Why did Wirral Council spend £534.90 on catering for a meeting with Dong Energy?
It’s no secret that Wirral Council have been trying to persuade businesses to create jobs on the Wirral. Last year Cammell Laird applied for planning permission (planning application APP/14/00352) for "an on shore office, warehouse building and pontoon that will serve as a marine operations and maintenance facility for off shore projects" on a car park in Alabama Way. This was so Cammell Laird could expand to the "green energy" sector such as maintenance for wind turbines such as the Dong Energy wind farm at Burbo Bank.
Below is an invoice from Carrington Catering Ltd paid by Wirral Council for catering at a meeting on the 8th May 2014 with Dong Energy. You can click on the thumbnail for a higher resolution version.
On the 23rd July 2014 it went to be decided by Wirral Council’s Planning Committee (you can watch video footage of the meeting below). The Planning Committee refused the application based on the effect it would have on the flats nearby. That refusal was appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.
Wirral Council’s Planning Committee refuse Cammell Laird’s planning application (APP/14/00352) 23rd July 2014
Cammell Laird (before the planning appeal had been decided) submitted a revised planning application in December 2014 (APP/14/01585). This also went to Planning Committee for a decision and after nearly an hour of discussion it was refused on the 19th February 2015 (see video of the decision below).
Wirral Council’s Planning Committee refuse Cammell Laird’s planning application (APP/14/01585) 19th February 2014.
Eventually a planning inspector on the 13th October (after informal hearings on the 25th February and the 19th May and site visits on the 18th May and 4th June 2015) issued a 29 page appeal decision overturning the earlier decisions of the Planning Committee.
I’ll point out at this stage that the planning application is in Birkenhead and Tranmere ward (currently represented by Cllr Phil Davies (Labour), Cllr Jean Stapleton (Labour) and Cllr Pat Cleary (Green)).
As detailed in the planning appeal decision, although the plans would have created an estimated sixty to sixty-five jobs, nearby LDRA Ltd had threatened to relocate to Newbury taking fifty local jobs away if the plans for expansion at Cammell Lairds were approved.
So the news reported in the Wirral Globe yesterday that an alternative site has been found at Kings Wharf in Seacombe, as the "new home of [Dong Energy’s] offshore-wind manufacturing and maintenance facility" means a compromise must have happened. The Alabama Way site is referred to in a quote in that article from Cllr Phil Davies as, "Alternative sites had been considered in Birkenhead, but were rejected by my council team responding to community concerns."
However the number of jobs created seems to have gone from sixty to sixty-five jobs (the number referred to in the planning appeal) down to forty jobs. This seems to be another example of where Wirral Council is spending Regional Growth Fund money (you can also read a story published on this blog last week on how £4 million of Regional Growth Fund money is being spent on a new Unilever building in Port Sunlight).
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