Tuesday, October 24, 2006


HENSHAW destroyed the career of one of Liverpool's most respected council officials - in pursuit of money and his own ego.
Within months of arriving as new chief executive at the city council in September 1999, Henshaw was eyeing up the post of Chief Returning Officer.
The post was occupied by Charles 'Charlie' Lasham, one of the few city council officials at that time who had a national and international reputation for their work.
Lasham had been sent to the far-flung corners of the globe to advise on the running of elections and had built up considerable expertise.
He was also highly regarded by council staff and by his collegues nationally amongst Chief Returning Officers.
This was all too much for Henshaw. Here was a council official with a popular public profile, who enjoyed a reputation for competence and innovation.
Henshaw's entire strategy as chief executive at Liverpool meanwhile was being built on the fallacy that everything that had gone before was utter rubbish. That all previous senior staff were incompetent fools and that all services were a disgrace.
Having a beacon of light like Lasham shining away in the corner was an uncomfortable reminder that this was not the case.
It also undermined Henshaw's 'blitzkrieg' strategy of destroying all that had gone before, so it could then be re-built in the Henshaw image.
But there was another, equally powerful factor.
Lasham's position as Chief Returning Officer gave him power and public prominence with the media, councillors, the political parties and MP's.
That would never suit Henshaw. He could not tolerate a rival within the same organisation. Something would have to be done.
Henshaw set his loyal rottweiller David McEhinney on Lasham.
After an entirely blameles career, Lasham was suddenly suspended on the pretext that irregularities in the conduct of elections had been discovered (this discovery of 'irregularities' nonsense was the same pretext which, ironically, was to be employed five years later with Communications Director, Matt Finnegan.)
And here we should pause to reflect that in any organisation, never mind one with Liverpool's chequered history, there are bound to be occassions when rules are bent to get round the strangling bureacracy.
McElhinney's investigation soon discovered that Lasham had recruited a relative to help with polling day duties. The relative had been paid the going rate.
This was held out by a gleeful Henshaw of a fundamental corruption within the organisation of elections.
Swift and decisive action had to be taken.
Lasham was quickly dispensed with. Henshaw even used Finnegan to make public statements about the conduct of elections and the need for probity.
This was all utter bollocks.
Henshaw had got McElhinney to cynically remove a rival and then trumpeted it as a victory for clean government (of which Henshaw, was of course, naturally the most visible proponent.)
And guess what happened next?
Henshaw assumed the role of Chief Returning Officer, pocketing an extra salary of £25,000 a year on top of his £195 grand a year chief exec's salary.
It also gave Henshaw the opportunity to stand on a stage every May, preeen himself in front of the cameras and declare in his puffed-up, pompous way: "I, being the Returning Officer for the said ward of........" etc, etc.
Meanwhile the victimised Lasham was consigned to obscurity, his reputation in tatters.
He had done nothing wrong, except fall foul of Henshw's ego and his greed. (A predicament that Finnegan also found himself in five years later).
There is one further footnote. Henshaw went on holiday to the Caribbean in the run-up to the local council elections (while he was Chief Returning Officer!). At the same time it emerged that an entire block of flats had been missed off the Electoral Register.
The local Merseymart led on the story that Henshaw was sunning himself on a beach while scores of electors were being denied the right to vote because of council incompetence.
On his return, Henshaw went incandescent, screaming and shouting at Finnegan and threatening the individual reporter and his newspaper. Of course, the story was entirely true.
As one councillor was heard to remark: "This would never have happened in Charlie Lassham's day."

Monday, October 09, 2006

NEW CAPTION COMPETITION - Win a place for your band as support act to Madonna when she plays in Liverpool in 2008!

YOU could be support act to Madonna when she appears in Liverpool in Capital of Culture year, 2008.
Yes that's the glittering prize which awaits you in our new caption competition.
All you have to do is submit the best caption to the picture above.
It shows members of Status Quo before their concert last year at the Summer Pops in Liverpool.
They are 'fooling around' backstage like lovable rock 'n' roll stars with members of a a hip new Southport-based band called Abe.
Second from the left in the stripy polo shirt is Abe lead guitarist and vocalist, Liam Halsall, who also happens to be the son of Mr Phil Halsall, Executive Director with Liverpool city council.
MrHalsall, better known as 'The Smiling Assassin', was, at the time, the council official responsible for the Summer Pops, which has so far cost council taxpayers £2.1 million.
The costs soared because Sir David Henshaw, retired chief executive, failed to ensure that the Summer Pops was put out to tender, in accordance with the council's strict rules and regulations. For SIX years.
Instead The Smiling Assassin appears to have repeatedly given the Summer Pops to a company called CMP Entertainment, run by a Mr Chas 'show me the money' Cole.
That's probably enough information for you to come up with a cracking caption.
The winner will have a date with Madonna, when CMP bring her to Liverpool in 2008. The five runners up will all receive special collectors edition, 'I'm Tony Parrish' badges.
Off you go!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


SIR DIDDY is due to speak at a major NHS conference in Chester this week.
What's the betting that he will wheel out his favourite oratorical device - and try to get the delegates dancing?
Sir Diddy has swallowed wholeheartedly (who said he had a heart, ed?) the transatlantic mumbo-jumbo pioneered by US-based management consultants, Senn Delaney.
Henshaw personally hired this bizarre outfit, (breaking all council rules by not going out to any formal tender), to promote something he called The Liverpool Way at the city council.
(This showed his great gift for original thought - he had called the same programme 'the Knowsley Way' when he was chief exec at Knowsley Council!)
This programme of indoctrination in the Henshaw personality cult, managed by McElhinney, cost the city council's taxpayers more than a million quid.
It normally involved senior managers (it was too good for the plebs at the sharp end) being packed off overnight to one of Henshaw's favourite hotels - normally in Cheshire or North Wales, certainly not Liverpool - where they would spend their time playing ridiculous management games and getting all 'touchy feely' with each other. (Was McElhinney an active participant then? ed)
The most embarrassing moment usually came when one senior manager paired up with a colleague and they then sat opposite each other.
One would then have to gaze deeply into their colleague's eyes and recite from a Senn Delaney script, the immortal words: "What I most value about you is.....(fill in the desired words)" and then "What I think you could most improve is..... "(ditto)
For most rational participants this was excruciating gobbledegook, served up with happy clappy Mormon-like enthusiasm by the sharp-suited, swivel-eyed fanatics from Senn Delaney.
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