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Posted by: John Brace | 4th August 2016

Why am I angry at Wirral Council for allegedly breaking more laws to cover up a 3 year investigation and subsequent decision by three councillors as to why Councillor Steve Foulkes broke the Code of Conduct and should apologise for leaking information about Councillor Jeff Green to the press?

Why am I angry at Wirral Council for allegedly breaking more laws to cover up a 3 year investigation and subsequent decision by three councillors as to why Councillor Steve Foulkes broke the Code of Conduct and should apologise for leaking information about Councillor Jeff Green to the press?

                                        

Councillor Steve Foulkes (Labour) (right) speaking at a recent meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee (28th July 2016) while Councillor Pat Cleary (Green) (left) listens

Councillor Steve Foulkes (Labour) (right) speaking at a recent meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee (28th July 2016) while Councillor Pat Cleary (Green) (left) listens

17/8/16 Amended to correct name of Phil Goodman to Peter Goodman.

Firstly, I’m cross with Wirral Council.

What is it this time you may wonder?

Well I have a long list of grievances, but not being a Wirral Council employee no formal route (ok I could bring some of these up with my trade union) to take these to a grievance hearing, nor the time or inclination at this stage to get the judiciary involved.

I’m cross at being denied (along with my wife) to be present at what I perceive to be (in part) to be a public meeting of the Standards Panel on the 28th June 2016 in Committee Room 2 at Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe, CH44 8ED starting at 6.00pm.

I’m cross at being shouted at by junior public facing employees of Wirral Council who I will gladly name here from what I remember as Shirley Hudspeth (Legal and Member Services) and Peter Goodman (whatever the facilities management side of Wirral Council is called as frankly I’ve lost track of restructures? Is it infrastructure, asset management something like that?) with their view that it was a private meeting, but I’m not cross at them in a major way because I’m more cross at what I presume are their senior manager/s or senior manager/s from another department at Wirral Council who told both of them to say this to me (even though it isn’t true) as it seems a senior manager/s at Wirral Council would stoop that low as to instruct junior employees to do what they (senior manager/s) should have the guts to do face to face themselves.

I’m cross at Wirral Council for its website not working as I write this at democracy.wirral.gov.uk so I can’t include links or refer to the details. But yeah, whoever’s job it is to fix it may be on holiday.

I’m cross at a senior manager (Joe Blott) and his external legal adviser (whose name I can’t recall without checking Wirral Council’s website that isn’t working). Yes the external legal advisor is the guy in this photo as I wasn’t allowed to be at or film him at the public bit of the Standards Panel meeting (and just as an aside this law allows me to film such public meetings even if I’m not physically in the room, which I suppose next time if I’m not allowed actually in the room for a public meeting I’ll have to do the filming either through the meeting room door or from the car park outside!)

However in Joe Blott’s defence I don’t think he understood why the legal advice he got was flawed and had the external legal advisor pointed out why it was flawed he’d have had to have criticised his client (Wirral Council) which is a big no-no if he ever wants further work from Wirral Council in the future.

I’m not cross with Surjit Tour who seems to have a conflict of interest. But if he does have one, Joe Blott is supposed to deal with it!!!

I am cross with the fact that 5 clear working days notice of the date, time, agenda and reports (if not recommended to be heard in closed session) for the Standards Panel meeting on the 28th June 2016 was not given by the 20th June 2016, but instead yesterday the 3rd of August 2016.

I’m cross that a complaint about a councillor (Cllr Steve Foulkes) as to what happened in July 2013 has taken Wirral Council around three years to resolve.

I’m cross that Patricia Thynne in her report refers to myself as having filmed a Youtube video referred to when I didn’t film it and it was indeed someone else! I’m also cross with myself that relying on Patricia Thynne’s report I then left a comment on the Wirral Leaks blog only to be embarrassed into being told it is a mistake in her report.

I’ve recently learned that Cllr Gilchrist was the Chair of the Standards Panel, I’m cross that I wasn’t allowed to go to the public bit of the Standards Panel meeting where this was decided on the 28th June 2016 to find this out and had to wait around a month to know whether it was Cllr Chris Blakeley or Cllr Phil Gilchrist.

I’m cross that in messing up what’s detailed above Wirral Council is relying on a legal power that was repealed years ago.

I’m cross that for reasons of internal capacity here I didn’t take things further over what happened to us at the meeting on the 28th June 2016 whether by letter or subsequent legal action against Wirral Council.

However, moving to the complaint itself, yes I was there in the public gallery in July 2013 in the adjournment while it happened. Yes Cllr Steve Foulkes came in and spoke with Liam Murphy (referred to as Person C). Yes, I was too far away (at the other end of the public gallery to hear what they were saying). Yes I remember Mr Nigel Hobro coming in to the public gallery at this point and wanting to speak with Liam Murphy but getting the brush off.

Yes, my opinion (not that it matters really) is that I think it is fair that Cllr Foulkes should apologise.

However, isn’t it ironic that as Cllr Foulkes previously made a complaint about Cllr Chris Blakeley talking to the Liverpool Echo about whether Cllr Foulkes should be made Mayor (a complaint that Cllr Chris Blakeley was cleared of as you can read about here) that Cllr Chris Blakeley should then be on the Standards Panel to decide about a complaint about Cllr Foulkes leaking information to a Liverpool Echo journalist? Or is that just karma?

Yes Person C in the report is Liam Murphy. Yes I feel sorry for him, yes it is a breach of journalistic ethics to reveal the source of information, but by the sounds of it he (Liam Murphy) was being used by Cllr Foulkes anyway for political gain.

As to the payoff to Emma Degg, her initial silence (prompted in part it seems by the payment of public money), followed by what I presume was a guilty conscience, well at least she finally did the right thing!

As to the allegation that witnesses “colluded” to bring down Cllr Foulkes, well Patricia Thynne feels this is not credible. I will comment however that unless you are in disguise, nobody knows what you look like or in an echo chamber, it’s frankly foolish in the extreme to bring up anything confidential (whether in conversation or by passing it to them) with a journalist when you have people watching you do it, in a public place, in a public building, in the adjournment to a high-profile public meeting.

However Cllr Foulkes’ explanation is he was under a lot of pressure.

Tip for people reading this, if you want in the future to leak something to me, there’s the post (probably the most secure method), email or telephone (if you want the intelligence agencies to read/listen to it in transit) or other ways of sending it to me online.

Yes you can talk to me or hand me things in person, but there are always people watching!

I did ask Cllr Steve Foulkes in person at the end of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting on the evening of Thursday 28th July 2016 to comment on the complaint. He refused to comment directly on the matter (I presume following Mr. Tour’s advice to councillors to keep their mouth shut) and referred me to Wirral Council instead.

So yes, I’m still cross and Wirral Council is finally well dealing with what should’ve been done properly the first time!!!

By first time, I don’t just mean the original complaint (that this morphed into), but what happened at the Standards Panel meeting too.

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Responses

  1. You’re not the only one who’s unhappy John. There’s a long list of us.

    As for those who are pleased with the outcome, the list is a lot shorter and more predictable, but includes:

    Steve Foulkes
    George Davies
    Joe Blott
    Surjit Tour
    Eric Robinson

    Patricia Thynne (£), because quoting you, “(s)he’d have had to have criticised [her] client (Wirral Council) [The MP for Birkenhead or “Progress”] which is a big no-no if (s)he ever wants further work from Wirral Council [The MP for Birkenhead or “Progress”] in the future.”

    How George Davies walked out of this unscathed is an act Houdini himself would never have pulled off … but us conspiracy theorists think we know why.

    • Sorry that comment I made wasn’t about Patricia Thynne (the Independent Investigator), but about the legal advisor to the Standards Panel called Mr Jonathan Goolden (who is a Member at Wilkin Chapman LLP, employee at Wilkin Chapman Group Ltd, employee at David Buckle Ltd and employee at Wilkin Chapman Members Ltd).

      I read through Patricia Thynne’s report and thought why does it take this many witnesses? Then I read the rest and realised both Cllr Foulkes and Cllr George Davies suddenly had (and totally unexpectedly) both developed what I can only describe as memory loss in relation to some of the key events. Having said that that is not unusual considering this was Thynne’s second report and by then the events were in the dim and distant past. Week being a long time in politics and all that..

      Cllr George Davies has been Cllr Foulkes’ agent in the past. The reason Cllr Davies escapes without censure is because the narrative lays the blame on Foulkes’ door and that Cllr George Davies is just a poor innocent colleague that’s been used unwittingly by Foulkes to get what Foulkes wants!

      It’s also because of document PT7 which recommends regarding Cllr George Davies for it all to just be hushed up behind the scenes. For the Chief Exec and Leader of Wirral Borough Council to be told as well as the Leaders Board (which doesn’t meet in public). For everyone to just say sorry to each other and move on! Most Improved Council and all that!

  2. Try working for them for 30+years,with some dodgy bosses,especially one who suspended me and a year later was suspended himself. My alleged ‘offence’ was bringing the Council into disrepute, his made the press,Local and National,including Private Eye,I was robbed!

  3. G’day John

    Feeling your pain.

    They are beyond a joke.

    Administration is the only answer if all the other parties accept this labor behaviour because it is just WRONG.

    Ooroo

    James

    • That’s down to the Conservative government if they want to send in administrators to wrestle control out of the Labour Cabinet’s hands.

      It sadly (only) happens rarely in places like Rochdale and Tower Hamlets. And believe me in those places it was a lot lot worse than it has been in Wirral!

  4. […] Why am I angry at Wirral Council for allegedly breaking more laws to cover up a 3 year investigation… […]

  5. G’day John

    The rubbish local propaganda sheet has got a nerve

    New scandal at Wirral Council after probe reveals ‘smear attempt’ on Tory leader

    What is new about this scandal?

    If they had reported this years ago when they would have been seen as an on the ball news paper instead of getting into bed with the likes of Burgess, Degg, AdderleyDadderleyDooLally, Davies, Foulkes et al.

    Too late for them now John after sleeping with the (new) enemy.

    Ooroo

    • Graham Burgess once referred to the local press as, “partners;rdquo; in a public meeting which made me cringe somewhat as it implies the press are not independent and too close to the people they report upon.

      I did report on this “scandal” as you put it “years ago” but Wirral Council refused various FOI requests for the information they’ve recently published in the last few days about it.

      The truth is though, it takes a long time before the mainstream media pick up matters such as these. From a journalistic perspective it is easier to have someone else write a report (in this case Thynne 2) and quote from it than do the investigative work when councillors are being told to keep their mouths shut.

  6. G’day John

    Friday night eh and I suppose they will all (Foulkes Davies Davies) be getting the drinks in at “Hooligan’s Bar” and laughing at the wirral taxpayer for having got away with it again.

    Even the racist bit.

    I presume they will be back in the media again next week and will have put their women folk back from where they dug them up from while Thymme was pretending to do a job. For £17,000.00.

    Ooroo

    James

    Haven’t seen one comment suggesting “Ankles” isn’t what we all know he is.

    Hey Joe Blow?

    • Well the Conservative government got away with most of the sanctions for councillors if they broke the rules in if I remember correctly (but this is just from memory) around 2012.

      These days it’s largely down to the political parties to self-police their own party’s councillors’ conduct.

      Councillors can’t for example be suspended any more. As I think I’ve previously stated AFAIK the only criminal bit of the Code of Conduct left is not declaring a pecuniary interest at a meeting.

      So tens of thousands of public money is spent on a report, the councillors are then told by the councillor being complained about (and their legal rep) that it must be dealt with behind closed doors. That is to say it must be hushed up and kicked into the long grass.

      Forget the law stating that the appointment of chair, declarations of interest and exclusion of the press and public bit is required to be open to the public, we [Wirral Council] will just put a bin behind the door to the meeting room to prevent the door being opened (which is also a fire exit therefore a breach of building regulations), to prevent the public coming in.

      So break another set of laws to make sure the first lot gets broken. Then just unleash their Wirral Council employees to engage in a shouting match with anyone who should challenge this behaviour.

      If that doesn’t work the Wirral Council employees start insisting I don’t look after Leonora properly in a way to try to upset me and try using her to get to me.

      That’s about the part of this I’m most angry about as Wirral Council want to make it personal. It’s why the whole saga triggered industrial action here.

      If Foulkes comes back in to the meeting when he’s told to, similarly he’ll get shouted at to go away, the "independent" person Brian Cummings will be made sure to be kept away too.

      So you end up having a public meeting behind closed doors, the councillor that made the complaint doesn’t know what’s going on, the councillor the complaint is about doesn’t know what’s going on, the public doesn’t know what’s going on as they’ve not even been allowed to be present at the first three agenda items when it was a public meeting and the independent person is kept in the dark too.

      But what can be done about this level of corporate governance screw up? In theory you can tell the Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour, but he seemingly has some sort of conflict of interest so won’t do anything (his hands are tied) plus his line Manager and Deputy Monitoring Officer Joe Blott is involved.

      Do you tell the external legal advisor (being paid by Wirral Council) who is hardly likely to tell Wirral Council (who is paying the organisation they work for) that anything they’re doing is wrong?

      If so are they likely to offer independent and well informed legal advice on a point of public law to their paymaster? Don’t be stupid!

      It’s just a complex web of conflicts of interest, loyalty to a paymaster, removal of independent oversight, removal of press oversight, removal of any kind of accountability that sums up the fact that at Wirral Council no one is ever to blame, because pinning responsibility on one person is wrong when around by my count nineteen people have some responsibility for what went on (11 Wirral Council councillors, 3 Wirral Council "independent" persons, 4 Wirral Council employees & 1 external contractor (paid for by Wirral Council).

      Senior managers can’t be held responsible, because councillors signed off on it. Councillors agreed to it because they trusted senior managers to do their job properly.

      Senior managers get legal advice from a solicitor which they have to believe because they don’t have any sort of legal background or qualification or way of checking it is right.

      Anyone of these nineteen people could’ve stepped in at some point and prevented it escalating to this kind of complete corporate governance screw up, so it’s time to start holding them to account for what they’ve done!

      I’m cross and will carry on being cross.

  7. Still, the crooked, mendacious ******** got an award from the LGC for being MOST IMPROVED… and the LGA Improvement Board got paid stonking amounts for a whole year of whitewash … topped off with a liberal coat of gloss.

    And for some reason the Legal Department got busy and needed more staff.

    Jobs were created.

    …let’s all REJOICE THAT.

    • Part of the rationale for the legal department being expanded at Wirral Council was to deal with the backlog of FOI/EIR internal review requests.

      Of course you could just say, why not make efforts to get the FOI or EIR decision right in the first instance and avoid the need for so many internal reviews. However this is probably a point that Wirral Council would find too difficult as they refused to implement many of the recommendations agreed by councillors over how FOI or EIR requests are handled.

      As to the LGA Improvement Board, if they’d had the guts to meet in public (rather than meeting in public for about 10 minutes every third meeting), then they’d have gone up a little in my estimation.

      If anything the LGA Improvement Board was a backwards step on their improvement journey and meant there was a lot of lost time.

  8. G’day John

    I have been cross for five years and still just as cross.

    In the wirral “Funny” Bizz case, must be about £300,000.00 defending it by now, they controlled the clowncillors they controlled the police they controlled the staff up to the point of getting an employee to write a croc of **** report and pay him off £48,000.00, they controlled the investigators.

    It is just a pity John the ill legal department is onside with these crass cruddish parasites.

    We know from Wirralgate what they think of “The Shyster” who I have absolutely no pity for.

    Ooroo

    James

    How can it not be a job for

    THE ADMINISTRATION

    Sunday morning and were are they whilst Lyndale and Girtrell Court people are suffering.

    They might start work slowly on Monday and work up to self proclaiming and bullshitting in the media by Thursday.

    Vile vile specimens.

    You have to keep going John, who else will?

    God bless you.

    • I’m in desperate need of a holiday James, a break.

      Thankfully there aren’t many public meetings in August 2016, but in my absence Leonora is able to do some of what I do.

      I’m using last week and next week to catch up on pending matters and anything that has a deadline.

  9. G’day John

    Enjoy a bit of a break whilst these scum bags go on their holidays with their families they have let down so terribly terribly badly.

    It is amazing work you do John.

    They can’t just ignore you like they do us whistle blowers.

    They think whistle blowers will go away they know you won’t as easily and you have just to look and find more crud..

    Ooroo

    James

    Rest easy John they shouldn’t with their dirty filthy stinking consciences.

    Davies
    Davies
    Tour
    Armstrong
    Adderley
    Ball
    Burgess
    Wilkie
    Norman
    Garry
    Jones
    Jones
    Crabtree
    Basnett
    Bradbury
    Foulkes
    Et al

    • Well I’ve just completed my request by email to look at various invoices/contracts with Wirral Council.

      Technically speaking they have till Thursday to arrange a date for inspection.

      From a practical perspective they’ll probably exceed the deadlines as they have in previous years.

      To be honest with you James I’ve been reporting on Wirral Council for so long I’ve quite literally forgotten a lot of what has happened.

  10. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Very well written!


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