Motion on Item 3 Projected Budget
Proposed Cllr Steve Foulkes
Seconded Cllr Phil Davies
Cabinet recognises that, although the projected budget gap is diminishing, considerable work is still required to set a balanced budget in March.
In order to avoid any undue delays as proposals are explored, Cabinet authorises the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, to undertake any appropriate consultation, in addition to the broader consultation already carried out, as required in order to allow the Council to meet the budgetary challenges it is facing.
The motion was agreed by all councillors on the Cabinet.
Cllr Foulkes then moved the meeting to agenda item 4 (Insurance Fund Budget 2012/2013).
Ian Coleman said for 2012/2013 there was a small impact on costs and savings. The report was agreed.
Cllr Foulkes then moved to agenda item 5 (Annual Children’s Services Assessment 2011) which he described as welcome news. A two-page letter was handed out in relation to this agenda item.
An officer said that David Armstrong sends his apologies as he was with headteachers in Anglesey. The officer said Wirral’s children’s services had performed excellently and were graded four out of a possible four. The report detailed how the assessment had been made as well as their strengths in educational standards and safeguarding. The officer referred to “Howard [Cooper]‘s strong steer” and David’s role as acting director and the activity that was underway referred to in the report.
Cllr Ann McLachlan said it was excellent news, “fantastic” and referred to the letters sent to all staff in the Children and Young People’s Department.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said the debrief should include lessons learnt and a critique. He said he had been there on Friday night and said people had been “working hard” and that it was a “huge National Grid operation”. Cllr Foulkes said they had been lucky the weather had been relatively mild.
He referred to Cllr Jeff Green’s earlier comments about the Serious Fraud Office investigation. Cllr Foulkes referred to an email which referred to a letter being received.
Jim Wilkie said he had emailed all three party leaders (Cllr Foulkes, Cllr Green and Cllr Harney) last Friday [18th November] over a conversation. However Jim Wilkie said the letter had not yet been received. He had intended to speak, but he understood the letter would arrive this week.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said it had been reported that the Serious Fraud Office was investigating. He referred to Frank Field but said it would be “difficult to break a confidence”. In order to discuss it further they would have to go exempt session to seek legal advice.
Cllr Jeff Green expressed the view that he wanted it dealt with sooner.
Ian Coleman introduced report 3 on the Budget Projections for 2012-2015.
He said it was an update, but this would be the last time the Cabinet received the report in this format, as in the next few weeks they should get the provisional local government financial assessment. They were not making provision for price inflation.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said there were still a number of days to go for the budget simulator. He referred also to Neighbourhood Plans. They were waiting to put it together, to give leeway on the issues to be resolved. He read out a proposed resolution of Cabinet on this agenda item.
Dave Green continued by saying that given the scale the response of council officers was “very good indeed” after the “unfortunate accident”. There would still be a formal debrief and lessons learnt. He was happy to talk to councillors, such as the Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee and/or Cabinet. On a nicer note, he said the response of the Emergency Planning Team was excellent and that things went well.
He mentioned a Sue Lang and volunteers who had fed people, they were drafting a letter of thanks to the volunteers. National Grid was paying for the food and costs. He wanted people’s views on the matter to be presented to the Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee so it could be done in public in an open and transparent way. The biggest problem had been the problem of getting into people’s houses to turn off the gas as some had been away. Warrants had to be applied for to the courts which had been a “logistical nightmare”, but there were always lessons to be learnt.
Cllr Steve Foulkes asked Cllr Anne McArdle if she had anything to add?
Cllr Anne McArdle said she thanked the Managing Director and staff at the centre as well as the Department for Adult Social Services. She also said the community had rallied round.
Cllr Steve Foulkes said he wanted to endorse a thank you letter to volunteers. He said the debrief could go to Cabinet or the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. If scrutiny met first, that was fine.