With the spotlight on Liverpool during Capital of Culture year, it's understandable if events in the neighbouring boroughs go unnoticed. To its credit, however, the Liverpool Times, a blog which has its roots in Kirkby, despite its name, last week highlighted what it alleges as corruption & fraud in Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC);
The LT notes that David Henshaw was chief executive of Knowsley MBC before taking up the same job in Liverpool. Henshaw's role in Liverpool in the run-up to 2008 has, of course, been brilliantly exposed by Tony Parrish on the Liverpool Subculture blog (http://liverpoolsubculture.blogspot.com/ ).
LT states that Henshaw & Jim Keight, Knowsley council leader throughout the 90s, "were given carte blanche by New Labour that ensured political and local government corruption/malpractices flourished without fear of reprisal."
It goes on assert that Knowsley's "press and media office" under Henshaw & Keight received almost five times the amount of funding than its counterpart in Liverpool, despite the fact that Knowsley's population was less than one-third of Liverpool's. Significantly (& unsurprisingly, given its track record), "The Liverpool Echo were drip fed a permanent diet [of] 'good news stories' and their journalists 'encouraged' to stay away from council meetings.
"Having instead to rely on the Council handing down sanitised versions of anything that might be of public interest. Everything else was buried in the secret labyrinth of committees Henshaw set up to push through the £75,000 unsecured loan to a councillor: the variety of questionable land deals: and the covering up of payola to his eventual deputy: and the arranged burying of any trace of the £75,000 unsecured loan to Cllr Edward Grannell, a Kirkby bag carrier for Council leader James Keight JP!"
It's explosive stuff, of course, & the sort of allegations which journalists would be expected to persue with alacrity. However, the Liverpool Times' piece draws attention to the local media's supine coverage of the Borough's affairs. It concludes, "If the Liverpool based media covered the shenanigans of the Council's [sic] and if the Council's Chief Executives upheld standards, would there be any need for the Liverpool Times?"
Maybe not, fellas, but don't dwell on that, you're doing a brilliant job.