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Posted by: John Brace | 22nd September 2014

14 councillor Scrutiny Panel created by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

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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