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Posted by: John Brace | 26th November 2015

SATIRE: What if the Saughall Massie fire station decision was a sports event?

SATIRE: What if the Saughall Massie fire station decision was a sports event?

Councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (30th June 2015) voting in favour of closure of Upton and West Kirby fire stations and asking Wirral Council for the land and planning permission for a new fire station in Saughall Massie

Councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (30th June 2015) voting in favour of closure of Upton and West Kirby fire stations and asking Wirral Council for the land and planning permission for a new fire station in Saughall Massie

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station (20th April 2015)

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station (20th April 2015)

Cllr Chris Blakeley addressing Wirral Council Regeneration and Environment committee about a new fire station in Saughall Massie September 2015

Cllr Chris Blakeley addressing Wirral Council Regeneration and Environment committee about a new fire station in Saughall Massie September 2015

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Next week, we’ll be seeing another thrilling political battle between Cllr Chris “Bruiser” Blakeley (in the blue corner with a picture of a Conservative whip on his chest) and Dan “The Fireman” Stephens in the flaming red corner (and a picture of a fireman’s axe on his chest). Who will win following this encounter? This is a battle that the public think both of them can’t win.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: There’s a bit of history between these two characters isn’t there?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Yes, this whole fire station issue is part of the reason Chris Blakeley lost his job working for Esther McVey in May, but since then he’s had more time for campaigning. The kudos for stopping a new fire station in Greasby went to Esther McVey’s rival Margaret Greenwood (now an MP). The two (Cllr Blakeley and Dan Stephens) have had heated exchanges at a number of public meetings and are bitterly opposed on this sensitive political issue.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: But what happened last time?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: The Labour referee Cllr Mike Sullivan declared it a draw on points and decided to call it off for another night. No one had invited Dan Stephens along to that meeting so it would’ve been wrong to let Cllr Blakeley win under such circumstances.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: But strictly speaking Dan Stephens wasn’t the officer behind all this?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Yes that’s true. The man with the plan for this was Deputy Chief Executive Kieran Timmins (his line manager was Dan Stephens). However Kieran Timmins has been made redundant. So nobody can ask him questions. The land aspects of Mr. Timmins’ job are now under the remit of Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: So if asked, Dan Stephens can deny all knowledge of the emails released under a Freedom of Information Act request or in fact anything to do with all this?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: His answer at an earlier public meeting was he hadn’t written the emails, then from memory a Labour councillor on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (who had released the emails) just claimed the Tories were just making it all up.

Although Dan Stephens would be aware of this matter, it would be Mr. Timmins/Phil Garrigan that would be involved in the details. I’m sure Phil Garrigan will brief him ahead of next week’s meeting with answers to questions that are likely to be asked and/or be there in person.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: So what does Dan want?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: He has to work within the agreed policy. The politicians directed him to ask for the land at Saughall Massie and planning permission (or at the very least he has to find somewhere to build a new fire station if the politicians want one).

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: So what does Cllr Blakeley want?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: For Dan Stephens not to get the land at Saughall Massie and planning permission and if he has to build a fire station to do it somewhere else.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: I see, and after over 2 years of political arguing has anything been actually decided?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Councillors on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority did decide to go ahead and ask Wirral Council for the land at Saughall Massie and planning permission.

An interesting twist however, is that Cllr Blakeley seems to be have been stabbed in the back twice by his own side on this issue as both the Conservative government have offered Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service a grant towards the costs of a new fire station and fellow Conservative councillor Cllr Lesley Rennie voted for it too.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: So you’re saying in over 2 years and perhaps millions of words, all that’s happened is arguing, Esther McVey losing her seat and endless rounds of consultation over the £millions this could all cost?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Yes.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: And nobody thought it a good idea and value for money or sensible to just actually sit down and talk through these issues?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Officers did that, but thought councillors would just happily rubber stamp it. Large numbers of the public getting grumpy about a political decision makes politicians nervous. Nervous politicians don’t like to make unpopular decisions unless they know the facts so they delay making a decision.

However councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority seemed quite happy to have the people pay for taxis to and from public meetings, showing that a decision by a politician is only unpopular if the public actually knows about it.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR 2: So you’re saying that endless public meetings, consultations, press coverage and over 2 years of political arguments is because no consensus or compromise has been reached?

SPORTS COMMENTATOR JOHN BRACE: Yep, but it’s been great for our viewing and circulation figures isn’t it!?

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Responses

  1. This is another piece from the imaginative mind of bobby47 not meant to be taken literally.

    Sports commentary you say John! Interesting. Let’s turn it into a realty and let the proceeds of the event, a boxing contest, go to the people affected by the closure of Lyndale School.
    You can of course do the commentary. You could even film the event.It’ll be a fair and balanced live report on the bout that’ll involve that muscular beast of a man Dan Stephens who’ll be fighting for and representing the Other Side.
    For our side, the Brace Blog, Wirral In it Together, The Leaks and all those distressed and bewildered by Government cuts, demented gamblers who spread their bets upon uncertain outcomes and the rising membership of Doggng Associations, I will champion our side and fight Dan. Despite his formidable physique and his clear and obvious ability to smash me into a thousand pieces, he doesn’t scare me!
    Course, I’ll need a Cuts man in case Dan beats the ever loving out of me and so I’d ask that James Griffiths be the one who’s tasked with stitching my fat face back together.
    As for my Second in the Corner I’d like to go for Cardin. But, because he’s not by nature likely to throw the towel in and spare me the future use of my upper and lower jaw bones, you can give that task to anyone you consider is suitable and values a life lived without having to suck soup through a straw for the rest of my pointless life.
    I want to fight Dan Stephens John. Arrange it. And if this yellow bellied, towel tossing, canvas kissing, muscle bound fire fighting monster of a man refuses to meet me in the ring tell him from me that he’s a ninny, a coward and a man who’s afraid of the sight of my blood.
    I want to become a hero of The Wirral John and by fighting Dan and standing up to him I believe that the people will say, ‘ whilst the fool was clearly fat and desperately out of condition he laid down his skull and its contents for us the people of the Wirral’.
    Glory beckons Brace. Arrange it!

    *Edited by John Brace 27/11/15 11:09 to add caveat at start.

    • I fear you are at risk of taking a metaphor too far, anyway as an ex-paratrooper Dan Stephens is in a different league and you’re in the wrong weight class.

      You’re in the “keyboard warrior” class whilst he’s in the “Chief Fire Officer/former military” class.

      I will reveal that Cllr Blakeley has a trump card up his sleeve, Wirral Council’s response to the request for pre-application planning advice has given a 3A4 page (as the 4th page is blank) list of reasons as to why the fire station wouldn’t be granted planning permission.

      So even if Dan Stephens could get the land (even if Wirral Council didn’t want to give it to him the fire service has compulsory purchase order powers) without planning permission he couldn’t build on it.

      So Dan is between a rock (Wirral Council) and a hard place (the councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) and sooner or later someone’s going to have to blink and compromise….

  2. Ok john. Please delete it all pal. It reads badly.

    • Sorry as you know I have a very light touch when it comes to political speech. Just there are legal restrictions on some matters.

      I’ll see tomorrow if it can be edited with a lighter touch or marked in some way that it’s a metaphor, so it isn’t misconstrued.

      Sorry if my edits are not what you wanted, but I have to face such people as part of my job…l

      • And there I was leaning back in my chair, metaphorical milk and cookie in hand, ready to be regaled by the latest delightful diatribe of Bobby47 (Don’t tell anyone but Bobby47’s my favourite commenter) only to find that it reads with as much coherence as if it had come from the hands and psyche of “Jimmy the Punmaker” (Please let it be known that I view all John Brace’s blog posts to be lacking without the latter’s contribution, but I’ll be damned if I understand less than 4% of what he writes at any one time. Don’t tell anyone, but James is my favourite commenter)

        Back to censorship; all or nothing John, please, all or nothing. It is a perverse act to selectively censor words or phrases: first and foremost because it a violation of the author’s creativity (which is a sacred and increasingly rare attribute these days). Secondly, and perhaps more worryingly; whenever I see ****** anywhere I immediately replace it with any of the variants of a certain four letter word beginning “f…”. I’m sure you’ll agree this has the unfortunate effect of changing the intended meaning in quite a significant and unintended way.

        All this to say, I agree with Bobby47, delete the post and lets pretend we didn’t see it.

        • I made a mistake, I have restored the original comment with a caveat at the start.

          Apologies for the censorship.

          Thank you for the feedback that only 4% of what I write is understandable.

          When I used to write for print it used to get edited down so it was understandable at the 13/14 year old reading level.

          I could still do that if it would help with comprehension!

          Sadly I tend to probably write naturally at a reading comprehension level that probably postgraduate so in future I will try to make what I write more understandable.

          I’ve received the feedback, personally I dislike censorship. This is why the blog was originally hosted in America with strong protections there for freedom of speech. Sadly for legal reasons it’s had to come back to the UK.

          You’ve got to understand ultimately I’m responsible for what is published here. There have been comments in the past that have led to complaints, legal threats and trouble and I could envisage this being one of them. I should’ve just left it as it was though.

          • My apologies for my in-clarity!

            The less than 4% was in relation to our dear friend, James Griffith’s comments. I’ve read a lot of them and I honestly can’t make head nor tail of them (something about dills and football shirts…). I put this down to a lack of background knowledge on my part – being, in relative terms, quite new to the region.

            It’s safe to say, John, that I understand at least 94% of what you write, which is why i keep reading your posts!

            I apologise for the unintended offence, but I assure you it is very unintended.

            • Ahh apologies for the misunderstanding!

              I will try and explain it thus. James Griffith’s is Australian and writes in Australian English.

              He also used to work in accountancy. So it is probably a combination of dialect, accountancy jargon and shorthand he uses for referring to some people.

              Dill is Australian slang for an idiot. It’s also a herb in the celery family but I think that James usually means the Australian slang meaning for it.

              Football shirt refers to a recently retired senior Wirral Council employee that used to display a football shirt in his office.

              Welcome to the region, I hope to improve and make the other 6% of what I write understandable too!

              No offence taken, I just thought from your comments about only understanding 4% that I was obviously writing this blog at say the PhD thesis level rather than for a general audience! 😀

    • OK I have restored the comment with one sentence added:

      “This is another piece from the imaginative mind of bobby47 not meant to be taken literally.”

  3. John lad! No need to explain yourself. Not to me. Never! Your a good lad John and I completely understand. Please don’t feather dust the tripe, just delete the thing. It’s really fine by me and it really doesn’t matter.

    • Look, I was wrong and censorship of political speech is wrong.

      If I receive a complaint about a comment I’ll deal with it then, but the only complaints I’ve received are about my censorship for which I apologise.

  4. G’day Bobby

    I know you have no hard feelings for John and nor do I ever.

    He is a true Wirral legend.

    What I am still fuming about is the likes of “The Shyster”, “Phil the Very Very Deluded Dill” and Blott on the Landscape of Wirral” defending AdderleyDadderlyDooLally for four years knowing the law has been broken.

    Allowing him to keep paying criminals, proven by their own auditors, for eighteen months.

    I bet they say they have never read the reports and never talked about these premeditated crimes you don’t accidentally asset strip if you are a legend auditor that AddereleyDadderlyDooLally told me and “The Chamber Potty” for two hours on 5 July 2011 when I blew the whistle on Wirral “Funny” Bizz and Lockwood/Harbac.

    Go ask her she will only be planning their next junket.

    Scumbags above the law.

    LOOKS like they have not only pulled the wool over the eyes of the police, the media, DCLG the Wirral public it looks like the official receiver is going to play silly buggers.

    I can feel more FOI’s coming on.

    John it is bizarre that AdderleyDadderlyDooLally survived when heads of law and CEO’s went with disgrace and they supported him and his ridiculous football shirt.

    Fully supported by “The Pretend Friend” and chief buffoon “Phil the Very Very Deluded Dill” the first Metro Mayor ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    Ooroo

    James

    C’mon Fartin defend that croc oh *hit

    • Right, they didn’t “pull the wool” over this blog (which is part of the media).

      I put enough information out there (and in the days leading to the Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting) for any politician to spend at least 2 hours grilling those about what went on.

      I might point out that the one recommendation that arose out of the Improvement Board was that Wirral Council needed independent people (not councillors) on its Audit and Risk Management Committee.

      Wirral Council agreed this, then it got vetoed by the likes of Labour on the basis that it could end up a majority of independent members and an independent chair.

      However since the chair has been suspended from the Labour Party, ironically it now has an independent chair!

      I might point out they didn’t pull the wool over the eyes of former Councillor Stuart Kelly either (who if still a councillor I’m sure would’ve continued to ask questions about it).

      For Wirral Council’s attitude to FOI, just read my recent blog post on the matter.

      Basically they are looking for bogus reasons to turn down FOI requests.

      A request that should’ve been answered in 20 days took 8 months and they still haven’t responded in full to the decision notice.

      So yes James, I may not have had weekly coverage about the twists and turns but I’ve done my best in reporting the BIG/ISUS matters, published the contracts (or at least from memory all except the boring bit about EU publicity/logos), the invoices and well… hate to put it to you like this, but it’s not my job to write forensic accountancy reports on the matter.

      I will say this to you, a long time ago when Wirral Council was trying to block the release of the BIG/ISUS reports I talked to Kevin Adderley about this and said that it looked bad as it gave the impression they had something to hide.

  5. By the way Bobby a little dickie, not the *ellend that is “Phil the Very Very Deluded Dill”, has whispered that it is time to give Margaret Hodge another nudge.

    I said nudge Bobby you little loveable larrakin.

    She loves hearing about the Most Improved Clowncil in the Country.

    Write soon Bobs. X

    • Just to make it clear, in case there are any comments about censorship. I’m not manually adding the * to James’ comments, it’s being done automatically by the WordPress software.

  6. G’day John

    An observation from todays rubbish paper from over Kev and Stellars Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters.

    They are building, oooh buildings, everywhere the place is thriving, never looked better.

    Do you think that the wannabe Metro Mayor is busy via Fartin Lobsterpot, with his foot, or hand out for dosh, in every camp?

    Ooroo

    James

    And on a local topic Jimbobs has smartened up his act in the desperate hope???????

  7. Dear John, I do apologise for the discomfort I caused you. This is your place and I shouldn’t write irresponsibly. My problem is though I can’t think or write in straight lines. It’s a curse.
    As for you censoring, you are not on your own and I completely understand. Sometime back the mighty Wirral Leaks had the same issue with me and they quite rightly decided to rein in my problem. And it is a problem. It’s mine. Not yours or the Leaks. It’s mine and from hereon I will try to refrain from the way I think and write.
    As for Dan, I’ve no wish to fight him. Quite frankly I only ever picked out Dan because he’s so different to me and the lads I sup ale with.
    Whereas Dan is handsome, physically imposing, highly intelligent and one of life’s achieves, I am the complete opposite and I certainly have no wish to hurt him, you or anyone else with this crazy way of thinking that I’m saddled with.
    Please accept my sincere apology and my personal assurance that from hereon I’ll try and think before I press the submit button.
    My very warmest regards John.

    • Don’t worry about it, this is my job. It’s what I am paid to do.

      Thankfully, the regulations mean I’m protected from libel when it comes to comments on blogs. There are however 101 other laws in this country that I’m sure you will accept are reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech ranging from stirring up race hatred, religious hatred etc…

      Therefore there are 1,001 things comments should be checked for, but I veer towards the side of being extremely liberal and pro freedom of speech.

      I personally find it more discomforting having to flag up all the automated spam comments (that you never get to see) than editing.

      Or for example today I bought a car for my wife for £2,500. Although the smile on her face is worth it, that’s more of a bother than a mistake I made over over zealous editing when I should’ve just written the disclaimer at the start about not taking it literally.

      With your comment I went too far and it’s to you I should apologise.

  8. Rubbish Brace. You owe me no apology. As I’ve mentioned previously, The Leaks quite rightly saw it necessary to ‘deal with me’ and you’ve no reason to treat me any differently. They were right and so were you.
    Not another word about it John. Rob.

  9. I was speaking to one of Dan’s station officers, and I cannot repeat the comments he made here, for fear of getting the bloke into trouble.

    But that’s how things ‘work’ in this crazy world. A world where I’ve just learned this morning that an HSBC banker got sent to prison for 5 years for blowing the whistle on his bosses.

    Whereas his bosses were the same people who laundered drugs money, lied to cover it all up, inevitably caused death and destruction in a foul eruption of stinking hypocrisy right across Central America.

    One of those involved is now being recognised for her sterling contribution (pun intended) with a top post on the board of the BBC.


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