Interviews to happen with 8 consultancy firms over tender for confidential advice on cuts to Merseyside’s police and fire services

Interviews to happen with 8 consultancy firms over tender for confidential advice on cuts to Merseyside’s police and fire services                              In the interests of openness and transparency I’ll declare at the outset that I’m the Appellant in a sub judice First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) case involving Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (2nd Respondent). I … Continue reading “Interviews to happen with 8 consultancy firms over tender for confidential advice on cuts to Merseyside’s police and fire services”

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke (with his microphone on) at the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 7th June 2016

Interviews to happen with 8 consultancy firms over tender for confidential advice on cuts to Merseyside’s police and fire services


In the interests of openness and transparency I’ll declare at the outset that I’m the Appellant in a sub judice First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) case involving Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (2nd Respondent).

I was briefly remembering what happened five years ago in 2011.

Five years ago (well four years and ten months ago) if you remember it was the summer when there were riots. The riots were so widespread the police had difficulty coping. It was similar reasons that led to the 1981 Toxteth riots.

The Lib Dems’ attitude towards ethnic minorities was unfortunately the kind of attitude (especially from one of the two parties in the Coalition government at the time) that led to the riots. I remember vividly being at a North West Lib Dem regional conference where a party member stood up and proudly stated to the entire room of dozens of party activists that he would never choose a candidate from an ethnic minority background. So if you wondered why all the Lib Dem MPs (and indeed many of their councillors) were white, male and pale you should understand now!

There was of course an uproar from those from ethnic minorities in the room and the chair had to settle things down before the person who’d said it got drowned out through a lot of shouting.

In 2011 a black man Mark Duggan was shot dead by the police, in 1981 the Toxteth riots followed the Brixton riots which were also triggered by poor relations between the police and ethnic minorities.

In fact I know someone who wrote a book From the Empire to the Rialto: Racism and Reaction in Liverpool 1918-1948 that discusses the reasons behind the Toxteth riots in more detail.

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Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s Police and Fire Collaboration Committee 7th June 2016

However what’s the point of mentioning the above? Well Tuesday’s meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (you can watch video of the 13 minute meeting above) reminded me of a change in the culture of the police. A long time ago I used to report on the Merseyside Police Authority (before there was a Police and Crime Commissioner who started in November 2012), so I remember how matters involving Merseyside Police used to be.

In fact when I used to report on the Merseyside Police Authority it was obvious from the statistics shown to councillors that you were still far more likely to be stop searched in the Wirral area (although there were problems all over Merseyside to varying degrees) if you were from an ethnic minority background.

When Deputy Chief Constable, Andy Cooke, QPM (soon to be Chief Constable) didn’t use his microphone during the Police and Crime Collaboration Committee and my wife said she couldn’t hear, he apologised to my wife and turned it on.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke (with his microphone on) at the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 7th June 2016
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke (with his microphone on) at the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 7th June 2016

This shows things have changed. The police "half" of the committee has learnt from bitter experience that it is better to apologise, learn from and correct their mistakes and move on. This is indeed the very hard to learn cultural lesson to be take away from high profile matters that happened a long time ago involving the police as a whole.

One of the nine Peelian principles is, “To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.”

However the fire service/fire authority culture is different. The Chair interrupted the meeting to tell my wife off for interrupting (which he does while looking directly at me rather than her).

I’m really am not entirely sure why he looked at me when he was saying this rather than her? Did he want me to say something to her? Is he not aware of Article 21(1)?

I suppose I should just be glad that he didn’t start ranting at me like his former Labour colleague Cllr Niblock (who until recently was on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) once did.

Just for clarity I was standing up behind the camera, she was sitting down to my left. So you’d have to look in completely different directions to face myself or Leonora. You can hear clearly my response to him on the video above.

Bear in mind that already during the meeting two people had commented on the minutes and hadn’t ask permission for the Chair to speak and aren’t on the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee itself.

The Chair indeed didn’t say anything to them (for the purposes of clarity those two were I think from memory the Deputy Chief Constable referred to above and if I am correct the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner)!

The recently elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside Jane Kennedy wasn’t there. Her Deputy PCC Cllr Sue Murphy was (yes Jane Kennedy had previously stated she wouldn’t have a deputy but changed her mind part way through her previous term of office). Thankfully this meant the meeting started on time as a previous meeting of this Committee had been delayed from starting because Jane Kennedy arrived late and the person chairing the meeting didn’t want to start without her.

The meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee agreed to hire consultants to advise them on how Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (and Authority) and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside can work better together.

I realise some may well comment along the lines of isn’t this what managers in the public sector on six-figure salaries are paid to do? However have you ever heard of a public sector manager either volunteering to offer themselves the sack or massively reducing the headcount they manage?

Yet in these times of seemingly never ending austerity, you the 1.4 million members of the public on Merseyside who finance the fire service may well ask why does more money need to be spent on consultants?

Eight organisations have applied for the role and there will be interviews later this month. You can read the detail here.

There are many areas within the Corporate Services Review, you can read the list on page 3 here.

Unusually (as they seem to have been quite vocal at previous meetings about the impact on jobs) as far as I could tell the trade union representatives weren’t present for this meeting.

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

12 thoughts on “Interviews to happen with 8 consultancy firms over tender for confidential advice on cuts to Merseyside’s police and fire services”

  1. G’day John

    Talking of clowns.

    Their local rubbish propaganda sheet

    Man behind the Liverpool Giants plans to bring them across the Mersey

    They are looking for topics John.

    They could reenact Wirralgate

    They could reenact “Nurse Rat” missus bilong “The Pretend Friend” closing a nursing home.

    They could reenact “Ankles” and The Brawl at The Hall at The Charity Ball when he was Dunny Chain Wearer.

    They could reenact Wirral “Funny” Biz taking off to Portugal with £2,000,000.00.

    They could reenact “The Pretend Friend” Stabbing People in the Back.

    They could reenact “Phil the Very Very Deluded Dill” kowtowing to Uncle Joe as in the article.

    Kowtow, which is borrowed from kau tau in Cantonese (koutou in Mandarin Chinese), is the act of deep respect shown by prostration, that is, kneeling and bowing so low as to have one’s head touching the ground.

    All in all John I presume “The Dill” is doing as he is told.

    Saw footgolf advertised in North Wales but nobody playing John.



    1. Don’t worry James, I sometimes think they play a game in public sector PR departments.

      At the end of the week they want positive news stories about them to outnumber the negative ones.

      Far easier to write a story from a press release than do some investigative journalism eh?

      I have more topics to write about than time to do it, but as the George Orwell quote goes, “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”

      Then again I was told something when I was 18 shortly before I went on strike, “Individual people don’t matter.”

      But as you and I know that’s hardly true is it?

  2. I was going to say they should have consultancy on the school curriculum, but looking at the latest job offers, there are over 10,000+ consultant posts being advertised, at £30 to 40,000 starting paying in the first year and maybe rising to £100,000 in the third year, it seems to be this Countrys biggest growth market.
    You have managers earning £30.000+ to manage and they can’t even do this, so maybe we get rid of the managers and just hire a consultant when and if needed.

    1. Well I’m a manager. Much of the work I do though can’t be outsourced.

      The public sector seems to be more keen on consultants than I am.

      I used to do consultancy work, so I know how there are a lot of bad consultants out there who talked a good talk but whose work was shoddy and I was called in to fix.

      The way things are going in local government a lot of managers’ posts are under threat of being made redundant. Of course this should give them an incentive to do a good job.

      However there are businesses and companies out there that charge through the nose for consultants that’ll just come in and write a report repeating back to the public sector organisation what they’ve told the consultants (which isn’t really adding much value is it?)

  3. G’day John

    I thought I would share some good news with you for a change.

    I got a beautiful new granddaughter in Australia this week, fine fit and healthy and at least I can afford to see her on skype.

    I will endeavour in my life time to ensure she never steps foot on the wirral peninsular the place I am now ashamed to say I grew up.

    The second breath of fresh air was an email a very kind person sent on to me and I forward for your viewing pleasure

    Dear Councillor Jones,
    Following our all too brief unplanned meeting this evening, during which you attempted to characterise me as a ‘difficult’ person, I felt there was a need to set the record straight with some factual information, in place of your hopelessly wayward opinions.
    What your council did in a very deliberate manner to courageous Mr Hobro, a Wirral resident, as he and Mr Griffiths bravely tried to expose the criminal theft of £millions in European funding under you and your colleagues’ failed stewardship was hideous, calculated, cruel and deeply duplicitous. The behaviour of the council and its members ever since has been incompetent, mendacious and ‘back-covering’ to the nth degree.
    To draw an analogy … for me, it ranks alongside the behaviour of the brand of vermin that, seeing the tide turning, bayonets the bodies of their fellow soldiers to ensure they’re dead, then rifles through their pockets before deserting to the enemy with their loot.
    As someone who has fought for his country in the past, the Wirral members’ sordid conduct disgusts me.
    It follows that the depth of the regard in which I hold certain members of this council, having heard for myself from many varied sources (some VERY senior) what they are capable of, is so low as to be scraping the mud in very darkest depths of the Marianas Trench.
    And to think that people such as you and your wife are paid an enormous amount of public money to represent mine and my family and friends’ interest colours my disgust with the deepest sense of foreboding and revulsion.
    Please don’t attempt to post any bogus thank you leaflets through our door again at any point in the near, medium or distant future,
    Hope you’re enjoying the lovely Seacombe weather,

    So John, what a great week.



    1. Congratulations on the new granddaughter.

      I will guess the reader is referring to the Wallasey Constituency Committee meeting last Thursday.

      Cllr Adrian Jones will be chairing his first Audit and Risk Management Committee on Monday evening.

  4. G’day John

    Next week should be great week as as well John as I will get to see that hopeless performer “The Shyster” in that court house over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters at your tribunal.

    I hope he turns up in his shiny arsed suit, armed with his cheap plastic biro and expensive barista from London.

    Instead of making the usual goose of himself and wirral a laughing stock he might chuck a sickie and send one of his little minions, I do hope not I need a good laugh.



    See ya Thursday I will try not to laugh out loud at them.

    1. Unfortunately as you can no doubt gather already I cannot comment much on Thursday.

      I wish I could write more, however hopefully this bit of humour below will make you laugh.

      “Sir, there is someone at the back of the Tribunal room that as well as eating popcorn noisily is laughing so hard I am worried he might choke on his popcorn.

      Could you remind him Sir that this is a Tribunal and he is to behave accordingly?”

      Oh dear I seem to have written my lines like I’m out of the 1920s! See you Thursday James.

  5. G’day John

    Maybe “The Pretend Friend” volunteered for the thicker than the chair Chair of The Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee position so he can come clean on his part in the Wirral “Funny” Bizz farce and criminality.

    He might explain how he got them to give Grant (Chocolate Teapot) Thornton £50,000.00 to do a report and hide it and he might name who told Dave Garry to write a croc of shit report to replace Beverley Edwards Report and now hide the DCLG Report and spend about £250,000.00 defending their crude actions.

    Then again he might just want to be the thicker than the chair Chair so he doesn’t keep falling asleep senile old boot.



    Or maybe he just wants to bury it all for ever.

    Not in my life time John.

  6. G’day John

    Maybe “The Pretend Friend” will start his tenure as the thicker than the chair Chair of the Risk It and Fudge It Mis-Management by stating he does not understand basic accounting as he often did to “Highbrow” his “friend” about Wirral “Funny” Bizz issues.

    Or, was that just the ploy to stall “Highbrow” for five years and still counting.



    I think he doesn’t understand basic accounting but understands exactly what AdderleyDadderleyDooLally and his Invest (in thyself) Wirral were getting up to.

    1. OK then here are 5 questions to ask a councillor James to see if they understand basic accounting.

      1) Explain what straight line depreciation of an asset means in local government with a worked example (5 marks).

      2) Your council accidentally sets a budget £1.4 million too high by miscalculating the numbers for a grant. Before this is realised some of the money you don’t actually have is already spent. Should you:

      a) blame this on the previous administration (or the government of the day),
      b) make £1.4 million of in year cuts,
      c) or do nothing and hope the next lot will sort it out after the elections

      (5 marks)

      3) A nosey journalist publishes the paperwork for what councillors have claimed in expenses and tries to do this the next year too. Do you

      a) block him from doing so whilst claiming it’d cost too much to provide the information,
      b) do a) while at the same time claiming to be “open and transparent” or
      c) all of the above and get the local newspaper to write a biased account saying how terrible the journalist is and how much this is costing the taxpayer?

      (5 marks)

      4) Embarrassing information about how much your local council spends on agency staff is leaked to the trade unions who make a fuss about it in the local newspaper.

      Do you:

      a) reduce your spending on agency staff,
      b) instead carry on spending the same or more on agency staff but say you’re reducing spending or
      c) do nothing and hope people will forget?

      (5 marks)

      5) Two whistleblowers working for a subcontractor raise concerns about the possible misuse of £2 million. Do you

      a) insist your auditors write a report on the basis that it’s all kept secret,
      b) report it to the police so you can stall for time saying there is an ongoing police investigation or
      c) make sure the whistleblowers get sacked, lose the contract, spend a lot of time covering up reports and generally make a pigs ear of it all?

      (10 points plus 2 bonus points for a cover up).

      1. G’day John

        Excellent work that “The Pretend Friend” might address this evening if he can stay awake long enough.

        I wonder how his first Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee will go?

        Sorry John I really mean how will “The Pretend Friend” get the useless old piss pots on the farce of a committee to his cheap cider club instead of the pub?

        They could hire their “mate” “Crapapple” and his little bus to drive them and pay him as a sub-contractor and let him away to Portugal with £2,000,000.00.



        Ecca when are you going to sort it out, no one else could or are you just another jobsworth?

        A very very expensive jobsworth.

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