What do a car crash, road safety, A-boards, Wirral Council and the Merseyside OPCC have in common?
Yesterday evening’s meeting of Wirral Council’s Business and Overview Scrutiny Committee was for once quite literally car crash TV.
Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) 14th September 2016 (Agenda item 4 Road Safety – Reducing Pedestrian Casualties starts at 2m:21s) Part 1 of 5
However, the first main item at the public meeting was about reducing pedestrian casualties and road safety. You can read the reports for this agenda item that are linked to from this page on Wirral Council’s website.
Cllr Warren Ward reminded those present at the start of his declaration of interest by saying,
In the report it mentions a quote from the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner.
In 2014, I was employed as a private secretary to errm the Police and Crime Commissioner Panel.”
I am of course welcome that Cllr Warren Ward brought this up, as Wirral’s criminal justice system caught up with Merseyside’s former Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner on the subject of road safety (although the embarrassing incident below wasn’t mentioned at last night’s meeting). At the time of the offence she was Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.
Cllr Ann O’Byrne (who for the purposes of clarity and avoidance of doubt is a completely different councillor to the current Merseyside Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Cllr Sue Murphy) according to a report in the Liverpool Echo pled guilty at Wirral Magistrates’ Court to two driving offences which were
failing to stop after a road accident
after crashing into an orange BMW Mini. She pled guilty, was fined and had to pay prosecution costs of £565.
Of course there will be many regular readers who will see parallels between this behaviour and that of some politicians.
In the past some councillors have been accused of failing to stop going on after political accidents (such as the library closure programme only halted by a government ordered public inquiry), of generally being politicians behaving “without due care and attention” and also in the process of being more interested in scoring petty party political points and damaging the peoples’ trust in democratic systems in the process.
But then I shouldn’t be too critical as there are plenty of good politicians too that unfortunately get tarred by the same brush by association!
Certainly there is a lot of car crash TV I have filmed at public meetings over the years!
Moving swiftly back to the subject of the current Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy. She was asking questions on Monday afternoon about the effect on jobs of a joint Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service project (involving consultants Deloittes are doing) at an eleven minute public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (see video of the meeting below). You can read the agenda and reports to do with that on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s website.
As this is a committee of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, I had better declare an interest as an Appellant in a First-tier Tribunal case in which Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority are Second Respondent (case reference EA⁄2016⁄0054).
Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) Monday 12th September 2016
On the subject of legal action, at the meeting of last night’s meeting of Wirral Council’s Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the subject of A-boards and pedestrian safety was raised with respect to a display outside a fruit and vegetable shop in Moreton which was previously covered by this blog in 2012 (including a photo of the shop display in question).
David Rees (a road safety manager at Wirral Council) made it clear at the meeting that Wirral Council hadn’t received any legal claims for compensation from pedestrians arising from A-boards on the footway.
Conservative councillor Gerry Ellis stated that the person who had raised the issue with Wirral Council about the A-board outside a Moreton shop had been threatened with legal action by Wirral Council and asked a senior manager at Wirral Council (the Head of Environment and Regulation Mark Smith) to explain why.
However the Labour Chair of the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee Councillor Michael Sullivan intervened before Mark Smith had a chance to answer. I will also point out that from my recollection at least one Labour councillor expressed the view at the meeting that Wirral Council employees should not be criticised by Wirral Council councillors.
The Chair decided unilaterally that in his view the report was purely about pedestrian casualties and that as he knew of no recorded accidents known to Wirral Council involving A-boards, Cllr Sullivan told Cllr Ellis that Wirral Council’s Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee wasn’t the forum for discussing such matters and ended any debate on the matter.
Finally, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have been in touch with me.
During the 30 working day inspection period this year (which finished mid-August 2016) I requested some invoices. However I challenged whether some of the blacked out bits were done properly in accordance with the legislation. Technically not providing the information inside the 30 working day inspection period is unlawful (although it’s a civil law matter).
So I challenged it and around a month later got back three invoices from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside with less redaction.
Can the citizens of Merseyside expect the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside to understand the law? Would that be expecting too much considering these invoices are to their “legal services department”? Or was this a genuine mistake? Or am I too robust in press scrutiny of the local public sector?
As it’s a related topic to the issue of police appeal tribunals I’ll point out that Cllr Mary Rasmussen is proposing at a meeting of Liverpool City Council tonight at the time of writing (14th September 2016 if you’re not reading this on the day it is published) a boycott by vendors and retailers selling the Sun newspaper in Liverpool over its reporting of matters involving the police Hillsborough. The three invoices are for the following:
2) An invoice from Mishcon de Reya (a London-based firm of solicitors) was for £6,000 for supply of legal services in the matter “Royal Mail – VAT Invoices for Postage Services”)
3) An invoice from Slater and Gordon UK LLP for £2,221.92 (a Manchester based firm of solicitors) for professional charges involving criminal defence and disbursements.
Each invoice is an A4 page and all 3 invoices involving the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for legal services 2015-2016 financial year are provided here.
I am of course grateful to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for resolving these issues so quickly in a month, rather than the over three years it takes Wirral Council to properly consider the redactions on an information request (request made 29th March 2013, information provided in redacted form 19th May 2016)! In the interests of openness and transparency I had better declare I was Appellant in that case where Wirral Council was Second Respondent.
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