The Cabinet then considered a referral from the Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the Local Government Resource Review following its meeting of the 12th July 2011. Cllr Phil Davies said it was a committee referral and the minute from that meeting was included. The response was that Cabinet agreed with all actions, proposed comments and supporting the SIGOMA response about authorities with lower levels of income from business rates. His concern about business rates was that it left Wirral in a difficult position. Ian Coleman reported to Cabinet about the localising of business rates. Mr. Coleman said there had been a consultation in July but eight annexes had not arrived. There would be a report to Cabinet on the 22nd September. A consultation response was required by early October. Cllr Phil Davies asked if they were active through SIGOMA. Cllr George Davies said he sits on SIGOMA, the facts had been resolved so that no-one would be adversely affected in the first year. It would be in the second year that Wirral would be the loser. Ian Coleman confirmed this was correct. Cllr George Davies thanked him. Cllr Phil Davies pointed out the meeting with the Minister on Tuesday and that details would come back to the next Cabinet.
Ian Coleman apologised for the late report, however a response was required by the 9th September. He said an expression of interest about the pilot was required, either for Families With Multiple Problems or the Community Budgets pilot. Mr. Coleman said it was part of phase 2 of the Local Government Resource Review and has to be in by the 9th. He said the financial implications were not clear whether it will be extra money or existing resources. Cllr Davies (Phil) said that Wirral had “got a good story to tell”. He said they had done good work with families with multiple problems and in the Children and Young Peoples Department and Child Services. Cllr Davies said they had a “good track record” and it would be “well worth expressing an interest”. However he couldn’t tell if it would be successful.
Cllr Adrian Jones said that Ian Coleman had answered his question about extra resources. He said the support was needed especially in the ward he represents Seacombe. The recommendation in the report was agreed.
An article in the Wirral Globe states that Cathcart Street Primary School in Dover Close won’t be opening for the new year in September as planned due to delays with the building work. It was due to open on Wednesday 7th September. Letters have been sent out to parents explaining the situation.
John Brace said, “The investment in the school was welcomed by Labour’s candidate Cllr Harry Smith in April 2011 in his election leaflet. He was pictured with the headmistress and Chair of Governors John Cocker (a Labour Party member). It is now a Labour Cabinet Member Cllr Ann McLachlan who has responsibility for this area (Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning) who is also a ward councillor for Bidston & St. James ward, where this school is based. Paragon Construction are the contractor for Wirral Council. Call-in of this decision was waived by the Lib Dem/Conservative Cabinet in April 2011 to avoid disruption to the school. Why has the work taken longer than expected? This doesn’t just cause disruption to Cathcart Street Primary School but also to those pupils moved there after Cole Street Primary School was closed.”
The minutes of the meeting held on the 21st July 2011 were agreed. The next item was Budget Projections 2012-15 introduced by the Director of Finance Ian Coleman. Mr. Coleman said there had been minor changes from July, Parliament had been in recess so there had only been consultation papers. Cllr Davies (Phil) said it was a standard report to note and review. He noted that the shortfall of £25.3 million continued to bear down on the budget [for 2012/2013]. He said there were “big challenges”. He referred to section 4.2.1 of the report and stated the Formula Grant had been decreased by £41 million [Ed – the actual figure in the report was £14 million not £41 million]. He said the issues in the next item regarding business rates “could be a challenge”. He referred to the meeting next Tuesday with a government minister in which councillors would explain Wirral’s case and hopefully get a sympathetic hearing. There would be a report back next time.
At this point the mobile of Cllr Chris Meaden (Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Leisure) started ringing loudly which drowned out what her colleague Cllr Ann McLachlan was trying to say. Once Cllr Chris Meaden had found the mobile in her bag and switched it off, Cllr McLachlan finished by saying that £14 million was a lot of money and she encouraged the representation from Wirral Council. The report was noted.
Present: Cllr Harry Smith, Cllr Brian Kenny, Cllr George Davies, Cllr Anne McArdle, Cllr Ann McLachlan, Cllr Phil Davies, Cllr Chris Meaden and Cllr Adrian Jones.
Cllr Phil Davies started the meeting by asking people if he could make a start please. He welcomed people and explained that he would be chairing as the Leader of Wirral Council (Cllr Steve Foulkes) was taking a well-earned break. Apologies were made for Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr Jean Stapleton.
Cllr Ann McLachlan declared a personal interest in item 13 as a Board Member of the Beechwood and Ballantyne Community Housing Association, due to her being on the Livingstone Street Community Centre Joint Management Committee and the Gautby Road Play & Community Centre Joint Management Committee.
Cllr Harry Smith declared a personal interest in item 13 as a Board Member of the Beechwood and Ballantyne Community Housing Association due to being on the Livingstone Street Community Centre Joint Management Committee and the Gautby Road Play & Community Centre Joint Management Committee.
Cllr Phil Davies declared a prejudicial interest in item 19 as his wife teaches at the University of Chester. He said he would be vacating the Chair during this item and Cllr George Davies would be chairing the meeting in his absence.