Cllr Steve Foulkes said they would move to the letter about the grant. Cllr George Davies said he was very pleased, that their application for transitional funding of £3 million had been accepted. They had brough in the Chief Executive of the Homes and Community Agency, the four Wirral MPs who had sent a cross-party letter to the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP. Cllr George Davies was pleased they had received £2.7 million which would allow them to complete all work and to safely purchase the existing properties. Keepmoat and Lovell were the council’s contractors. He said it was good news and he was delighted.
Cllr Steve Foulkes thanked Cllr Tom Harney and Cllr Jeff Green for signing the letter. He said George had used his influence to get his voice heard.
Cllr Steve Foulkes then asked Dave Green for an update on the situation in Leasowe and Moreton.
Dave Green said there had been disruption to the gas supply of 5,500 properties, due to a burst water main on the 11th November in Danger Road (Ed – surely he meant Danger Lane?), Hoylake (Ed – surely he meant Moreton?). The water had got into the gas supply, causing severe disruption. National Grid had sent out eighty to a hundred gas engineers and a plan had sprung into action. As it was on such a scale a Bronze incident room had been set up as well as a Silver incident room in Manchester. Work had involved Wirral Council and the Primary Care Trust, with councillors receiving regular communication.
Chris Hyams continued that they had liaised with their partner agencies and there would be disruption to travel. The Mersey Ferries would close, so would the Mersey Tunnels. However Wirral Council did have a letter that allowed them to bring critical employees only through the Mersey Tunnel, but they would have to keep such travel to a minimum.
She said the buildings plan would be published next week, some employees would have to report to alternative buildings as their usual building would be closed. Only those who signed in would get paid and any absences would be addressed. Guidance had been issued. Sickness on the strike day or during the strike week would have to be confirmed with a GP’s note.
She continued by saying that pay for strikes would be deducted at 1/5th of a week’s pay, with pension contributions altered. This would affect pay paid in the January cycle. There would also be pickets of council buildings, rallies and marches. There would be a rally at Birkenhead Park and Liverpool City Centre.
Chris Hyams said that the Chief Executive had issued a communication to all authority employees with frequently asked questions for employees. There would be communication with the public and press releases on the day before the strike.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said it would be remiss not to have an update. Despite the disruption, he had “massive sympathy” for the people going on strike. At his own workplace they had balloted for strike action as a last resort to get their point heard. He understood it was the law that people had the right not to take part in strike action. It was right to get an update and he said that we “are taking it seriously”.
The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on the 3rd November 2011 were agreed.
Cllr Steve Foulkes asked for an officer to give an update on the first item of Any Other Business.
Chris Hyams said they had received notification of a twenty-four hour strike on the 30th November due to change to pension arrangements. She reeled off a list of unions including UNISON, GMB, UNITE, NAT, NASUWT and others. She also said a number of trade unions not recognised by Wirral Council were involved too.
They had put in place appropriate arrangements as detailed in the Emergency Plan. All contacts had been asked in or to make themselves available on the day of the strike. She explained one of these employees had strike exemption. There would be Gold level planning at the regional level. A number of criteria meant some employees were given a strike exemption such as services that affect “life and limb”. By Monday 28th November 2011 they would finalise the posts covered. Services such as the Emergency Duty Team & Central Action and Duty Team (Out of Hours) were exempt from the strike, as were staff providing minimum cover at children’s and residential homes.
There were also a number of personal exemptions by the trade unions for example pregnant women or those who’d received notice they would retire in the next twelve months. There would be an impact on schools, some would close, especially as the headteacher’s union had voted for a strike. There was a Department for Education deadline of Friday 24th November. There was an issue about reporting arrangements for those who were not part of a trade union or don’t choose to strike.
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Chair) (Finance and Best Value)
Cllr Chris Meaden (Culture, Tourism and Leisure)
Cllr Harry Smith (Streetscene & Transport Services)
Cllr Ann McLachlan (Children’s Services & Lifelong Learning)
Cllr Anne McArdle (Social Care & Inclusion)
Cllr Jean Stapleton (Community & Customer Engagement)
Cllr Adrian Jones (Corporate Resources)
Cllr Phil Davies (Regeneration & Planning Strategy)
Cllr George Davies (Housing & Community Safety)
Cllr Brian Kenny (Environment)
Cllr Steve Foulkes started the meeting at 6.15pm saying he was going to take three items of Any Other Business first as they were urgent. He was pre-warning people. He wanted a verbal update on the one day strike. Cllr George Davies had an announcement to make on housing funding and he wanted a quick verbal on issues about gas supplies in Leasowe and Moreton East, as well as a further future report on the lessons learnt.
Cllr Jeff Green said there was speculation surrounding the Serious Fraud Office investigation.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said he had not been informed that the situation had changed, although he was aware of some things.
He asked for declarations of interest.
Cllr Phil Davies declared an interest in item 12 as he was a trustee of the Wirral Food bank, however as he was not a Council appointed trustee, he asked Bill Norman for advice as to whether the interest was personal or prejudicial.
Bill Norman replied that in his opinion it was personal, not prejudicial.
Cllr Chris Meaden declared an interest in item 5 (Annual Children’s Services Assessment 2011) because of her daughter’s employment.