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Posted by: John Brace | 30th September 2015

What’s in the 370 page whistleblowing report on Wirral Council’s grants to businesses?

What’s in the 370 page whistleblowing report on Wirral Council’s grants to businesses?

 

ICO Information Commissioner's Office logo

ICO Information Commissioner’s Office logo

The BIG/ISUS whistleblowing issues have been already covered in extensive detail by this blog over the past few years. However the latest twist in this story was yesterday’s release of a 370 page 2012 internal audit report into the matter following ICO decision notice FS50559883.

Wirral Council have finally released an internal audit report dated 13th January 2012 that went to Bill Norman (then Monitoring Officer/Director of Law, HR and Asset Management at Wirral Council). Those with long memories will remember that Bill Norman was suspended later that year over the Colas matter, then in September 2012 councillors agreed he should receive £146k plus £5k legal expenses to leave.

Back to the BIG/ISUS matters and let’s just quickly recap the blog posts I’ve written on the many aspects of this matter as they provide some background. I’m sure there are one or two I may have left out (I remember I republished some of my earlier blog posts which contained the agreements for BIG/ISUS in the lead up to the special meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee last October).

So that’s a brief summary of developments so far? So what does the new information reveal? It’s a report by an auditor at Wirral Council which details the allegations the two whistleblowers made, the investigations into those allegations and the auditor’s opinion as to whether the whistleblowers were correct or not.

The executive summary runs from pages 9-16 and details the allegations made by the two whistleblowers and whether what was inspected during the investigation substantiated or refuted these claims. Pages 17-20 go through each of the allegations in detail as well as whether each allegation is correct or not and the implications that follow. Pages 21-45 are the main report which at the end contain 14 recommendations. Had some of these recommendations been implemented in 2012, some of the unanswered questions surrounding this matter would have been dealt with much earlier, such as the transfer of assets from Lockwood to Harbac.

At the special meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee in October 2014, councillors, officers and those speaking at the public meeting were warned not to refer to names of companies, yet the release of this 2012 audit report only removes the names of Wirral Council employees (and former employees). These matters are now out in the open (which should’ve happened before the Audit and Risk Management Committee met last year). Had this 2012 internal audit report been made available to councillors before that meeting the discussion may have been very different.

However it only came to light because of a FOI (Freedom of Information) request made by one of the whistleblowers and even then only after the Information Commissioner’s Office intervened with a decision notice. Certainly the whistleblowers must both feel vindicated by the conclusions reached in this detailed 2012 internal audit report.

The Liberal Democrat Group of councillors on Wirral Council plus the Green Party Councillor Pat Cleary have tabled the following Notice of Motion for the next Council meeting on the 12th October 2015 on the subject of FOI requests. It reads as follows:

OPEN GOVERNMENT ?

This Council recognises that the Information Commissioner’s Office, as the independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest and to promote openness by public bodies, upheld 13 complaints against Wirral Council in the past year.

Of the 18 notices issued between 29 September 2014 and 24 August 2015, the majority (72%) of complaints were upheld.

Council believes that this is a matter for concern, requiring an explanation to its Members.

Council requests that lessons should be learned and applied from these decisions and questions whether Officers have been excessively cautious or defensive in their interpretation of the legislation.

Council, therefore, requests that the legislation is approached with greater regard to the ‘public interest test’ so that the risk of further reputational damage to Wirral can be reduced.

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Responses

  1. I make the comment most obvious to me but which needs restating. This investigation report of January 2012 is very nearly complete, the work of a conscientious office before she left the Authority, just as both James and myself expected of the lady. It lacks for BIG simply the ML Engineering file accidentally discovered hidden in wirralbiz by myself over the Xmas 2011 period. The latter as a scrappy file of very few pages which would swiftly have been absorbed at the next meeting of myself ad Mr David Garry.

    Why then did the Council permit the BIG investigation to be stymied effectively for another 18 months before the publication of Grant Thornton’s BIG executive summary?

    The work on BIG was so far to be complete at January 2012 that I am re-affirmed in my belief of conduct unbecoming . The release of this report does hamper the proper conduct of the internal audit function , one of the exemption claims put forward by WBC’s Surjit Tour and then by Eric Robinson, because it shows that conscientious work by a principal auditor can be ignored for political and face-saving reasons.

    All the above at the expense of two whistleblowers, the expense of the rate-paying public forking out additional fees, not least £50,000 to Grant Thornton, and to the erdf as wirralbiz continued to draw erdf funds,ultimately clawed back to tune of £4.5m from the “Making Business Work” principal the “Social Enterprise Network”, though never recovered. Some councillors have had the mickey taken out from them as had the Daily Post who agreed to lay off stories in Summer 2012 on condition that D Garry’s report be made available to them, to turn up at Town Hall and be told there was no report.

    We will never kow whether this release of a report contributed to Mr Adderley’s voluntary severance; all i know is that it ought to have!

    • I would make an educated guess that the time involved in going through a 370 page report removing the names of Wirral Council officers is what was claimed would hamper the internal audit function.

      However it means the 370 page report (with names) would’ve been available before it was released. Had it been made available to Grant Thornton when they did their reports, I doubt their investigation would’ve cost £50,000.

      The Daily Post is no more. However the internal audit report must’ve been available with the names weeks before it was released. In this decision notice Wirral Council estimates 15 minutes to consider redactions per a page. So that gives an estimate of 92 1/2 hours to take out the officer names in a 370 page report (including the checking by a senior officer). Therefore the report itself in a complete form would’ve had to be available well before the 35 day deadline and maybe even a fortnight or more before.

  2. G’day John

    When will Wirral “Funny” Bizz be in court?

    When will the whistleblowers get serious thanks, apologies and justice?

    Not just some insincere email from “Sir Git”.

    When will the rest of the crud of lying, deceitful senior officers and councillors be extracted as not fit for public service?

    Ooroo

    James

  3. G’day John

    Was that reverent enough for you you little monkey I didn’t even use the C word when talking of all the crud at Wirral.

    Ooroo

    James

    CONSPIRACY………… you little larrikin.

    You just have to laugh at them, how can they be taken seriously?

    “Phil the Deluded Dill”

    “Ankles”

    “The Pretend Friend”

    “The Shyster”

    “He who can talk for…not even worth the ink to mention…angry little shit..

    et al

  4. G’day John

    It would be a good night tonight at the meeting for the crud of Wirral clowncillors to step down.

    An opportunity for all those that hung around REgeNeratiOn in the rotten times to throw in their towels.

    All those that deliberately let the Wirral “Funny” Bizz whistleblowers suffer for four and a half years to admit they are not fat for purpose.

    All those cowards that new Wirral “Funny” Bizz was a very wrong un but wouldn’t stand up and be counted, particularly Clowncillor Crispy Creme Doughnut.

    Yes John I did say fat for purpose because most of the guilty are fat overfed purple headed buffoons or raving loony’s.

    And that is their best qualities John they are not fit to look after the tax pot of Wirralians.

    Ooroo

    James

  5. The Daily Post is no more because it penned its own suicide note when it clambered into bed with the enemy. Good riddance.

    And fare thee well soon to those media organs which are currently inserted into councils and picking up lethal STDs as we speak.

    Long live the blogosphere. In 10 / 20 years’ time the world will be a very different place.

  6. All three of my alleged Section 14 vexatious (‘obsessive’, ‘haranguing’, ‘accusing council officers of lying’) FOI requests put up in desperation by Surjit Tour, and shot to pieces one after the other by the ICO had one connecting feature:

    David Garry.

    More details here:

    https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/freedom-of-information-how-to-refute-a-vexatious-request-rebuttal-by-a-data-controller/

    It seems our friend David Garry was a ‘firm’s man’ through and through, prospered by remaining obedient, bending to the will of his dodgy controllers and paymasters, and even after his costly ‘demise’, became a raised drawbridge, beyond which the public were not permitted to travel.

    I wonder why?

    • Yep let us play this out once more, play it again tho it be not a handsome tune.

      The principal auditor who compiled this recently released report left on sick leave and never returned. Before she left she sent the report to WBC law department and handed all over to D Garry.

      From 370 pages after 8 months Mr garry produced 33 pages with no evidence. I pulled the lies and obfuscations of his report apart at the public meeting of the audit and Risk committee 8th October 2014.

      The Timmins report referred to this comprehensive report at paragraph l of L but we did not know as it was entirely blacked out. The ICO compelled the revelation of the contents of paragraph L which brought to light this near finished report but stating it should not be in the “public domain”. From August 2014 when I knew of it an FOI was placed which the WBC dodged for one year before being ordered by the ICO to reveal its contents

      Interestingly Adrian Jones reported to me that he had been told that the papers were in such disorder that it would cost £10,000 to reassemble them yet there they were all together , scanned on a drive within WBC’s server, so another false trail.

      Where lies the lie?

      • G’day “Highbrow”

        With friends like that low life welsh leprechaun “Pretend Friend” who went out of his way to take you up the garden path I’d hate to meet your enemies.

        Ooroo

        James

        How many Big’s have you found now that went kaput before they lied at Gra Gra’s farce of a public meeting into Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods?

        No wonder “Phil the Deluded Dill” is getting himself a conservative sounding name of a boy to rescue him.

        He should of had one when him and “The Pretend Friend” were all over REgeNeratiOn like a rash, the type that they might have caught in Reno.

        • a further two and all before Mr Burgess told the councillors on 8th October 2014 that no other BIG recipients had gone bust.

          Disinformation, lie, mistake?

          I will tabulate the list to show the percentage of known ltd company recipients who went bust. We probably know of 15 ltds and sole traders out of 40 or so.

          It did not take me more than an hour or so on Compoanies House website so who knows why between March 2013 and July 2013 , 15 weeks, the WBC needed to do “further research” (see their press release) other than to run a river of time between the misdeeds and the revelation of them.

          • Well obviously if the companies went into liquidation after the special meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting last year it doesn’t count. As the October meeting was an adjourned meeting from earlier in the year (and the information originally having been provided for that may have been recycled at the October meeting) discount any liquidations.

            Also it depends what cut off date you use. If Wirral Council class the day the company got a grant as the cut off date, then they can probably safely turn round and say 95%+ of them hadn’t gone bust.

            If people would like to look at the Companies House website themselves, this beta allows for free access to (nearly all) of the documents that Companies House holds on limited companies.

            I think some of the really old documents were only ever held in paper form (before they switched to electronic records) therefore a fee may be charged for some that are decades old.

            However I will qualify all this by pointing out I am not an accountant, I am merely a journalist.

            A journalist who has learnt that some auditors seem to be the sort that are so happy for someone to want to want to talk to them (I’m not thinking of you Nigel) that you say one thing and five minutes later you’re still waiting for them to get to the end of their reply. Mind you that’s not as bad as some politicians that seem to be able to talk for twenty minutes without pausing for breath or a drink of water.

  7. G’day Paul

    It’s all your fault you know you go ask “Sir Git”.

    “The Shyster” must really hate you.

    I find it most amusing.

    Do you know why he hates you?

    Because you are a fair dinkum honest guy and that just sends his great big bulbous head into a spin.

    He can’t work out why you having worked there have the audacity to think they are scurrilous scumbags.

    How you wouldn’t be aiding and abetting the liars and cheats like that accountant with the huge payout he sold his soul for and he can’t process that thought.

    He should be the next on Eccas hitlist.

    Ooroo

    James

    Wirral would be a much more open, honest and transparent place.

    It would be worth the payout if needs must.

  8. G’day john

    How was the meeting last night?

    From the local rubbish propaganda sheet on turkeys voting for turkeys

    Conservative councillor Leah Fraser said later: “They’ve kicked this into the very long grass.(wearing AdderleyDadderlyDooDah’s football shirt)

    “The Boundary Commission would provide an independent and impartial recommendation. Can the same be said for politicians on this committee?

    (“Phil the Deluded Dill” and “Fartin Lobsterpot’s” Kitchen Cabinet)

    “Labour gives the impression that without them the borough would fall apart.

    “If they’re so sure people see them as indispensable why on earth won’t they ask them through consultation?”

    So John what is your view?

    I think Leah Fraser could probably do her own consultation in the salon she spends enough time in there getting a blow…dry.

    Ooroo

    James

    Your favourite irreverent Aussie, I hope!

    • You can watch what happened at the meeting for yourself here

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC9AG906Be0#t=1m02s .

      My personal view is that what’s needed on Wirral are parish councils (also called community councils). However that’s a slightly different point from the “How any councillors should there be at Wirral Council?” question.

  9. G’day John

    Lockwood Engineering Harbac Lockwood Engineering Harbac Lockwood Engineering

    Striiping Stripping Stripping Stripping Stripping Stripping

    Have a great day.

    Keep up the superb work and make sure you have plenty of filum in your camera.

    Ooroo

    James

  10. G’day John

    You put the irrefutable evidence in front of the senior officers and 66 muppets of councillors and what do they do?

    Absolutely effing nothing.

    Come on someone grow a pair and defend the indefensible.

    What is the point of all that salary and those allowances if they can only deal with good things like the game of golf, “Phil the Deluded Dill’s five year crap Kev and Stella’s Stagnant Wirral Waters and other pipe dreams, China, Reno junkets.

    Until they can grow some cojones and deal with the crud that is the likes of the Adderleys Davies’ Foulkes Tour Armstrong and the Jones’s they are not fit for purpose or Wirral’s hard earned taxes.

    Well done so far Ecca now i suggest you continue through legal services were all the sins are hidden.

    Ooroo

    James

  11. G’day John

    Just to change my usual topic of Wirral “Funny” Bizz that I promise when Ecca does the right thing by everyone concerned I will drop for ever more and never mention Wirral again.

    Or even write to you and Leaky even though you are my heroes.

    I will tell people I was born on Merseyside.

    I am ashamed of Wirral.

    Todays local rubbish propaganda sheet

    General manager is appointed for Wirral Youth Zone

    This John is doomed from now in my opinion,.

    It has “Chamber Pot” and CBE written all over it.

    Crash

    Burn

    End

    It will go the way of kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Waters.

    For public record in my opinion it will be all over before “Phil the Deluded Dill’s” five year plan has C B E ‘d

    Ooroo

    James

  12. G’day John

    Just to get back to my favourite topic after that last respite.

    Rugby Union, like “Highbrow” the Wallabies have long memories so revenge for 2003 was sweet.

    No not really footy I just want to say what a good judge of character I am.

    Do I sound like “The Dill” self praising?

    I knew Beverley was a good honest auditor and I think she should be heavily rewarded for her report even though she did overdo the gloss for her employer.

    As you would expect.

    If the other two were paid handsomely for their dishonesty what is Beverley worth for doing a good job?

    On me being a good judge of character what about Garry and AdderleyDadderlyDooDah have I not been saying it for almost four and a half years?

    Will the “Chamber Potty” now through her hands up as I knew she knew.

    Poor little victim……..how was China?

    Ooroo

    James

    Lockwood Lockwood Lockwood Lockwood

    Aussie Aussie Aussie
    oi oi oi

    Being such a good judge of character all I can say is

    “The Shyster”

    “The Angry little shit that can talk…..”

    “Phil the Very Deluded Dill”

    “Ankles”

    “Phil the Dill’s Ugly Twin……..”

    “The Pretend Friend”

    “Clowncillor Crispy Creme Doughnut”

    “Crabapple”

    “Blue”

    “Ghildevil”

    et al

  13. There’ll come a time, not to far away from now when Hobro and Griffiths will have their moment in the sunshine.
    Thus far this pair have experienced pain, angst and buckets of rats urine tipped upon their brow beaten heads by those who’ve become entwined in the ‘big lie’ that’s seen democratic decency and good governance tipped on its head because it suited those who’s hands are or were on the levers of power.
    But, all things change. Time sees to that and soon, very, very soon these two lads will be able to say, ‘told you so’ and it’ll be the other side, the rotters,the stinkers and the conniving gang of chancers and graspers of personal reward that’ll have the black, bulging, billowing clouds fully laden with rancid rats piss tipped on their unwashed heads.
    A bucket of phlegm upon them all I say and hallelujah and Lord be praised for that moment of right, goodness and common decency to arrive when we all say ‘enough pain to Hobro and Griffiths. Let’s see the liars take a few kicks in the knackers’.
    Yep! Let’s see these oily, bottom feeding, leaches and tics of the flesh squirm when they get a bucket of rodent urine tipped upon them. Roll them in nettles I say! A curse on their allotments and a plague on all their pension pots.
    Where’s Stephen Harper gone. Is he ok Mr Brace?

    • Thanks Bobby

      You are a good man.

      I too am concerned about young Reprahnehpets.

      Ooroo

      James

      I can see that you sense our pain and now bitterness about all the scum and indecency of Wirral.

      Luv ya Bobby

    • “Where’s Stephen Harper gone. Is he ok Mr Brace?”

      I’ve no idea Bobby47. This is the last comment Stephen Harper left on the 1st September 2015.

  14. G’day John

    Hope Reps is OK.

    Has Fartin Lobsterpot done any work yet or is he a slow starter like Ecca?

    Can’t wait to see the gloss he attempts to put on the dross that is “Phil The Very Deluded Dill” the boss,

    He will have to spin it better than Shane Warne.

    Throw bigger dummies than Matt Gitteau.

    Score more goals than Tim Cahill scored for his and AdderleyDadderlyDooDahs pathetic football team.

    I presume he will make his debut in the rubbish local propaganda sheet this week or will he go straight for Uncle Joe’s jugular in Kev and Stella’s Rubbish Paper From Over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters?

    Ooroo

    James

    Bet you were right on top of the sporting references from down under John?

  15. G’day John

    Still no word from Reps I am starting to really worry if you look back over his last posts.

    Changing the subject I would imagine tomorrow being Wednesday Fartin Lobsterpot will be putting some spin in the local rubbish propaganda sheet about “Phil the Deluded Dill” so it gives the unruly mob a day to comment and then they can close it down 24 hours later for the weekend.

    Just watched some of the last “Crabapple Fudge It and Risk It Mismanagement Committee on your filum and boy have they put some beef on particularly “The Abbot” and Clowncillor Crispy Creme Doughnut”.

    It was good to see nothing has changed they obviously let “The Raving Loony” out and “The Abbot” was getting fidgety near the end to get to the pub and it looked like he sent “Crabapple” out just before the end to warm up the bus.

    Ooroo

    James

    • Is the first nickname you used your nickname for the temp filling in for the former employee Emma Degg?

      • G’day John

        You say he is only a temp.

        A temp like Gra Gra while they pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

        Ooroo

        James

        Is “The Shyster” still ACTING Head of Law or is this crud the finished article?

        • Graham Burgess managed to persuade councillors to put him on a permanent contract (despite objections from some councillors at the time Labour outvoted them).

          The accounts show a mysterious payment in the last financial year 2014/15 to one employee of if I remember correctly £109,000.

          The law changed (if I remember correctly) that a while ago that such bumper payoffs over over £100k have to be decided by a meeting of all councillors.

          However I think Liverpool City Council in the recent past paid off a former employee about £110k without it going to a meeting of all councillors…

          Councillors ask who this large payment was to at public meetings, but are batted off my officers that are all stating words to the effect “we cannot comment on individual cases”.

          However in answer to your question, Mr. Tour (although he was Acting Head of Law, HR and Asset Management as part of the interim arrangements when his predecessor Bill Norman was suspended) isn’t Acting but is in a permanent post.

          The statutory post he holds of Monitoring Officer is one that has to be decided by all councillors. So if you have any criticisms of that decision you know who to moan to!

          However if you’ve noticed Surjit Tour is from an ethnic minority, so am I and so are you. He’s sadly encountered (and in my presence) rather bad bullying and abuse (possibly racist abuse) from at least one former councillor who I won’t name here.

          Personally I feel the senior management, councillors and employees at Wirral Council should have a percentage of ethnic minority workers that reflects the community they serve.

          Sadly due to racists within political parties it’s hard for those from an ethnic minority to even get on the ballot paper and when the sort of outdated attitudes of former politicians towards those persist towards those from ethnic minority backgrounds, who would want to work in a place where they’ll become a target for the racists and bigots?

          If you knew Mr. Tour as well as I did you’d probably not be quite as critical about him as you’d understand he is somewhat hampered by the working environment at Wirral Council and councillors who routinely ignore legal advice, then blame officers when the politicians get criticised and things go pear shaped.

          Being a Monitoring Officer is a thankless job, which although better paid than mine is one that requires considerable political skills to do correctly and like anybody in politics, whatever you do there will be someone out there who will criticise you for it.

          • G’day John

            Interesting what you say John and at the moment I am prepared to give Ecca the benefit of the doubt but not that “Shyster”.

            Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.

            “He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas”

            I have seen him in action a few times and he is the least impressive legal person I have observed.

            He sent us a bullying letter that was supposed to scare us off that we just ignored.

            I found him quite obnoxious when he and “The Pretend Friend” met with “Highbrow” and myself with the sniggering auditor they hired with the alphabet after his name in the background.

            Can’t work out which of the three is the worst most deceitful scumbag.

            I also believe that “Highbrow” and I have been bullied and have not seen any sign of “The Shyster” being bullied at all.

            Get him to explain Lockwood and Harbac to you John and to explain what his advice was to AdderleyDadderlyDooDah.

            They could bully me on his pay four and a half years later..

            Utmost lack of respect for him..

            Ooroo

            James

            If he is bullied he could ask for £49,000.00 it seems you only have to ask.

            • Like politicians just after an election when in the public’s eyes they can do no wrong for a few months (until the promises start getting broken), as Eric Robinson is new in post I would guess the same applies to him.

              You’ve never seen me in action in a courtroom have you?

              I’ve made an expert witness very upset by proving that their signed witness statement was factually incorrect. I didn’t go so far as to use the phrase "tissue of lies" but as you’ve seen me in action in a public meeting can you imagine what I am like in a legal case (which is territory I’m more familiar with as it’s more rules based rather than emotion based)?

              I have an article written already but to be published about (in part) a mistake made by Wirral Council’s auditor.

              Note: I originally stated published tomorrow, I set the time correctly 8am, but forgot to put the date forward one day so it published it today.

              The comment you make about Mr. Tour (He that lieth down with dogs shall rise up with fleas) could also be made about myself in reporting on Wirral Council.

              It’s a shame Mr. Tour doesn’t have your respect, but there you go.

              I understand about Lockwood/Harbac . The public have a great appetite for scandal, but sadly it takes a better journalist than I to make financial scandals explainable to the average person.

              I will repeat the advice I gave Mr. Hobro once, the reason why the media don’t write more about the issues you raise is because in order to write about them they have to understand them. The same point applies to many of the politicians at Wirral Council too.

              • G’day John

                Them not understanding it means naff all John they gave your favourite useless auditors Grant (this will cost you £50,000.00 plus)Thornton a brief to look at at Big ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods and then ignored it and “The Dill” and “The Shyster” locked it away for months.

                Strange also John that they never even mentioned the thing that probably got rid of AdderleyDadderlyDooDah

                Lockwood and Harbac.

                John if they *uck up and get caught out they should not ignore it and tell all the muppets not to mention it.

                Ooroo

                James

                They are sludge like at the bottom of Kev and Stella’s Stagnant Wirral Waters except filthier and not fit for purpose.

                Or even taxi fares.

                • But that’s the whole point of politicians, they’re supposed to not understand such matters!

                  95% of this can just be explained away as possible incompetence/maladministration by staff that the likes of senior managers can get away with blaming on underlings.

                  However the Lockwood and Harbac matter would have to have been decided at a management level.

  16. G’day John

    Changing the subject for a moment.

    Was that a sigh of relief?

    I noticed in What do they know Wirral reference to this lot

    North West Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (NWIEP)

    Have you ever heard of this lot I was instantly sceptical.

    It looks like a great big massive money spinner that would really be up the street of some of the parasites there is in Local Government that fester around Wirral..

    Just asking.

    Ooroo

    James

    • You know, I’m obviously terrible at marketing. Instead of naming this blog what I did, I should’ve called it:

      the Wirral Council Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (WCIEP).

      But then Wirral Council would’ve probably got grumpy with me for using their name… without permission.

      No I’ve never heard of NWIEP, but then I’ve heard of so many different organisations that make up acronyms in the alphabet soup that is politics that over the years I’ve probably forgotten half of them already anyway…


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