Thursday, June 28, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
POLICE have sent a file on Lib Dem Councillor Steve Hurst to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if he will face criminal charges.
The police investigation follows the extraordinary doorstep dust-up in Belle Vale ward during the local elections.
Police interviewed Hurst, the Lib Dem chief whip, under caution over allegations that he was also at the centre of local election 'dirty tricks'.
They took detailed statements from a number of local residents in Belle Vale as well as Labour politicians.
It is also believed that they examined the mobile phone of one resident, who its believed, used it to take a photograph of Hurst at the time.
Residents say Hurst was caught delivering a fake leaflet purporting to be from 'a real socialist party - TUSP'.
When confronted by angry residents, there was a doorstep fracas during which, it's claimed, one resident was assaulted and damage was caused.
A decision from the CPS is expected within the next few weeks. The first we are likely to hear is if, and when, Hurst is charged with any offence.
A string of official complaints about Hurst's actions have already been made to city council chief executive Colin 'Cover Up' and the Chief Fire Officer, Tony McGurk who has already promised to dismiss any staff guilty of intimidation.
The phony leaflet was a clumsy and crude attempt to try and blacken the name of local Labour councillor Pauline Walton, whose husband is also a fireman.
The leaflet also broke election law by carrying no imprint giving the name and address of the organisation which had printed and published it.
So far Cover Up has done nothing about this - not even rousing himself to launch an official investigation (probably still too busy investigating the first Tony Parrish, ed).
Meanwhile the local media continue to maintain a wall of silence about all this. They have apparently decided to err on the side of discretion, unless and until, any charges result.
We now look forward to this new policy of sensitivity and discretion also being applied in the future to everyone else who is subject to a police investigation.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
LABOUR leader Joe Anderson has resigned from Capital of Culture in disgust at its failures.
We agree with everything that Councillor Anderson says - which is why we are reproducing his entire statement from today's Daily Post...
CITY Labour chief Joe Anderson today walked away from his Capital of Culture role and accused the festival board of failing to deliver on its promises.
In a hard-hitting attack he said the Culture Board and the Culture Company were:
FAILING to engage communities and “real” people.
FAILING to provide a 2008 events programme that excited people.
FAILING to provide a worthwhile legacy for the city and missing the chance to kick-start creative industries.
He lashed the city council for “mismanaging” the 08 funding equation and leaving Liverpool £20m short.
Cllr Anderson vowed to fight on from his position as Opposition Group leader in an effort to ensure the city delivered the best-possible Capital of Culture.
He said: “Wherever I go I have community groups say that they don’t feel part of Capital of Culture.
“People are constantly complaining about over emphasis on city- centre investment and when you visit parts of Speke and see the dereliction there it really hits home.
“I’ve been going round mounting a robust defence of Capital of Culture but my heart hasn’t been in it.”
Cllr Anderson claimed 08 had moved away dramatically from the promises within the bid document that persuaded the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to award Liverpool the Culture accolade in 2003.
He said: “I met the judges – Jeremy Isaacs, Tessa Sanderson – and told them all about the communities and our bid’s aspirations for them.
“But these aspirations simply haven’t been met.”
And Cllr Anderson – born in the city centre just yards from the Paradise Street development – also refused to acknowledge that the so-called “2008 effect” had played a massive part in the city’s fast-paced economic renaissance.
He said: “It’s a myth. The renaissance is real but it was begun by European Objective One funding and maintained by government grants.
“Don’t forget that when the bid document was launched the Grosvenor shopping development was already in the bag as was development of the King’s Dock. Renaissance was kicking in anyway.”
Cllr Anderson also claimed arts organisations and creative companies have been betrayed by the way 08 has been developed and have suffered from lack of involvement and no worthwhile legacy.
He pointed to Liverpool’s literary legends Alan Bleasdale and Willy Russell as people who should have been consulted and utilised, perhaps in the creation of theatre schools to develop young talent post-2008.
He said: “I ask myself what the legacy benefits will be and I can’t really answer that question. The Tall Ships coming back again? A bigger Mathew Street Festival?
“There is no cultural legacy – only lack of involvement and lack of vision.”
It was an open secret in political circles that Cllr Anderson was struggling to reconcile his role on a cross- party and public-private sector board with his position as the city’s premier voice of opposition to the ruling Lib Dem Group which controls culture activity.
He now believes he can work more effectively “unfettered” by collective responsibility.
He added: “I’m now free to make whatever comments I deem constructive – sometimes positive, sometimes critical.
“I’ve felt for months that talking to some members of the culture board is like banging your head on a brick wall.
“Everything is met by defensiveness or accusations of negativity.”
Cllr Anderson said he believed the culture board was guilty of building up unreasonable expectations about the festival from the word go.
He said: “This festival will not be the wealth-creating, job-creating panacea for all the city’s ailments that it was cracked up to be.
“There is still time to provide people with the opportunity to take part and also to give the cultural sector better opportunities to participate.
“And if there’s one good thing to emerge from all the money that’s been spent it’s that the city has got a re-branding. It might be money well spent. We now need to have confidence in what the city has to offer.”
Cllr Anderson said he would continue “with passion” to promote the city in a positive way.
“This isn’t about party politics. It’s about me as a person and a Liverpudlian. And about a city with a legacy of debt.”
Joe Anderson on .....
... ROBYN ARCHER
WHEN she was brought in everybody thought WHO?
But it was the Emperor’s New Clothes and no-one said much. Then we hardly saw her for 12 months – even though we were paying her. She then comes up with a programme and that’s when I came up with my remark that the only Aussie she hadn’t signed was Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. David Henshaw and Mike Storey brought her halfway across the world but she knew so little about Liverpool. She quits and we’re a laughing stock, giving her a huge pay-off while community groups are getting knocked back for £2,000.
... THE 2008 PROGRAMME
I’M not convinced there’s really anything outstanding in there.
There’s nothing that jumps out – no wow factor, no big theme. I’m terrified the 2008 opening ceremony is going to be all about B-list celebrities. And as for 2007 we’re already halfway through it and I don’t detect any great birthday excitement.
... 08 BOARD MEMBERS
PHIL Redmond and Roger Phillips were a breath of fresh air and I wish we had a few more like them. They are not controversial but they speak as they see it and as people in the street see it.
There should definitely be a broader mix of people on the board. In four-and-a-half years we haven’t achieved much.
... THE FUNDING DILEMMA
THE council has failed to prepare a war chest since COC was awarded in 2004. The Government has supplied more than the £10m requested by the city council in the Bid Document. Hoping that the Government would bail out the city if it let the problem fester until the last minute was a high-risk strategy.
The council should have been honest with the people and said “Look, this is what Cultural Year will cost and we will have to save for it between 2003 and 2008”.
... COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
VISITORS might like 2008 but I don’t think residents will.
Go to Dingle, Everton, Speke and you’ll find people who’ve come up with ideas but they are frustrated at getting neither financial nor physical support. It’s a failure that we haven’t encouraged them to participate.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
WE THOUGHT WE WOULD KEEP YOU ALL POSTED ON THE NUMBER OF HITS THE BLOGS HAVE GOT SINCE WE STARTED LAST NOVEMBER.
THIS IS OUR SIX MONTHLY PROGRESS REPORT.
HERE ARE THE LATEST FIGURES FOR HITS:
liverpool subculture - 24,400
CITY OF THE DEAD - 14,400
Gossip - 12,500
Henshaw and the evil cabal - 10,500
TOTAL NUMBER OF HITS: 62,000 APPROX.
Plus however many hits Tori Blare's wonderful blogs get....
Thank you to all our readers (and helpers)
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
PRESS RELEASE: CITY COUNCIL GUILTY OF BREAKING LAW OVER EMAILS – OFFICIAL 4/06/07
LIVERPOOL city council broke the law by publishing confidential emails between its former Leader and communications chief.
The Information Commissioner has found the city council guilty of breaking the ‘First Principle’ of the Data Protection Act, 1998 - that the publication of any personal information should be ‘fair and lawful.’
The Commissioner upholds an official complaint by Matt Finnegan, the city council’s former Assistant Executive Director (Media), who had accused the council of acting unlawfully in first publicising the confidential emails two years ago.
In the emails, the then Council Leader Mike Storey, instructed the council’s media chief to publicise his opposition to a £240,000 pension deal for the council’s chief executive Sir David Henshaw, who had announced his early retirement.
A report containing the emails was sent to all 90 city councillors in May 2005, after the Liverpool Daily Post reported that the chief executive was demanding Councillor Storey’s resignation.
Mr Finnegan submitted his complaint to the Information Commissioner immediately after quitting his job last September, accusing the council of waging a vendetta against him for obeying the instructions of the council’s democratically-elected Leader.
The Information Commissioner has now upheld both complaints, ruling that the council acted illegally.
“It is therefore our view that Liverpool City Council has breached the First Principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 in this instance. Whilst it is acknowledged that this is perhaps an extraordinary case in terms of the nature of events which occurred, and the high profile of the individuals who were involved, the disclosure, having been circulated at such a premature time, was still unfair.”
The Commissioner warns that publication by the council of the report may also have compromised any further disciplinary proceedings it brought.
He adds: “Whilst it is unlikely that this specific situation would arise again in the future, we shall be pointing out to the Council that they do have a general duty to ensure that the processing of all personal data complies with the provisions contained within the Data Protection Act 1998.
“In light of this, the Council may wish to review the actions which were taken in this case and consider whether it may be appropriate to implement further measures in order to prevent a similar event from occurring again in the future.
“The Commissioner would hope that once this contravention of the Act has been brought to the attention of the Council, steps will be taken to rectify the situation.”
Mr Finnegan is now calling for the council to take legal action against Sir David Henshaw, currently chair of the North West Strategic Health Authority, for contravening the Data Protection Act and to suspend Mr Halsall, who is still employed by the council, pending a full investigation into his actions.
Mr Finnegan said: “These two men broke the law. There is no argument about that. At the time, Mr Henshaw even issued an astonishing public statement welcoming the illegal report and praising his own integrity! The council should now show that it is cleaning up its act by taking appropriate action against both men and any others who were party to this decision. Proven law-breakers such as these should not be in charge of any public service for a moment longer.”
Mr Finnegan added: “My complaint to the Information Commissioner was the first of 38 grievances which I had first submitted to the council, for breaching their own internal rules and procedures. The current chief executive, Colin Hilton dismissed them out of hand.
“I am pleased however, that the Information Commissioner takes a very different view from Mr Hilton and has not allowed such illegal actions by very senior employees to be covered up.
“I am also grateful to the Daily Post for making public the astonishing events in Liverpool at the time. In my view, there was an attempted coup by certain officers against the democratically elected Leader, using emails which had been illegally obtained.
“This is a small, if belated, victory for democracy and is a vindication of my actions in obeying the Leader of the Council. I never broke the law – Mr Henshaw and Mr Halsall did. The council will never again be able to get away with treating employees like me with such flagrant contempt for both the law and their own internal rules and procedures.
“If the council had any decency it would now issue an abject public apology to both me and my daughter for acting illegally. But we won’t be holding our breath.
“It has been a sorry and shameful little episode linked directly to the huge pension claim of Mr Henshaw. That began a train of events which have caused significant harm to the public image of the city of Liverpool and have damaged people’s confidence in public servants and public service. I hope the council now deeply regrets breaking the law of the land.”