Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?

Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?

Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?


Councillor Paul Doughty explains why he's had sleepless nights over Town Talk and won't agree to a further £5000
Councillor Paul Doughty explains why he’s had sleepless nights over Town Talk and won’t agree to a further £5000

Last year, Wirral Council’s former Chief Executive Graham Burgess would’ve received this letter from DCLG about publicity issued by Wirral Council.

To summarise the letter it reminds Wirral Council to comply with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Government Publicity and if they don’t reminds them that the Secretary of State has a legal power to direct local councils to comply.

Since this new power came into force about a year ago, you can read here various letters written by the Secretary of State to councils that weren’t complying with the code.

On the agenda for the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting was a copy of the first edition of “Town Talk” (the Birkenhead Constituency Area Community Newsletter). 40,000 copies of Town Talk have been printed and will be delivered to households in Birkenhead. This is the first of three editions (all three editions are costing the taxpayer £22,500).

The front page of Town Talk has a photo of Councillor Phil Davies and the Rt Hon Frank Field MP at the opening of a café called the Vikes. Also on the front page, there is a plea for any “feedback, story ideas or contributions” by May 1st, so presumably this first edition will have been delivered by then.

One of the principles in the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Government Publicity is “Publicity by local authorities should be issued with care during periods of heightened sensitivity”.

In fact it makes this very clear in section 34 “Publicity relating to individuals involved directly in the election should not be published by local authorities during this period unless expressly authorised by or under statute.”

In other words the taxpayer shouldn’t be funding a leaflet going out to households in Birkenhead during an election publicising two people who are highly likely to be Labour candidates.

The fact Wirral Council is outsourcing this to Lairdside Communities Together doesn’t matter either as section 25 states:

“25. Where local authorities provide assistance to third parties to issue publicity they should ensure that the principles in this code are adhered to by the recipients of that assistance.”

Issue 1 of Town Talk also falls foul of this part of the code too:

“30. All local authority publicity should clearly and unambiguously identify itself as a product of the local authority. Printed material, including any newsletters, newssheets or similar publications published by the local authority, should do this on the front page of the publication.”

Although there is a Wirral Council logo on the front page (one of three logos) nowhere on the front page (or in fact any page) does it state it’s funded by Wirral Council.

You can see for yourself in the video clip below what Cllr Paul Doughty had to say about the first edition of Town Talk at the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting:

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He said, “About the newsletter, there is a recommendation actually that we agree a further £5,000 for the newsletter. I cannot agree to that. I’m very disappointed about this, I had a sleepless night I was so upset about this, I just think at best it’s a lost opportunity at worst it’s a waste of money and I’m really, really disappointed.

My understanding was it was an A4 twelve page document, which stressed the positive activities and news in Birkenhead to make this issue just eight pages of social advertising, to me it’s just a complete waste. So one, I couldn’t agree to that recommendation and secondly I just cannot stress how disappointed I am with it.”

If you’d like to make representations to the Department of Communities and Local Government about Town Talk, you can email or the Secretary of State for Local Government Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP at

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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.

15 thoughts on “Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?”

  1. Paul Doughty also made a valuable and a sensible comment at the Audit and Risk Committee on ISUS and BIG and Working Neighbourhoods.


    1. I thought all councillors were supposed to make valuable and sensible comments and not just be there to put up their hands at the “right time”. 🙂

  2. I would like to see the news sheet to make an opinion on it .
    But the irony is that the printing job was given to the council leaders company so no bias there then & £22,000.00 of hard earned ratepayers money goes into Phil Davies back pocket.
    I also wonder whether the tender went through the Chest tender process or whether it was a mates job.
    Answers as usual on the back of a fag packet
    John perhaps you could clarify?.

  3. G’day John

    How dare he express his disappointment in a wastage of such a poultry amount.

    He spoke to the Gra Gra’s farce of a Big ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods meeting of 8 October were there was wastage and theft of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    His mates of officers stood and lied. He might not of been aware of the lies because you would have to be clever like Simon Kelly.

    How dare he is he a complete idiot.

    So it is ok if his mates spend £50,000.00 plus defending guilty people.

    Next time you see him John can you tell him to get his head out from me.



    Whistleblower one will certainly up his game dramatically when Ecca turns up.

  4. G’day John

    Headline from local trash propaganda sheet could have been……


    ‘I lied about W*****gate’



    Oh “Phil the Dill” sort it out.

  5. It’s not very often I see The Three, The Wirral Three, namely Brace, Cardin and Griffiths all thrashing about at the same time and on the same page.
    I wouldn’t want you three on my case. Good Lord no! What a terrible thought!
    As for this, the entire bag of rats that’s resulted in yet more wasted public money,…there’s no bloody end to it. Nothing will ever alert these fools to the new fiscal reality that is, ‘there’s no more bloody money left to squander.’
    These people won’t stop. Gimmick, after gimmick! Slime followed by slime and more and more poorly conceived ideas that we always have to fund.
    For all the tapping we all do, for all the vowels and consonants we string together in a sequence that, moreoften than not howl, ‘get stuffed or this ain’t right’, it’s depressingly often a waste of bloody time.
    Me? I’d quite happily visit their homes, trample on their herbaceous borders and scream through their letter box, ‘you dirty rotten stinker. Outside now for I need to fight you’.
    That’d make them think twice. They wouldn’t want that. Having to fight some fool beyond their threshold each night of the week would make them all think a little more before they went ahead with their blue sky thinking that only ever generates a huge loss of public money.
    And the Council hierarchy wonder why The Three, The Wirral Three ever germinated, took root and grew into what they’ve become today. Prolific objectors who’s purpose in life has become to hold authority to account for their incompetent and bungling mismanagement of the publics affairs and their bloody money.
    Their emergence is of no surprise to me. No surprise to me whatsoever!

  6. Very kind Bobby

    I am not special in any way.

    Just disgusted by a few lying thieving cheating barstards that should be held to account and I personally will not stop until I can go no more.


    Till they fess up or do something.

    Ooroo & God Bless you Bobby


    Ps The Wirral Public Heroes are

    The Lord of Leaky Towers

    “Highbrow” Hobro

    Paul Cardin

    Martin Morton

    John “Tarrantino” Brace

    In no particular order.

  7. Hello James. I read your offerings on The Leaks and I enjoy them all. Your a very good writer. Mind, I never suggested the Three, The Wirral Three, were special in anyway. Far from it! I see you all as rather akin to Japaneese Knotweed that relentlessly grows and overwhelms all before it.
    My very warmest regards to you James. You keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing and all will be well.
    Take care pal.

  8. Bobby My Man

    Poo..Japanese Knotwood!!!!

    Being an Irreverent Aussie as “Tarrantino” calls me I would say

    Echium plantagineum, commonly known as purple viper’s-bugloss or


    You stay as fit as a Mallee bull young Bobby and let’s hear more from you in an effort to clean up the Clownhall dross in Wallasey.

    Luv ya work.



  9. G’day John

    So where are all the awards from that LGA rubbish?

    Who went down to London with “Phil the Dill”.

    What…… you don’t think they won anything?

    Surely they must have bought something?



    Ps Business news day in the rubbish paper from over Stella’s Mersey Waters today and it must be at least two weeks since their “keep your gob shut” blonde from “The Potty” has had her bleached head in it.

    I will look forward to that.

  10. G’day John

    Solved it myself as to why they probably didn’t win anything in London.

    One stumbling block.

    The Criteria

    All entries will need to meet the general criteria outlined below as well as specific entry criteria – please see our full list of categories for more specific details

    How ambitious and innovative the project/organisation is
    The clarity of the project’s objectives and how they were communicated
    The quality of management and leadership
    The understanding and involvement of service users
    How performance has been measured and benchmarked
    How transferable the project would be to other local authority organisations
    How the project demonstrates good value for money

    So you see John if they can’t just stand in public or private and say whatever they want they fail.



    Ps The quality of management and leadership is probably the BIG CLUE.

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