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Posted by: John Brace | 26th May 2016

Who asked Surjit Tour to gag a debate on Girtrell Court by councillors?

Who asked Surjit Tour to gag a debate on Girtrell Court by councillors?

                                

Cllr Chris Blakeley explaining his notice of motion on Girtrell Court to Wirral Council councillors at a public meeting 14th March 2016

Cllr Chris Blakeley talking about Girtrell Court at the Council meeting held on the 14th March 2016

This morning I submitted an internal review request to Wirral Council as a Freedom of Information request I’d made over twenty days ago hadn’t yet been responded to.

Remarkably quickly I received an answer both to the internal review request and the original FOI request.

It shows that an unnamed councillor made a query of Surjit Tour before the Council meeting held on the 14th March 2016 as to whether the Girtrell Court motion should be debated at all.

Surjit Tour’s opinion (a copy of which is below) was that Standing Order 17 prevented it, but that councillors could choose to suspend Standing Order 17 and debate it anyway. A copy of his advice to councillors over the attempt at preventing a debate on Girtrell Court is below.


Dear Councillor

A query was received over whether the Notice of Motion (NOM) relating to Girtrell Court submitted by Cllr Blakeley (appearing in the Council Agenda published on 4 March) should be debated by Council at its meeting on Monday, 14 March given that it formed part of the Budget debate and final Council Budget Resolution on 3 March. The proposal/issues relating to Girtrell Court were debated at length by Council at Budget Council. Council has therefore had the opportunity to fully consider this matter. A point of order has been raised as to whether the NOM can therefore be debated within such a short period of time after Council having settled its view on the subject matter. The point of order is a legitimate one.

The relevant Standing Order to consider is:

Council Procedure Rules: Standing Order 17 – Rescission of preceding resolution (page 156 of the Constitution)

(1) No decision of the Council (including a decision taken by a committee or panel under delegated powers) may be reconsidered by the Council on a notice of motion within six months of the date of the earlier decision unless the notice of motion (under Standing Order 7) is signed by 17 members of the Council. If that motion is rejected by the Council neither it nor one to the same effect can be considered by the Council for six months.

(2) No resolution or recommendation (other than a procedural resolution) made by a committee or panel during the course of a meeting shall be rescinded or amended by the committee or panel during the same meeting or any adjournment of it unless there are reasonable grounds for believing that all of the material information was not available at the time that the resolution or recommendation was passed.

Unfortunately given the timetabling of Budget Council and Ordinary Council this month, it has meant that Notices of Motion for the 14 March Council meeting needed to be submitted by 5pm on Monday, 29 February. This was ahead of Budget Council and any final Budget decision being made by Council on Thursday (3 March).

It is important to establish the status of the NOM in this case. I am of the view that NOM received was valid. At the material time, namely the deadline for when NOMs needed to be submitted (Monday, 29 Feb), there was NO decision made by Council in respect of the subject matter detailed within the NOM in question. The outcome of Budget Council meeting could not be assumed – that included any approval of the position as outlined in the Cabinet Budget Proposal in respect of Girtrell Court.

All valid NOMs are considered by the Mayor who determines, with advice from me, which NOM should be debated or referred to Cabinet or a Policy and Performance Committee (or other committee). The Mayor prior to Budget Council agreed for this NOM be debated.

At Budget Council the issues and matters relating to Girtrell Court were debated fully and that included the subject matter appearing in the NOM presented by Cllr Blakeley.

Standing Order 17 seeks to limit Council having to debate(by way of a notice of motion) the same decision within six months of it being made (unless a NOM is signed by 17 members of the Council). Whilst it is accepted that the Notice of Motion in question is not seeking to reopen the entire Budget Resolution approved by Council, it does seek to revisit a key aspect of the Budget Resolution that has been settled within it. The Notice of Motion was correctly submitted and was valid at the time of submission but has in effect been superseded by the Budget Council debate and Budget Resolution that was subsequently passed.

At the time Standing Order 17 was drafted the prevailing circumstances before us were not envisaged; and in fairness would have been extremely difficult (if not impossible) to predict with any degree of reasonable certainty.

Upon considering the application of Standing Order 17 and the NOM proposed by Cllr Blakeley, I am of the opinion that Standing Order 17 in its current form does prevent the NOM being debated at Council on 14 March – despite the Council Summons stating otherwise. However, as the NOM was valid at the time of submission it was also correct for it to have been included in the Council Agenda, published on 4 March. The Agenda should however have stated that the NOM was not to be debated by virtue of Standing Order 17. It is appropriate that this clarification/correction is made at Council on 14 March – and I will duly do so.

It would be remiss of me not to also advise that because the NOM appears correctly on the Council Agenda, any Member can move a motion (properly seconded) and seek the suspension of Standing Order 17 and seek permission from Council for the NOM to be debated. The Council has discretion to overcome the constitutional restriction imposed by Standing Order 17. Council would therefore be the final arbiter of this issue.

I apologise for any confusion caused by the NOM being confirmed as one to be debated on the Council Agenda.

Should you have any queries regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour
Head of Legal & Member Services
and Monitoring Officer

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
Department of Transformation and Resources
Town Hall
Brighton Street
Wallasey
Wirral
CH44 8ED

Tel: 0151 691 8569
Fax: 0151 691 8482

Visit our website: www.wirral.gov.uk

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Responses

  1. G’day John

    We all know that these scum bags are just a law unto themselves.

    “Highbrow” and I are still waiting for a resolution over AdderleyDadderleyDooLally lying to me over Lockwood and leading us up the garden path for five years over Wirral “Funny” Bizz knocking off £2,000,000.00.

    We (I) will keep reminding them until they do something positive.

    Why would he have kept paying Wirral “Funny” Bizz for eighteen months after the whistle was blown?

    Thousands and thousands of pounds were paid to the criminals after the asset stripping Lockwood/Harbac was ignored by AdderleyDadderleyDooLally’s, Invest (In thyself) Wirral and Sir Git “The Shyster’s” ill legal department.

    And John, the audacity of the m an sending me a threatening letter.

    Ooroo

    James

    A law unto themselves.

    • Probably the answer Kevin Adderley would give (in fact I think he gave a very similar answer at the special meeting) to that is because they (Wirral Council) had a contract and the reason it was all stopped was because the incoming Coalition government abolished the regional development agencies.

      If they’d stopped paying (without cause) they would have risked being sued by the supplier for breach of contract and would’ve had to find another organisation to fulfill the function of that supplier in the contract (or bring it all back in house).

      • G’day John

        Do you think the contract was signed?

        Why couldn’t he tell us instead of lying?

        We are grown ups.

        Was he forced to cover up asset stripping?

        Criminal.

        Who got Dave Garry to supersede Beverely Edwards Report with a croc of shit and pay him off with about £40,000.00?

        Criminal ????????????

        They would have been queuing up five times around Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters to fulfil the (contract signed or not) function of ripping off the taxpayers hard earned.

        Why hide it all for five years and more.

        Why did they tell “The Chamber Potty” to keep her gob shut, her words?

        Why did she?

        Ooroo

        James

        I don’t believe in the tooth fairy either John.

        Their greed, pig headedness and arrogance is only exceeded by their lack of openness, honesty and transparency.

        How do you get 65 supposedly honest citizens to keep their gobs shut?

        Collective ???????????????????

        • I’ll answer your questions in the order they were given.

          First question – I couldn’t tell from where I was sitting, although Kevin Adderley claimed they had finally found a signed copy and apologised for how long it had taken.

          However:

          (a) they couldn’t find a signed copy when they wanted to enforce it,
          (b) if it had been signed, even if Wirral Council had lost their copy, surely they could’ve requested a signed copy from the other parties to the contract,
          (c) as there would have been no way of checking the signature/s was/were genuine there would be nothing to stop a junior local authority employee adding the signatures then claiming they’ve “found it”,
          (d) on the balance of probabilities I would state:

          (i) Kevin Adderley clearly believed he had a signed copy, although he wasn’t exactly clear as to how and why they’d come across it,
          (ii) if Wirral Council had a signed copy you’d have expected them to show it to me when I requested it during the audit (which they didn’t) however that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a signed copy somewhere,
          (iii) the attitude of the supplier would’ve been different had the contract been signed, ultimately the supplier acted as if Wirral Council had started the project without the contract being signed off (or possibly they were taking advantage of Wirral Council),
          (iv) etc etc

          (2) I believe everything Kevin Adderley said at that meeting he believed as true, however that doesn’t discount him repeating what others have communicated to him who have a vested interest in making him the fall guy for the blame/political fallout.

          (3) Was he forced to cover up asset stripping?

          Sadly there’s never been an independent determination of that. If there’d been a court case where Wirral Council had on a corporate level been accused of this, it could have been determined by an independent person/people (as criminal matters can be decided by a jury).

          If Wirral Council did it, it was because they didn’t understand what they were doing. That is to say in my book just incompetence rather than through any deliberate intention to break the law.

          Criminal matters require a “guilty mind” in addition to the physical elements of the crime. It’s always hard with a large organisation to pin anything on one person.

          Effectively if criminal matters are ruled out you are then left with the option of a civil case that has to go after both:

          (a) the individuals involved
          (b) the corporate/organisation responsible

          You saw yourself how ignorant management and politicians are of company law. So in such a climate wouldn’t it be easy for an outside third party to pull the wool over their eyes and set Wirral Council up as a patsy to asset stripping because they didn’t know what they were doing?

          As to the cover up, Kevin Adderley did have a choice over that. He made choices based on what he thought was right for himself and Wirral Council at the time.

          He didn’t want aspects of this in the public domain because it would hurt his career as the person with political accountability for this over years. At the special meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee he brought other people along and tried to
          explain that not everything in this was within his remit. You may see that as him spreading some of the blame onto others. He managed to get the outgoing Chief Executive Graham Burgess (also his line manager) who had recently handed in his notice to back him up too.

          Officially the pay off to David Garry was made by councillors after they’d chucked myself and Leonora out of the meeting. So I wasn’t present for that one because of the actions of councillors not wanting such matters dealt with in the open.

          I’m not familiar enough with the workings of Internal Audit (nicknamed Infernal Audit) at the time to answer the other part of this question. However it is obvious the Chief Internal Auditor working part-time was working in an environment/organisation in which there there was insufficient scrutiny and oversight (with even the Audit and Risk Management Committee not having sufficient oversight of what the Chief Internal Auditor did as the politicians didn’t understand audit) and of the wider activities of internal audit at the time.

          If there were calls for greater oversight of Garry, to him this was seen off by either him stressing (or getting other employees to stress on his behalf) how internal audit had to be completely independent of the rest of Wirral Council and that to have any oversight, scrutiny, checks or balances on IA at all would affect its independence.

          In other words his management style was to run IA as his own personal fiefdom with all the inherent problems that causes.

          I’m going to duck the criminal question and give the Mr. Tour response of saying such questions are to be answered by the courts.

          As to your question about hiding the contract for 5 years, I think it is because Wirral Council wasn’t keeping its records properly in a way they could be easily accessed in a timely fashion (which feeds into why they have trouble responding to FOI requests too).

          I’ve forgotten who “The Chamber Potty” is, could you remind me?

          Same answer to why did she as I’ve forgotten who “The Chamber Potty” is.

          In answer to your penultimate question, (I presume the 66th you’re referring to is Cllr Stuart Kelly), because as I think one of them stated I would suggest that most of them don’t understand accounting or company law.

          So they have to rely upon the advice on these matters from people they trust, the so called “experts”.

          However if you don’t understand the topic, you can’t assess whether the advice you receive is worthless, factually incorrect or you’re just being fed a political line.

          Most of the 65 weren’t in a position to do anything about this, other than ask questions.

          The ones that were on the Audit and Risk Management Committee (in the main apart from Cllr Stuart Kelly) accepted the explanations that were given to them and viewed the whistleblowers as having an ulterior motive in this matter.

          Therefore the 65 you refer to had to pick sides, the whistleblowers were seen as an attack on the reputation of Wirral Council, so politicians/employees show a united front (Kelly being the exception) in an effort to deter press coverage and to “move on” with the usual platitudes about “lessons learnt”.

          In answer to your final question yes Wirral Council were acting towards the whistleblowers as a group or collective.

          • John

            £2,000,000.00.

            Ooroo

            James

            • Yes I am aware of the sum involved. However £2 million is really a drop in the ocean when it comes to Wirral Council’s budget (whether now or in the past).

              If it was about £200 million then you might have had a somewhat different response.

              • G’day John

                I wouldn’t care John if it was £200 trillion it is not a public servants job to lie to the public.

                “The Chamber Potty” who started to offer me work when I blew the whistle over the phone is of course “Ill do anything for you Kev” Paula Basnett.

                Why would she lie John?

                She knew exactly what I was talking about and how true it all was.

                Another public servant warped.

                Since that phone call five years ago they have probably earned in excess of £800,000.00 after lying to me and I have been on about £70.00 per week.

                I have been a public servant John and I have never met anyone of this lying scum bag ilk and I wouldn’t swap with them for £2,000,000.00.

                Ooroo

                James

                • You’re right it would be better if people were honest.

                  I don’t know what her motivations are. I don’t know her well enough.

                  Sadly whistleblowers are rarely rewarded for their efforts.

                  • G’day John

                    I didn’t go to wirral with a small w to get a reward I went to tell them the idiots from down Campbelltown Road, and they were half wits, were knocking off £2,000,000.00 of taxpayer money.

                    It was “The Chamber Potty” that started asking me what I could do at Invest (In Thyself) Wirral, that was the last thing on my mind.

                    Five years later and they are still living their lies.

                    Then “The Shyster” threatens me in black and white for telling the truth and exposing their lies.

                    Ooroo

                    James

                    Thanks John for letting me post on your site and hopefully warn people of what they are like.

                    Can’t wait to see the bumbling “Shyster” in court with his shiny arsed suit and expensive barrista from London saving him from humiliation.

                    • If you’re referring to the Tribunal hearing on the 16th June in which I’m the Appellant.

                      ICO have said they’re not coming along to the hearing.

                      Wirral Council have appointed a barrister to represent them, who is Robin Hopkins of 11KBW.

                      P.S. Although the hearing will be held in a court building it’s a tribunal not a court hearing.

  2. Hoppers will do pretty much anything (including 26 x A4 pages of closely-typed utter bollocks masquerading as a court submission) if the public money is right.

    Anybody who engages with legalised bandits knows to their detriment that the cards are stacked – as do thousands upon thousands of council tax payers – who will have their arms bent up their backs while a hairy councillor’s paw extracts their wallet then uses the pilfered notes to top up home counties barristers’ pockets, all under threat of incarceration should they waiver, protest or withhold.

    • Hoppers, as you put it are there to serve the interests of their paying clients. Think of them as glorified temps in a way.

      The cards are stacked against the citizen as the state has effectively nearly unlimited resources, access to expertise and a lot of man hours.

      Not all the money going to barristers is paid by barristers as they have taxes to pay, clerks to pay, overheads of chambers etc…

      It’s very rare that a council will actually use incarceration over an unpaid council tax bill. Partly because it’s a route that wouldn’t result in them receiving the money and would cost money to do so.

  3. G’day John

    All the talk this morning about should we stay or should we leave.

    After AdderleyDadderleyDooLally’s pronouncements at Gra Gra’s farce of a public meeting into Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods that it’s “not our money” anyway.

    Can you just imagine John if we vote out and we can’t pull the wool over monies from Europe going to any half wits like Wirral “Funny” Bizz in the millions.

    John imagine if accountants like the one that wrote the croc of shit report superseding Beverley’s and then they gave a £40,000.00 pay off when caught out of “not our money anyway”.

    Imagine if it was actually our money John.

    Imagine if they had honest accountants to guard our money?

    Imagine if they had decent auditors to guard our money?

    Ooroo

    James

    I felt John that your comments were a bit like “The Pretend Friends” that five years on it is not criminal any more.

    I sometimes wonder John myself but I believe they have ruined my last five and a half years and probably the next five and given someone undeserving £2,000,000.00.

    But shit eh it is only me.

    • I’ve already made my mind up which way I’m voting in the EU Referendum.

      Even if the vote was to leave (which polling suggests it won’t be):

      a) that vote is not binding on the government of the day (who would ultimately make such decisions) and
      b) if there was a decision to leave it’d be years before the UK actually left anyway due to all the loose strings that’d have to be tied up

      Governments can choose to ignore referendum results, or just keep having referendums until they get the answer that they want.

      "I felt John that your comments were a bit like "The Pretend Friends" that five years on it is not criminal any more."

      I think I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that there are powerful vested interests in making sure that progress is slow and done in an opaque way as possible on this matter, which makes it hard to write about.

      "I sometimes wonder John myself but I believe they have ruined my last five and a half years and probably the next five and given someone undeserving £2,000,000.00."

      We never know how life would’ve been different, but it’s up to you how to spend the next five years. Some things are best chalked up to experience and looking back you just make sure you never get into that situation again.

  4. G’day John

    Not looking for pity.

    Foreign country with dodgy public servants.

    No family here.

    No work here.

    No money.

    Ooroo

    James

    I am not Einstein but I think I know what the next five years has to offer.

    I know what your saying John and thanks for letting me post my thoughts on Wirral with a tiny w.

    Cant wait to see you take the piss out of them at the court house over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters at your “tribunal”.

    “Highbrow” never lost against Wirral “Funny” Bizz in that very same building.

    • It’ll be held on the same floor as Employment Tribunals are.

      As there are five different tribunal rooms (numbered 1-5) I can’t guarantee it’ll be in the same room as that used for “Highbrow”, but those rooms are more commonly used for Employment Tribunals.

      I do peruse from time to time the press lists for Employment Tribunals on the Courtserve website (employer, name of employee, what it’s about, date, time, location of hearing etc) but have yet to attend one in person.

      • G’day John

        Last time I saw “The Shyster” there in his cheap suit armed with a plastic biro his expensive barrista from London had to rescue him after the judge gave him a tongue lashing.

        Ooroo

        James

        • Unfortunately I missed that previous Tribunal case involving Wirral Council as back then I’d injured my thumb on my writing hand and couldn’t write.

          The second hearing that I could make was scheduled (but then called off at short notice).

          After that it was decided on the papers instead.

          My experience from previous cases is that the judiciary are not happy when people try to either flagrantly break procedural rules and/or engage in unethical behaviour to give themselves an unfair advantage.

          Usually such actions backfire and end up damaging their case instead.

  5. G’day John

    It is fine saying AdderleyDadderleyDooLally had to fulfil contracts John but they knew that Wirral “Funny” Bizz were forging documents, inventing interviews, making up figures, suggesting staff who weren’t were qualified solicitors, completing over 100 incorrect tax returns for clients.

    All of these misdemeanour’s were not only affecting innocent peoples lives but they were receiving hundreds of pounds for each form completed, correct, incorrect or fraudulent.

    So John you really lit my blue fuse paper why did they continue to allow this and continue to pay these criminals for a further eighteen months hundreds of thousands of pounds?

    Ooroo

    James

    I didn’t even mention all the crimes and in particular AdderleyDadderleyDooLally and “The Shyster’s” ill legal department letting asset stripping Lockwood/Harbac go unreported, criminal, and of course someone getting Dave Garry to supersede Beverley’s Report with a croc of shit and then paying him off £40,000.00 and telling Basnett to keep her gob shut, her words to “Highbrow”.

    Not to mention them hiding numerous reports to this day five years on

    DCLG

    I will keep mentioning these misdemeanour’s until they do the RIGHT THING.

    • If there is a breach in a contract between two parties, the contract usually explains what can be done to remedy it (such as financial compensation) or ultimately a wronged party can take breach of contract to a court to decide.

      If there was the widespread alleged fraud you state in paragraph 1 is true, then either Wirral Council was duped, or they knew what was going on and turned a blind eye to it.

      However whenever you set a framework in which certain actions are rewarded financially, there is always the incentive to take shortcuts to “game” the system and break the rules in order to gain a financial advantage. That is why for example football games are not played without a referee who can blow his whistle and stop the game if a rule is broken.

      “So John you really lit my blue fuse paper why did they continue to allow this and continue to pay these criminals for a further eighteen months hundreds of thousands of pounds?”

      I’ll give a short answer to this. There was the assumption that the contract was signed, therefore it would protect Wirral Council from this sort of behaviour. However due to poor record keeping the signed contract couldn’t be found when needed. So the “contract” couldn’t be enforced.

      Even visiting the contractor to view their records was blocked, which had there been a signed contract would have been a further breach of contract.

      There is some suspicion based on what the contractor stated that work was started on the proposed contract and it wasn’t signed.

      The chances of somebody being sacked in the public sector are probably similar to the chances to you winning the National Lottery jackpot or being struck by lightning.

      There was insufficient press oversight as to what was going on. There was insufficient political oversight as to what was going on. In such an environment with next to zero need for any form of accountability by senior public sector managers, dealing with concerns of whistleblowers are not seen as a high priority.

      Blocking FOI requests, stopping the press writing negative stories and generally bamboozling/delaying scrutiny is seen as the approach to use.

      As you well know they only stopped these payments because of a national government decision back in 2010. Unfortunately that decision abolished the regional development agencies who according to the contract were supposed to be providing at least a small amount of oversight as to how the monies were spent.

      However it leads me onto my only question to you. What is it you want to happen?

      • Winning the lottery? Hit by lightning?

        I came perilously close to being sacked by David Green after being labelled “a bully” at Wirral Council in 2003. Luckily I exposed his lies. Good triumphed over evil and I resigned.

        Lottery win foiled.

        I then came extremely close to being sacked by Julie Gill of Cheshire West & Chester Council after being labelled malicious in 2009. Luckily I exposed her lies. Good triumphed over evil and I retired.

        Lightning bolt dodged.

        • David Green was himself suspended later at Wirral Council although unlawfully IMHO.

          There were legal flaws in his (and other senior officer’s) suspension so after a period of paid leave, he was paid a lot in compensation.

          It was a pragmatic view in Wirral Council’s opinion as councillors were told the Council could be out to the tune of ~£1 million (both the Council’s legal costs, the suspended officer’s legal costs and compensation) per a suspended senior officer if it went through the court process.

          That’s because at the times different laws applied to the suspension of chief officers (partly to prevent politicians passing the blame to “suspended” officers merely to dodge blame themselves).

          Chief officers had greater protection than those employees at a lower pay grade.

          Ironically the flaws in the suspension happened because senior officers hadn’t brought a report for councillors to decide at the first Council meeting after the legislation had changed back in ~2001.

  6. John

    Some honesty, openness and transparency would be a start.

    Why are they still hiding the DCLG Report?

    Ooroo

    James

    • The short answer to that is that because a minister decided it should be kept secret, ICO agreed with him and an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal was struck out.

      As to the why, that’s set out in the decision notice.

      As my current appeal to the Tribunal is on a s.36 matter (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs), I will state that (with the caveat that this is not comment on my own case but comment through a lot of experience of s.36 decisions) that although s.36 may apply to some of the DCLG Report, it’s unlikely to do so in its entirety.

      However compared to individuals making FOI requests, I have (probably) access to more resources than an individual usually has that I can decide to use to challenge decisions.

  7. John

    Why should you have to take “The Shyster” to court to beat the truth out of them?

    Ooroo

    James

    Have they no decency?

    • It’s not a court case/civil litigation, a Tribunal is merely investigative (although they can overturn or edit the original ICO decision notice). Although yes it’s held in a court building in one of the tribunal rooms.

      A decision of the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) would have to be appealed twice to end up in a court.

      The short answer is I can’t answer that at the moment as although it’s a Tribunal, the Contempt of Court Act 1981 applies and it would damage my legal strategy to answer that in full as it would tip Wirral Council (and its barrister) off as to what I will say at the hearing.

      As a hearing date has been set it’s classed as “sub judice”.

      Yes there’s an exception for “a discussion in good faith of public affairs or other matters of general public interest” but only if “the risk of impediment or prejudice to particular legal proceedings is merely incidental to the discussion”.

      It’s also not classed as contempt of court to publish an account of what happens at the hearing itself.

      However I will state that I don’t know yet exactly what I will say at the hearing, but if you’re at the hearing you should hear what goes on.

  8. See ya there wouldn’t miss it for quids.

    • The Tribunal have changed the time it starts (although it’s still on the same date). I only received notification of this today.

      It was previously: 16th June 2016 starting at 10.00am.

      Now it’s 16th June 2016 starting at 10.15am.


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