Highways : Against the Flow of Traffic

Flow of Traffic

We raised the issue (and our eyebrows) at the proposal to bring the highways contract back under Wirral Council control as part of our Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2

This particular story concerned a meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) where Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green wanted reassurance that the decision to bring the highways contract back in house wasn’t “written on the back of a fagpacket” . We also noted that :

Incidental dark comedic value is to be had from the ever oleaginous senior officer David Armstrong who promises a short report and ingratiating interm Monitoring officer Philip McCourt who says that the commissioning of highways contract is a ‘live project’ and that the report would be a ‘ partial measure’ – ain’t that the truth!

Needless to say council officers showed their usual contempt for opposition councillors by failing to produce a written report for yesterday’s ARMC follow up meeting. There were also no shows from McCourt and ARMC chair Cllr Adrian Jones . Consequently Deputy Chief Executive Armstrong was allowed by stand-in chair Cllr Angela Davies to hand the hot potato over to poor sap Mark Smith (Strategic Commissioner for Environment) to deliver a verbal report – all the better to hinder proper scrutiny when nothing is written down and there’s no report in the public domain for ‘ a particular website’ to pick (pot)holes. It was enough to give us an attack of the verbals.

As you can see from the John Brace footage of last night’s meeting Smith gives a tortuous explanation of ‘options appraisals’ and how the decision was reached. Although we have to say that as he’s on £90,532 p.a. our sympathy for his squirming is somewhat limited.

However the information that was eventually dragged out of Smith was most illuminating (and probably explains the lack of a written report) . It was revealed  that the current holders of the highways contract BAM Nuttall get £6 million p.a. from Wirral Council . Smith described it as an ‘unusual scenario’ that BAM Nuttall chose not to take advantage of a contract extension to which they were entitled. BAM Nuttall currently spend £5 million is spent on sub-contractors and £1 million on what Armstrong described as 28/29  ‘operatives’ . It is these ‘operatives’ who will be TUPE* transferred back to Wirral Council (if they wish) – and the sub-contracting from the private sector will continue.

* Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment ) Regulations.

We begrudgingly give him his due on this one (because he’s had a shadowy part in this shady story) but Cllr Green whipped out his calculator trying to deconstruct the £1 million cost of 28/29 operatives -which he calculated to be about £700,000 . Labour councillor Christina Muspratt attempted to explain the missing £300,000 as ‘on costs’ However it was eventually wheedled out of Smith that ‘operatives’ included both managers and back room staff (approximately half operational and half management) so it wasn’t just staff filling potholes and replacing streetlights.

Armstrong and Smith were particularly twitchy on the issue of TUPE transfers with the former interrupting through the chair to advise Cllr Muspratt  that there was a list of staff who were eligible and who can “TUPE if they wish”  to either BAM Nuttall or Wirral Council . Smith went on to say that ” it wouldn’t be appropriate to go into any further detail in this forum”

However might we suggest there remain pertinent questions that need to be asked :  a) are the managers subject to TUPE some of the same Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) managers from Wirral Council who failed to win the highways contract during a tendering exercise in 2008 and who’s contracts of employment  were TUPE transferred to Colas and then presumably BAM Nuttall in 2014 and who have been in dispute with Wirral Council for a decade ? b) did this ongoing dispute influence or play any part in the decision (under delegated powers) to return the highways contract to Wirral Council control and c) has this dispute been resolved – and if so – how? 

Whilst , like some of the councillors at ARMC  , we welcome the return of highways to Wirral Council control , we seem to be rather more enquiring as to the reasons why – especially when such a decision goes ‘against the flow of traffic’ when it comes to outsourcing council services.

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Seen at the Deen

Deen 026

As we previously reported in our Reds Go for Greens post the most interesting battle at local elections in May will be in the Birkenhead/Tranmere ward where the local Labour group are determined to oust lone Green councillor Pat Cleary. Accordingly we’ve been keeping a keen eye on the frantic electioneering.

As Cllr Cleary’s support for both the Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Forum and their concerns over the annexing of The Lauries by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Birkenhead Market Trader’s Association claims that they are being ‘ignored’ by Wirral Council in the latter’s ‘transformation’ plans indicate he is seen very much as the fly in the Birkenhead/ Tranmere ointment and needs to be swatted away come May . We’ll have much, much more on these two stories at a later date  : Birkenhead Market Traders

However today’s post concerns last week’s return of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee after a near six month hiatus. The choice of venue for the meeting was particularly interesting. The Committee meetings have hitherto always been held in Birkenhead Town Hall . However on this occasion it was held at ‘The Deen Centre’ on Borough Road. At first we thought the building was a misspelt tribute to Tranmere Rovers/Everton  footballing legend  Dixie Dean. We then discovered that ‘Deen’ is an Arabic word with several meanings but most usually taken to mean ‘religion’ or ‘faith’.

We understand that ‘The Deen Centre’ has been establishing itself not only as a resource for increasingly influential local Muslim community but the wider Birkenhead/Tranmere  community . This may explain the choice of venue for this particular Committee meeting. Although with Beaconsfield Community House and Birkenhead YMCA the area seems particularly well served with community resources for the hungry and the homeless.

Viewing the John Brace footage of the meeting it appeared to be the usual series of presentations . About one of which we’d like to ask  – when did it become OK to discuss someone’s personal circumstances in a public meeting? She who shall remain nameless describes a 56 year old woman as ‘old’ and is met with cries of “that’s not old” and raucous laughter . “If you met her – she looks 80″ came the response” !

However keeping it classy the meeting wouldn’t have been complete without a Foulkesy face-palm moment. Whilst encouraging  people who attended the meeting to continue to report crime Cllr Steve Foulkes uttered these words of wisdom :

Some people are confusing reporting crime with being labelled , I’ll say the word – a Birkenhead word – ‘ a grass’ ……………If anyone wants to give names of criminals who are operating in the area , use us ( councillors)  – we’re very good at being copper’s narks  

So having tried to downplay the use of a pejorative term to describe someone raising legitimate concerns with the right authorities (grass) Foulkesy then goes and uses a different but equally insulting word (nark) to describe an informant !  – fine work. But then from what we know of Foulkesy and his ilk they’re not that keen on people behaving in such a way   – unless of course they’re tooled up with a recording device and are willing to smear political opponents #Wirralgate.

Talking of which it just so happens Wirral Leaks has the names of some senior politicians who it is alleged have been involved in potential criminal acts. We would have forwarded them to Foulkesy but then suddenly remembered that there might be a slight conflict of interest!

His Lordship’s Thoughts From Abroad : ‘Post -Truth’

” The way they lied, those days have to be over……”

As we promised we would from time-to-time provide our thoughts from abroad as we adjusted to our new surroundings and tried to make sense of our former life on Wirral.

Now that we lead a Wilde life of ‘cultivated leisure—which, and not labour, is the aim of man—or making beautiful things, or reading beautiful things, or simply contemplating the world with admiration and delight’ we have the time to indulge our passion for the arts and we have been able to see a couple of Oscar -nominated movies which particularly resonated with us.

The first of this movie review double bill is ‘The Post’ which we were drawn to as it tells the story of the Washington Post and the ‘Pentagon Papers’ . The leak of the Pentagon Papers – and as you all know we love a good leak – occurred during the Richard Nixon US presidency. Nixon recklessly embarked on a mega exercise in reputation management – to protect his presidency. In his eyes, the publication of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ would confirm the existence of a conspiracy whose purpose was to delegitimize him and topple the ruling administration .Nixon resolved to fight back with every tool at his disposal, making the fateful decision to break the law to achieve his ends. This led to the ‘Watergate’ which led to his downfall.  The plot should sound familiar to Wirral Leaks readers as from the very first time we broke the story we have likened to Wirralgate to the Watergate  scandal. Read here : Exclusive – Wirralgate!

SPOILER ALERT! –  ‘The Post’ is a dramatisation  of how Katharine Graham the publisher of The Washington Post came to publish the ‘Pentagon Papers’ even though it would be damaging to powerful politicians with whom she had close friendships. This in turn led to ‘Watergate’ – and whilst, yes we know, Wirral Globe or the Liverpool Echo aren’t the Washington Post our thoughts turned to how our local noble and principled press men from the Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe dealt with the Wirralgate recording which would undoubtedly (and deservedly) bring down the current Wirral Council Labour administration if the contents were ever published.

Whilst we accept that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the press to hold public authorities to account – there should be systems of public accountability in place to do that. However it would appear there simply isn’t the will or the way, especially when our public institutions seem to be set up to maintain the status quo – no matter how dysfunctional or corrupt .

So under those circumstances,what’s the best we can hope for from the local press? – is it too much to ask that those with the means to expose the biggest scandal in Wirral’s political history , but are unwilling or unable to do so , at least don’t collude with criminality and corruption for their own ends?

It is significant that both local news outlets refused to participate in either of the Thynne ‘Wirralgate’ investigations despite the second investigation report commenting that the Wirralgate recording was potentiality a criminal matter. This can’t be justified on the grounds of protecting sources especially when Liam Murphy ,the former political editor of the Liverpool Echo not only revealed the existence of the Wirralgate recording to then leader of the Wirral Council  group, Jeff Green  , he made his own covert recording and played it to Wirral Council’s head of communications, Emma Degg. And yet now we discover Murphy has secured himself a communications role within the local Labour ‘Inner Ring’ and as for the Wirral Globe – post -truth par excellence (see below) with regular columns from Birkenhead MP Frank Field and advertorial heaven from July 2017 – the date from which they had the ‘Wirralgate’ tape in their possession. So make your own mind up as to who’s interests are being served.

All we know is that it would seem that the days of the ‘W’ word rearing its ugly head in the local press is well and truly over. It is sad to reflect that in the run up to the series of elections held in 2016 Wirral Globe was asking ” Will controversial local issues influence Wirral Voters in Super Thursday ballot?” This included the following observation :

Another highly-controversial issue put on hold is the long-awaited report – believed to have been in studied in secret for many weeks at the town hall – into the co-called “Wirralgate” scandal has yet to be seen by anyone outside the inner circle.

Readers may remember this centres on allegations of a plot to “smear” a leading councillor by political rivals and has been the subject of TWO costly inquiries by an outside consultant

Full story here : Wirralgate – controversial issues

With Wirral’s politicians gearing up for another round of elections in May we guarantee that the ‘Wirralgate’ issue will not influence local voters as they will not be informed anything about it ! . This, despite there being yet ANOTHER investigation report into issues surrounding the scandal being concealed from public view and which we understand  is now subject to a high court challenge in that there London just before the local elections . Again, don’t expect to read about in the local papers!

Or in the words of  Wirral Globe columnist Peter Grant who wrote as far back as August 2016 :

Literary musings from Mr Shakespeare could come in handy for debates in Wallasey Town Hall, especially after the recent publication of the so-called “Wirralgate” report by Patricia Thynne. If the opposition parties want to complain they could always throw into the chamber pot such verbal attacks as: “Laughing stock”“For goodness sake” and, for the council leader: “The game is up”.Phil Davies could simply reply with: “The world’s mine oyster”.Whistleblowers would ask for “The naked truth” and demand that “The truth will out”.  But here’s my own favourite Bardism while I await any good local news always “With bated breath”.

Full story here : Wirralgate : Granty Goes Shakespeare

As it’s now February 2018 we advise Granty that breath holding whilst awaiting for any news on ‘Wirralgate’ is ill-advised  – as he’s likely to shuffle off  “this mortal coil”! 

After we’d watched the ‘ The Post’ with a mannered Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks not only did we assume the film fitted the ‘worthy but dull’ Academy Award category but we were also minded to recall the ‘Word of the Year 2016’ which was ‘post-truth’ an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.  Unfortunately it seems to us the local press operates in this post truth world of politician’s pet projects and pictures of pets. For further reading might we suggest the books ‘Post -Truth : How Bullshit Conquered the World’  by James Ball and ‘Post-Truth : The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back’ by Matthew D’Ancona . The latter investigates how we have got to where we are ,why quiet resignation is not an option and how we can and must fight back.

POST TRUTH

“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

 

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2

Spot the deliberate mistake ! After this week’s prolific output a further Wirral Leaks post may seem like too much of a bad thing . It’s barely a month into 2018 and we’ve already had to concede that the announcement of our retirement was somewhat premature. But then as Wilde said : “To be premature is to be perfect” !

The thought of our departure to foreign shores has obviously stirred many Wirralians into action as we’ve been sent stories simply too good to pass up on (and what’s even better – where much of the work has already been done) .What’s more we have already noticed that campaigning for the May 2018 local elections has already started in earnest. But perhaps more than anything that explains our renewed impetus is further shocking information which has come our way and which needs exposing . Furthermore we guarantee the mainstream media will not touch it – but we’re keeping our powder dry on that one for now. However we’re left shaking our head in disbelief at the claims that are being made (and more importantly the damning evidence to back it up) . Meanwhile with the agreement with Her Ladyship  and support from Eldritch and Verity let’s all together plough on into oblivion ……….

Holiday Hypocrisy

Whilst we’re grateful that someone sent us the John Brace video posting of this week’s Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee meeting we faced a dilemma as we didn’t know who’s face deserved a slap more as they gazed over to Brace to make sure he captured their reactions to Cllr Steve Foulkes’ contribution to the Mersey tunnel toll debate – Cllr Jerry ‘The Mouse’ Williams , Cllr Ron ‘ Rude’ Abbey or Foulkesy himself . Truth be told (an alien concept for some of the parties concerned) but it was no contest really – Foulkesy every time .

Watch in disgust from 12 :00 as Foulkesy turns to our beloved Mr Brace , tries to take the moral high ground and resorts to his non existent ‘conscience’ .Whilst professing to respect Tory Cllr Les Rowlands he then proceeds to slag him off for planning a holiday to coincide with this particular meeting. Now we might know his political allegiances but we don’t profess to know Cllr Rowland’s personal proclivities but we’d like to think his holiday won’t result in allegations of  racist abuse.Just sayin’

Sorrento Shame : Holidaymakers claim they faced ‘racist abuse’ from ex – Wirral Mayoress

Self Serve 

We understand that internal vacancies at Wirral Council are accessed by ‘Self Serve’. You really couldn’t make this shit up! Why do they bother with such bureaucratic machinations when it would appear that cronyism/nepotism/favouritism is still the main route to promotion we can only hazard a guess. Unfortunately we can’t report on this particular aspect further as it would appear that another feature of Wirral Council’s modus operandi – the culture of fear – is still very much in operation.

Road to Hell

If the Merseytravel Committee video was infuriating the John Brace footage of the Audit and Risk Management Committee sent us into paroxysms of rage and fury. Witness how the utterly pathetic ex- Tory leader and Foulkesy’s ‘kindred’ Cllr Jeff Green meekly raises the issue of bringing the £multi-million highways contract back in house like Uriah Heep with a serious Woodbines habit. The Nigel Farage sound-a-like says something along the lines of : ” Bein’ ever so ‘umble . Can we have a bit of case study. I’m not ‘solutioneering’ (!) I just want to know that the decision to bring the highways contract back in house wasn’t written on the ‘back of  a fagpacket’, if you would so please, kind sir”.

Observe and despair from 8:25

Why so coy Cllr Green ? You know that the decision was made behind closed doors using Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ special ‘delegated powers’ and with Frank Field’s personal approval. They obviously want to minimise suspicion about unlawful compensation pay-offs to the Wirralgate complainants – so what’s the next best thing ? A token bung and then a cosy job for life for keeping their gobs shut.  But then you knew that didn’t you Cllr Green ?- shame you didn’t have the balls to say it. Incidental dark comedic value is to be had from the ever oleaginous senior officer David Armstrong who promises a short report and ingratiating interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt who says that the commissioning of highways contract is a ‘live project’ and that report would be a ‘ partial measure’ – ain’t that the truth ! Then suddenly  Cllr Ron ‘Rude’ Abbey has a “Don’t Mention The War” moment and can’t help himself saying something completely bogus about discussing TUPE ( Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment) regulations . Which ,is of course, as ARMC and us know is what this is all about : ” Listen guys, we can’t give you a massive pay out you wanted without raising serious questions so we’ll give you the next best thing and you can be responsible for Wirral’s highways . Let’s face it you can’t do a worse job than Colas / BAM Nuttall ” 

As this image and comment proves :

image1 (4)

Dear Wirraleaks,

The attached photo shows a stretch of Mere Farm Road which was “repaired” by the Wirral Council contractors 6 months ago.

They clearly did such a magnificent and cost effective job that it needs much more repairing now.

When will they learn that doing a decent job first time round is more cost effective or do they just love throwing public money away to private sector mates ????

In response all we can say is  – buy cheap, pay twice!

All Wrapped Up

In the case of this particular Freedom of Information request all we can say is have Wirralgate tape, pay through the nose.

Full details :Wrap around FOI

Screenshot_20180130-101108

All wrapped in cosily in a symbiotic security blanket. Snug as a mug with a bug (that’s a reference to the Wirralgate recording obvs)

Patience is a Virtue 

Dear Mr Robinson

I received this assurance from you on 19th December 2016

On 19 December 2016 at 11:42, Robinson, Eric <ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk> wrote:

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email below.Officers are considering the matters you have raised in your emails and I will respond to you fully in January.

Regards

Eric Robinson

Chief Executive

Wirral Council

Tel : 0151 691 8589

Email : ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

You did not specify ‘responding to me fully’, by January 2017. 

However January 2018 has now passed, and I can only surmise that your ‘Officers’ have been completely occupied with Wirral Council’s 2016/2017 ongoing catalogue of disasters.

For your convenience, I attach a reply I sent to Cllr Walter Smith, who contacted me in May 2017 as you hadn’t, with his view of the ‘Most Improved Wirral Council’ (the absolute definition of an oxymoron given the events of 2016/2017)

Patience is a virtue. I look forward to receiving your ‘full response’ as assured.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson is increasingly making Howard Hughes seem outgoing and gregarious. A local government patsy drowning in a mire of his own incompetence and other people’s corruption.  Hey, Stressed Eric! – you really should have spoken to your predecessor before you took up post. Oh – but wait a minute your political paymasters didn’t allow it did they? Protecting themselves and setting you up to fail as you didn’t know what you were letting yourself in for. Oh but you know now don’t you? And you chose the side of the people who pay your obscene salary. We sincerely hope and pray that one day you will regret that choice. In fact we’re working on it day and night – you may have noticed.

Meet the Talent

Without any fanfare – we wonder why? – Dave Fergus is the man who has taken over running Wirral Evolutions from Chris Beyga the disgraced former Managing Director of this arms-length Wirral Council experiment that went horribly wrong mainly because Beyga (aka Rosa Klebb) thought she was running her own personal fiefdom.

Meet the Talent

You will note from his profile above (can somebody please provide a translation of local government BS? ) that there is absolutely no mention of disability rights. Just the person you want running a service where apparently the thick as mince managers think that somehow they’re doing a favour to the people who actually pay their wages. We’re wondering whether we’ll  get a comment on this latest appointment from Wirral Evolutions ‘ Independent’ Chair and professional disability rights ‘champion’ Carey Bamber or ‘Non -Executive Director’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy’ Pip’ Davies? We’re not holding our breath.

Crime Report

We note that this week Mayor Joe Anderson was taken in for questioning ‘under caution’ by Merseyside Police in relation to the fraud probe concerning Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others . Power Boy Pip, Stressed Eric and others will no doubt be observing developments with interest – as will we !

Proceed with caution

Holiday Hypocrisy Part 2

And finally we understand that someone is taking a particular interest in Wirral Leaks from their undeserved winter break in the Dominican Republic. Answers on a postcard please…….

 

The Leaky Awards – All Time Best Quotes

One of the most satisfying aspects of reviewing our past body of work is identifying the consistent thread of delusion and deceit associated with those from Wirral Council that weaves its way through our posts like words through a stick of rock

Wanker rock

To highlight this  we present the past winners of ‘Quote of the Year’ 2013-16

 2013 – ” No evidence was made available to the investigation to substantiate a serious allegation regarding inappropriate language” – Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies

Full story here: THE LEAKYS – WIRRAL LEAKS AWARDS 2013

2014 – ” (I was) played an excerpt of the recording (and) an adverse comment (was) made by a senior member (of the Labour group)” 

Powerboytrumpet

Power Boy Pip – a hearing impairment or a truth allergy? 

We’ve added some annotations (in bold) to the comments on our original post just to highlight the extent of the denial and deceit that’s going on here :

Wirral Leaks followers will recall that the Quote of the Year in the 2013 Leaky Awards came from Power Boy Pip and was in reference to the Wirralgate tape – ” No evidence was made available to the investigation to substantiate a serious allegation regarding inappropriate language” (This investigation will be the unheralded Peter Mackay investigation from October 2013 – about which much more in our upcoming Wirralgate For Dummies guide). Then having thought he’d cleverly boxed off that little local difficulty Pip’s plans were dashed after someone (that someone tipped off Tory leader Jefferson Green about the Wirralgate tape just before last Christmas and by the new year it suddenly appeared that Power Boy Pip had recovered from a bout of amnesia and suddenly recalled being “played an excerpt of the recording” and that “an adverse comment (was) made by the senior member” of the Labour group” !!!

We were more coy in those days. The ‘someone’ who tipped off Green was none other than Liam Murphy who at the time was working for the Liverpool Echo but as you all now know works for the local Labour group!

Oops! the “adverse comment” must’ve slipped Pip’s tiny mind during the Mackay investigation in October 2013.

So having been rumbled Pip was forced to concede that the Wirralgate tapes went from an “unsubstantiated rumour” to “inaudible” to him admitting that he was indeed “played an excerpt.”

What we find frustrating is that the then Tory leader Green or indeed any other councillor didn’t think to refer the matter to the Standards Panel as Pip had clearly lied to investigator and to elected members. But then they didn’t when Cllr Steve Foulkes had evidentially done the same during the first Thynne investigation and they were ALL witnesses!  

Is it any wonder that the runner up for Quote of the Year 2014 was this :

“We wanted justice but you wouldn’t give it to us”Whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro speaking at Audit & Risk Management Committee in October whilst exposing Wirral Council’s inglorious record of thwarting whistleblowers by means of delay, obfuscation ,denial , minimisation and total lack of scrutiny or challenge from opposition councillors (see above).

Full story here : THE LEAKYS 2014

2015  – “You really don’t expect this sort of thing from a Labour Council.” –  Paddy Cleary ,Unison Branch Secretary commenting on proposals to close disabilities respite unit Girtrell Court , which we all know subsequently closed. Last time we heard carers weren’t happy with replacement services. 

As we said with such prescience at the time :  Is this what passes for “slamming” round here?.Seriously Paddy – where have you bloody been?. Oh !-  sitting in Wallasey Town Hall on the Council payroll !Memo to Paddy : This a Labour Council in name only and it is exactly the type of “thing” they’ve been doing for years. We deserve so much better and so do your members and until you all realise this your membership and influence will continue to dwindle. # UNISON #USELESS #FACEPALM 

Full story here : THE LEAKY AWARDS 2015

2016  From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government”  – Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council. 

As we said at the time : Now we don’t know whether Stressed Eric has been buying some powerful hallucinogenics with his megabucks salary but this can surely be the only explanation for this ludicrous claim that Wirral Council is the pinnacle of local government. When it comes to public service peak performance we’re talking more Moel Famau than Mount Everest!

Of course this claim has gone from ludicrous to insulting as it was made before the publication of the damning Ofsted report which deemed local Children’s Services to be ‘inadequate’

Stressed Eric was also the runner up last year with this howler :

” It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first …….” (Eric Robinson talking about Wirral Council’s decision to publish Wirral View ) “Until I was told to get back under my desk ….”  he might of added to prove once again why he’s the perfect CEO for Wirral Council.

 

EricERic v3

One of these is under the control of unseen hands and speaks other people’s words. The other one is a ventriloquist’s dummy.

THE LEAKY AWARDS 2016

And finally here’s a potential winner for  ‘Quote of the Year 2018’ from someone who doesn’t and has never worked for Wirral Council  but fortunately for her knows somebody who did and which provides further insight into ‘how things work’ these days.

“This year Emma Degg took over as CEO of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT). Over the years , Emma had offered me various work experience placements to help me advance and develop my network. It’s through NWBLT that I found out about The Juice Academy ….” Emma Green

From Pub to Powerhouse

We ask ourselves could Emma Green be in any way related to former Wirral Council Tory group leader Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green who could often be seen having a fag with Emma Degg round the back of Wallasey Town Hall ? I think we all know the answer to that question don’t we boys and girls? But isn’t it nice to see those who have moved on to pastures new courtesy of nepotism, sorry ,’network’ is able to give the leg up to the daughter of the former leader of Wirral Council?

Whistling in the Wind

Whistleblower

A senior Wirral Councillor writes :

I have been reading your recent postings with considerable interest.Your commentary on ‘life’ at the Town Hall has always been useful both as a background and a signpost, often well informed.You must have had well placed sources. I hope your successor rises to the occasion. I hope that your move to sunnier climes provides you with the retirement living you have looked forward to.

His Lordship replies :

Just to let you know we’re as probing of our sources as we are of our subjects. Unfortunately we have so many more stories that we haven’t published because our sources get frightened or they want to use us for personal grievances. We’d rather not know. The shame of it is though – we didn’t make a blind bit of difference,did we?

We shall observe local developments from afar and hope that the people of Wirral realise they deserve better representation. 

It’s rather endearing that Wirral Council have blocked us from accessing their website as if it was our main source of information . Bless! Of course our sources were always well placed and often surprisingly well placed to the throne of lies.

However we have to say we think the heady days of whistleblowing are about to become a distant memory. And that’s not to say that Wirral Council have changed their ways – it’s just that potential whistleblowers have learned the lessons from history and now seem either want to simply keep schtum, use what they know as an opportunity for career advancement /financial gain or to armourplate their arse against potential retribution. The public interest doesn’t come into it !

Jericho

But who can blame them ?  Whereas we can provide a long list of the dishonest,the incompetent and corrupt who went on to be Chief Executives,Directors, Trustees elsewhere we can’t find one example of a Wirral Council whistleblower who’s career and livelihood wasn’t destroyed.

Will scandals such as the financial abuse of disabled people, Wirral Council doing business with an Organised Crime Group, the illegal 4 week delay in care packages in the Department of Adult Social Services , the illegal implementation of the Discretionary Housing Benefit scheme , Misconduct in Public Office,the sexual indiscretions of senior management , the misuse and abuse of grant monies , theft, fraud,racism, gross mismanagement and waste of public money etc; etc; ever see the light of day again?

Let’s consider a couple of examples – firstly the Wirralgate complainants. They have been called many things but ‘whistleblowers’ they ain’t. We were always being told by others that they’d send us their tawdry tapes. They never did – as they knew we’d publish in the public interest in a heartbeat. They’re quite happy for Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe to have the incriminating recording as they know that they’d never publish the contents in a million years. And what’s more it makes a great bargaining tool doesn’t it?

Which brings us to the latest incarnation of a Wirral Council ‘whistleblower’. This time it’s someone emanating from the department with perhaps knows the most about Wirral Council’s wicked ways  – the Department of Legal Services.

We understand that a solicitor in this department has suddenly remembered her Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct and has cried she can’t go along with the cover ups anymore , dropped out of a highly contentious case and engaged a solicitor of her very own to make sure she doesn’t suffer any detriment for doing so . Is it any wonder Wirral Council can’t recruit a new head for this department following the departure of the utterly appalling Surjit Tour who succeeded the absolutely appalling Bill Norman and have had to resort to what they call a ‘market supplement’ and what we’d call a ‘hush money premium’ to recruit an Assistant Director – Law and Governance?

The Employment and Appointments Committee held on 18 December 2017 were asked to consider the following :

In June 2017, Employment and Appointments Committee agreed to proceed
with recruitment of Assistant Director Law and Governance. This is currently an
Assistant Director/Director 2 post with a salary range (£79,259 – £92,854)
The Council advertised this post in August 2017 but did not appoint at this time.
As set out in the 27 June 2017 report this remains a competitive market across
the Country. This is a statutory post and a critical role within the Senior
Leadership Team. It is therefore proposed to re-advertise at Director 2 level with a market supplement of up to 5% for the right candidate (£83,568-– £92,854(+5%)

We’re sure we all know what they mean by ‘ the right candidate’  to take this poisoned chalice don’t we boys and girls? The sad fact is that they’ll undoubtedly find someone!

But to finish on a more optimistic note here’s to all the leakers, whistleblowers , mavericks, outsiders, truth tellers, truth seekers and good people of Wirral . May 2018 be our year!

MM

 

 

Wirral Life – But Not As We Know It!

 

 

Press release

No dissent and no discussion. Press releases and publicity shots only please.  

Before we go we’d like to comment on the local media scene of which we were a very minor part. All we can say is that we fear for the future availability of alternative views or political commentary (now matter how ‘caustic’ or ‘mischievous’).

With Wirral News having thankfully committed hari-kari (or happy dispatch) shortly after the launch of Wirral Council’s very own Wirral View other local news sources seem to have been well and truly annexed.

Of course the appalling Liverpool Echo has never been properly attuned to Wirral politics or indeed Wirral itself despite their half-arsed attempt at lamely calling the local edition Wirral Echo. It’s always been a mouthpiece for the gobshites at Wirral Council. And it surely won’t come as any surprise to anyone that we understand Liam Murphy , the former political editor of Liverpool Echo, is now working for the local Labour group and has been for some time. Murphy was welcomed into the local corrupt Labour fold a) despite refusing to publish the dodgy document given to him by Cllr Steve Foulkes aka Foulkesy intending to ‘smear’ former Tory group leader Jeff Green b) grassing Foulkesy and Cllr George Davies up to Jeff Green about the ‘Wirralgate’ conspiracy and then  c) playing  a covert recording of the ‘Wirralgate’ recording to Wirral Council communications czarina, Emma Degg! And to think this fine exemplar of journalistic integrity refused to take part in the Patricia Thynne ‘Wirralgate’ investigations citing the need to protect his sources!

However never did we think that Wirral Globe would succumb to the undoubted pressures exerted on them by Wirral Council and we’d be experiencing the dark side of the Globe – and it’s not just us who’ve noticed the puff pieces, press releases, avoidance of high profile controversial stories ( the Cllr Reecejones case, the resignation of WUTH  CEO David Allison etc; ) and advertorials for private healthcare – Varicose Veins and retail outlets –  Beds

All we will say is that the Wirralgate tape must be the most valuable recording since Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’  – what better way to fend off threats to your career or advertising revenue than being in possession of the recording (or more accurately Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies listening to a recording of the ‘Wirralgate’ tape ).

Talking of advertorials we have seen the future of ‘journalism’ on Wirral and it would seem to be Wirral Life. The latest edition is here

Happy , shiny, Wirral Chamber of Commerce seemingly on every page, the same Botoxed, permatanned faces of Wirral’s business and ‘cultural’ (ha! ha!) elite in every edition . It looks lovely in their world but we wouldn’t want to live there – which may explain why we’re leaving you all to it!

One curious reader of Wirral Life brought our attention the picture of  a restaurant manager by the name of ‘Michael’ featured in the latest edition. Not only does his restaurant get a launch feature ,it also gets a glowing review courtesy of Nicky & Si who’s job seems to be going around gobbling grub and giving glowing reviews. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you’ve got the right connections- although needless to say we won’t be giving ‘Michael’ and his restaurant any free publicity even for a free kebab . However we would like to ask in this publication of publicity seekers why ‘Michael’ seems to be so modest ? Perhaps because he’s got a lot to be modest about ? Anyone able to provide the surname of this cheery chappy – as we understand he has a particularly interesting back story?

Mike Traynor 011

All we will say is always question how certain people get to where they are and exactly why they’re featured in the local media  – but exactly who’s going to do that questioning when we’ve gone?

Advent Farewell 21 – Blott’s Christmas Bonus

Blott

An Ordinary Joe or A Blott On The Landscape-  We still pick up the bill.

Christmas has traditionally been the time when Wirral Council likes to bury bad news. Christmas 2017 is no exception. If hadn’t been for the perspicacity of pernickety blogger John Brace picking up on the fact that the documents which were denied public scrutiny at Monday’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting were published on their website. Wirral Leaks is, of course , blocked from accessing the Wirral Council website so we are eternally grateful for John’s revealing article. Which you can read here : Golden Goodbye

As you can see the last of the Super Duper Directors Joe Blott is set for what Brace calls a £390K + ‘golden goodbye’ – although we prefer the term ‘ arse -covering bung’. Why such a significant sum for someone so insignificant we hear you ask ?  Mainly because Blott knows where all the bodies are buried and what’s more he helped bury them !

But before we explore that further let’s just ponder the abject failure of former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess and his ‘big idea’ of appointing 3 Super Duper Directors. Where on God’s green earth would Blott, Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley and Clare ‘Wet’ Fish be in a position to earn six figure salaries for achieving fuck all? Sorry that’s harsh – there was that Ofsted report rating Children’s Services ‘ inadequate’ wasn’t there?

But back to Blott  – there isn’t a recent Wirral Council cover up his itsy, bitsy, dirty little fingers aren’t all over. However we’re saying his involvement in the ‘Wirralgate’ cover up is the main reason for his premium payment – at our expense. His conduct throughout has been utterly reprehensible . From lying to Patricia Thynne during her first investigation report by claiming he didn’t say ‘no comment’ when asked by a Wirralgate complainant as to why they weren’t investigating the Cllr George Davies ‘sweetheart deal’  (and you don’t think they didn’t record you saying that Joe?) to scampering round at Cllr Steve Foulkes Standards Panel hearing following the second Patricia Thynne investigation circumventing public scrutiny at every turn. Arselicking as an art form – but then it pays so well!

In his own way Joe Blott is a microcosm – and boy do we mean micro – of everything that is wrong with local government. The personification of  How To Get Ahead In Local Government . The ultimate exponent of the ‘Kiss Up Kick Down’ management style that reaps rich rewards. The type to butter you up and then go behind your back.

We just wonder where next for the wunderkind and whether , as previously reported, he’ll end up topping up his pension pot by fulfilling his ambition to go into business with totally bona fide Labour councillor Paul ‘ Dance Away’  Doughty  Blott’s Pension Pot

At least those business cards wouldn’t go to waste , eh Joe?

 

WHAM ! BAM ! – Thank You Scam ?!

Bam

And so 9 years after outsourcing highways maintenance Wirral Council has suddenly -BAM! – out of the blue announced that it is to bring this area of council responsibility back ‘in house’.

Council leader Phil Davies thanked BAM Nuttall for their work but said this was the right decision for the council tax payers of Wirral.

He continued: “Wirral Council has to ensure every pound spent is wisely invested and we get the best value for our residents.This decision is the right decision at the right moment – the contract with BAM Nuttall was coming to an end and we believe we can deliver this service more effectively by taking direct control.”

Highways U-Turn

Note our emphasis on the words the right decision at the right moment. Care to explain more about that assertion Power Boy Pip? No we thought not!

We have to admit we didn’t see this one coming down the road – but then desperate times at Wirral Council call for desperate measures.  Whilst this U-turn decision may seem to fly in the face of Wirral Council’s transformation agenda , which largely consists of outsourcing as many public services as they can , for those of us with an understanding of what’s been going on behind closed doors lately and the startling developments that council insiders (and some outsiders!) have been letting on to us it all makes perfectly perverse sense. Let us explain why.

Cast your minds back to the heady days of 2008 when Wirral Council outsourced their highly lucrative highways contract out to Colas in preference to the in house Direct Labour Organisation (DLO).  Some aggrieved DLO staff , having had their employment contracts transferred to Colas , then cried foul  when it came to the tendering arrangements and ‘whistleblew’. Despite numerous subsequent investigations we don’t think it’s ever been properly explained as to what actually went on. All we do know is that it all went nuclear and the fall out is being felt within Wirral Council to this day. Colas eventually walked away from the contract and it was transferred to BAM Nuttall in 2014.

Now it seems we’ve gone right round the roundabout and highways maintenance services will be returned in-house to Wirral Council in October 2018.  All of which wants us to ask some pertinent questions as to why this is ‘the right decision’ and ‘the right moment’. The right decision for whom? How is are councillors Davies and Whittingham evidencing that this is in the best interest of council taxpayers? – that’ll be a first! and why now all of a sudden ? Will BAM Nuttall highways maintenance staff be transferred back to Wirral Council ? and if so will that include the DLO staff and particularly any of the ‘whistleblowers’ who we understand are still seeking compensation – for what exactly we’re not quite sure – from Wirral Council?

It seems to us that after a decade of dispute that would certainly get Wirral Council and , particularly some councillors, out of a deep, deep pothole they’ve dug for themselves now wouldn’t it?! #Wirralgate

Apologies and Apologists

Apologies i have none

There was a very sorry display (or should that be ‘not sorry’ display?) at this week’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee where much of the meeting was spent discussing ” How do we solve a problem like Louise Reecejones (LRJ) ?” .

Apparently at the time of Monday’s meeting LRJ has yet to issue an acceptable apology to the whistleblowers who had made valid complaints about her but were then subject to personal attacks on social media and had to counter allegations intended to damage their careers. Furthermore doubts were raised during this week’s  meeting as to whether LRJ will comply with the requirement  to offer a  grovelling apology for her conduct to all Wirral councillors at full council meeting to be held on December 11 and whether she will actually turn up – something we had already raised as a possibility as you can read here : Standards and Measures

Having said all that it was particularly dispiriting to witness Wirral councillors flailing about and not knowing what to do if LRJ’s BSL signer is required to stick two fingers up to the sanctions imposed on her by the council’s Standards Panel . A rather excitable interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt seemed to get a vicarious thrill from reciting instances of appalling conduct of councillors from other areas as if to say ” and you thought you were bad!……”  

At which point Cllr Ron Abbey gormlessly  commented :   ” Just goes to show what’s going on out there . We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our own  good 

Really???

Meanwhile his comedy sidekick Cllr Paul Stuart seems tickled pink by his hilariously insightful comments . They’re the Chuckle Brothers without the chuckles. All of this can be witnessed at between 18- 22 minutes of the John Brace video posted below.

We’d like to ask McCourt where he thinks councillors using racial slurs to describe his predecessor , attempting smear campaigns and trying to use public money to buy the silence of complainants would rank in the scheme of councillor misconduct?  #Wirralgate ……or whether this just confirms his prissy assertion that councillors can currently be ” naughty to a fairly large degree” without it impacting on them being fine upstanding public representatives and pillars of the community.

As far as we’re concerned it’s BY FAR the very worst behaviour ever committed by Wirral councillors . However sadly the days when  councillors could be surcharged for their  misdeeds (Tesco heiress Dame Shirley Porter’s gerrymandering  in Westminster being the most prominent example ) or even referred to inept independent body Standards for England are long gone . Would you believe that despite ex-councillor Jim Crabtree’s conviction earlier this year for his repulsive behaviour (ironically) towards LRJ  that he would still be eligible to stand again as a councillor as he did not receive a custodial sentence of more than 3 months!

It would appear the bar for decent conduct for public servants has now been set so low that is it any wonder that we have the appalling shower of public representatives that we have at Wirral Council?  What’s more when you consider that councillors have been apologists for the most appalling conduct of both favoured senior officers and fellow councillors over recent  years that they now lack any MORAL AUTHORITY when it comes to trying to censure the conduct of  others.

Not that we’re apologists for LRJ but if she’s struggling to cobble together a convincing and sincere apology here’s our humble suggestion :

As a once proud upstanding member of this council I am today detumescent before you. Before I prostrate myself  in abject shame and beg your forgiveness I offer these wholly inadequate yet heartfelt words. I realise I could never hope to meet the high standards set by former Labour councillors such as Harry Smith , with his tact, diplomacy and his use of the English language ,and especially his command of Anglo-Saxon . Nor could I ever hope to attain the high office of  Jim Crabtree .  I realise that his telephone manner left a lot to be desired but in every other respect his behaviour was exemplary – at least by Bidston & St James ward standards anyway.  

As for current Labour councillors there is our supreme leader Phil aka Power Boy Pip who has been a particular inspiration to me when it comes to delegating his powers as I have long admired how he gets other people to do his dirty work. As for his deputies what can I say ? There’s big hitter Bernie and casual racist George. And as for Foulkesy? What can I say other than I am simply unworthy to keep their company.  All that is left for me to say is that I apologise for all the wrongs that the Labour group have inflicted upon Wirral and I accept my role as a scapegoat on their behalf.