Posted by: John Brace | September 22, 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor Cherry Povall, JP 2013 to 2014


Expense claim forms for Councillor Cherry Povall, JP 2013 to 2014

                                                   

Councillor Cherry Povall is a Conservative Party councillor for Clatterbridge ward and is also a magistrate (also known as Justice of the Peace). However these expense claims are to do with her work as a councillor and not as a magistrate. It does give me the opportunity to ask, will any of her expenses claims be ruled “out-of-order” or is the bench “above reproach”?

Will the “court of public opinion” approve of Councillor Cherry Povall’s expenses or criticise her? Well that’s enough of the legal jokes! Her expenses claims are for going to pension conferences, more pensions meetings, Council meetings, foster panels, training for people on foster panels, overview and scrutiny committee meetings and the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee.

However not all her expenses claims were allowed! In March 2014, she tried to claim £6.40 for travel (16 miles ~ 40p/mile) to a dedication to HMS Birkenhead (which from leaving her house to coming back she spent three and a half hours at). This £6.40 claim was rejected. Pictures (which include former Mayor Councillor Dave Mitchell) and a write-up about the new memorial to HMS Birkenhead can be read on The Sixth Form College (Birkenhead)’s website as it was one of their students who designed it.

I presume as this wasn’t classed as an “approved duty” that this is why it was turned down (however presumably all councillors received an invite to the unveiling of the memorial).

Her expense claim forms are below (the rejected claim for travel expenses to the HMS Birkenhead memorial is on page eight).

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 8

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 8

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 7

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 7

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 6

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 6

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 5

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 5

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 4

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 4

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 3

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 3

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 2

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 2

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 1

Cllr Cherry Povall expenses claim page 1

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14 councillor Scrutiny Panel created by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

                                                   

Knowsley Council filming the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 19th September 2014

Knowsley Council filming the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 19th September 2014

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting of 19th September 2014 (Part 1) agenda items 1-8

At the time of writing Wirral Council’s Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee will be meeting tonight (22nd September 2014 starting at 6pm in Committee Room 1, Wallasey Town Hall) and as well as the emotive issue of car parking (you can read the report of officers and report of the seven councillors who looked into it on Wirral Council’s website, item ten is a verbal update on scrutiny of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

I was present at the meeting on Friday morning of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority which both myself and Knowsley Council filmed. For a bit of background Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s population is half the size of Wirral and all of its 63 councillors since 2012 are from the Labour Party.

Thanks in part to a retweet by the Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership of a tweet on Knowsley Council’s Twitter account (with ~7,000 followers) and Councillor Phil Davies mentioning it during the meeting itself, Knowsley’s video footage of the meeting uploaded at about 4pm that day has had 129 views. This compares to a total of 21 views of our footage (which is in two parts of the same meeting but unlike Knowsley’s in higher quality HD).

Going briefly into the history of filming at Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meetings, I made a request to film the first meeting held on April 1st 2014 (the request was refused by Knowsley’s Chief Executive Sheena Ramsey as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority constitution puts this decision in the hand of an officer, specifically the Chief Executive of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council). After that meeting, the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson then went and briefed the Liverpool Echo about how upset he was at not being picked at Chair instead of Wirral Council’s Leader Cllr Phil Davies.

Possibly as a result of this, the next meeting (when they had to pick a Chair again as it was the Annual General Meeting), on the 13th June 2014 the meeting was broadcast live on the internet in HD by Knowsley Council as a Google Hangout. In the interest of transparency at this point I will point out at this point that I receive a small amount from Google in advertising on Youtube videos I’ve filmed. Once again my request to film this meeting was again refused (somewhat strangely considering that Knowsley Council filmed the meeting and broadcast it live).

On August 6th 2014, as regulars readers of this blog will know, the law changed on the issue. A week later a report of Knowsley Council’s Chief Executive proposed a policy on filming which was agreed to by their Leader Ron Round. This decision was made by their Leader as a delegated decision. However the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is a separate body to Knowsley Council.

Obviously they couldn’t stop me filming the meeting last Friday. However a Knowsley Council officer before the meeting referred to the part (still in Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s constitution) that allows their Chief Executive to refuse requests to film. However if they actually did so now it would be unlawful and therefore the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority constitution should be changed to prevent confusion. I did suggest a change, but the response back from the officer concerned was that they won’t recommend to politicians a change the Liverpool City Region Authority’s constitution which is partly why a Scrutiny Panel for the Combined Authority is needed as a check and balance! The Knowsley Council officer I talked to before the meeting did tell me that a policy on filming (although never formally agreed by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) had been agreed “that morning” and surprise, surprise is the same as Knowsley Council’s policy on the matter.

Even Liverpool City Council have amended their constitution and agreed a new policy on filming of their public meetings last week at a meeting of all their councillors on the 17th September, following a meeting of their Constitutional Issues Committee on the 8th September which was attended and filmed by myself.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting of 19th September 2014 (Part 2) agenda items 8-16 (Scrutiny Panel item starts at 1m 55s in this clip)

However back to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, there has been criticism of it by some councillors as it is a “one party state” as it comprises the Leaders of the councils on Merseyside (plus the Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership) and all the Leaders of the councils on Merseyside are all from the Labour Party.

What was agreed on Friday morning by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (the report can be read here was creating a scrutiny panel and appointments of councillors to this scrutiny panel have already been made by the Merseyside councils. The first meeting of the Scrutiny Panel is planned for the 19th October, although there will be a training session before that for councillors on it on the 26th September. I presume it will run along similar lines to the Merseytravel Committee (which is since April part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority).

There will be fourteen councillors on the Scrutiny Panel for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Two are nominated from each council on Merseyside, with two extra places to represent opposition parties (one of these two opposition places being Councillor John Hale from Wirral Council to represent the Conservatives and the other, Councillor Haydn Preece from Sefton to represent the Liberal Democrats). The two Labour representatives from Wirral Council are Councillor Anita Leech (Labour) and Councillor Mike Sullivan (Labour).

I’m sure councillors will hear something similar in the verbal update given at tonight’s meeting about scrutiny of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

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Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly takes on Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies on a matter involving Wirral’s forest

                                                       

Councillor Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly explains to the Coordinating Committee why he disagrees with the Cabinet decision about Forest Schools and Healthy Homes 18th September 2014 Committee Room 1, Wallasey Town Hall

The following is meant as satire. Obviously Cllr Stuart Kelly is not Robin Hood and Councillor Phil Davies is not the Sheriff of Nottingham. You can watch the meeting from beginning to end, however the video clips below are of the part of the meeting described below that video clip.

Councillor Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly had gone into Nottingham’sWirral’s castle as he disagreed with the plans of Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies. The plans Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” had were about the Forest Schools and Healthy Homes programs.

Councillor Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly regularly appeared in articles in the local newspaper the NottinghamWirral Globe and was known for being a “thorn in the side” of the Sheriff.

In the recent past he had argued with the Sheriff as the Sheriff was charging the poor peasantspeople (who didn’t have computers) of Wirral an extra £5 to have their garden rubbish removed in brown bins. The Sheriff had disagreed with Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly then. As far as the Sheriff was concerned, the bins tax was fair (and although not stated obviously fairer than the bedroom tax which the Sheriff was against).

After the Sheriff had heard at a meeting recently that any of the peasantspeople of Wirral could go into one of its many 24 libraries (on which a consultation on reducing the opening hours was now taking place on the orders of the Sheriff) and sign up to pay the “bin tax” online (completely failing to mention the irony of Cllr Foulkes’ plan to close half of the libraries which was stopped a few years ago by Sue Charteris, the Labour government and the people of Wirral).

One of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s colleagues Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry (who is not Maid Marian despite also having the initials MM) told Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly that he had five minutes only to make his case. Thankfully she did not add that if he exceeded his time she would call the guards of the castle and have him dragged off to the dungeon (formerly the Mayor’s wine cellar) for having the gall and brass neck to try to upset the Sheriff.

Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly of Oxton explained the many hardships the peasantspeople were suffering. He wanted the children of Wirral to visit the forests! He wanted the people to have warm homes and not be cold in the winter ahead! He was doing this all for the people! He disagreed with Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies as he felt that it was wrong to try to stop or cut how much was spent on these matters as if they did the people would suffer!

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry then called Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” to speak, again for up to five minutes.

Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies was keen to show he wasn’t as bad as Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly had painted him earlier. He blamed it all on Prince John Queen Elizabeth II and the Coalition government. He explained that the Forest Schools target was to send 660 children to the forests of Nottingham Wirral over the last two years. In fact at the end of year one it had exceeded its target! Therefore this was why the money was taken away. Yes, classes of fifteen, instead of thirty were now being used but this was all for the be benefit of the children! It was his contention that both on Healthy Homes and Forest Schools that this was prudent financially.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry then asked for the witnesses to be called. A senior manager of the forests of Wirral came to speak. She explained what the Forest Schools program was about and how it was run by the rangers. They had decided that classes of fifteen were the best size. The experienced rangers were running the program, with the money used to backfill their positions.

Cllr Mike Sullivan of Pensby & Thingwall said how fabulous the work of the Forest Schools was and how it was better now it was fifteen and not thirty.

Another councillor asked if the budget was cut. The senior manager of the forests confirmed it had. Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry referred to a “reduction in activity” followed by Cllr Mike Sullivan again.

Cllr Janette Williamson of Liscard described it as a “great project”.

The effect on the children was talked about as well as how it made a “voluntary mute” “chatty and enthusiastic”. However the officer warned of the effect on places like Bidston Hill which was suffering whilst its ranger was doing this.

Cllr Dave Mitchell of Eastham asked a question about £18,000? The officer replied that was the underspend in year one. She continued talking about the beneficial effects on the young children and the benefits of it, not just on the children but on others too. The reduction in early years involvement in the Forest Schools program from four events to two was referred to. Various people asked questions and the debate went on.

Cllr Mike Sullivan of Pensby & Thingwall referred to the fact they might have to lay off rangers, to a rather horrified look from Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry who intervened. How much each schools paid to be involved was mentioned, with the poor schools paying less than the richer schools.

Cllr Paul Doughty of Prenton referred to the benefits, a decrease in school absence, increase in outdoor use and exercise and other benefits. The manager replied. She was thanked by Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry who then asked the Healthy Homes witness to come forward.

Lisa told everybody about what the Healthy Homes program was, how it was about healthy lifestyles, smoking cessation and a “whole house” approach (whatever that means). She referred to the NHS, training “champions” and “partner agencies” as well as grants and loans that could be provided to tackles hazards.

Cllr Mitchell of Eastham referred to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. The manager referred to “significant progress” as well as the police service and fire service. He asked her another question and she said she could only speak for Wirral Council. Cllr Mitchell of Eastham asked another question.

Cllr Berry of Moreton West and Saughall Massie asked about the budget cut and when she had been told? Had she been asked for comments about the potential impacts? He referred to numbers of assessments done.

The answer given referred to housing renovation loans, central heating and grants. Cllr Janette Williamson of Liscard indicated her question had already been answered. Cllr Paul Doughty of Prenton referred to a presentation last year of Ian Platt about the Healthy Homes program and funding. The manager replied to his points using phrases such as that they could “still help everyone”.

Cllr Mike Sullivan of Pensby & Thingwall said the manager was not “Mystic Meg”. Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry thanked the witness and called Kevin Adderley.

Kevin Adderley said he was “very pleased” and that the two schemes he was “proud of”. He went into detail about the impacts of the Forest Schools and Healthy Homes programs and referred to the Chief Executive’s Strategy Group.

Cllr Mitchell of Eastham asked why he had selected these to be earmarked for savings and why wasn’t the money capitalised?

Kevin Adderley answered that was explained in the Cabinet Report. He went into a little more detail. Mitchell of Eastham asked another question, Kevin Adderley again referred to the Chief Executive’s Strategy Group.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry made a point, Cllr Wendy Clements of Greasby, Frankby & Irby referred to all the people who could be helped. Kevin Adderley replied that it was in privately owned accommodation, not registered social landlord and that they couldn’t be expected to knock on 100,000 doors on the Wirral, they had to rely on people coming forward.

Cllr Wendy Clements of Greasby, Frankby & Irby referred to that they were in danger of disadvantaging people and that they should be proactive. Kevin Adderley replied that he was sure they wouldn’t want to advertise to private sector landlords and that there was a “fine balance”.

Cllr Paul Doughty of Prenton referred to the “age of austerity” and that he could only think in terms of his own household’s budget. He disagreed with capitalising the expenditure and referred to cuts and the “prudent financial management” and that they shouldn’t be finding ways of spending money that they haven’t got.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry asked Fiona Johnstone to come forward as a witness. Fiona Johnstone said she would take questions, but in answer to an earlier question about process it had first been agreed with the Cabinet portfolio holder. Kevin Adderley left for two minutes at this point. She continued by explaining the history of it all and when things had happened and would happen. Kevin Adderley returned. Fiona Johnstone continued on about Forest Schools and other matters. Mitchell of Eastham referred to the benefits to the children. Fiona Johnstone replied that there would be a full evaluation in May or June. However in her view the question was what could they afford to do more efficiently followed by talking about outcomes. Cllr Mitchell of Eastham referred to the review. Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry interrupted.

Cllr Wendy Clements of Greasby, Frankby & Irby referred to the fact it was public health money. Fiona Johnstone answered that they were waiting till the call in was complete. Cllr Anita Leech of Leasowe and Moreton East referred to the Cabinet minute about public health spending. Fiona Johnstone replied that they had monthly reports on the budget and in answer to a question as to whether these monthly financial reports went to the Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee the answer was “not now”.

Cllr Gerry Ellis of Hoylake and Meols asked a question. The answer given by Fiona Johnstone was that every project had been asked to make an assessment of the impact and those assessments had been received. Cllr Gerry Ellis of Hoylake and Meols asked if that was a written assesment? Fiona Johnstone replied that it was for 38 projects. Cllr Phillip Brightmore of Pensby & Thingwall asked a brief question to which Fiona Johnstone referred to that there would be a need to understand a proper evaluation.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry asked Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly to sum up in five minutes. Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly referred to the ringfencing of the money for public health. He said that the Forest Schools was “knocked into a cocked hat” and was a “victim of its own success”. Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly referred to the reduction in class sizes from thirty to fifteen and referred to the Healthy Homes scheme.

He was interrupted by others, but Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry told him to “carry on”.

Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly referred to substandard housing and how it had nothing to do with next year’s deficit. He questioned the stability of this year’s budget and how they could say that reducing to fifteen in each class for Forest Schools was a “success”? He referred to twenty-one households who would be affected by Healthy Homes and that how they need to think about priorities as these were small amounts of money.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry asked Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies to speak for five minutes.

He thanked Cllr Moira McLaughlin, said the project was a pilot project time limited to two years but that it was “something new” and “not a precise science”. Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies was not surprised that they had not been able to spend their total amount of funding. In the case of Forest Schools and Health Homes he felt it was “financially sensible” to make savings and think about “how best to use the money”.

He then went to refer to “savage cuts” and how Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly was asking for the original budgets to be restored. Even if he did restore the budget he didn’t think it could be spent by 31st March 2015 as the rangers wouldn’t have the spare capacity, he even went so far as to use the word “nonsense”.

In closing he said he would like to see the projects continue, referred to them as “fantastic” and what’s needed was an “enlightened government” (in reference to cuts). He asked Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly to join him in a lobby on the train to number 10 Downing Street to endorse the position of the Cabinet.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin of Rock Ferry asked if anyone wanted to debate it. Cllr Gerry Ellis of Hoylake and Meols left.

Cllr Jerry Williams of Bebington said that the Council was “working well” in “difficult circumstances” and that he knew Cllr Stuart “Robin Hood” Kelly was an “opposition councillor”. He wanted to dwell on the positives rather than being totally negative.

Cllr Wendy Clements of Greasby, Frankby and Irby said that it was public health money and they had to remember that it was nothing to do with the challenges.

Cllr Anita Leech of Leasowe and Moreton East referred to the ringfencing of the money and how the best number of class sizes was fifteen for the Forest Schools program. Cllr Dave Mitchell of Eastham referred to the Forest Schools project being an “excellent project”. Cllr Gerry Ellis of Hoylake and Meols returned. Cllr Dave Mitchell of Eastham continued by referring to what Ed Miliband and the Labour Party’s spokesperson had said would happen if they were elected in May 2015 and how they would not change anything. He referred to how the Forest Schools program was allowing young people to improve their lives.

Cllr David Elderton of West Kirby and Thurstaston referred to the concerns of Wendy Clements and the ringfencing of the money and that they should leave it alone and not throw the “baby out with the bath water”. Cllr Phillip Brightmore of Pensby and Thingwall referred to the money.

Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry referred to Cllr Paul Doughty’s resolution and the three options they had. However the middle one wasn’t applicable. They could refer the matter back to Cabinet or agree to uphold the original decision.

Cllr Paul Doughty of Prenton move a recommendation congratulating officers and referring to “prudent financial management”. His recommendation was that the Cabinet decision of 7th July 2014 would stand. Cllr Moira of Rock Ferry seconded it.

An amendment was moved by Cllr Wendy Clements of Greasby, Frankby and Irby. The amendment was to refer it back to the Cabinet asking them to be careful to evaluate the use of ringfenced funds and retain the projects. This was seconded.

There was a vote on the amendment.

For the amendment (6): Cllr Dave Mitchell, Cllr Bruce Berry, Cllr Gerry Ellis, Cllr David Elderton, Cllr Steve Williams and Cllr Wendy Clements.

Against the amendment (9): Cllr Janette Williamson, Cllr Jerry Williams, Cllr Michael Sullivan, Cllr Walter Smith, Cllr Christina Muspratt, Cllr Anita Leech, Cllr Phillip Brightmore, Cllr Paul Doughty and Cllr Moira McLaughlin.

The amendment was lost.

Voting on the original recommendation.

For the recommendation (9): Cllr Janette Williamson, Cllr Jerry Williams, Cllr Michael Sullivan, Cllr Walter Smith, Cllr Christina Muspratt, Cllr Anita Leech, Cllr Phillip Brightmore, Cllr Paul Doughty and Cllr Moira McLaughlin.

Against the recommendation (6): Cllr Dave Mitchell, Cllr Bruce Berry, Cllr Gerry Ellis, Cllr David Elderton, Cllr Steve Williams and Cllr Wendy Clements.

The recommendation was won and the nine Labour councillors voted to uphold the original decision of the Labour Cabinet (which is led by Cllr Phil “Sheriff of Nottingham” Davies).

The original Cabinet decision of the 7th July 2014 upheld by a majority vote (the call in related to section (5) of the original decision) was:

RESOLVED: That

Revenue:

(1) it be noted that at Month 2 (May 2014), the full year forecast projects a gross General Fund overspend of £3,137,000;

(2) the increased commitment of £152,000 for Carbon Reduction Commitment allowances contained within the above figure be noted;

(3) that the payment of New Homes Bonus grant of £242,253 which is a general grant received outside of directorate budgets be noted;

(4) the risks relating to non delivery of savings as detailed in paragraph 3.3 of appendix A and requirement for mitigation and actions to be identified be noted;

(5) the mitigation actions being undertaken including capitalisation, reprofiling and use of public health budgets as per paragraph 3.5 (of Appendix A) and reductions to 2014/15 growth as detailed in paragraphs 5.2 and table 5 above (of Appendix A). Further mitigation action will be developed as appropriate during the year;

(6) the application of the additional New Homes Bonus grant against the Carbon reduction commitment and overall overspend to reduce the net overspend to £2,894,747 be approved.

Capital:

(i) the spend to date at Month 2 of £1.3 million, with 16.7% of the financial year having elapsed be noted; and

(ii) the revised Capital Programme of £61.3 million (Table 1 at 3.1 of Appendix B) be approved.

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Posted by: John Brace | September 18, 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor Moira McLaughlin 2013 to 2014


Expense claim forms for Councillor Moira McLaughlin 2013 to 2014

                                                   

Councillor Moira McLaughlin is a Labour councillor for Rock Ferry ward. She claimed for the expenses of going to two conferences (plus the cost of meals). The first one was “Improving the outcomes for young carers” and the second one was a London-based conference titled “Challenges of Ageing Population” (thus covering both ends of the age spectrum).

For the first conference her expenses are London Tube costs to do with Oyster cards, hotel costs, dinner and lunch costs. For the second conference her expenses are for the train, tube costs, breakfast, evening meal and tea. However a breakfast claim here for £8.60 (which sounds like an expensive breakfast) was reduced to £6.00 because councillors have set limits on what they can claim for meals. Her two pages of claim forms are below.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Moira McLaughlin expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Moira McLaughlin expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Moira McLaughlin expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

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Public notice for proposed changes to parking on Birkenhead Market Service Road (deadline 26th September 2014)

                                                

In an update to yesterday’s story about the proposed changes to parking behind Birkenhead Market, here is the public notice about it published in the 3rd September 2014 edition of the Wirral Globe. I’d better declare again that my wife Leonora Brace regularly parks in the Birkenhead Market Service Road with her Blue Badge and is someone that will be affected by the proposed Traffic Regulation Order.

This the public notice about the proposed traffic regulation order about the Birkenhead Market Service Road published on page 61 of the Wirral Globe on the 3rd September 2014.

The tale which explains why they’ve had to re-advertise this Traffic Regulation Order (I’m sure the Wirral Globe doesn’t mind the extra money as it’s now been advertised twice) for the second time in the Wirral Globe is covered in this story from August 8th 2014.

One does wonder why they don’t make the plans available at the nearby Birkenhead One Stop Shop in Conway Street? Perhaps Wirral Council still have somewhat of a “beware of the leopard” mentality when it comes to people actually viewing the proposals!

METROPOLITAN BOROUGH OF WIRRAL – (BIRKENHEAD CONTROLLED PARKING ZONE) – (WAITING, LOADING & PARKING PLACES) ORDER 2008 – AMENDMENT NO 1, 2014

Notice is hereby given that Wirral Borough Council in exercise of its powers intends to make the above order under Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 32, 35 and 84 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and of all other enabling powers.

The general nature and effect of this order will be to amend the existing order Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, (Birkenhead Controlled Parking Zone) (Waiting, Loading & Parking Places) Order 2008 by prohibiting parking and loading along sections of Birkenhead Market Service Road and to allow loading and unloading for vehicles within designated bays. The effect of this order is to improve access for vehicles servicing the Market Hall and Grange Precinct.

A copy of this Notice, the proposed Order, map, the order proposed to be amended and a statement of the Council’s reasons for proposing to make the Order, may be seen during normal office hours at Cheshire Line Buildings, Canning Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 1ND and on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am to 5pm and Wednesday 10am to 5pm at the One Stop Shop, Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe CH44 8ED.

Any objections to the Order, together with the grounds on which they are made, must be sent in writing to the undersigned (quoting reference KO) by Friday 26 September 2014.

Unless otherwise stated, all Metropolitan Borough of Wirral Public Notices are published by Surjit Tour, Head of Legal and Member Services, Town Hall, Brighton Street, Wallasey, Merseyside CH44 8ED and all notices are dated this 3rd day of September 2014.

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Posted by: John Brace | September 18, 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor Ann McLachlan 2013 to 2014


Expense claim forms for Councillor Ann McLachlan 2013 to 2014

                          

Now we turn to the expenses claims of one of my very own Labour councillors for Bidston & St. James ward Councillor Ann McLachlan. Cllr McLachlan is Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Governance, Commissioning and Improvement. As you can imagine from such a senior councillor, her expenses claims are quite long.

Her expenses claims refer to trips to the local Gautby Road Play and Community Centre Joint Management Committee in (you’ve probably guessed already) Gautby Road, on which she represents Wirral Council’s interest. In fact I think she’s Chair of that. Yes that’s the committee that is in charge of the play area next to the community centre which is kept padlocked because the last thing we want is children using a play area!, Improvement Board meetings (which ceased in November 2013), Chrysalis (what’s that?), a trip down to London for a pensions conference, Cabinet meetings, a “transformation event” at the Floral Pavilion, Wirral Metropolitan College governors meeting, interviewing job applicants for the Director of Resources post, trade union meeting about redeployment, more job interviews and shortlisting, work on the Member’s (Members refers to councillors) Training Steering Group, the Chrysalis Board (again), a LGA Conference in Manchester, a “Strategic Communications” workshop at the Floral Pavilion, another redeployment meeting, “Visioning Training” at the Floral Pavilion, a meeting of the Democracy Working Party, the LGA Leadership Academy in Coventry (module 3) please, please no jokes in the comments about her being sent to Coventry where she spent £35 on taxis, another Leadership Academy in Coventry (module 2) when her taxi claim was £41.80 (maybe module 2 teaches you leadership skills such as how to get cheaper taxis to the same place), the Beechwood and Ballantyne Housing Association Board, interviews for a Strategic Director, shortlisting for the Director of Children and Young Peoples Department, more leadership training in Coventry where the taxi was only £10.40, the local Area Forum, a meeting to do with the Hoylake Golf Resort launch, full Council meetings, Youth Parliament, well you can see for yourself below how busy she’s been!

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 6

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 6

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 7

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 7

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 8

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 8

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 9

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 9

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 10

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 10

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 11

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 11

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 12

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 12

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 13

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 13

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 14

Cllr Ann McLachlan expenses claim 2013 2014 page 14

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A meeting with 2 Wirral Council officers about parking behind Birkenhead Market and disability issues

                                                                 

I had an interesting meeting with Leonora and two Wirral Council officers in Birkenhead about the proposed changes to parking at the back of Birkenhead Market as a result of a traffic regulation order that’s being consulted on. I will start by pointing out that my wife Leonora regularly parks in the Birkenhead Market Service Road and has a Blue Badge. I did ask for my concerns to be fed into the car parking review which is now happening as a task and finish group chaired by Councillor Paul Doughty.

One of my issues was to do with the fact that if they went ahead with this traffic regulation order it would prevent users with a Blue Badge parking in the Birkenhead Market Service Road. We started our survey of parking outside the One Stop Shop in Conway Street. The short 15 minute bays there were permanently in use. Each time someone moved another car came in within a few minutes. Interestingly G4S was also parked in the short stay bay there and had gone in to the One Stop Shop (G4S were the company the people were protesting about outside the Mayor of Liverpool’s house as reported in the Liverpool Echo recently).

We crossed the busy road and went past the Birkenhead Bus Station.

The blue badge bays in the car park next to Birkenhead Bus Station were (no surprise there) all in use. We then walked around the first half of the Birkenhead Market Service Roas talking on the way. The officers said that the Pyramids/Birkenhead Market were paying the costs of the traffic regulation order because of problems they had with antisocial parking blocking deliveries.

There were a number of cars and a van parked on that stretch of the Service Road but no loading or unloading was observed during the time we were there (late afternoon). What is interesting though is that the Pyramids (one of two bodies we were told would be paying for the traffic regulation order) currently charge people for parking in their multi-storey car park (apart from on a Sunday).

Leonora raised the issues she had about being (if the Traffic Regulation Order came into force at some future date) that she would be forced to park elsewhere. One of the market stall holders (who runs the flower stall) came over when he heard us talking. He was confused by what the Traffic Regulation Order was about as guess what no consultation had happened with the individual stall holders! He asked if it would it affect his customers picking up flowers? The Wirral Council officers assured him that it wouldn’t and explained it was aimed at blue badge users parking on the Birkenhead Market Service Road.

Technically if they’re only picking up prepaid flowers they were right, however if his customers were parking (rather than loading/unloading) with a blue badge it will affect them.

Wirral Council officers admitted to me that they had not consulted the individual market stall holders. Consultation problems seem to be a recurring theme with Wirral Council recently. Officers felt that consulting with the company that runs the market was enough as they so them as a representative body (even though there seemed to have been no clear communication or consultation with individualmstall holders).

What I did surprise them with though was a paper copy of Birkenhead Market Lease & sublease (which in a rather twisted irony in all this is with Wirral Council) which I received last Friday as part of the 2013/14 audit.

What’s interesting (and the detail of this was seemingly unknown to those Wirral Council officers who started asking me where I’d got the lease and sublease from the answer being Wirral Council itself) is that there is then a sublease with the market stall holders. Here are some quotes from it (which mention the Grange too):

“1.1 Right to use half width of access road

The full and free right for the owners and occupiers of the adjoining property known as the Grange Shopping Centre (“the Adjoining Land”) (in common with the Council and all persons deriving title under the Council and all others entitled to a like right) at all times to pass and repass over and along that part of the access road situate on the Premises and shown coloured brown on the Plan with or without vehicles for the purpose of gaining access to or egress from the Adjoining Land but so that such right shall extend only to moving traffic whether pedestrian or vehicular PROVIDED that such right shall be exercised in one direction only such direction to be from the point marked X on the Plan to the point marked Y thereon or such other direction as shall be agreed from time to time between the Council the Tenant and the owner of the Adjoining Land and SUBJECT to the obligations of the Council but with the BENEFIT of the obligations of the owner of the Adjoining Land contained in paragraph (5) of the Part ii of the First Schedule to the Transfer dated 1st October 1992 and made between The Council (1) and Legal & General Assurance Society Limited (2) (“the Transfer”)

1.2 Rights over Market Loading Bays

The full and free right for the owners or occupiers of the Adjoining Land (in common with the Council and all persons deriving title under the Council and all others entitled to a like right) to use at all times those parts of the Premises shown hatched red on the Plan for the purpose of parking motor vehicles loading or off-loading or waiting to load or off-load goods into and from the Adjoining Land or any part thereof and for no other purpose whatsoever PROVIDED that (save as mentioned in paragraph (6) of Part ii of the First Schedule to the Transfer)(except in case of emergency) no motor vehicle shall be so parked for a period in excess of one hour at any one time nor in a manner as shall obstruct traffic on the said access road coloured brown and green on the Plan SUBJECT to the obligations of the Council but with the BENEFIT of the obligations of the owner of the Adjoining Land contained in paragraph (6) of Part ii of the First Schedule to the Transfer”

I presume as it mentions the side run by the Pyramid/Grange that there is something similar in their lease too. In other words what’s the point of a Traffic Regulation Order as Wirral Council is currently because of the contract they signed with the tenants (at least on the market side) supposed to be managing effectively the traffic in the Birkenhead Market Service Road through this clause in the contract already?

The fact that the two officers involved with the Traffic Regulation Order didn’t know about the clauses in the Birkenhead Market sublease until I brought it up is worrying in itself as surely the Asset Management side of Wirral Council has a copy of the lease and subleases for day to day management?

One of the two officers rather amusingly asked me “Do you know the budgetary pressures the Council is under?” (or words to that effect). I have a rather short reply to that as the press I was and tried not to smile too much at the question.

The point is, if someone is parked where they shouldn’t be and caused a nuisance or blocked that road it’s a police/traffic warden issue to deal with.

Much of the road can’t be currently parked in by blue badge holders as it’s even loading bays or double yellows with kerb blips.

The issue to do with traffic flow is also a civil matter too to do with how you enforce the lease. The fact the traffic side at Wirral Council doesn’t know what the asset side at Wirral Council is doing (and seemingly don’t talk to each other) is perhaps a rather worrying sign of a “silo mentality”.

The fact that the costs of the Traffic Regulation Order are being paid for by a company that will benefit from people paying an extra £2 at the expense of the disabled who will be prevented from parking for free here is again another worrying example of Wirral Council seemingly being on the side of commercial interests.

Officers did suggest as a compromise that if we dropped our objections to the proposed traffic regulation order that they would monitor the parking situation in a year’s time. This was not accepted. I also asked for these issues to be fed into the current car parking review and promised to email the relevant sections of the Birkenhead Market lease to them.

Sadly this is another tale where there has been lack of consultation with the individual market stallholders on an issue that will affect their trade. Wirral Council seem to take the “Beware of the Leopard” mentality of saying that they don’t have to consult with them and the plans were available and that it’s not their fault if people didn’t go and look at them.

Anyway the consultation on this proposed Traffic Regulation Order runs to Friday 26th September. If there are any unresolved objections after that it goes to the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel. The Highways and Traffic Representation Panel can then make recommendations to their parent committee.

However that’s just democracy for you. It seems however that Wirral Council once again are rubbing disabled people up the wrong way and who’s Wirral Council supposed to represent anyway, the people or “commercial interests”?

According to Wirral Council officers today (who aren’t going to just drop the plans because of these objections) the commercial interests of the people paying for the Traffic Regulation Order seem to (at the moment) carry more weight than the concerns of the people this will affect. Leonora did have a few things to say about the culture at Wirral Council, but I gather producing the lease & sublease (which came as a total surprise to them), shows there are existing contract obligations which as that covers most of the people using this road duplicates the purpose behind the Traffic Regulation Order.

Are they really going to go to the costs of possibly renegotiating the subleases with all market stall holders over this? Why do I ask that? Yes market traders have a specific badge on their car, but some of them will have Blue Badges and will park in the service road, which if the new Traffic Regulation Order comes into effect will mean they’d get (if a traffic warden was around) a ticket as market stall holders are limited to an hour maximum. Why can’t Wirral Council just deal with this as another other landlord/tenant issue? Words do fail me on this one really, but I could go on for a further thousand words on the thorny issue of parking and Wirral Council and still just be scratching the surface.

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Bins, Biffa, page 59, Wirral Council, “Confidential Information” and what you’re not supposed to know (yet)

                                               

I was reading through the Biffa contract (who get paid ~£12 million a year for collecting bins and other things) and this interesting snippet about Freedom of Information and Data Protection caught my eye on page 59. I haven’t made any FOI requests for the yearly CO2 emissions of bin lorries but this is how such a request would be dealt with if someone were to do so. This is probably only of interest to those who work in this area such as the media, FOI practitioners and of limited interest to the public, so apologies if I’m getting boring! Contractor in the contract refers to Biffa Waste Services Limited. At 4.61.2.3 I couldn’t help but laugh at the bit about time for compliance for FOI requests considering Wirral Council’s track record and my recent decision notice from ICO on that matter.

The “absolute discretion” bit in 4.61.3 is very interesting as quite often local councils refuse to release information about companies and contracts on commercial sensitivity grounds saying well we’d like to give you this information but company X won’t let us.

Last Thursday (11th September 2014) Wirral Council’s Cabinet agreed to ask Kevin Adderley to enter into negotiations with Biffa over extending this ~£12 million/year contract from 2020 to 2027 without putting it out to tender. However an extra clause was added over value for money. Mr. Adderley was asked to report back to a future Cabinet meeting on the outcome of negotiations.

However the contract does state that if Wirral Council wish to extend the contract from 2020 to 2027 they don’t have to tell Biffa this until on or before 21st August 2019. So why the big rush other than to pander to Biffa’s commercial interests and damage Wirral Council’s?

Well from what was said at the Cabinet meeting Biffa Waste Services Limited have offered Wirral Council “incentives” on the current contract (which runs to 2020) if Wirral Council agree to a seven-year contract extension and don’t put it out to competitive tender when it expires in 2020.

Extending the contract by seven years is effectively making a decision that will tie the hands of future administrations (of whatever party or parties) at Wirral Council. However I’m sure (if officers are doing their job properly) that what I’ve just written is the kind of details that were in the exempt appendices for last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting. The Labour politicians on Wirral Council’s Cabinet decided that the public aren’t really supposed to know about it (which is why the press and public got chucked out of the public meeting before those appendices were decided despite the public interest test arguably being in favour of such stuff being in the public domain).

Another factor to consider is that from November 2014 Wirral Council will be under a legal duty to publish such contracts (we here have a copy of the very long contract as part of the 2013/14 audit but it would probably take me about a day of work just to publish a fraction of it as it is very, very, very long) and from November 2014 invoices. Hence I’m sure Biffa are keen to have it extended by seven years, before people like the Rt Hon Frank Field MP start referring to them again (see the last Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting for that) and anyone kicks up more of a fuss! Oh dear, have I let an awful lot of cats out of the bag yet again?

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4.61 Freedom of Information and Data Protection

4.61.1 The Contractor acknowledges that the Council is subject to the requirements of the FOIA and the Environmental Information Regulations and shall assist and cooperate with the Council (at the Contractor’s expense) to enable the Council to comply with Information disclosure requirements.

4.61.2 The Contractor shall and shall procure that its sub-contractors shall:

4.61.2.1 Transfer a Request for Information to the Council as soon as practicable after receipt and in any event within two Working Days of receiving a Request for Information;

4.61.2.2 Provide the Council with a copy of all Information in its possession or power in the form that the Council requires within five Working Days (or such other period as the Council may specify) of the Council requesting that Information; and

4.61.2.3 Provide all necessary assistance as reasonably requested by the Council to enable the Council to respond to a Request for Information within the time for compliance set out in section 10 of the FOIA or Regulation 5(2) of the Environmental Information Regulations.

4.61.3 The Council shall be responsible for determining at its absolute discretion whether:-

4.61.3.1 The Information is exempt from disclosure under FOIA and the Environmental Information Regulations;

4.61.3.2 The Information is to be disclosed in response to a Request for Information, and

4.61.3.3 In no event shall the Contractor respond directly to a Request for Information unless expressly authorised to do so by the Council.

4.61.4 The Contractor acknowledge that the Council may, acting in accordance with the FOIA, or the Environmental Information Regulations disclose Information:-

4.61.4.1 Without consulting with the Contractor, or

4.61.4.2 Following consultation with the Contractor and having taken its views into account.

4.61.5 The Contractor acknowledges that any lists or schedules provided by it outlining Confidential Information are of indicative value only and that the Council may nevertheless be obliged to disclose Confidential Information in accordance with Clause 4.60.2.1.6.3.

4.61.6 The Contractor shall ensure that all information produced in the course of the Contract relating to the Contract is retained for disclosure and shall permit the Council to inspect such records as requested from time to time.

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Biffa Waste Services Limited contract Wirral Council page 59

Biffa Waste Services Limited contract Wirral Council page 59

Biffa Waste Services Limited contract Wirral Council page 25

Biffa Waste Services Limited contract Wirral Council page 25

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Expense claim forms for Councillor Brian Kenny (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

                               

Writing this, I had better declare that many years ago in Liverpool Councillor Brian Kenny gave us both a gift of a red plastic post box in I think in 2010 (it’s only a few inches high) as part of the lobbying that the Communication Workers Union were doing at the time of people like myself and Leonora. Although this falls into the trivial category, journalism ethics means I’d better state that at the start as I don’t want people thinking I’m being too kind or not objective enough to former Councillor Brian Kenny because of something he gave us four years ago. I will point out that gift was completely unconnected to my work as a journalist. However this is probably more openness and accountability than you will get from most politicians (who were recently told at a Planning Committee meeting about Tranmere Rovers that they only had to declare gifts received in the last twelve months)!

When I picked up the expenses claim forms to scan in for former Councillor Brian Kenny, at first I thought I must have picked up a batch which was for more than one councillor as compared to other councillors there seemed a lot of it. I know he was the Cabinet Member for the Environment, but his expenses claim forms go on and on and on and on and on like the waves crashing against the shore on the Wirral coastline.

As probably readers of this blog are already aware, former Councillor Brian Kenny lost his seat in Birkenhead and Tranmere in the May 2014 elections to the Green Party’s Councillor Pat Cleary.

I have only seen Brian Kenny twice since the elections. Once was at the meeting where Councillor Steve Foulkes became Mayor of Wirral in June, the other time was when I was at the Birkenhead County Court offices when I was requesting copies of court records on Wirral Council’s possession order (granted in February 2014 effective from February 2015) for Fernbank Farm. Before I start getting diverted into interesting anecdotes about a former councillor I had better show you first the expenses forms.

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 6

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 6

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 7

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 7

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 8

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 8

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 9

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 9

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 10

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 10

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 11

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 11

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 12

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 12

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 13

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 13

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 14

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 14

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 15

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 15

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 16

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 16

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 17

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 17

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 18

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 18

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 19

Cllr Brian Kenny expenses claim 2013 2014 page 19

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Expense claim forms for Councillor Stuart Kelly (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

                                                       

Councillor Stuart Kelly is a Liberal Democrat councillor for Oxton ward. He is also their spokesperson on the Audit and Risk Management Committee (which at the time of writing) will be meeting tomorrow evening to sign off on Wirral Council’s accounts for 2013-14 (which include his own expenses claims) totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.

So, having received specialised audit training and being the spokesperson for audit on Wirral Council for his party do all his expense claims add up? No he claimed too much by £0.40p for travelling to a meeting in Birkenhead as 3 * 40p does not equal £1.60. How embarrassing for Councillor Stuart Kelly (but thankfully this risk of overpayments was noticed before it was paid)? However we all make mistakes.

On the plus side he is one of the few councillors that type their expenses claims, which as some councillors have handwriting that is very difficult to decipher helps a lot with comprehension. Councillor Stuart Kelly’s claim forms are below.

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 3

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 6

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 6

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 7

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 7

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 8

Cllr Stuart Kelly expenses claim 2013 2014 page 8

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