Wirral in Private Eye Rotten Boroughs Yet Again.
It would appear Wirral Council are trying to break some sort of a record for appearances in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs section. Lord and Lady Wirral-Leaks are huge fans of the Eye, and admire they way it cuts through the spin and bluster to tell it exactly like it is. This week it mentions the 4 week delay aka DELAYGATE, plus some disturbing tales of care providers without contracts on the Wirral run by ex-CID officers. We are of course sure that such a link would never compromise the integrity or veracity of any potential Police investigation. The Eye also quotes the suspected amount of money paid to two employees, lets call them Nora Doone and Pike Growler, totals which FOI requests have thus far failed to reveal (see HERE)
There is also a brief mention in Social Work bible “Community Care” with regard to “#DELAYGATE” HERE
Mind you rumour has it that Community Care is on board with Wirral’s Department Of Adult Social Services (DASS) to assist in improving it’s public image, although the feeling is that even Harry Potter’s magical powers would be put to the test in trying to spin DASS in positive light.
This may explain Community Care’s recent “soft focus” interview with new Director Graham Hodkinson, whose grip on the situation could be summed up when he incongruously stated that [within the Department] “morale is good." Sorry, but saying it doesn’t make it so Graham old fruit.
We suggest he reads the comments on the Wirral Globe website for a truer picture of what’s really going on in DASS. There he will discover horrific tales of institutionalised bullying were former staff talk of pressure, intimidation and being forbidden to mention the 4 week delay and ultimately being forced out of their jobs. Or perhaps he might like to peruse the emails we have received - which are numerous and shocking - Here is a quote from just one of those emails.
“To be honest I don’t think I have ever worked in a more bullying environment. I have met bullies in work in other places, but never a culture of nastiness and threat from management at every turn.
I can only presume they must be desperately worried and are doing everything they can to shift the blame for a failing organisation onto newly recruited, overworked and inadequately trained staff - I truly find it depressing that human beings can act like this - remember they are planning all their actions, these are not impulsive actions!”
Klonowski social services abuse inquiry - Names Are released
From the Wirral Globe
“A “key” to unlocking names withheld in the Anna Klonowski social services investigation has been published by Wirral Council.
The move was agreed when council leader Cllr Jeff Green moved to have the document taken out of “exempt” information and placed in the public domain.”
AKA NAMES CLICK HERE
Meanwhile…Over At Clown Hall…
The link HERE will take you to "Wirral Councils Super Smashing New Plan." Well, it might as well be called that such is the euphemistic language, which we can only assume is part of the
minimisation “healing” process which will enable us all to all move along the road of reconciliation together, ruefully mumbling "lessons learned."
The Department of spin will release nonsensical statements intended to paint a picture of an organisation undergoing radical change ie/
“WBC is comprised of many organisational elements with a single purpose: to enable, support and expedite the mission-critical objectives of the AKA Report and we will implement it with Bible-like zeal’
Until of course, the dust has settled and it’s safe to resume “business as usual.” Because you will note there is no talk of personnel change in this document, no mention of disciplinary action and no mention of “abuse.”
"Councillors Say The Funniest Things"
Today’s daft quote (which we suspect could be the first of many) is from Rev Steve Foulkes and his Edward Lear-esque assertion that he has “been absolutely bible-like in sticking to the report’s recommendations. We have made some progress and told members of staff that we will be more open to criticism.”
Sounding like a Netto John Prescott, Steve’s incomprehensible jibber-jabber left Lord and Lady Wirral-Leaks well and truly baffled!! ……But don’t be too hard on old Steve, for to quote Rev. Harry Powell: "Salvation is a last-minute business, boy. " Come into the light Steve….Inspector Knacker is waiting.
Rotten Boroughs (Yup It’s Wirral Again)
Wirral Council yet again appear in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs” section. It makes Lord and Lady Wirral Leaks heart soar with pride that we have such wonderful Town Hall officials looking after the public. So squeaky clean in fact that they make the Jonas Brothers look like Marilyn Manson.
The final sentence deftly sums up many peoples frustration -
“The fact that only two heads have rolled, and far too late, is not cause for optimism”
From today’s Private Eye
Wirral Council - “When The Chips Are Down”
In an age of austerity, where public services are under huge financial pressures it appears Wirral Council can happily spend £129,000 to inform all staff about “Destination Excellence” (details HERE) via a series of slumber inducing “roadshows.”
These “roadshows”, one would hope, bear little resemblence to the fabled Radio 1 road shows of yore hosted by the likes of DLT and Gary Davies. The thought of Councillor Foulkes in a baseball cap wearing a whistle(sic) whilst telling staff to “keep it real” is almost too much to bear. Nope these roadshows are in fact a response to the Klonowski report which showed Wirral Council to be an inward looking basket case. The purpose is to tell all staff “we weren’t very good, we got caught, but we can get better by not sacking the idiots who got us in the mess, please help us cling to power”. Foulkes who clearly will not be troubling the literary world any time soon suggested that everything could be put right if everybody remembered their driving lessons in a staff message (or Authority Broadcast as Mein Councillor likes it call them)
“To me it’s like going back to the basics of learning to drive again. Remember studying the Highway Code? Learning how to change gears? Remember that moment when you thought you would never get the hang of it and that there were just too many things to think about all at once, and now, when you drive, you don’t think about it all and it all just happens automatically?”
Erm, ok Steve whatever, so maybe all staff should wear L plates? That’ll be sure to inspire confidence wont it ! But maybe , if we stick with the driving analogy for a moment, when the public realise just how much money has been wasted by Wirral Councillors and Chief Officers they’ll happily “drive” you all out of office
Let’s have a look :
The council has lost out on millions due to this debacle which include
The money overcharged, estimated at £500,000.
Fees of £3.3m which Wirral Council’s social services lost out on because their charging policy was wrong.
£250,000 for the Anna Klonowski report.
£50,000 for the Martin Smith report, which upheld many of Mr Morton’s allegations of bullying.
£45,000 payment to Mr Morton to remove the “thorn in their side”
£15,000 for an Audit Commission report which uncovered the financial abuse.
Other waste include tens of thousands of pounds spent on two senior social services officers who were suspended on full pay for nine months ( and welcomed back like prodigal sons and daughters by ex Social Services Director John “Curly Watts” Webb and current Chief Executive Jim Wilkie. These staff have now been allowed to leave by “mutual consent” (ie/ here’s some money, fuck off and shut the fuck-up”) So much for accountability eh ? And of course the question that remains unanswered is how much did that cost ? ( we shall see.)
These totals don’t include any other members of staff who have signed compromise agreements, or those who were allowed to leave under the last round of VS ( Under a different administration it must be noted.) A number of whom were heavily implicated in the Klonowski report and were simply allowed to cut and run - again we say - so much for accountability ( Check this link HERE and prepare yourself for puce faced rage!)
It doesn’t include the number of staff who are off on long term sick/gardening leave due to the Councils inability to address exactly WHY they are off sick, and get to grips with the culture of bullying ( as Martin Smith’s report confirmed.) Thus it drags on for months, usually via bullying, intimidation and weekly home visits ( one ex employee informs us they were threatened with the police if they didn’t make contact!)
It also doesn’t include the woeful waste of money on piss poor training (highlighted by CQC.)
Indeed when we are told that one training course handed out gambling chips to all staff bearing inspirational slogans such as “Value" "Inspire" and "Arsewank” and they are told that in order to remain positive they should maybe arrive at work and cheerily greet the Council building like some sort of demented Jimmy Stewart “Merry Christmas, Wessie house! Merry Christmas, Cheshire Lines! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Town Hall!” it becomes crystal clear that the have lunatics well and truly taken over the asylum.
Thank god for Martin Morton and anybody else who has been brave enough to say “this is immoral, this is WRONG”
The Empire Strikes Back…A Bit…
After the suggestion that Council Press office has “spun” against Martin Morton we noticed this tweet…. Hmmm maybe we will
Councillor Blakeley - The Dignified Face of Wirral Politics.
Following on from Councillor Blakeley’s ill-advised, puce faced ranting about Anna Klonowski ( in which he chivalrously calls her “Klown-owski” -give me ribs of steel for I fear my sides may split with mirth!) it appears he’s not adverse to dignified online spats, calling one member of the public “Victor Meldrew,” on his blog. After he’d calmed down had his meds like a good boy, he decided to delete these comments, but alas not before said member of the public had screen capped them. Which we can reveal exclusively below. He’s very much a type first, think later kinda guy don’t’cha think ?Just what we need on the Wirral a cool head…..
Oh dear, Oh dear, oh dear ! Blakeley may be on the Merseytravel committee, but really, is their any need to act like Blakey from ‘On The Buses?’
UPDATE: Its seems Blakey has come up with an explanation for his Klown-oski tweets. He was hacked. I do hope he reports it to Twitter, and publishes their response. Oh look !! A Flying Pig…..
How To Waste Your Time Part 101 -“Talk To Frank”
Remember the Wirral Council whistleblower, who as a last resort, wrote to his local MP, Frank Field MP ? ( See HERE) Well Frank responded and Wirral Leaks have been given access to his fullsome response. Below are his missives based on forensic research and robust questioning of Wirral Council’s senior officers - plus the Whistleblowers follow up, including their final email which to date they have had no reply to.
REPLY 1 FROM FRANK
Thanks for your email about Wirral Council and your own activities as Whistleblower. I am grateful for you writing to me. I have referred your email to the Chief Executive and asked him to report back to me but might I ask please which Councillors you have contacted in respect of this complaint? It is to them that your email should have been address and I’m anxious to link up with those you are working with.
With best wishes and I look forward to hearing from you.
Dear Mr Field
Thank you for your reply
Unfortunately my trust and confidence in local councillors and Senior Officers at Wirral Council [including Jim Wilkie] is at an all time low[see Anna Klonowski’s Corporate Governance report] which is why I have written to my MP.
However I have been in correspondence with Council Leader Steve Foulkes who promised me a full investigation and that I would be furnished with the legal opinions they apparently requested as per his email below:
“The latest update on your whistle blowing complaint, following my last e-mail, is that the solicitor has now drawn up a formal Opinion on the legal position on the Council practices you complained of. This Opinion is now being referred to an external lawyer for an independent view on whether it is legally correct; to be absolutely sure we are getting an unbiased view. When this has been received, you will receive a full response with both Opinions so you can see for yourself what is being said.
If there are any recommendations in either of the Opinions, we will make sure they are followed. I will personally make sure that my Cabinet member for Adult Social Services gets a copy of the Opinions, reads them carefully, and follows up anything that needs to be done. I realise you have been under considerable stress and I hope the news in this e-mail will start to ease some of that stress.”
Sadly this did not happen and I received a brief letter from Howard Cooper [Interim DASS Director] saying he was fully satisfied that there was no blanket policy of delaying care that requested a waiver, I however have irrefutable evidence that this policy did exist and was standard practice within DASS- this has been corroborated by a second whistleblower. I can only assume Mr Foulkes is not being given the whole story by Senior Officers, who it appears are acting in their own self interest.
I also have a problem with Thomas Ryan being the Investigating Officer, as this seems to be a conflict of interest as he was also dealing with my sickness. Indeed the first time he mentioned disciplinary procedures (Serious Absence Capability) was a week after he had contacted me with regard to my whistle blowing. My solicitor informed me that he would certainly link these actions, although I have now signed a compromise agreement to settle any claims relating to Disability Discrimination by Wirral Borough Council.
I have no evidence of any robust enquiry taking place and I would imagine the legal opinion that WBC have sought is based on what they do now, rather than what they did in the past.
Indeed Community Cares Legal Columnist Ed Mitchell, says “The courts will afford a council a reasonable period of time to put a care service in place as they recognise that services cannot be conjured up out of thin air.. But a policy of not even beginning the process of securing services until a set period of time has elapsed cannot be considered lawful.”
Ultimately this case is not just about policy and procedure its about a mindset that seems to be endemic in Wirral Councilthat thinks such a policy is morally, legally or ethically acceptable. As the Klonowski report mentioned.
Moreover it is staggering that when exposed they appear to be deploying the exact same tactics faced by Martin Morton and which ultimately led to the Independent Review ……..and even in the light of the initial findings of that Review they carry on covering up - despite irrefutable evidence!. At a time when the integrity and honesty of Officers is still being called into question surely the absence of any robust and wide ranging investigation can only bring the Council into even further disrepute.
It’s exactly the same with Special Charging Policy - to implement such a discriminatory policy was bad enough but then Council compounded the original sin by covering it up to the extent they were prepared to bully Mr Morton out of a job. Nothing has changed
It is very hard to reconcile my experience working for DASS with the response I have received from the Interim Director and I am therefore seeking your assistance in acquiring the legal opinions referenced above and a copy of the investigation report that informed Howard Cooper’s response to my disclosure.
I thank you for your support and assistance.
REPLY 2 FROM FRANK
Thanks for copying me what Steve Foulkes had already written to you. I can’t see how Steve could’ve been more open or helpful to you. There’s clearly been a problem in the past (which I had exposed by bringing in the serious fraud office) but I do think the council is trying to get its policy on whistle blowing to be one of the best in the country.
Office of The Rt Hon. Frank Field MP
t: 0207 219 5193 | f: 0207 219 0601|w: www.frankfield.co.uk
Follow Frank’s Blog and Twitter for latest news and comment.
WHISTLEBLOWERS RESPONSE 2.
Dear Mr Field
Thank you for your response to my recent email raising concerns over the way Wirral Borough Councils Social Services operates.
If I can make a few points with regard to your reply.
I would like to point out that I have contacted you as a last resort due to Wirral Borough Councils inability to investigate my concerns properly and feel very let down by your response.
With regard to the specifics of your reply, you state Councillor Foulkes couldn’t have been any more open and honest with me . I would disagree, the legal opinion he promised me has never transpired and as mentioned I received a woefully inadequate letter from Howard Cooper which did not demonstrate that any meaningful investigation took place. For clarity let me suggest how Councillor Foulkes COULD have been more helpful
· The Legal opinions he claims were sought by the Council were, as promised, sent to me.
· Informing me exactly how the investigation was to progress , what where its trems of reference and who would be spoken/interviewed.
· Mr Foulkes then ensured Senior officers carried out a wide ranging, transparent enquiry into my concerns and that all documentation with regard to their findings was sent to me.
Among the other issues I have touched upon , in particular using poorly trained unqualified ASO’s , to replace social workers and the complexity of work they are undertaking, Iam delighted to see this has now made national news as this is an issue of huge concern.
In the past you have intervened, most memorably when you publically called for resignations over the “shameful” management of the town’s schools.” You also stated “Wirral’s senior officers have abjectly failed to act in the best interests of my young constituents. “ I would submit that Wirral’s senior officers have and continue to act in their own self interest, and are failing your most vulnerable constituents. Let us not forget this is local authority whose Social Services Department is regularly mentioned as one of the worst in the country and the Klonowski report merely confirms this view with much of it mirroring my own experience and about the bizarre mindset that is prevalent amongst many senior managers in DASS.
Your assertion that you believe Wirral Council wishes to have the best whistle blowing policy in the country is indeed an admirable ambition, however it is patently obvious from my Whistle blowing experience that nothing has changed in the aftermath of Martin Morton’s appalling treatment . Actions speak louder than spin.
However Iam glad that you have contacted the serious fraud squad in this case because I have no doubt that this is a local authority in complete meltdown. And so I would ask again for your assistance in acquiring the legal opinions referenced above and a copy of the investigation report that informed Howard Cooper’s response to my disclosure.
FRANKS REPLY NO.3
Erm, thus far we are informed it, resembles a chrurch bell clanging faintly in the distance, tumbleweed being tossed by the pararie wind etc etc . You get the picture.