Well on the 19th March 2012, I attended the well-attended Licensing, Health & Safety & General Purposes Committee in Committee Room 1. There were the usual people there such as taxi drivers and union reps and a few new faces from Merseytravel, as well as the committee of councillors and officers.
The committee composed of the following councillors (Cllr Ian Lewis (Conservative) was absent):-
Cllr Bill Davies (Chair)
Cllr Patricia Glasman
Cllr Chris Jones
Cllr Steve Niblock
Cllr Irene Williams
Cllr Sue Taylor (Conservative spokesperson)
Cllr Kate Wood
Cllr Tom Anderson
Liberal Democrats (1)
Cllr Bob Wilkins (Lib Dem spokesperson)
The following Wirral Council officers were there to support the committee:-
Committee clerk: Anne Beauchamp
Legal adviser: Mr. Ken Abraham
Others: Margaret O’Donnell, Mr. Robert Beresford + others I don’t know the name of
The meeting started late with the Chair apologising for the wait as they were waiting for their legal team in regards to item 3 (Proposed election fees 2012/2013). He apologised again for the wait and said they would skip item 3 until Surjit Tour arrived.
He started the meeting with item 1 and asked for any declarations of interest.
Cllr Sue Taylor (Conservative spokesperson) apologised for Cllr Ian Lewis who was not present.
No declarations of interest were made, so they moved to item 2, which was the minutes of the last meeting.
Cllr Steve Niblock objected to the list of people attending the last meeting as he had not been at the last meeting due to being at the Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting which was also held on the 8th March.
He said he couldn’t be in two places at the same time, so he had sent Cllr Salter in his place as deputy. Therefore he asked for the minutes to be changed and his name replaced with Cllr Salter. The Chair said they would make sure it was changed. With the amendment to the minutes, the minutes (item 2) were agreed and the Committee skipped item 3 to item 4 (Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licences).
The Chair explained they would also skip item 4 and deal with it at the end.
At this point a councillor’s mobile phone started ringing and the Committee moved to item 5 sex establishment fees. Margaret O’Donnell introduced this report about the licensing of sex establishments and referred to various pieces of legislation including section 27 of the “Police and Crime Act 2009″, although she actually meant the Policing and Crime Act 2009. She asked the Committee to consider what fees should be charged by Wirral Council for receiving applications. She suggested £1,200 per an application based on an estimate of what costs would be incurred.
At this point 6.15pm Surjit Tour arrived fifteen minutes late and sat down.
Cllr Niblock asked if the £1,200 was just for a new one or the same for a renewal too?
Margaret replied that yes, she suggested £1,200 for both.
Item 5 was agreed that Wirral Council would charge £1,200 for new applications and £1,200 for renewals of sex establishment licences.
The Chair asked Surjit Tour to explain to the meeting his report,item 3 (proposed election fees for 2012/2013).
Surjit Tour asked the Chair if he wanted him to go ahead so they could agree the suggestions? The Chair agreed. Surjit Tour apologised for being late, he had thought the meeting started at 6.15pm, Ed – it was supposed to start at 6.00pm, he apologised again for his late arrival.
He explained that the election fees were proposed fees and were payments made to staff by the Returning Officer. There was no specific guidance or formula used as this was a local issue. The way it had previously been arrived at by the previous Chief Executive/Returning Office Steve Maddox was a yearly increase to take into account inflation. The increase for this year was therefore 3.9%, however it was calculated on the basis of individual wards. Neighbouring authorities fees were included in the report for comparison.
The Merseyside Electoral Administration team also discussed such matters at a meeting. However because of difficulties facing staff he proposed the following changes to those figures in the report.
(a) polling station inspector increased from £190 to £565.
(b) Deputy Returning Officer fee increased from a flat fee of £459.42 (per ward) to 50% of the Returning Officer’s fee (£5,127.98 * 50%) = £2,563.99 (per ward)
The Chair thanked him for the report. The committee agreed the recommendations and changes. He thanked Surjit Tour again.