25th November 2016
On 1st July 2013, the date of the above media statement, Wirral Council leader Phil Davies and then Chief Executive Graham Burgess knew it would have been dishonest to claim that only one business had gone under from the now declared total of 49 in receipt of BIG Fund grants.
But claim it they did.
We’ve labelled this ‘dishonesty du jour’ because for a very long time, the same persons constantly and shamelessly fed false reassurance to the public – in meetings, correspondence or in press releases – flaunting the professionalism, competence, thoroughness and honesty of their officers with regard to their dealings with the BIG Fund.
We were told they had access to all council information required to investigate any complaints, the results of which – if officers were doing their jobs properly – will have been shared upwards with their seniors.
Such knowledge, once imparted, will have made the leader, the former CEO and the former Director of Regeneration fully complicit in the ongoing deception. The key statement at issue in Councillor Phil Davies’ media statement above is as follows.
This is proof of dishonesty.
Having viewed the list of 49 companies which Nigel Hobro recently prised from the iron grip of “monitoring” officer Surjit Tour – who’d been placed under threat of High Court action – we can now fully appreciate that this media statement trotted out four barefaced lies, whilst withholding evidence of failure:
- Lie 1 ~ Only one company went bust
- Lie 2 ~ the companies are still trading
- Lie 3 ~ the companies are creating jobs
- Lie 4 ~ the companies are contributing to the local economy
We now know – for certain – the true failure figure was 10 companies i.e. more than a fifth of the total – or ten times more than that declared at the time by Davies.
All these companies went under after receiving public money grants of between £4,000 and £20,000. Graham Burgess, Kevin Adderley and their courted, feted, celebrated junior officials knew all of this in detail, but still decided to snub all FOI requests with non-existent exemptions, and present an elaborate set of falsehoods to councillors.
Most notably, this was the controlled modus operandi at the infamous Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting of 8th October 2014, chaired by on remand former councillor Jim Crabtree.
Incidentally, this gathering of officers / councillors had to be pressurised into convening by the admirable, good faith efforts of whistleblowers Nigel Hobro and James Griffiths who, knowing the broad extent of council officer crookedness, and in some detail, were not about to give in. Their tenacity on these issues is the stuff of legend.
Even so, weaker individuals amongst us might take solace in the notion that:
‘…this is what politicians and CEOs do, innit? The more they lie, the higher they climb the greasy pole, so you can’t blame ’em can you? It’s just a leader and his bezzy being opportunistic and helping themselves by letting slip a few harmless white lies.’
And some people would congratulate the pair for fulfilling expectations, ticking the boxes, discharging their roles and playing true to character.
The problem here is these were NOT harmless white lies. Far from it. Millions of pounds of public money was involved and such dishonest conduct, carried on for many years, should have serious consequences.
Attached to the lies is an extended litany of obfuscation, denial, manipulation, evasiveness, minimisation and mendacity. And true to form with Wirral, all accompanied by the flushing down the toilet of large amounts of your public money … all well-entrenched, all propelled via deceit or incompetence, and all done with a crazed, frantic desire to paper over the cracks, reaching as far back as possible.
In other words, all the standard ingredients that make up any basket case outfit were present. The Wirral “Abnormals”, not knowing the meaning of ‘accountability’, through their own predictable failure and negligence, had again sent themselves careering headlong towards their destiny: the beckoning void that is “special measures”.
All this originated as a result of the dubious activities and bogus public pronouncements of a long succession of senior movers and shakers, all emboldened because they were newly-protected beneath the glamorous window-dressing – a banner screaming “Award-winning, most-improved council”.
But … exactly how much public money was squandered and lost? Read on …
jOG on Phil
They were studiously omitted from the above media statement. But why? Because hundreds of thousands of pounds of grant and loan money – public money – disappeared very quickly.
New Concept Gaming were the creators of the jOG Wii controller – RRP £24.99 – still available at today’s Amazon Price: New from £1.40 / Used from £0.01.
NCG’s Twitter account lasted just 7 months, tweeting 86 times.
Here’s a long list of 33 New Concept Gaming creditors totalling £822,809.93 dated 18th March 2010. To quote from the document …
This is the exhibit marked ‘B’ referred to in the affidavit of Brendan Ludden sworn before me this 18th day of March 2010″, signed – S.M.McLeod, Solicitor / Commissioner for Oaths:
Apologies for the small print here, but the lead creditor at the top of the list, way ahead of all others, is named as “Alliance Fund Managers“, 5th Floor, Cunard Building, Pier Head, Liverpool.
The information provided here was sworn on oath to be truthful and accurate.
The amount owed to AFM is a staggering £625,686.64.
Alliance Fund Managers loaned this huge sum of public cash to New Concept Gaming initially £250,000 in January 2008, and a further £450,000 making up the balance later.
Within 2 years NCG were gone, no more.
AFM are also known as Merseyside Special Investment Fund. These are funders of Small to Medium Enterprises and are members of Merseyside’s Local Enterprise Partnership since April 2013, which happily was chaired by … Councillor Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council.
Further to this, NCG received a £90,321 grant from the North West Regional Development Agency – the exact date of payment is subject to a current FOI request.
So who at Wirral Council decided it would be a good idea to bung NCG a BIG Fund grant of £20,000 in October 2009 on top of a mountain of public money? More to the point, with the company being cash-replete and recently groaning under the weight of a six figure loan from MSIF, and the five figure grant from NWRDA, how on earth did they…
a. …qualify for more cash – AND –
b. …fit Graham Burgess’ description of BIG fund businesses i.e. those ‘not in a position to access borrowing or loans through normal channels’?
On this evidence, New Concept Gaming should NEVER have received a BIG Fund grant.
Personal dishonesty = public servants should be called into question
That goes for every employee at every UK public body, but in the case of senior people like Phil Davies, even more so.
Caveat: we can’t be sure that the information displayed below is totally accurate because the named person hasn’t bothered to update it for around 8 years.
Excerpt from website
I am a member of the Employment and Appointments Committee and chair a
number of committees relating to education, i.e. Admissions Forum, School
Organisation Committee, Headteachers and Teachers Joint Consultative
Committee. I also chair the Wirral Learning Partnership, a multi-agency body
focussing on post-16 education and training. I represent the Learning Partnership
on the Wirral Local Strategic Partnership and the Wirral Waterfront Board.
I am a non-executive director of the following organisations: The Mersey
Partnership; Greater Merseyside Enterprise; the PSL Group (Pentra); The Lauries;
Wirral Multi-cultural Organisation; and the Laird Foundation.
I also represent Wirral Borough Council on the Merseyside Objective 1 Programme
Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group as
well as the Wirral Pathways (Priority 4) Board.
At ward level I am chair of the Lairdside Partnership, the Callister Youth Club
Management Committee and am a member of the Birkenhead and Tranmere and
Rock Ferry Area Forum.
I am a governor of Wirral Metropolitan College and three primary schools –
Woodlands, St Werburghs and Gilbrook.
I am the independent chair of the Greater Merseyside Aimhigher Area Steering Group.
Excerpt from ‘Leader’s Blog’
Crucial here is the fact that in 2011 Phil Davies was Cabinet Member for Regeneration, as described here:
Regeneration was the department formerly led by Super Director Kevin Adderley, who told the same lies at the Audit and Risk Management Committee of 8th October 2014. This was the department which oversaw the BIG fund programme of business grants.
If your children attend Wirral Met College, the youth centre, or any of the schools mentioned in the excerpt above, given the evidence of Council leader Phil Davies’ dishonesty and the depths he has sunk to over the years, would you really want him to continue in these roles as a chair or a governor, overseeing staff or the running of these establishments, and contributing to decisions that will impact upon your children’s day-to-day wellbeing?
Or for that matter, would you still want a person capable of such dishonesty to be heading up the elected function at your local council? Where he’ll be making life-changing decisions on behalf of poor, vulnerable and disabled people who will expect him to discharge his statutory obligations honestly, correctly, with sound moral judgment and with their interests at the forefront.
And what of Phil Davies’ much-vaunted 20 pledges, the commitments towards efficiency and better services we keep reading about on the council website, in the newspapers or in Wirral View online? Are they honestly presented or are we all lining up to be lied to once again?
In fact, given the evidence above…
Is this council leader capable of giving us 20 pledges?
Is this council leader capable of giving us 1 pledge?
Councillor Phil Davies is in an influential position at the very top of the decision-making process on who qualifies for European funding across Merseyside.
But the lengths to which he and his officers have gone to present a dishonest face to the public and to cover up details of the Wirral BIG Fund scandal, means his position is compromised, he should stand down now, and some serious and searching questions need to be raised.