Planning Committee Site Visits rearranged

Two Planning Committee site visits originally scheduled for Monday 20th June 2011 have now been rearranged to Thursday 16th June.

This is because the original date of Monday 20th June 2011 clashed with the “Flay a Flag ceremony”.

10 a.m. – APP/00065 – TOWNFIELD CLOSE, CLAUGHTON, CH43 9JW – Demolition of existing petrol filling station and erection of a class A1 retail unit.

10:45 a.m. – APP/11/00283 – 7-9 ROSE MOUNT, OXTON, CH43 5SG – Proposed refurbishment of existing restaurant/bar with the erection of a conservatory within the rear courtyard and change of apartment within outrigger to become part of restaurant/bar and supporting office accommodation, installation of air conditioning units to rear.

Wirral Council – Wirral Council 23rd May 2011 – Part 16 – speech (Cllr Steve Foulkes) on being made Leader of Wirral Council, Conservative amendments (Cllr Jeff Green)

He said they can do better. Cllr Foulkes was “truly honoured and privileged”, however he suggested they get together to deal with the nuts and bolts. His first act as leader was to make Cllr Phil Davies the Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Regeneration. This way they could be good cop/bad cop. He thanked everyone in the room and the members of the public. He asked people who were more knowledgeable even those of other parties to help.

The Mayor then called for an adjournment until 8:30pm and at 8:11pm the meeting was adjourned.

The meeting resumed at 8.38pm. Cllr Green spoke first and said he had had the opportunity to read what was circulated. He disagreed however with the way the Audit & Risk Management committee and Employment and Appointments Committee were being made. He said the Audit and Risk Management Committee had a vital role in holding the administration to account and sharing best practice. Similarly the Employment and Appointments Committee had a key role in policies relating to Human Resources. He said he was not sure it was [Labour’s] intent to take control and it was not in the spirit of proportionality. Therefore he proposed an adjustment as follows.

Ratio is expressed as Labour: Conservative: Lib Dem

Audit and Risk Management (9 places) 4:4:1
Employment and Appointments Committee (7 places) 3:3:1

As a result the Conservative Group would cede a place on the Licensing Act 2003 committee to meet the total numbers. This way said Cllr Green they would continue to work in the spirit of the rules. Firstly in holding the executive to account and secondly ensuring that the Employment and Appointments Committee would need the support of two parties to agree to its actions. He said the new Leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors [Cllr Tom Harney] had wanted out of the council arrangements scrutiny of actions.

Wirral Council – Wirral Council 23rd May 2011 – Part 15 – speech (Cllr Steve Foulkes) on being made Leader of Wirral Council

He then went on to discuss in-house bids for council services and how that they’ve got to run things more efficiently. This had been somehow bypassed by people drafted in. He asked Cllr Kelly what was wrong with Overview and Scrutiny Committees being ambassadors and going to the public? This way they would get a balance of views. Cllr Foulkes said he stands by elected councillors and would bring big policies to full meetings of the Council in order to do the best for Wirral. If people wanted to personalise this then do so. However his team had a different style and was going to be better. He said that [personalising politics] doesn’t achieve much. He also said Notices of Motion don’t matter a great deal. However the hot air looks and sound good. There was now a chance for other people to engage in policy and use Scrutiny Committees to develop policy.

Consultation could also be use to define changes to the Corporate Plan. However Labour had inherited the Budget and Corporate Plan. He referred to the people of Wirral that councillors are serving, who are affected by decisions but are not online. The Department of Adult Social Services was mentioned in relation to the changes to Personal Budgets. He mentioned Highcroft costing £95/day and that this was an obstacle. He referred to his visit to Mapleholme where he had been told not to tell the people there as they might get upset.

Wirral Council – Wirral Council 23rd May 2011 – Part 14 – speech (Cllr Steve Foulkes) on being made Leader of Wirral Council

Cllr Foulkes said that the Notice of Motion of Cllr Gilchrist was very good and mentioned a serious review of SIGOMA (the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities within the LGA). He then went onto mention the changes to how business rates are distributed and said “when we work together we can achieve a great deal”. Cllr Steve Foulkes said that the Wirral Waters backing had sent a message to the outside world and that “I’m a human being”. He praised officers and referred to the library service.

He said that he would “change his style but not give in over principles” as this is “where he and the Labour Group comes from”. The £10.7 million of savings in the Strategic Change Programme was criticised by Cllr Foulkes. He said he would be brutally honest and referred to it as a budget crisis. Labour said it would continue a style of consultation and talk to the people. However the elephant in the room was a fair settlement from central government. Councillors needed to explain to the people [of Wirral] that this was the biggest source [of money to Wirral Council]. If they didn’t they would be missing a trick. The region was a strong power block.

Wirral Council and Tranmere Rovers

I read the interesting article about Wirral Council’s sponsorship of Tranmere Rovers Football Club to be decided next Thursday evening.

I did leave a comment pointing out that three of the current Cabinet, Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr George Davies and Cllr Harry Smith had all received free tickets to Tranmere Rovers matches as evidenced by the extracts from Wirral Council’s gifts register.

It is of course possible it is more than three as I think councillors are given a certain amount of time between accepting a gift and having to declare it.

Certainly it will be interesting to see next Thursday whether they declare this as a personal interest, a prejudicial interest (and leave the room during its discussion) or decide not to. Certainly whether or not to take part in a decision to sponsor a football team that gives you free tickets is the kind of ethical dilemma Labour councillors will have to grapple between now and next Thursday evening.

Gifts register:
Cllr Foulkes (Cabinet, Finance): 24/4/2011 Tranmere vs Exeter, tickets, lunch and drinks
7/8/2010 Tranmere Rovers football tickets

Cllr Harry Smith (Cabinet, Streetscene and Transport): 25/4/2011 Tranmere vs Exeter, tickets, lunch and drinks

Cllr George Davies (Cabinet, Housing):
25/4/2011 Tranmere Rovers v Exeter sponsored game, tickets lunch and drinks
19/4/2011 Ticket for Tranmere v Notts County
4/9/2010 Tranmere Rovers v Peterborough, programme and hot buffet
07/08/2010 Tranmere Rovers football match