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Posted by: John Brace | 11th July 2017

Who’s leaving Wirral Council and what is a 20,085 signature petition against?

Who’s leaving Wirral Council and what is a 20,085 signature petition against?

                                      

Mayor Cllr Ann McLachlan , Council (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017

Mayor Cllr Ann McLachlan , Council (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017

Yesterday’s email from Mr Tour, ended with “you are required to return to the public gallery”.

However when I did return to the entrance to the public gallery above the Council Chamber, after asking my question, Wirral Council’s Community Patrol unsuccessfully tried to stop me re-entering.

I have however sadly learnt in life to ignore a lot of Wirral Council employee’s more bizarre requests and slipped past him. The guy from Community Patrol tried to grab my arm to stop me but lost his grip.

Ironically as I had had a stand up protest downstairs over the nonsense over the seating arrangements, typing away notes on my iPad, in the hot weather my bare arm was so sweaty by then that his hand couldn’t grip on to me.

So I thank Surjit Tour for putting into place a chain of events that thwarted another Wirral Council employee.

As I’d forgotten to turn my tape recorder off downstairs there’s a tape of the whole matter and conversation.

Maybe Community Patrol will have better luck at the next Planning Committee?

Indeed Wirral Council losing its grip seemed to be a running theme of the evening.

The petition against the planning application for a fire station (on Council owned land) in Saughall Massie presented by Cllr Chris Blakeley has reached 4,034 signatures. The report from Wirral Council’s planning department recommends it for approval. The matter will be decided at the Planning Committee on the 20th July 2017, after a site visit on the 18th July 2017.

Another large petition, of a mere 20,805 signatures, submitted by Cllr Chris Blakeley on behalf of Cllr Jeff Green opposed the introduction of car parking charges in the country parks (which goes to a call-in meeting on the 18th July 2017).

Cllr Phil Davies (Leader) and the Labour councillors however does not agree with Cllr Chris Blakeley on many policy matters.

After questions for Cabinet Members from various councillors, there were general questions, followed by just over half an hour of debate about senior managers’ employment status.

A quick summary is Julia Hassall (Director of Children’s Services) resigned, Tom Sault (Assistant Director: Finance) is entering a “phased retirement”, Surjit Tour (Assistant Director: Law and Governance, Monitoring Officer and Senior Information Risk Officer) has resigned and Clare Fish (Executive Director for Strategy) has requested early retirement.

The Chief Executive, Eric Robinson also wants to regrade the Director for Children post to the £140-£155k band and create a new post for a senior manager (Director of Strategy and Partnerships) on a salary range of £103k-£115k. He also wants to increase the salary range for the Assistant Director: Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer post to a maximum of £93k. Those are most of the changes (there are some other ones too).

The changes to the senior management team that were recommended in a private meeting of the Employment and Appointments Committee were agreed by Council yesterday evening on a 35:25:1 vote (for:against:abstain). The 1 is the Labour councillor who is the Mayor abstaining. The other 35 are Labour councillors and the 25 were a combination of opposition councillors.

The effect is that Surjit Tour remains serving out his notice (until some point in September 2017), Clare Fish’s early retirement request is agreed, Tom Sault retires (but phased) and Penna (the external recruitment consultants) have a massive pay-day from advising Wirral Council on recruitment to all these posts (estimated by one councillor at ~£12k a post).

The senior management team was restructured last in November 2016 and at least one councillor suggested that changing again so soon implies that the previous model hadn’t worked.

Cllr Bernie Mooney referred to people being paid, “too bloody much”.

Certainly the senior management team hasn’t been changed this much since 2012, when a large number of them were suspended, then paid large sums to leave as the suspension wasn’t done properly.

There was also a short debate on wildlife sites.

Most people however were there in the public gallery (patiently waiting around two hours before the meeting got to that point) to hear debate on a Notice of Motion about the New Ferry explosion.

Cllr Warren Ward received cross-party plaudits for his work as a ward councillor for this area.

Labour councillors blamed it on the government.

Conservative councillors said that part of the response was the responsibility of Wirral Council.

In the end though, after just over 30 minutes of debate, councillors of all parties agreed a notice of motion that will result in Wirral Council writing a letter to the Prime Minister and a letter to the government minister for Communities and Local Government.

After that agreement, the Mayor called for a ten minute adjournment (which turned into a fifteen minute adjournment).

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Responses

  1. Jobs for their friends/sympathisers while the staff at the sharp end are treated like dirt with nos payrises on the horizon.
    Labour need to face up to the problems they have created and not keep playing the blame game!

    • What is the payrise (or paycut) for frontline staff at Wirral Council this year in either percentage terms compared to the year before or including inflation?

  2. So that why they need parking charges! to pay for their pay increases,
    As for New Ferry get the insurance compaines paying out for it, not my taxes!

    • The Brace household (as we live on the Wirral) pay council tax to Wirral Council too!

      However Wirral Council does have some legal responsibilities for areas affected by the explosion for example:-

      a) repairing the roads and pavements, clearing them of rubble etc so they can be used again,

      b) rehousing people made homeless as they’ve been evacuated,

      c) there are other legal responsibilities Wirral Council have too.

      Yes some property damage to residential and business properties in New Ferry that will be insured, but there will be others that aren’t.

      From memory the national government (under the Bellwin scheme) only provides assistance if the money Wirral Council has to spent is above a certain percentage (0.2%) of their yearly budget.

      They’ve only spent around £300,000 so far and I think they’d have to spend roughly double that (£572,000+) to qualify for government assistance of between 85% and 100% of the costs.

  3. We would all love to hear the tape. It really beggars belief.Who do these people think they are.? Stopped by the Stasi for going about lawful business.

    • Here’s a link to the raw audio.

      Although without some processing it’d be hard to make out exactly what is said between myself and the Community Patrol guy (who is whispering) above what politicians are saying at the meeting (which is coming through the nearby speaker in the public gallery) but it’s around the 13:00 onwards part of the recording.

      Below is a picture of the public gallery I took during the meeting itself.

      Public gallery (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017

      public gallery (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017


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