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Posted by: John Brace | 4th November 2014

Wirral Council take over 19 months to respond to FOI request on Birkenhead Park and other matters

Wirral Council take over 19 months to respond to FOI request on Birkenhead Park and other matters

                                        

Birkenhead Park as it was in 2007.

Birkenhead Park in 2007 copyright John Brace

Birkenhead Park in 2007 copyright John Brace

I feel a bit sorry for Wirral Council’s legal department who seem to have given me the longest response to one of my FOI requests to Wirral Council ever which is in response to this ICO decision notice and a FOI request I made on 29th March 2013.

I’m beginning to think I should look for sponsorship from a black marker pen manufacturer as even the minutes they have supplied have been heavily redacted. Below is an example of set of minutes I’ve finally received, which is the minutes of the Birkenhead Park Advisory Committee meeting of the 17th October 2012. I think over 19 months is a record by Wirral Council for responding to one of my FOI requests.

Birkenhead Park Advisory Committee
Minutes of meeting 17th October 2012

Attendance
Chair: Cllr George Davies
Councillors: Cllr Denise Roberts, Cllr David Elderton, Cllr Cherry Povall, Cllr Stuart Kelly, Cllr Jean Stapleton, Cllr Alan Brighouse
Members: XXXXXXXXXXXX
Wirral Council Officers: XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX

Item 1 Apologies
Cllr Brian Kenny, Insp Roy McGregor, XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX

Item 2 Minutes of previous meeting
The minutes were accepted as a true record.

Item 3 Matters arising
Cllr Elderton raised an issue over traffic calming measures.
XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed signage for the advisory speed limit had been approved by the Conservation Officer.
There was then a question over funding for the above and a request for legal advice on how this advisory speed limit could be made enforceable.

Item 4 Park Manager’s Report
XXXXXXXXXXXX reported the fall in the number of school visits and suggested possible reasons for it, including poor weather and the closure of two schools which regularly visited the park.
Cllr Stapleton asked why such small numbers from University Academy.
XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested the loss of the education officer has affected contact.
XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested a possible role for a volunteer to contact schools and encourage visits.

XXXXXXXXXXXX reported that the work experience programme was a real success as was the Physical Activities programme.
XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested that income from commercial activities could help with finances.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said an increase was required in commercial operations.
XXXXXXXXXXXX predicted that this will increase.

XXXXXXXXXXXX reported to the group regarding the park’s drainage.
It was agreed by all that exceptional weather this year had caused flooding and was unavoidable.

XXXXXXXXXXXX the Events Arena could take surplus water which will also enhance biodiversity.

XXXXXXXXXXXX referred to the increase in concreting over gardens which doesn’t allow the water to drain and thereby causes increased flooding.

XXXXXXXXXXXX reported on underground water tank proposed by United Utilities because of flooding to basements in Park Road South.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said there was a potential revenue asset from development of remaining plots in the park, and the United Utilities proposal to build a storage tank on the plot by Gothic Lodge would make this asset difficult to sell.

Cllr George Davies reported that the ESWA club was closing down and the building was for sale.
XXXXXXXXXXXX asked if the park could make use of the area.
Cllr George Davies suggested keeping eye on developments.

XXXXXXXXXXXX reported the launch of the Park Watch scheme, adding that members were being recruited before calling the first (inaugural) meeting.

XXXXXXXXXXXX gave a report on IRIMS Incident Reporting and Management System, saying there were some “glitches” remaining but it should be up and running in a couple of months.

XXXXXXXXXXXX reported on the new Dog Control Order being proposed to exclude dogs from all children’s play areas in Wirral. He also reported on the possibility of a further Dog Control Order requiring an owner to put a dog on lead if requested, currently the byelaws state only that the dog must be under control.
Cllr Elderton suggested publicising the result of any further action after the event be recorded.
XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed his concern at the nature and number of dog related incidents, suggesting the voluntary code of conduct was no good.

XXXXXXXXXXXX updated the group on the success of the Forest Schools initiative.

Item 5 Membership of Birkenhead Park Advisory Committee
Cllr George Davies requested to expand group to take in the councillor with cabinet responsibility for Cultural Services. This was agreed by all.

Item 6 Any Other Business
XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested an opportunity for external funding for restoration of the Jackson Memorial, Bandstand, Conservatory and Horticultural Training.
XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested that the Friends of Birkenhead Park be invited to submit a report to a future meeting.

Item 7 Date of Next Meeting
It was agreed to meet in Mid April 2013.

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Responses

  1. G’day Tarras

    I feel a bit sorry for Wirral Council’s legal department….

    What are you talking about laddie?

    “The Shyster” is a orrible his only advice seems to be “keep your gob shut”.

    Legals should be contracted out.

    I am surprised he is not very, very sick protecting the Circus, or, at least the evil amongst them.

    Ooroo

    James

    • Well sometimes I feel sorry for our legal department too, you’d be suprised what they have to put up with!

      That’s the way they are trained though to keep things confidential. If for example I or we had sued or been sued by someone, unless you were a party to the case or someone involved, I’d take a similar approach if someone asked questions.

      Wirral Council’s legal department is so small for the work they’re given that a lot of it is contracted out.

  2. As was pointed out by a Chair of a recent meeting ” Liabilities ” Unfortunately if by any chance somebody is taking an interest in Wirral, all the redacted items (Black Marker Pen), will have to be removed and original documents produced/shown, so really it is quite beyond me, why they redact in the first place.

    • One reason is because they know I’m press. 😀

      If I publish it, they will (I would guess) sometimes get inquiries from councillors asking to see the original yes. What seems to be interesting is that councillors in the ruling group (Labour) appear to have less trouble getting access to documents than the opposition (Conservative, Lib Dem and Green) councillors.

      Mind you, if you remember the public inquiry report into the library closures, the Leader of the largest group (Conservatives) said that they’d been told not to give him a copy. It was confidential (so confidential I think half the Cabinet and a lot of the senior officers and their outside counsel got a copy). This was the report, before it was published that led to the decision to do a permanent U-turn on that policy. 😀


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