Council Tax Cash for Honours
Here’s a little throwaway item. On the surface, it’s an absolutely tedious, nothing story which we spotted in today’s online Wirral Globe local ‘newspaper’, a site we don’t visit very much.
Not since its editor became an obedient little puppy dog, leaping, scurrying, fetching, coming to heel, then panting like a loathsome, scabby mongrel, in return for owner Wirral Council’s treats, regular walkies, public cash, favours, wraparound adverts and the occasional boot up the arse…
Forget the American airman, brave though he was. He’s a distraction, thrown in to draw attention away from the main event, i.e. Freedom of the Borough of Wirral for Dr. Nunzia Bertali.
“Who the hell is that?” …we hear you cry. Well, here’s some pretty ancient history, drawn from one of our old posts, titled:
Many serving Wirral Councillors were sinecured here 10, 20 years ago and my God, do these people have long memories when it comes to returning favours long bestowed.
e.g. they’ll remember with fondness that time in 2002 when a committee of specially chosen individuals met to discuss the small matter of a pay rise for councillors.
And they’ll recall with delight how a carefully selected, chosen few including Nunzia Bertali – the fragrant lady referred to in the above article – signed off a monster cheque in the form of a pay rise in councillors’ favour.
Beforehand, and luckily for the councillors who were being rewarded, they’d granted themselves leeway to choose their own people for this important task.
Before sitting for the first time, the body would be carefully labelled ‘Independent’, just to ward off any nosey, troublemaking employees or busybody members of the public.
So no worries there. Reassuringly, it was all above board and carried out in secret with no publicity. It’s called “democratic freedom, the ability to operate in a safe space, and in the wider interests of the public” … or something along those lines.
The panel concerned met a few times and for anybody out there worried that its members would be worked like dogs and made to give freely of their time, relax. It was quickly sorted. They were paid handsomely from your council tax.
However the exact remuneration figure for members of what became known as the “Independent Remuneration Panel” was never released to the public. So in summary, it was another one of those mysterious £??,???.?? jobbies.
But after some determined digging, done at the time, we discovered that the Chair of this panel of outsiders – a certain former council CEO, author and religious nut called DON LATHAM – had been paid £2,000 per sitting.
Remember folks, this was the going rate 17 long years ago and you wouldn’t be far off if you brought it up to date by adding a nought to that figure now. After all, holidays in the South of France didn’t come cheap back then, don’t now, and such luxuries have to move on and remain ‘competitive’.
Another pious sort sitting on the panel was the then Bishop of Birkenhead, the Reverend David Urquhart.
And lookee here!
So that’s TWO members of the same very generous panel who’ve had their names put up in lights and their reputations enhanced by this honourable award.
Personally, we don’t think it’s very fucking honourable at all. In fact, it’s deeply sordid, grubby, it’s Council Tax Cash for Honours and it reeks to high heaven. And the co-opting of a nutty, religious author and a senior man of the cloth who now sits in the House of Lords as the Bishop of Brum – just to give it an air of respectability – makes it even more so.
Oh, to hell with it. Fuck ’em.
In years (months?) to come, can we expect Unilever’s Geneva-based Gerry Hare, working in a Swiss role to join his benighted fellow schmoozers, Urquhart, Bertali and Maddox on the above list?
Anyway, the details are all laid out at the above link, and remember, these were the annual pay rise highlights from 17 years ago. Not bad are they?
COUNCIL LEADER – COUNCILLOR STEVE FOULKES – 36% (UP £5,750) = £21,750
OPPOSITION LEADER – unknown TORY councillor – 30.5% (UP £3,050) = £13,050
ALL 64 REMAINING COUNCILLORS – ALL PARTIES – 16% (UP £1,200) = £8,700
So while a total of £85,600 was lavished upon Wirral councillors of all parties per annum going forward, council workers – of whom we were one at the time – were being treated like shite as usual and were out the door on strike as a result. We settled for 3%, completely unaware of what was going on in private and the greed that was being indulged in and played out behind our backs.
Our union – UNISON – deep in the pockets of management, would have been in on it – probably taking a hefty cut – but that’s another story.
Back then, in between going to quizzes at Stanley’s Cask, and getting pissed in the Tavern with the measly few quid we had left, we’d go into work, go onto our office computer, access the intranet and search out the above, hidden information on these committees and panels.
We then went home with it and used the very ancient desktop publishing software of the time to create the following leaflet:
This production – The Gravy Train, Issue 01, July 2002 – was furtively put up on all the noticeboards of the Council’s Highway Services offices in Civic Way, Bebington with the intention of revealing to staff the calibre of the councillor and senior officer shite that ruled over them and that they’d been busting a gut for, day in, day out.
Not very long after this, we were pleased to blow the whistle on an overtime scam, valued in the mid-thirty thousands, only to get clobbered with a range of bogus gross misconduct charges, advised we were “out of step with the rest of the team” and told to prepare for the high jump.