Tricked or Treat ? Where the Abnorman is Normal

DIRTY TRICKS AND TASTY TREATS
 
Lord and Lady Wirralleaks and all at Leaky Towers have been casting an increasingly jaundiced eye over recent comings and goings at Wirral Council.However if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor we have been keeping our powder dry and waiting for the dust to settle before we decided to put in our twopenneth worth with regard to the recent departure of Bill Norman Esq - ex Director of Law & Whatnot at the aforementioned esteemed institution (and we use the term advisedly).
 
New Chief Exec Graham Burgess seemed awfully keen to state that following the fallout from a recent investigation concerned with some decidedly dodgy dealings that there was “no case to answer” after all -  and so with a cry of “William ,it was really nothing”  Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer was bade a fond farewell with a big wodge of Council Tax payers cash.
 
This apparently was agreed after the former Director of Law said he wanted to leave the Council and hired some lawyers to fight his corner ( we know! - there was many a chuckle at the Towers when we realised the irony of that one) We can only conjecture that these fearless legal eagles must have mounted a robust and complex legal challenge which went something like: ” Sweet William has been terribly upset by all this unpleasantness so can you be awfully good chaps and pay our legal bills and give him a nice fat cheque to add to his collection and he’ll go quietly .Please?.Pretty please?” .
 
Because as we know that “Torbay Bill” has a bit of  a track record in not only ”dealing” with whistleblowers but also for “trousering the cheque” courtesy of a troubled Council .
 
 
 
However we couldn’t help feeling that there was something decidedly amiss about this arrangement. As I reminded Lady W when I had that unfortunate misunderstanding over my expenses (some pesky penpusher asking awkward questions about claims for dredging the moat at Leaky Towers, the ornamental duckhouse and the business trip with Miss Snoop to Paris) -  I soon came to realise that perhaps it might be expeditious to “spend more time with my long suffering family ” which I believe is correct expression used these days - although Eldritch puts it rather more prosaically as : " Leg it quick- we’ve been fucking rumbled" .
 
This ”accounting error” ultimately meant I had to leave my office with a shoebox  full of the loose change out of my desk drawer,some snaps of Verity under the Eiffel Tower and half a box of Earl Grey teabags.However as far as I can remember I did not depart with £150k of public money tucked cosily into my handkerchief pocket.
 
Therefore ,especially as the nights have been drawing in, the Leaky Towers household have been entertaining themselves in front of the log fire with games of Wirral Council Cluedo .
 
After a hearty,warming supper prepared by cook Miss Knowall - believe me there are times when I simply can’t wait to get my teeth into Nigella’s dumplings-  we all hunker down and lay the suspects on the floor, trying to identify what was behind this seemingly “irrational generosity” towards Mr.Norman. 
 
Now the first thing that perceptive Miss Snoop suggested was that we needed to identify was who sent Mr.Norman off site in the first place?.
However matters were confused by the fact that over the past couple of years there had been so many Chief Execs or Acting Chief Execs ( or “Acting the fucking goat” as Eldritch would have it)  - that it was difficult to identify who might have done the dirty deed just as Billyboy was due to go his well-earned summer jollies.
 
Lady W peeked out from behind her  Sudoku puzzle to suggest that perhaps it was Mr.C in the Finance Department as he was Acting Chief Exec at some point. “ No couldn’t be him “ prompted Miss Knowall   "because he was sent off site at the same time".
And  what’s more I added Mr.Coleman must be a bit miffed that he bagged just over half of what Bill Norman got especially since Norman has been at the Council for 4 years and Coleman had been there for as long as any of us could remember.  
 
It was at this point that Eldritch blurted out “MF”!. Lady W  was rather taken aback by this outburst : “ Really Ernest, must we?, I know you’re frustrated about this situation but the Oedipal expletive is not an acceptable term to be used in a respectable household”  
 
 " No Ma’m. I meant MF for Michael Frater".
 
We all scratched our heads and looked at each other quizzically until Miss Snoop helpfully opened the press cuttings file and yes, indeed there he was!  - he was the high flyer who flew in like a particularly opinionated canary saying that “weird” things were going on in Wirral and that the AKA report was “understated” and he was going to chuck out those birds of a feather who had flocked together to feather their own nests or some such birdshit.
 
However it would appear that before anyone noticed that he’d made not a blind bit of difference, he too flew south (while the Council went west) - clutching a big bag of swag in his beak ( £75K for 6 months work - nice work if you can get it).
 
So forthwith off went Miss Snoop to make some enquiries of trusted sources about the mysterious Master Frater and well,well,well it would seem that he may well have been involved in the suspension of Norman,Coleman ,Green and the other one who’s name escapes us - Lady W keeps referring to him as Mr.Taylor -Dane- but I’m sure that can’t be right.   
 
Anyway I digress -  as the crux of the matter lies in the fact that according to official Council sources “there was no case to answer”.However what seems not to have been considered in all this is an obscure Council ruling that Miss Snoop has uncovered in Chief Officers contracts of employment.And it would appear that Wirral Council Chief Officers, as befitting their Godlike status, cannot be suspended until it is first established that : "THERE IS A CASE TO ANSWER"!.
 
This privilege of course does not extend to the rest of the hoi polloi who work for the Council - but of course what it affords is the opportunity for Chief Officers to head for the shredder ,lean on the underlings to keep schtum and generally get their friends in high places to close ranks, all accompanied by the discordant clamour of the armour plating of backsides.
 
Of course if  Master Frater did indeed send  Bill Norman packing before it was proven “there was a case to answer” then dare we suggest this would have “compromised” Wirral Council somewhat and smoothed legal negotiations towards an amicable settlement on behalf of Mr.Norman?.
 
Of course as we understand that Bill Norman was not subject to a confidentiality clause within his Compromise Contract perhaps he’d like to resolve the mystery and share with the long suffering Wirral public what actually happened.
 
However the reality will be that with Norman,Wilkie and Coleman gone that some very senior Councillors will be resting easier in their beds -seemingly safe in the knowledge that the REALLY BIG DIRTY SECRET will remain forever hidden.
 
Fear not Leakers Miss Snoop has the key to that secret on a chain which she wears round her neck and which nestles ,rather pleasingly and reassuringly on her decolletage.
 
Toodle pip……… for now!……………

The Wirral Council Escape Club

First of all refresh your memories with regard to Rick “4 Week” Delay O’Brien HERE . It would seen having friends in high places has paid off… We are still flabbergasted at how this can be reconciled with implementing a 4 week delay.

See below

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PERSONAL ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING BRANCH

BRIEFING NOTE

NUMBER:  77

DATE:  6th JULY 2012

FROM: RICK O’BRIEN, HEAD OF PERSONAL ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING BRANCH

TO:     PRINCIPAL MANAGERS, SERVICE MANAGERS, TEAM MANAGERS,

SUBJECT:        NOTICE OF SECONDMENT


Dear Colleagues

I am writing to advise you that I will be leaving the Department of
Adult Social Care to take up a secondment with the Department of
Health National End of Life Care Team at the end of this month.  The
secondment is full time for a time limited period and may be extended
to a period of 18 months.  As many of you will know I have a
particular interest in this area of work so this secondment will
provide further opportunities to take forward the national End of Life
Care strategy and national framework for social care at the end of
life nationally and regionally.  My last working day will be Friday
3rd August.

Can I take this opportunity to thank managers and staff for their
support in the last 4 ½ years.  It has been a genuine pleasure and
privilege to work in Wirral with those operational managers and staff
who have shown exemplary commitment and professionalism in taking
forward the service improvement agenda, implementing and
personalisation and developing new models of working with partners.
There is a strong foundation to make further improvements and I wish
colleagues every success in making this happen in the future.

Rick O’Brien
Head of Personal Assessment and Planning

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To reiterate

the End of Life Care Lead.
The same Rick O’Brien who apparently thought up the 4 week delay in commissioning services as shown HERE. This would be the 4 week delay that they claimed didn’t exist, the four week delay that has been described as “illegal,” the very same four week delay in which there was no risk or impact assessment(see here) on how this effected the elderly or vulnerable and the four week delay Wirral Leader Councillor Jeff Green described on his own blog asyet more evidence of a department that was in disarray and a prime example of why we are appointing an ‘independent ombudsman’ to investigate concerns raised around Council practices, particularly in the Department for Adult Social Services” For residents, this will have meant care that could have been provided quickly, wasn’t.” This is also the four week delay that  has caused such public outrage which can be seen by the Wirral Globe comments HERE ,
Meanwhile we also came across an illuminating NHS document
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That’s how you avoid accountability folks !

A Wirral Leaks Welcome

We’ll be watching

Wirral Council On Route 666

Judging by the Globe’s recent report [HERE]Lord and Lady Wirral Leaks will be keeping their whiskey shot monocled eyes on Wirral Council’s Technical Services Department as it would appear there’s yet ANOTHER whistle-blowing case about to, erm, “blow”.

 

And for a change it’s NOT the Social Services Department!!! [Gasp!] Apparently the Audit Commission are due to publish a much delayed and currently embargoed report into a multi-million pound Highways contract. You may recall Frank N. Field MP had called on the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the council’s handling of this contract following allegations made to him by a group of whistle-blowers.

 

It’s a report so secret even the leader of the Council hasn’t had sight of it yet and those involved in writing it have had their tongues cut out.. well not quite, that’s a tad old school Masonic and of course that couldn’t possibly happen in Local Government. I mean this day and age there’s no chance of a cabal of nipple bearing freaks taking over an entire Council is there ?

 

Because the report is owned by the audit commission Councillor Leader Jefferson Green is not even allowed to know who has actually seen it, rumours that it is to be presented to Wirral Council using the medium of “mime” have not yet been confirmed. Watch this space.

Another Storm A - Brewing over WBC …

Wirral vs SIL at the Court of Appeal on Jan 25/26.

"When You Walk Through A Storm….. You Get Wet"

  • A Wirral-based organisation called Salisbury Independent Living (SIL) provided accommodation and support for a number of vulnerable adults. 

  • SIL said that they provided ‘exempt accommodation’. The usual housing benefit rent restrictions do not apply to exempt accommodation (for further details of the nature of exempt accommodation see issue 47 of the Journal of Welfare Benefits Law). 

  • Claims for housing benefit were made to Wirral MBC by approximately 70 residents. The council did not make the decisions that SIL had hoped for. Wirral concluded that the accommodation was not exempt accommodation but, even if it was, many of the service charges included within the rent were ineligible for housing benefit. 

  • The dispute has been protracted having lasted for some 8 years. It is also potentially expensive, SIL arguing that some £3 million in housing benefit is owed. 

  • A number of the residents appealed, with SIL’s assistance, against Wirral MBC’s decisions. However about 8 residents had moved away and were not contactable. Another 2 were dead. 

  • The issue was whether SIL had the right to appeal against the decision on these former residents’ claims. The matter came before the Upper Tribunal. 

What did the Upper Tribunal decide? 

  • The Upper Tribunal decided that SIL did have a right of appeal. This meant that it could itself challenge the council’s housing benefit decisions in respect of the dead or missing claimants. The Upper Tribunal reasoned as follows. 

  • Legislation provides that a “person affected” by a housing benefit decision has a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Schedule 7, para. 6(3), Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000). 

  • Regulations set out persons who must be considered, for appeal purposes, to be persons affected by a housing benefit decision (reg. 3(1), Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001). This did not include SIL. 

  • The fact that SIL fell outside the Regulations was not fatal to SIL’s case. This was because the Upper Tribunal held that the Regulations do not contain an exhaustive list of persons affected by a housing benefit decision. 

  • The Upper Tribunal decided that SIL was a “person affected” by the housing benefit decisions for the missing claimants. 

  • However, the benefits authorities have now been granted permission to appeal against the Upper Tribunal’s ruling. The appeal is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal towards the end of this year or at the beginning of 2012. 

Info Here

Golden Cone II - Wirral’s Staff Incentive Scheme.

Remember our  jawdropping “Golden Cone” story ? Wirral Borough Council’s positively Gervasian "Staff Incentive Scheme ? "  ( See HERE)  Well it seems to have piqued the interest of somebody on the excellent What Do They Know? Website

Who put in this freedom of Information request

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"Dear Wirral Borough Council

Following an employee posting a picture of ‘the Golden Cone’


Could you please disclose for what targets where members of staff
granted ‘The Golden Cone’ and which members of staff were awareded
‘The Golden Cone’ for 2010 and 2011.

Could you also please detail the ceremony of which staff were
awarded ‘The Golden Cone’

Could you please detail any policy that states that such a monthly
award ceremony was a good use of tax payers money.

Yours faithfully,

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The reply from Wirral ?

"Staff who were awarded the Golden Cone were presented with the Cone by either the Director (if he was available) or by the Principal Manager – Human Resources at the employees desk. There is no policy. The procedure was started by the previous Director of Adult Social Services and continued until January 2011. No awards have been presented since this date due to changes within the department.

The Golden Cone Award was for staff based at Westminster House. It guaranteed that person a parking space at Westminster House for a month. “

and here are the winners http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/88015/response/220346/attach/html/3/Golden%20Cone%20Award%202011.doc.html

Not one for "having a nice smile and resembling a nodding dog "  or "never questions bad practice"

We have also been given exclusive seceret footage of the “ceremony” that took place when awarding the not paticulary sought after award HERE