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Posted by: John Brace | 15th June 2017

Will Wirral Council receive £300,000 windfall for greenbelt Saughall Massie Fire Station site if planning application APP/17/00306 is approved?

Will Wirral Council receive £300,000 windfall for greenbelt Saughall Massie Fire Station site if planning application APP/17/00306 is approved?

                                            

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer) (left) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie to discuss proposals for a new fire station

Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service) (left) answers questions at a public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie in 2015 to discuss proposals for a new fire station

In a 20 page planning report on a revised planning application for a fire station in Saughall Massie, councillors on the Planning Committee have been recommended to approve the application.

The report fails to mention that Wirral Council owns the land, and following a First-tier Tribunal case between myself and the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, it was revealed that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority had set aside £300,000* to pay Wirral Council for the land as part of the project. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority also predict they will receive £200,000* from the sale of West Kirby Fire Station and £350,000* from the sale of Upton Fire Station.

*estimates of sale prices for Upton Fire Station, West Kirby Fire Station and the land at Saughall Massie owned by Wirral Council were made by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority based on prices in October 2014 (Upton Fire Station and West Kirby Fire Station), see Appendix H to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority report CFO/101/14) and January 2015 (Upton Fire Station, West Kirby Fire Station and land at Saughall Massie, see Appendix F to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority report CFO/003/15).

A previous application for a fire station was refused by Wirral Council’s Planning Committee on a 7:6 vote last year. An appeal of this planning application refusal to the Planning Inspectorate was considered but abandoned.

Wirral Council’s Planning Committee meets next week on Thursday 22nd June 2017, starting at 6.00 pm to consider the revised planning application in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe. It is expected that a site visit will be requested at this meeting which if agreed will delay a final decision on the planning application to a later meeting of the Planning Committee (expected to be on the 20th July 2017).

As the planning report states, the petition of objection to the planning application has grown to 4,034 signatures and there have been 324 objections to the new application at the time the report was written.

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Responses

  1. I wonder if there is any connection between the value of the land owned by MFRA adjacent to Birkenhead fire station which they have allowed WMBC to build the Hive youth hub on for a nominal annual peppercorn payment?The Hive land was valued by MFRA coincidentally at £300k. I bet MFRA don’t actually pay WMBC £300k – a land swop for the Greenbelt land in Saughall Massie for the new Fire Station is the more likely option. That brings into question whether MFRA ever really seriously evaluated other potential new fire station sites not owned by WMBC despite, what they told the public?

    • Both MFRA and Wirral Council state that although a land swap was suggested by former Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Chief Executive Kieran Timmins, that Wirral Council didn’t agree to that proposal.

      As far as I remember the £300k for the land (originally at Greasby, now Saughall Massie) comes out of the government grant that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority receive for the fire station merger project.

      On your last point, about how seriously sites that weren’t in Wirral Council’s ownership were evaluated, there is a long list of alternative sites included in the planning application and the reason (or reasons) why each site was ruled out.

      Strangely the list of alternative sites doesn’t include the nearby former Girtrell Court site, which is of the right size, outside the green belt, owned by Wirral Council but not on the main road.

      Also some other active sites are ruled out on the basis of costing more than £300,000, when Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has managed to find more money when needed for fire station merger projects elsewhere on Merseyside. The fact that MFRA have compulsory purchase powers seems to have been conveniently omitted too.

  2. G’day John

    Where you there?

    They are unbelievable.

    Their ex-local rubbish propaganda sheet

    Cabinet approves strategy for Wirral tourism boost

    The “Chamber Pot” has become a travel agency.

    Is this the only way AdderleyDadderleyDooLally and “The Chamber Potty” can get to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast In Australia next April?

    To sell wirral?

    The idiots will probably end up buying the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Ayres Rock or Tasmania at least Sydney China Town for “Addles” to get over Stella.

    Ooroo

    James

    • Yes I was there for this morning’s Cabinet meeting and the proof.

      Apologies for the poor sound quality, but much of what was said at this morning’s Cabinet meeting was drowned out by a combination of the noise of a helicopter, the noise of the tea and coffee machine, vehicles in the adjacent car park, flushing in the male toilets and the hand dryer in the male toilets.

    • Oh and by the way, Surjit Tour has resigned and David Armstrong has asked for his hours to be reduced from a 5 day week to a 4 day week.

      • Have Nigel and I got an invite to his farewell party?

        • One more down John wirral is a few percent better.

          • He still has to serve out his period of notice, which if I remember correctly is around 3 months? Plus councillors have to pick someone else on an interim and permanent basis as it’s a statutory post and has to be decided at a meeting of all 66 of them.

            If you’re interested, here is the proposed job description.

            • They will have their new sucker upper lined up John

              • Well there’s a meeting of the Employment and Appointments Committee on the 27th June 2017 to decide on the process (such as job description, long listing, shortlisting, interview etc), which FYI is chaired by Cllr Adrian Jones and also has Cllr Phil Davies on and a number of other senior councillors.

                • G’day John

                  Hasn’t “Philly Liar” and “The Pretend Friend” given it up yet.

                  “Highbrow” is off to the Information Commissioner again this week because he knows they broke the “rules” AGAIN on his latest.

                  Has the Information Commissioner pushed “The Shyster” he has to be on the edge of the “code”?

                  Can you imagine John when “Sir Git” meets with the new bloke, they wouldn’t have a woman anywhere near them.

                  “The Shyster” will start with

                  Colas
                  Martin Morton
                  Wirral “Funny” Bizz
                  Wirralgate
                  and the really stinky ones we don’t know about……yet.

                  “Sir Git” will give him two minutes on each on his big vile, repulsive clock.

                  The one the elections probably paid for.

                  Ooroo

                  James

                  Who would employ him?

                  And as for “The Angry Little Leg Weak”

                  who cares!

                  • In answer to your questions, no and no.

                    ICO is about 50/50 on either agreeing with Surjit Tour’s s.36 decisions or disagreeing with them.

                    What’s weird though is that in the Graham Burgess days the internal review would be done by him.

                    Now at Wirral Council, Surjit Tour does an internal review of Surjit Tour’s decision. Unsurprisingly he’s not been known yet to disagree with his earlier decision!

                    If I worked according to the Wirral Council way of doing things decision-making would be affected!

                    • I can only hope John he sleeps as well as he should.

  3. They might fess up now John on Wirral “Funny” Bizz BIG, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods.

    He might be the only one that can put the threads together.

    • As Cllr Steve Foulkes once put it at a public meeting, politicians (like himself) are wary to blow the whistle and make matters public, because they feel if they do, then they will be wrongly blamed for the problem they are blowing the whistle on.

      He was referring to another Wirral Council fiasco that I won’t go into detail about here …

      However politicians in general are damned if they blow the whistle and damned if they don’t!

      It’s a politically sensitive area because from my perspective:

      (a) from a political perspective they have their reputation (both with their party and the public) to think of and no way of knowing whether the information they have been given is true, false or whether the whistleblowers have an ulterior motive,

      (b) they feel that if they make matters public, then the bureaucrats won’t trust them with politically sensitive matters in the future and their political career could be jeopardised.

      Which of course as you know leaves the press, regulators, courts & tribunal (judiciary) etc etc to act as a backstop.

      The problem is that most of those can’t bring about the changes the politicians can. I can just write about matters, the situations when I have the legal powers to stop Wirral Council to do anything or force it do to something are:-

      a) extremely limited and

      b) can lead to a backlash* as it is perceived as interfering in internal matters.

      *See Wirral Council’s refusal of press accreditation for the 2017 General Election count and repeated refusals to permit recording of candidates’ speeches.

      So we get back to the you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t matters again!

      • G’day John

        Isn’t there a difference, not that I can see it, between blowing the whistle and just standing LYING PUBLICLY like Adderley, Burgess, Davies?

        Ooroo

        James

        And the evidence in front of everyone is public.

        • Yes, but I’ll give you an example (as I have blown the whistle in the past).

          If I blow the whistle, the effect is governments (national or local) end up ending in either an election or a coup and also people end up having to explain themselves to the judiciary in a court room.

          I then get (fairly or unfairly) blamed for everything (including the riots or civil unrest on the streets that follows).

          And my family gets blamed for it all too.

          The type of whistleblowing you and Nigel do, doesn’t result in the above.

          Worst case scenario is you both get sacked and your employer has their contract terminated.

          The type of whistleblowing you do is what I’d term financial whistleblowing.

          It doesn’t grab the media’s attention like say a hospital killing off its patients or something like that.

          Partly because we’re trained in journalism not accountancy.

          Reports get written, politicians ask questions, reassurances are given, but the whistleblowers are persistent.

          But look at what happened for example to former Cllr Crabtree?
          Look at what happened to Kevin Adderley?
          Look at what happened to yourself and Nigel?

          The sad truth is that there aren’t many happy stories when it comes to whistleblowing.

          You could say I’m in the happy position where I get paid to blow the whistle (journalist).

          Moving back to your other point, the evidence is out there but the questions you need to ask are:-

          a) do people understand it,

          b) do people care?

          I realise this doesn’t really fall into why people blow the whistle but in the end it becomes what outcome (or outcomes) do you want to happen?

          Do you want to live in a society where you are free to speak your mind without consequences?

          Do you want a job back or financial compensation?

          Or do you just want to carry on like a dog with a bone until there’s not any of the bone left to chew on?

  4. G’day John

    Just thought with this good news for wirral people I would send a sample of the original sinners

    Jones, Adrian ER. (Councillor)
    To james griffiths Davies, Phil L. (Councillor)
    CC wendy@wirralbiz.biz lindaturnbull@wirralbiz.biz Adderley, Kevin Basnett, Paula B. barbara.woods@nwda.co.uk mark.hughes@nwda.co.uk nigel@wirralbiz.biz Foulkes, Steve (Councillor) Norman, Bill D. Tour, Surjit 07/08/11 at 5:14 PM
    Dear Mr Griffiths,

    Given the nature of your concerns I have passed your correspondence to the Borough’s legal officers.

    Yours sincerely,

    Adrian Jones
    Cabinet Member for Corporate Resources

    August 2011 John and we are no closer to justice.

    Ooroo

    James

    Time for a few more to resign John and hang their heads in shame shame shame.

    karma

    • British justice used to have a better international reputation.

      Sadly, the changes to the courts and tribunal system (some of those changes bitterly opposed by the judiciary and the legal profession) has led to major concerns about its ability to function.

      Having written that, on balance some changes have been for the better. For example all Supreme Court cases are filmed.

      But I would write that wouldn’t I?

  5. G’day John

    If they ever want to clean up wirral they need to have a good look at the Employments Committee.

    An old past his use by date old fool of a “Pretend Friend” and known liar in “Philly Liar” “Phil the Very Very Very Very Slimy, Elusive, LYING and Deluded Dill”.

    They will choose a man for a start which is reason enough to get rid of them.

    They will choose a yes man that says he wasn’t there he wasn’t there.

    Ooroo

    James

    I can’t be arsed saying anymore about the dross and crud.

    • Well the Employment and Appointments Committee recommends the people who become senior managers (such as Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer etc) and makes the decisions on who the senior managers are in more junior positions.

      Those people end up working for Wirral Council, in some cases after the politicians who picked them have come and gone.

      Councillors will pick someone (of course deciding this behind closed doors deeming it not to be in the public interest to do so at a public meeting), that fits with their view of the best person (out of those who applied) for the job.

      If they appoint someone from outside and it causes resentment with existing employees that felt that the councillors should’ve promoted somebody internally. And of course that person then ends up having to learn the Wirral Council way of doing matters.

      If they appoint someone already working for Wirral Council and then can face accusations that not only that external applicants weren’t seriously considered (just to make up the numbers) or that they were biased towards an existing Wirral Council employee and that it’s all just a stitch up and the politicians just want a sacrificial lamb for when things go pear shaped.

      The appointment of Graham Burgess I found interesting as he had the inside track on Wirral Council from his work on the Improvement Board but also was an external candidate. Previously Chief Executives had generally been internal promotions.

      If only you knew what went on behind the scenes at Wirral Council James!

      • G’day John

        It is the behind the scenes at wirral Council that concern me John.

        Previous post of yours

        Look at what happened to Kevin Adderley?

        Are you havin a laugh?

        Was it £250,000.00 and an equivalent job.

        Ooroo

        James

        People not understanding is one thing but THEY know exactly what they are doing and the other 66 know what they are doing.

        • As you know, his early retirement wasn’t a unanimous decision of councillors and you can vote in or out councillors at election time.

          The ~£250,000 you referred to didn’t go directly to him.

          I was cheesed off by it being decided behind closed doors. It appears that both the Cllr Adrian Jones and Eric Robinsons of this world either didn’t want the public knowing before the decision (or while the decision was made) how much it would cost of public money.

          As to his job, if he’s still working at the Wirral Chamber of Commerce, then I would disagree with you that it’s an equivalent job to the one he had before.

          Here’s a link to my story about Kevin Adderley’s early retirement and how there was a U-turn on secrecy shortly after the decision was made.

  6. G’day John

    I have to be honest.

    You have angered me somewhat.

    You say

    a) do people understand it,

    b) do people care?

    John Grant (Chocolate Teapot) Thornton and the Government Auditor at 1 Horseguards do and have got soft bits.

    Crimes did occur.

    Six years on they are still denying any wrongdoing.

    Doing anything about it.

    So why are they fit for any purpose whatsover?

    They give money to people who don’t qualify for what reason?

    They can just do anything they want.

    The opposition ha ha ha ha don’t say boo.

    Ooroo

    James

    If anyone out on the street does anything the council police force can’t get there quick enough.

    John I said to “Highbrow” very early we needed to smash a window in the clown hall to get a hearing.

    People like Davies, Jones and Adderley are not nice, good people.

    • Hi James,

      I’m angry about the whole thing too but for different reasons to yourself.

      In answer to your questions (in the order they were answered), 1) no and 2) because Wirral Council entered in a contract*.

      *I use contract in its very loosest sense considering what the tendering process was like.

      If you drop litter or let your dog to foul on the Wirral, you are right “on the street” a Wirral Council contractor (Kingdom) it is possible to be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

      As to the sort of civil disobedience you propose (which I don’t condone), there are areas of Wallasey Town Hall that you could indeed remove the window, replace it with a “We love whistleblowers” mural and nobody would notice for a very long time! 😛

      However Wirral Council don’t have to totally rely on the police as they have their own Community Patrol to provide security.

      • G’day John

        If they cheat and lie and cover each other at work.

        They must do the same at home.

        Amen

        Ooroo

        James

        • Some people can separate out work life and home life though.

          Myself, however when I pass a public house called the Aussie Rooster on the bus I tend to think of you (even when not at work).

          Aussie Rooster pub


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