Wirral Council and Magenta Living promise to work together to combat flytipping on Crossways Estate

                                       

Councillor George Davies (Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety) and Chair of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee 28th July 2016

Councillor George Davies (Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety) and Chair of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee 28th July 2016

Birkenhead Constituency Committee 28th July 2016 The public questions referred to below start at the 20 minute 21 second mark

The author lives around half a mile from the area described below.

As you can read in this blog post (which is mainly photos) from January 2011 flytipping has been a problem at Flaybrick Cemetery and the turning heads at the top of Hoblyn Road, Collin Road and Naylor Road for some time.

In the last few days I was walking with my wife Leonora there (sadly without my camera) and there is a lot of flytipping at the top of Naylor Road by Flaybrick Cemetery.

As the photo in this blog post from a local community organiser shows Magenta Living have “tinned up” many of the properties on the Crossways estate meaning that sadly flytipping in that area can be done unobserved.

At the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee (held near the end of July) I asked what was being done about flytipping and what is planned for the future of the houses in these roads.

The written answers given to both questions are below (although you can also watch me ask them in the video above).



Response from Department for Regeneration and Environment (Wirral Council)

Hoblyn Road, Collin Road and Naylor Road are all done on a street cleansing every 4 weeks schedule. Over the past months we have had several deposits of fly tipping emerging at the very top of these areas.

We have had the councils [sic] Enforcement Team and Kingdom investigating the fly tipping and have had positive feedback.

We are also working with Magenta Living regarding the development of the existing houses with additional street cleansing. We will continue to work alongside Magenta living [sic] when the new development is completed working with housing officers tackling waste and recycling and street cleaning and fly tipping.



(Cllr Steve Foulkes who is a Wirral Council appointed Director of Magenta Living left the room during this question)

Response from Magenta:
The Crossways estate in North Birkenhead comprises of 200 3 bed houses including Hoblyn, Collin and Naylor Road along with 13 properties on Hoylake Road.

Very limited demand began to be experienced and Magenta Living took the decision not to allocate any of the properties on Crossways until a longer term, sustainable solution could be found.

Magenta Living has carried out survey work and been working with residents to identify improvement options. One of the principle issues raised by residents was the unpopular ‘gilbury’ units, ground floor extensions that house the bathroom facilities. Two demonstration properties were made available to residents to view in May 2016, one had the bathroom relocated upstairs and made into a 2 bed house, the other was retained as a 3 bed again with the bathroom upstairs.

Feedback from residents was largely very positive and work has subsequently commenced, on a phased basis in order to ensure demand still exists, improving the empty properties in Hoblyn Road, including the demolition [sic] the gilbury units, before the occupied properties are then improved.

Other works identified include;


  • Demolition of some properties towards Flaybrick Memorial Gardens

  • Improved physical security measures

  • Improving the external appearance of properties

  • Exploring the option of a low cost home ownership scheme



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Why did the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside need a seconded part-time Private Secretary costing £16,828 a year?

                                                

Job Description Private Secretary to Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner seconded from Liverpool City Council

Job Description Private Secretary to Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner seconded from Liverpool City Council

A few years ago, before Jane Kennedy was re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner earlier this year, the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel agreed to her request for a Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside in June 2014. Previously Jane Kennedy had stated she wouldn’t need a Deputy but changed her mind.

The appointment of Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (a part-time role of three days a week work with a salary of over £30,000) was first made to Cllr Ann O’Byrne (at the time also Liverpool City Council Cabinet Member for Housing), then in August 2015 the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner changed to Cllr Sue Murphy (a St Helens Council councillor). Cllr Sue Murphy continued as Deputy PCC until the end of Jane Kennedy’s term of office in May 2016. After Jane Kennedy’s re-election Sue Murphy was then was re-appointed as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner by the councillors on the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel on the 14th July 2016.

In addition to the £31,800 paid to the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (from June 2014 to the 1st May 2016, then from 14th July 2016 onwards) Liverpool City Council had been providing a seconded employee (part-time) to be a “Private Secretary” to the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner at a cost of £16,828 a year.

I requested the contract during the audit. In the interests of transparency here is the Secondment Contract Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside Liverpool City Council Private Secretary to Deputy PCC (zipped file). It’s provided as a compressed (zipped file) in case you want to read it (apologies for the poor contrast on the first 5 pages but that’s how it was provided to me).

However here’s one quote from the “Principal Accountabilities” bit of the job description, “Vet incoming correspondence addressed to the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner/Chief of Staff, deciding on the most appropriate manner by which it should be dealt with, this ensuring that only relevant correspondence is filtered through to the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner.”

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Merseytravel councillors agree to push for ½ hourly service on Bidston Wrexham “Borderlands” line

                                     

Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace)

Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace) Photo taken by Leonora Brace

A public meeting of councillors on the Merseytravel Committee (part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) last month considered a report on enhancing services on the Borderlands Line between Bidston and Wrexham, as well as an Executive Summary of the Borderlands Line Service Enhancements Economic Appraisal Report.

Three councillors from the Wirral (Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Jerry Williams and Cllr Les Rowlands) each spoke on the item, which you can watch starting at the 24 minutes 20 second point in the video below.

Merseytravel Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) 28th July 2016 Part 2 of 2 (Enhancing Services on the ‘Borderlands’ Rail Line starts at 24:20)

The Merseytravel Committee agreed to work with the Welsh Assembly Government to push for a twice hourly service, to set up a joint steering group with the Welsh Assembly Government and to develop a realistic project plan to:

a) improve the line,
b) introduce a bus-rail interchange in the Hawarden Bridge area,
c) enhance intermediate stations (such as Heswall and Upton) to make them more convenient, attractive and accessible and
d) to look into a potential new station at Woodchurch.

Future reports on progress are expected to be made to the councillors on the Merseytravel Committee.

Attending the public meeting was the Chairman of the Wrexham Bidston Rail Users Association John Allcock. When asked for a quote for WBRUA’s views on the decision by the Merseytravel Committee he wrote, “The WBRUA welcomes the Merseytravel Committee’s decision to support the enhancement of the Borderlands Line. This railway has been a Cinderella line for many years but has the potential to be a significant part of the transport network in our area and benefit the communities and businesses it connects.”

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Why did the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside spend “up to £16,474” on an “austerity” review with Liverpool John Moores University?

Jane Kennedy (left), the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Labour Party candidate in the 2016 elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside at a public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (2015)

Jane Kennedy (left), the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Labour Party candidate in the 2016 elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside at a public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (2015)

The author of this piece was briefly employed by Liverpool John Moores University on work experience in February 1997 (although this was 15 years before Police and Crime Commissioners existed). However in the interests of transparency I’m declaring it as an interest.

The recently reelected Jane Kennedy (Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside) who is pictured above to the left of the photo has often spoken in public about her views on the Merseyside Police budget, the funding of the Merseyside Police and has even referred to her “sleepless nights” worrying about it all.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside spent up to £16,474 (see the purchase order below) with Liverpool John Moores University to “commission a scoping review of the scale, dimensions and implications of austerity on community safety, crime prevention and diversionary services within Merseyside.”

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside purchase order 20th October 2015 Liverpool John Moores University up to £16474

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside purchase order 20th October 2015 Liverpool John Moores University up to £16474

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EXCLUSIVE: Wirral Council planning officer decides greenbelt site for Saughall Massie fire station is not “environmentally sensitive”

                                            

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station

The author of this piece is the Appellant in a First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) case where Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority is the Second Respondent.

The first decision on the Saughall Massie fire station planning application has been made by Wirral Council in relation to the screening opinion.

In a decision letter dated 17th August 2016, a Wirral Council planning officer has decided that despite the site bordering a conservation area and also (although it’s not mentioned in the decision letter) the fact the plans include fuel storage, that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required as the site is not considered “environmentally sensitive”.

This is despite Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 listing the following as one the factors that should make a site "environmentally sensitive" and therefore require an environmental impact assessment,

“6 Chemical industry (unless included in Schedule 1)

(c) Storage facilities for petroleum, petrochemical and chemical products.

(i) The area of any new building or structure exceeds 0.05 hectare; or
(ii) more than 200 tonnes of petroleum, petrochemical or chemical products is to be stored at any one time.”

The site plan clearly shows a fuel store (presumably for storing petrol and/or diesel for refuelling the fire engines.

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