28 Oct 2011

Wirral Council in turmoil

What on earth is going on at Labour run Wirral Council?

Over the past few weeks Wirral Council has been rocked by a series of scandals which point to serious incompetence and waste of taxpayers’ money. To cap it all, the local MP has now called in the Serious Fraud Office amid allegations of serious malpractice.

First, we had an independent review into how Wirral Council is managed. This is a truly shocking exposure of incompetence and mismanagement. I would urge you to read the brief summary which, as the Wirral Globe put it, revealed a devastating catalogue of failures by Wirral Council and claimed the authority was in the grip of a corrosive and inward-looking culture where the needs and rights of residents had become submerged under its “bureaucratic machinations.”

The report really confirms what many people have said for many years, that Wirral Council is hopelessly mismanaged and does not serve its local residents well. Of particular concern to all council tax payers will be that Wirral Council’s failures include:

·        being unable to understand and implement fees and charges properly

·        not being able to commission, manage and, where necessary, dismiss failing contractors and suppliers  

…in other words, wasting taxpayers’ money

It is very important to remember that for 24 of the past 25 years Wirral has been a council led by the Labour Party. It is surely no coincidence that this report was commissioned during that one brief period when Labour was not in control.

You would therefore expect that Labour would do the decent thing, that its leader would step down and an inclusive response to what is clearly a major crisis would be implemented.

But, that would be expecting Labour to put Wirral people first.

Instead, Labour has set up what is cheerfully called a “turnaround team” consisting of, you guessed it, Labour councillors.

So, Labour’s response to a damning report on the management of a Labour run authority is to set up a crack response unit run by, eh, the Labour Party.

But, it doesn’t end there….

On September 30th we learned that the district auditor has questioned whether Wirral Council has “proper arrangements to secure value for money in its use of resources.”

The criticisms relate to the outsourcing of a multi-million pound highways contract which could have left the council facing “substantial damages”. The auditor’s report concludes that Wirral Council is unable to determine whether it is receiving value for money.

In other words, Wirral Council is failing in its basic duty to manage our money effectively. It is yet another confirmation that Wirral residents are being comprehensively failed by a delusional political elite.

But it doesn’t end there either….

Following the district auditor’s report, a group of council employees approached local MP Frank Field with serious claims relating to the council’s handling of the highways contract referred to in the auditor’s report.

As a result of their approach, the Serious Fraud Office has been asked to investigate whether the council is guilty of malpractice in signing this contract.

It is, perhaps, instructive in my view that council employees approached their MP rather than the local councillors who are directly responsible for how Wirral runs its affairs.

A very rotten borough

It is very clear that Wirral Council needs to change and change quickly. Unfortunately, the same people who presided over such a rotten borough are still in charge. The Labour Party has let down the people of Wirral. At a time when local government is under attack from savage government cuts, we simply cannot trust Labour to provide the leadership we need.

As if to confirm this, today’s Daily Post carries the headline “Wirral Council predicts budget deficit to rise to £100m.

17 Oct 2011

The Green Party ahead of Liberal Democrats in new poll


The Green Party is surging ahead of the Liberal Democrats according to the latest voter intention figures published by ComRes. Public support for the Liberal Democrats has declined dramatically thanks to a growing disillusionment with the coalition government over controversial NHS reforms, cuts in housing and education and a U-turn on tuition fees.

The report coincides with another election poll released earlier this year by polling company, Marketing Means, which revealed a large swing to the Green Party in March this year.  However, while previous voter intention surveys such as Market Means have indicated the Green vote is increasing, the new ComRes report which came out on the 16th October 2011 proves that the Green Party is now a real alternative for traditionally Liberal Democrat voters.

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party recently called on disaffected Liberal Democrats to look to the Greens, saying:

 "I have a special message for those Lib Dem supporters who are beginning to despair of the path their leadership has taken them down. If you became involved in politics to serve your local community, to protect the environment, or to challenge inequality, then join us.”

The ComRes report coincides with another election poll released in March this year by polling company, Marketing Means which revealed a large swing to the Green Party.

Street lights: Trinity Lane and Hornby Street

Some news from Wirral Council re street lights on Trinity Lane and Hornby Street.

Dear Mr Cleary,

Request for Street Lighting Column – Trinity Lane, Birkenhead

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above.

It has been agreed that an 8 metre street lighting column will be erected half way along Trinity Lane. An instruction was raised for the Council’s contractor on the 13th August 2011 to supply and install the column. Due to the lack of vehicle access on the lane it will be necessary to use a folding post and this is a special order item. The manufacturer has informed the contractor that the column should be delivered week commencing the 24/10/11.

The column will then be assembled and should be installed within 5 working days following delivery.

Once the column is erected the work to connect the electricity supply cable to the column will be carried out by Scottish Power. Under the terms of the Ofgem Service Level Agreement Scottish Power have up to 35 working days to complete the works after they have been advised that the post is in situ. To shorten this process as much as possible, the order to proceed with the connection works will be e-mailed to Scottish Power as soon as the column is delivered to the contractor.

Our contractor have visited column 2 Hornby Street, Birkenhead and have repaired the Day Burning fault.

14 Oct 2011

Street lighting, Victoria Road, Council response

Request For Improved Lighting - Victoria Road, Tranmere

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above.

The above location has been added to the list of roads to be considered for improved lighting when funds become available.

Should you require any further assistance please contact the Streetscene Contact Centre on 0151 606 2004.

11 Oct 2011

Street conditions, Liversidge Road and Seaton Road

Bog-standard response to our requests regarding conditions on Liversidge Road. We had exactly the same reply re Seaton Road:

I am responding to your recent enquiry concerning the condition of the carriageway and footways in Liversidge Road Tranmere.All the carriageways within the Wirral are inspected by an accredited company who carried out a coarse visual inspection, as to the condition of carriageway. Along with a team of highway inspectors who walk all roads within the Wirral undertaking a network serviceability inspections.The data received from these inspections is used to form a structural maintenance programme of works that is presented to the council’s select committee for approval. I am sorry to inform you that Liversidge Road has not received sufficient ranking to be considered for inclusion as part of the current structural maintenance programme of works. However I will forward your comments to our Asset team and recommend that it is considered for possible inclusion in a future structural maintenance programme. In the mean time, arrangements will be made for a further safety inspection of the road you have highlighted to be carried out and any actionable repairs noted during this inspection will be action for repairs as per the code of practice for highway maintenance management.


Highway maintenance team


7 Oct 2011

Road safety Victoria Fields/Borough Road

An update from the Council on our most recent requests re road safety in Tranmere:

Thank you for your recent enquiry regarding the junctions of Victoria Fields / Borough Road and Harland Road / Derby Road, Birkenhead.

Due to number of requests we receive for the introduction of waiting restrictions a priority has been given to resolving parking problems where a personal injury accident exists and parking is seen as the main contributory factor. This is in line with the Council's Corporate Priority of reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents.

1) Victoria Fields / Borough Road - As part of the investigation, the Personal Injury Accident records for the current three-year study period have been examined. Our findings show that this location may benefit from the introduction of additional waiting restrictions. I have therefore included this location on a list of other sites that have been prioritised for further action.

2) Harland Road / Derby Road, Birkenhead - This location has been previously identified and was already on the list of sites that have been identified for further action.