BUNGLING COUNCIL & LAZY LEADERS SPEALL WOE FOR EWLOE WARD. DAMNING INDICTMENT ON TRAVELLERS MONTH LONG INVASION.

Residents who live close to the former Alyn & Dee Council office, ‘Unity House’, situated in the middle of Ewloe have complained for over a year about the deterioration & the vandalism of this valuable community asset, which is still leased to Unilever until July? What seems like for ever, my ward colleague. & I have pleaded to get the building’s fabric protected & its boundaries secured. The response has been the same, “all damage & state of building is Unilever’s responsibility but it’s ok. It’s visited regularly by its security force, cameras & speakers warn intruders & police monitoring vandalism. (See blogs passim where all these concerns were previously recorded).

Months ago, one officer, since left, admitted that Unilever’s lawyers were far smarter than the Local Authority’s legal team. He was keen to instruct a firm who specialises in commercial contracts & I suspected that Unilever was ignoring Asset Department officer instructions. Is this the reason why he left as he suspected Unilever’s goal was to end the lease with the minimum of costs to themselves? Was this global company too mean to pay to return the building to its original excellent condition? Surely not?

The gypsy invasion started on 5/4/16. The dreadfully inadequate response to this situation needs a full explanation. On 25th April, it seemingly took my threat to blow the whistle on what little had been done by blogging the email thread & to the press. From 27/5, officialdom took action. The hollow promise made by this global company, Unilever, in a letter through local residents doors have also been seen as something of a sham.

The facts are: April 5th, 6 posh vans parked on the front area of the Unilever building by simply driving across grass. I visited the site to determine their intentions but it was clear from all the generators, gas bottles etc, they were in for a long stay. ‘No were else to go,’ a gypsy women snapped. County Hall knew the travellers had arrived at 6.47am.The police, it transpired did not know.? The Council’s Assets Department told me that Unilever’s had responsibility & were prepared to do something. But what & when? No one was saying.

Sunday, 10/4/16, walking my dogs around the offices in St David’s Park in my Ewloe ward, when their security officer told me that the gypsies had turned the back of the Unilever building into a lavatory with loo paper & faeces strewn across the area. He then described the poor state of the building, the broken windows & clearly he had a poor view on the Wirral based security firm. Before we parted, he said he had reported the filth to County Hall. So much for all those assurances that Unity House secure & well guarded!

Becoming annoyed with the lack of action from anyone, I emailed the Council Leader, Aaron Shotton & his deputy, Bernie Attridge; Cabinet member for Environment. I reported with pavements awash with poo, this must surly fit this portfolio for action. After a unproductive exchange of emails, in which I quipped that Aaron Shotton should get Bernie on poo scene with a shovel, things deteriorated when Bernie suggested I was on the gin. “It’s not gin, I retorted, it’s a total absence of interest or help to my residents under your Cabinet & Administration. Bernie was also reminded of a disgusting slur about “all fur & no knickers”, towards a senior women Cllr. His promised apology never came. I also rudely suggested if he spent less time “Tweeting”, & more time doing something to earn his well paid remuneration, I’d feel happier. Needless to say, any further calls to Cllr Shotton as the Unilever crisis worsened, were ignored.

Friday afternoon, 22/4/16, a well informed resident emailed to say he had watched a van cruising around the Unilever grounds. (He had posted a note onto the Unilever web site last September asking for a situation report on the deterioration of Unity House-not acknowledged). He thought the site was being checked for a further influx of travellers. He emailed this information to head of Assets & asked that the site’s borders to be secure borders. I also forwarded this email to County Hall & the council leader as there was still time to improve site security. Absolutely nothing was done.

This turned out to be a major blunder by whoever? (Jury was still out at this stage). A provisional writ had been obtained which hasn’t prevented the arrival of yet more travellers. THIS INACTION WILL PROVE TO BE COSTY.

Sunday, 24 April early, rang by worried resident in Meadowside, which backs onto the biggest Unilever car park. More vans had arrived in the night & generator noise continued until 3am Further concern as gypsies were peeing up trees close to her fence. I visited the scene that Sunday. I counted a further 18 vans had arrived. 11 simply had smashed through shrubs to gain entrance to a large car park, & settled, close to the fence bordering Meadowside. Some were on a pavement & the rest has squeezed in with the original vans by Unilever entrance. The numbers now up to 22, which presented a sizeable challenge to evict. Mr Whippy was doing a roaring trade with the children.

I sent yet more emails to the Assets Manager seeking help. It was the same story, Unilever’s responsibility. My phone & in tray was overloaded every day by residents demanding action. I has been emailed a letter that had been put through a residents door some days previously. I managed to decipher the email address on it & the note had come from a senior Unilever officer, as previously stated, promised residents action. Helen Fenwick, senior Unilever employee, led residents to believe the issue would be settled fast & falsely raised hopes for a quick resolution. It did not happen!

On Monday, 25, ignoring the CE’s former incredible order not to contact him & I asked him as Head of Paid Service what was being done as the gypsies vans now numbered 24 & we were in a third week of inaction. Residents demanded to know when was the site going to be cleaned & cleaned up.”? The CE replied at 8.48. “Morning, setting up a video conference with Unilever”. Update to be provided.

At 11.09 on 27/4, I asked the CE for some information. Two more days had passed & I was no further forward. In. desperation, I pressed the nuclear button. “The CC is fouling up badly. Tell me what is happening or all my email thread showing lack of action will be sent to the press & posted on my Blog”. CE replied at 12.36. I would be contacted by 2pm. He could not be reasonably expected to be giving regular personal updates on operational issue throughout the day”. ” Inappropriate to use a ‘blog’ & press as a form of threat” My response,” Noted but ignored. I must use any way at my disposal to resolve this matter”.

The nuclear option worked. Information produced results as by 14.26pm, Head of Assets provided the first comprehensive update since the gypsies arrived. He continued, “Having failed in various discussions on a number of occasions with Unilever re the issues with human excrement & reports of increased vermin, the County Council had instructed a firm to clear up what there is now as Unilever’s response to clean only when the gypsies left was unacceptable”. Good news. At last, FCC was helping my residents. Bad news; so many children on site meant the cleaning operation was aborted. “Unilever has hoped to call upon the police to help but they were not supportive of the firm’s request or position”

The Assets Manager email of 27/4, also reported that Unilever had obtained a final possession order on 24/4, which will allow eviction if travellers refuse to move. The manager clarified that responsibility with the site currently rests with Unilever & that is why they are taking action to remove the travellers & not the County Court”. Further email of 28/4 broke the news that some of the Unity House squatters had relocated just up the road on an office car park.

The problem of eviction switched to Redrow but Council officers were still pressing Unilever to bring in their bailiffs for the Unity House clearance. The Authority had undertaken environmental health checks & were in regular contact with the police & were still advising Unilever regularly to clean up site fast & secure their borders when the site was finally vacated.

Friday 29/4 email gave information that bailiffs would clear both sites after the Bank Holiday & boulders delivered to secure the perimeter & plan to do same after lower car park cleared.

St David’s Business park now hosts 7 vans in a pleasant pond side location on 30/4/16. Every entrancing the area has been blocked off with cars & vans. Residents emails are furious, unimpressed that Ewloe is lock down. More to the point, now Unity House is for sale by the Council. It’s in a dreadful state. Unity house’s value must have plummeted & Unilever’s failure to care for the building effectively has been exposed.

WHAT WENT SO WRONG. WHY WAS EWLOE HUNG OUT TO DRY ?

This is easy to answer. Failure to act in time. It’s a shameful indictment on both multi million pound organisations that they just did not want to be bothered. Their stance; Apart from a few vocal residents, no one is being inconvenienced! Nothing to do with me I suppose being a Tory? Was the mean attitude of Leader Shotton, an avowed Labour geek, down to money? Why spend valuable resources on a ward headed by a Cllr with whom the CE had serious issues? Surely not?

WHO IS TO BLAME.

I’ve given the facts, mostly supported by email thread & my notes. Action was not taken on that Friday afternoon when the Assets Department were warned twice to secure borders. This carelessness added both to cost & stress to residents.

Unilever boss who visited Unity House on 1/5, promised a schedule to revamp the building. Not only do we want to see it, we need a full cost of this badly handled, protracted travellers removal exercise.

Cabinet & officers & Unilever; we need answers. The public who pays the Authority’s handsome wages have been seriously short changed & public money wantonly wasted so we want a full reply & soon. Bank Holiday Monday. Security staff are working 24 hrs a day. The Building is bordered up. It looks a total mess. It was in its elegant Council Chamber, I was elected as a county councillor in 1995!

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