Kingdom awarded further 3 year contract by Wirral Council for litter and dog fouling fines

                                                 

Cllr Matthew Patrick (Wirral West Constituency Committee) 14th June 2018

Cllr Matthew Patrick (Wirral West Constituency Committee) 14th June 2018

Wirral Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Matthew Patrick (pictured above at a recent meeting of Wirral Council’s Wirral West Constituency Committee) has awarded Kingdom Environmental Services a contract to undertake the issuing of fines for dog fouling and litter from 2018 to 2021. The contract will also have the option to be extended for a further three years.

Kingdom Environmental Services hold the existing contract for litter enforcement. The existing contract started on 1st July 2015 for two years and was extended for a year to the end of June 2018.

Wirral Council is currently consulting on a series of Dog Control Public Spaces Protection Orders. The closing date for the consultation is 15th July 2018 and a decision is expected in August 2018.

If agreed the Dog Control Public Spaces Protection Orders will ban dogs from certain parts of Birkenhead Park, ban dogs from other parts of Birkenhead Park from August to May and ban dogs from Leasowe Bay, Meols Beach, New Brighton beach, Wallasey beach and West Kirby bathing beach between May and September.

Following consultation Kingdom under the new three-year contract are expected to enforce these proposed Dog Control Public Spaces Protection Orders.

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Should Frank Field have declared £2,000 USDAW donation to his 2017 General Election campaign in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests?

                                 

Rt Hon Frank Field MP (Chair) and Ken Abraham (solicitor (Wirral Council)) at the meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee on the 8th October 2015

Rt Hon Frank Field MP (former Chair, left) at the public meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee on the 8th October 2015

In 2017 USDAW made a £2,000 donation to the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party for Frank Field’s election campaign on the 26th April 2017. You can see the declaration signed by Frank Field and the donations page below (the thumbnail of the donations page links to a higher resolution and more readable version).

Candidate Declaration Frank Field General Election 2017

Candidate Declaration Frank Field General Election 2017

General Election Birkenhead 2017 donations Frank Field

General Election Birkenhead 2017 donations Frank Field

A letter from USDAW’s General Secretary John Hannett also dated 26th April 2017 states, “Usdaw are very grateful for your support for Usdaw’s campaigns and your work in taking the Tories to task over the impact of their policies on working people.

I am pleased to inform you that Usdaw are making a donation of £2,000 to your CLP to assist with your campaigning.

This is being paid by direct bank transfer to the main CLP account that we pay our affiliation fees to.”

letter from USDAW to Frank Field 26th April 2017 about donation

letter from USDAW to Frank Field 26th April 2017 about donation

After election as a Member of Parliament, Members of Parliament are required to declare in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests (full details on the requirements are published here) “support for their activities as a Member, or for candidacy at an election for parliamentary or non-parliamentary office, which has a value of more than £1,500”

It goes on to state in respect of donations to a local party organisation (such as a Constituency Labour Party) “A Member must register under this sub-category support received by his or her constituency party organisation or which he or she receives via a central party organisation if there was a clear link between the donation and him or her; for example, if it was given to a such an organisation with a wish that it be allocated to him or her, to his or her fighting fund…”

However it also states, “18. Members should not register under this category:

b) Trade union support for a constituency party organisation, where this is linked to the constituency and would be provided irrespective of the identity of the Member;”

The register of Member’s Financial Interest for Frank Field for 7th July 2017 and 31st July 2017 both fail to mention the £2,000 donation from USDAW to the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party, despite the letter about the donation being written directly to Frank Field and USDAW in their letter stating that the £2,000 is to “assist with your campaigning”.

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Why did Wirral Council fail to publish its draft Annual Governance Statement by the legal deadline?

                                              

Shaer Halewood (Director for Finance and Investments (Wirral Council)) 29th January 2018

Shaer Halewood (Director for Finance and Investments (Wirral Council)) 29th January 2018

A week ago I made an objection to Wirral Council and its auditor Grant Thornton, that prior to the thirty-day inspection period running from 1st June 2018 to 12th July 2018 that the draft Annual Governance Statement hadn’t been published on Wirral Council’s website prior to this 30 day period starting. Publication prior to the 30 day period starting is a requirement of regulations 15(2)(a)(ii) and 15(3) of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 (when read together).

Wirral Council’s auditors Grant Thornton have been in touch with me this afternoon and state that the draft Annual Governance Statement has now been published on Wirral Council’s website.

In an email from the auditor, he states, “I have raised the matter with the Council and they have confirmed to me that this was an oversight on their part.” and elsewhere in his email he describes it as “an individual failing” (as part of the auditor’s justification not to write a public interest report on it).

Responsibility for publishing the draft Annual Governance Statement before 1st June 2018 falls on Wirral Council’s “responsible financial officer” who is Shaer Halewood (pictured above at a meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee earlier this year).

Somewhat ironically page one of the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2017-18 states, “The Council is responsible for ensuring that its business is conducted in accordance with the law”.

The draft Annual Governance Statement details Wirral Council’s response to the 2016 OFSTED inspection of Children’s Services, an ICO Voluntary Audit from 2016 that made 88 recommendations and other governance issues.

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Welsh Assembly Government awards franchise for Wrexham-Bidston Borderlands line to KeolisAmey Wales

                                                  

Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace)

Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace)

The Welsh Assembly Government has awarded the Wales and Border franchise (which includes the Bidston to Wrexham Borderlands line) to KeolisAmey Wales.

KeolisAmey Wales will take over from the current franchise holder Arriva Trains Wales on the 14th October 2018. From December 2018 an extra two trains will run on Sunday morning and two extra trains will run on Sunday afternoon between Bidston and Wrexham.

From 2021 there will be an increase to two trains running on the Bidston to Wrexham line an hour, with one train an hour being a fast train with limited stops.

In 2022 a new half-hourly service between Cardiff Central and Liverpool via Wrexham General will be introduced.

KeolisAmey are expected to use new trains on the Bidston to Wrexham line starting in mid-2019 which will be both diesel and battery operated trains. The battery will allow the diesel engines to be turned off at stations and in environmentally sensitive areas. The new trains will also have wireless internet access, air conditioning and space set aside for bicycles.

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Councillors call for independent report into Northern Rail timetable changes to be published and RMT union agree to three further days of strike action

                                        

Northern Rail train Chester 9th June 2018

Northern Rail train Chester 9th June 2018

Councillors on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Transport Committee last Thursday afternoon agreed an urgent motion proposed by the Lead Member for Rail and Freight (Cllr Gordon Friel) which you can watch below.

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Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee (7th June 2018) Any Other Urgent Business Approved By The Chair

Recent timetable changes introduced for Northern Rail trains on the 20th May have led to delays, cancellations and overcrowding. Northern Rail and Network Rail have commissioned an independent report into the preparations and processes that led to how the recent timetable changes were implemented.

Cllr Friel’s notice of motion requested that the independent report be shared with councillors on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Transport Committee and for the report to be put in the public domain.

As part of the long-running trade union dispute with the RMT union over Northern Rail plans to scrap guards on trains, three further 24 hour strikes have been announced for this month. The strikes will take place on Tuesday 19th June 2018, Thursday 21st June 2018 and Saturday 23rd June 2018.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said, “This company has reduced the timetable to total chaos and the union will not allow them to slash the safety culture to ribbons in the same fashion.” and “The failure to reach a solution to this dispute to date is solely down to the company and the union remains ready for genuine and meaningful talks.”

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