extraordinary new chapter for Wirral. Through our pioneering spirit, Wirral Growth Company can help blaze an urban regeneration trail that shapes our 21st century economic fortunes.

By using the strength of our common endeavour, I know we will able to deliver these bold plans to deliver for the many, not the few.

Members who are interested in learning more about Wirral Growth Company should visit website for more details, or join the conversation on @wirralwellmade twitter account or wirralwellmade facebook page.

Cllr Phil Davies

Leader of Wirral Council



Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #4


WW1 : Artist’s impression # 256


As far as ‘Wirral Waters’ press releases goes this really is the best one yet. You can almost smell the desperation.  Note how the quietly abandoned ‘Wirral Waters’ scheme has suddenly and mysteriously been ‘transformed’ into ‘Wirral Waters One’ . Whoever thought of that new branding needs shooting – say it out loud , it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? Can we also point out that when it comes to acronyms WW1 has already been taken? Just sayin’

Apparently Wirral Council’s Cabinet will announce tomorrow that a massive (! )£100,000 will ‘kick start’ a £90,000,000 residential development in ‘Wirral Waters One’ !

The proposal is a joint venture between the council and landowners Peel Holdings, and includes the Legacy Foundation – an investment fund established by former Tranmere Rovers player Aaron Cresswell………..The Legacy Foundation will provide £100,000 of funding in the first year to be invested in community activities. Full story : Wirral Waters One

We don’t get a breakdown of the total investment between Peel Holdings/ Wirral Council/Legacy Foundation but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be Wirral Council (or more accurately Wirral council taxpayers) who will be putting their hands the deepest into their pockets when it comes to ‘kick starting’ this proposal. Nor do we get an explanation as to what is meant by ‘community activities’

Instead stepping up to take credit for the momentous investment was Birkenhead MP Frank Field  (huh?)

“An idea bringing the largest programme of new housing to Wirral in living memory, announced today, is the brainchild of Andrew Forsey who is the head of my Parliamentary office.Through his work in making contact with footballers interested in making long term investments from their pensions. Andrew helped to persuade a crop of current and former Premier League players – including Aaron Cresswell, who was a Tranmere Rovers player and now plays for West Ham – to see whether it would be possible for his investment fund to begin work in Wirral Waters.”

Is it just us ? – or is is there something vaguely nauseating about poverty tourist Frank Field’s parliamentary office brainstorming about the ‘loadsamonies’ who they can approach with the begging bowl without considering whether it’s morally right that footballers and the like can earn such huge sums of money or question as to whether as a society we’ve got our values all wrong? Nevertheless it is interesting to discover that Wirral’s ‘largest programme of new housing’ is somehow the responsibility of Frank Field’s Parliamentary office isn’t it?!

NUMBER – CRUNCHING   – Aaron Cresswell’s  current fortnightly salary at West Ham Utd  = £100,000 ! (well fancy that!)  See here : West Ham Utd Salaries 2018

So what we’d like tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting to do is finally come clean and announce that ‘Wirral Waters One’ and indeed the ‘ Hoylake Golf Resort’ proposal are merely opportunistic housing developments and quit the soft soap.


                                                              Vexatious , Moi?

Wirral Council seemed to have backed off the desperate claim that Wirral Council taxpayer Charles Nunn is ‘vexatious’ for asking pertinent questions about the continuing employment of highly paid consultant Stewart Halliday . See their latest response here : Halliday FOI

Mr Nunn comments :

At last a part reply to my F.of Information request.
Halliday has had his contract extended for a further SIX MONTHS from 1st. January, 2018.
Another £90,000 odd from the Wirral Council Tax payer.
It may be worth a mention in your esteemed publication.


                                           CGL:  “……and nobody seemed to care “

Many thanks to those who keep us appraised of national charity Change,Grow Live who are the grateful recipient of Wirral’s largest ( £7 million +) Public Health contract. Their latest mishap involves them in a massive data breach involving abandoned files found in an empty Tameside office  containing highly personal details about the lives of vulnerable young people – including abuse survivors. Once again we fear we have seen the future of health and social care. Be afraid, be very afraid.

CGL- Tameside


                                                     Posted Truth

A source writes :

By way of obscure and tenuous response to you excellent ‘Post Truth’ contribution/blog

… I am sending you this ‘Posted Truth’ image… I reckon you could say it is both a statement of fact…. and a protest. (Which I obviously feel to be a good thing).

Posted Truth



                                                       De-Stressed Eric 

A local barfly informs us :

Eric (Robinson) was recently seen in a pub in Liverpool when he should have been working – the pub being ‘Brew Dog’ dressed in casuals.
The council is no better than when we had the other 3 – it’s probably worse.

Now we can’t confirm whether Stressed Eric was on council duty or not whilst allegedly quaffing the craft ale – but we have to ask as to whether anyone would notice the difference ? Plus we simply don’t want to think about him dressed in his ‘casuals’.

Having said that we don’t need convincing that Wirral Council is worse than ever under his , ahem, ‘leadership’  As for ‘the other 3’ – whoever could they mean?!


                                               A Cautionary Tale

In Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2 we commented on recent developments where Mayor Joe Anderson was interviewed  by Merseyside Police ‘under caution’ in relation to the ongoing fraud probe involving Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others. We now hear of someone closer to home who it is alleged was also interviewed under caution by Merseyside Police in relation to an altogether different matter. However such are the extreme sensitivities surrounding this particular case we are precluded from reporting any further. Nevertheless we will be following developments with interest….

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. 


Chamber of Secrets

Image may contain: 1 person, text

“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.

The Power of Nought


As we continue to wind down we are grateful to one of our long standing contributors Dr Robert B Smith who has provided us with what he calls a ‘summery summary’ of recent Wirral Council history which he has titled :


In aerial warfare CHAFF is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns to create confusion and distraction from the actual target.

This is the ‘diversionary’ principle of the use of NOUGHT by Wirral Council. If, as a Council, you are completely bankrupt of real ideas and true vision, there is always NOUGHT to hide behind, and use as a distraction and confuse residents and voters.

Over recent years Wirral’s population has been reasonably static, and the borough has remained the same size (about 60 sq miles) however during that time 10s of thousands (4 NOUGHTS) has rapidly become BILLIONS using 9 or even 10 NOUGHTS.

Over recent years Wirral Council has invested in NOUGHT on many occasions. Usually NOUGHT, or multiple-NOUGHTS, are used as a smokescreen to cloud the reality of incompetence, and the most appalling standard of local government. In Wirral Council the presence of a great many NOUGHTS indicate the seriousness with which issues are being prioritised, and the likelihood of NOUGHT actually happening .

WBC Number 1 Priority – protect at any cost the status and ‘reputation’ of Wirral’s ruling administration and chief officers. As many NOUGHTS as it takes, but that is privileged information!

Here is a small sample of the power of NOUGHT in Wirral Council over the last decade.

2006 – 30 year Wirral Waters programme announced £4,500,000,000 – 8 NOUGHTS

2008 – over £500,000,000 invested since 1991 by WBC in Birkenhead – 8 NOUGHTS

2015 – Wirral Partnership ‘will pool budgets’ by 2020 – £200,000,000,000 – 11 NOUGHTS

2016 – Threat of Government intervention in Wirral Child Safeguarding arrangements – an additional £2,000,000 initially committed by Leader Phil Davies – 6 NOUGHTS

2016 – Hoylake Golf Resort – Investment revised to £190,000,000 – 7 NOUGHTS

2017 – Maggie Atkinson takes Chair of Wirral Child Safeguarding Board; Eleanor Brazil takes Chair of Child Safeguarding Improvement Board; suddenly an additional £10,000,000 is committed – 7 NOUGHTS.

2017 – Wirral Growth Joint Venture Company investment ‘opportunity’ announced £1,000,000,000 – 9 NOUGHTS

If we add up all of the NOUGHTS, they total 56 – which added together totals NOUGHT.

What value, or real benefit or improvement, has Wirral Council achieved with all of these projects combined?

Yes, you have got it in 1 (which is a figure far higher than Wirral Council has successfully achieved to date) which is NOUGHT.

Wirral Council and its Leadership has taken the power of NOUGHT to sensational new heights in Wirral that others can only dream about!

… because for Wirral Council spin doctors, whatever they say, NOUGHT really means nothing. 


Men of Mystery

Men of Mystery

With all the bad news about at the moment we thought we’d lighten the mood and invite our readers to participate in some summertime fun and enter our mystery quiz.

The first mystery for you to solve is to identify the unlikely character who made the following comment earlier this year :

“I’m in favour of Wirral Leaks. If I was the Council I’d pay them money to find out what was going on in my Council….”

The second mystery is for you to identify the character in the tragic soap opera that is known as ‘Wirral Council’ .We understand that this supporting character (and who yet at the same time has a leading role) is moving on – no doubt to a less demanding role.

Prizes include:

  • An artist’s impression of a fantasy Wirral regeneration project of your choice ( Wirral Waters, Tower Gardens, Hanging Gardens of Bebington , Seacombe Palace, Hoylake Housing Estate and Golf Course, Stella Shiu Monument etc; etc;) This will be signed by either one of our leading artists Dee Mented and Hal Lou C. Nation
  • A referral to a Wirral foodbank of your choice (and let’s face it there’s plenty to choose from!)
  • A lifetime’s subscription to Wirral View* ( * If Wirral View pegs it before you do this will be replaced by an equivalent publication such as Take A Break  , Pick Me Up , Beano etc;etc;)
  • A recording device enabling you to compromise a local politician of your choice

Entries via the replies button below or 

Answers and prize winners will be announced when we get around to it! Good luck!