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Wirral Council claims no disclosable conflicts of interest over grant of Saughall Massie fire station planning application

                                        

Planning Committee (Wirral Council) site visit Saughall Massie fire station 18th July 2017 photo 1 of 40

Planning Committee (Wirral Council) site visit Saughall Massie fire station 18th July 2017 This photo shows the distance between the proposed fire station and the nearby residential properties referred to in the letter below

Below is the text of a letter I received earlier this month from a David Ball at Wirral Council following a stage 1 complaint I made about the grant of planning permission APP/17/00306 (which was for a fire station in Saughall Massie).

I will point out that there are aspects to the letter I don’t agree with, but in the interests of transparency, the public interest in the matter and the seniority of David Ball I am publishing it below. As it’s two pages, a link break is shown between the two pages.



(Wirral Council’s logo)

Wirral Council

David Ball
Assistant Director
Environmental Services
PO Box 290
Brighton Street
Wallasey
CH27 9FQ

www.wirral.gov.uk

Date: 03 October 2017
Tel: 0151 691 8395

John Brace
Jenmaleo
134 Boundary Road
Bidston
Wirral
CH43 7PH

Your Ref:
Our Ref: DB/AEH/BRACE
Service: Environmental Services

Dear Mr Brace

COMPLAINT STAGE 1 – CCR 3317
GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION APP/17/00306

As I understand it, your complaint has two aspects to it. These are as follows:

1. “Councillor Foulkes did not declare a disclosable pecuniary interest. Had it been declared, and Councillor Foulkes not taken part in the votes on the refusal motions, the vote would have been tied 6:6 and the Chair would have had to exercise her casting vote to determine the matter.”

2. “However, more importantly Wirral Council owned the land that this planning application relates to. Wirral Council listed this piece of land in its asset register as having a £nil value. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority allocated £300,000 in their budget to purchase the land from Wirral Council after planning permission was granted. Therefore, the grant of planning permission increased the value of Wirral Council’s land from £nil to £300,000. This was a disclosable pecuniary interest that all the Councillors on the Planning Committee had (but not declared) as they are all Wirral Councillors.”

My response to your complaint is as follows:

Councillor Foulkes is a director of Magenta Living which has tenanted properties within approximately 300 yards of the site.

Magenta Living did not however make any representations to the Committee from which it can be inferred that the Board of Directors did not believe that the outcome would affect the financial interests of the company. If they had thought otherwise, they would have been under a duty to the company to attempt to influence the decision of the Committee by making their views known one way or the other.


Consequently it was reasonable for Councillor Foulkes not to declare as pecuniary interest in the matter by virtue of his directorship of a company that evidently did not consider it had any such interest.

Councillor Foulkes was therefore free to express his opinion to the Committee on the merits of the application and to vote accordingly.

Furthermore neither he nor the other members of the Committee had a pecuniary interest in the land owned by the Council on the site. The beneficial interest in the land was owned by the Council and not by them personally and therefore did not qualify as a pecuniary interest.

I hope that this response satisfies your complaint.

If you remain dissatisfied then please tell the Council your reasons for this and this matter can be considered at Stage 2 of the Council’s complaint process.

Yours sincerely,

(signature)

David Ball
Assistant Director

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Wirral Council’s councillors decided on backdated pay rises for 4 councillors costing an extra £34,226 a year!

                                          

Councillor Steve Foulkes (centre) 16th October 2017 voting to give himself a backdated £10,108 pay rise

Councillor Steve Foulkes (centre) 16th October 2017 voting to give himself a backdated £10,108 pay rise

Wirral Council councillors on Monday evening voted to give four councillors a backdated pay rise costing Wirral Council an extra £34,226 a year.

Councillors from Wirral Council (Councillors Abbey, Foulkes, Rowlands and Jerry Williams) on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee (formerly called the Merseytravel Committee) will now receive a backdated basic allowance for their work on the Transport Committee annually of £5,675 each.

On top of the basic allowance of £5,675 (backdated to May) three councillors received extra amounts too. Cllr Les Rowlands received an extra £2,660 as Opposition Spokesperson, Cllr Steve Foulkes an extra £4,433 as Lead Member for Finance and Organisational Development and Cllr Ron Abbey an extra £4,433 as Lead Member for Bus.

A report of the Independent Panel on Member’s Allowances stated that prior to May “the allowances paid to the four Wirral Members were paid by the Council and reimbursed by Merseytravel” but went on to explain that after May 2017 Merseytravel would no longer do this and it would become a decision for individual councils.

Despite a legal requirement to publish the total amounts Wirral Council pays to individual councillors as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of a year it appears from this page on Wirral Council’s website that it has not yet done so for the 2016-17 year.

Council (Wirral Council) 16th October 2017 Agenda item 11C Members Allowance Scheme

Earlier in the same public meeting, councillors heard from UNISON trade union representative Paddy Cleary who supported a Notice of Motion that called for the “immediate end of public sector pay restraint”.

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Will Cllr Phil Davies weaken greenbelt planning policy to help planning permission for Hoylake Golf Resort?

                                                 

Cllr Phil Davies 6th March 2017 Budget Council speaking about Labour's Budget

Cllr Phil Davies speaking at a meeting of Wirral’s councillors earlier this year (6th March 2017)

Earlier this month I wrote about the Strategic Regeneration Framework consultation which includes the Hoylake Golf Resort project.

A week tomorrow (2nd October 2017) Wirral Council’s Cabinet meets in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall starting at 10.00 am. On the agenda is a report in Cllr Phil Davies’ name to Cabinet that recommends not only is the new Strategic Regeneration Framework agreed as policy but also recommends to Council that the Strategic Regeneration Framework is adopted as a “material planning consideration” and that it’s used in the Core Strategy Local Plan.

So what does this mean? If the Strategic Regeneration Framework (which includes the Hoylake Golf Resort project) is adopted as a planning policy by Wirral Council, then this will be a material consideration in favour of approving any future planning application for the Hoylake Golf Resort that the Planning Committee will decide upon.

At the moment due to the greenbelt nature of the site proposed for the Hoylake Golf Resort, Wirral Council’s planning policies only allow development in “very special circumstances”.

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Are more cuts on the way for Wirral’s Council’s Leisure, Libraries, Culture and Parks Services?

                                                                  

Libraries, Leisure and Culture Transformation Scrutiny Workshop Page 1 of 6

Libraries, Leisure and Culture Transformation Scrutiny Workshop Page 1 of 6

A public meeting of Wirral Council’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee yesterday evening had an urgent item on a recent Libraries, Leisure and Culture Transformation Scrutiny Workshop held earlier this month.

Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) 22nd September 2017 starting at Libraries, Leisure and Culture Transformation Scrutiny Workshop

At the end of this post is a copy of the 6 page report that resulted from the workshop.

This Cabinet report and its associated appendix (written by consultants) describe what it is about in more detail.

If you read between the lines of the workshop report, there are a lot of words used in it that are code for cuts, here is a quote (Members means councillors) “Members agreed that one of the aims of this project was to reduce the Council investment in these services and members suggested that some services may have to be sold to residents at the price it costs the Council to deliver them”.

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2 further days of strike action on Merseyrail network in October by RMT over driver only operated trains

                                       

One of the new driver only operated trains ordered by Merseytravel that has led to the strikes

One of the new driver only operated trains ordered by Merseytravel that has led to the strikes

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has announced further strike action on the Merseyrail network. Drivers and guards will be on strike on the 3rd October 2017 and 5th October 2017.

RMT stated that it was angry and frustrated that Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Mayor Steve Rotheram had refused to put pressure on Merseyrail to resolve the dispute.

At a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority last week (which is chaired by Mayor Steve Rotheram) the industrial dispute between Merseyrail and the RMT was discussed towards the end of a Merseyrail Update item.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 15th September 2017 Part 1 of 4 (starting at Merseyrail Update 38:42)

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 15th September 2017 Part 2 of 4 Merseyrail Update

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 15th September 2017 Merseyrail Update (slides)

Various proposals made by the RMT, such as increasing fares to cover the cost of the guards when the new trains are introduced or Merseytravel paying for the salaries of the guards were rejected.

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