Pension Committee (Wirral Council) 20th November 2012 Part 2

Pension Committee (Wirral Council) 20th November 2012 Part 2

So, after the vote to ban filming at the Pension Committee what happened next?

Well first a list of who was there (apologies for not including councillors from other Merseyside councils I don’t know the names of)

Pensions Committee
Cllr Patricia Glasman, Chair
Cllr Geoffrey Watt
Cllr Mike Hornby
Cllr Adam Sykes
Cllr Tom Harney
Cllr Adrian Jones
Cllr Sylvia Hodrien
Cllr Harry Smith
Cllr Ann McLachlan
Cllr George Davies
Phil Goodwin (trade union representative)

Wirral Council Officers
Colin Hughes
Peter Timmins
Pat Philips
+ others from the Merseyside Pension Fund

A declaration of interest was made as the person was a member of the Merseyside Pension Fund.

The minutes were agreed.

An officer gave a brief summary of a LGPS Update report which included the Merseyside Pension Fund response to the Department of Communities and Local Government on the impacts of the Public Service Pension Bill on the Merseyside Pension Fund.

No questions were asked, the report was noted and the letter was noted.

An officer then asked for approval for the Statement of Investment Principles which was an appendix to a report which they said “do not constitute a change in investment strategy”.

The Chair asked how long it would take? The answer given by the officer was that they intended to sign it by the end of November.

Cllr Harry Smith said that he understood the reason some documents were hyperlinked and that he had “calmed down now”.

Cllr Watt commented on the links, Phil Goodwin commented on the same issue and the Chair said it would be revisited next year. The recommendation was agreed.

Yvonne Caddock introduced the report on Annual Allowance Tax Charge and Scheme Pays Process, which related to how much a person can pay into the pension scheme each year without incurring a tax charge.

A councillor asked about the numbers of how many were likely to be affected?
Yvonne answered that they had got it down to about ninety members in the Fund, who they would have to issue pension statements for but that there may be seven or eight members that exceeded the new limit which would lead to a tax charge.

Cllr Geoffrey Watt made a comment. The recommendations were agreed.

Peter Wallach said they’d been shortlisted for the LGC Investment Awards 2012 and asked if the Pension Committee wanted to be represented at the awards ceremony and if so how many?

The Chair asked for comments. Cllr Harry Smith suggested three councillors, one from Labour, one from the Conservatives and one from the Lib Dems.

The Chair suggested that they add the Head of the Fund too. Cllr Geoffrey Watt asked which category they had been shortlisted in? The answer given was large pension fund of the year. They all voted in favour of sending three councillors and the head of the Fund to the awards ceremony at The Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London in December.


Labour ban filming at public meeting of Wirral Council’s Pensions Committee

Labour Chair of Pensions Committee Cllr Pat Glasman bans filming at public meeting

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

In extraordinary scenes tonight, Labour councillors at Wirral Council (where else?) chose to ban filming during a public meeting of the Pension Committee. The Pension Committee has eleven Wirral Council councillors on it, along with a councillor from each other Merseyside local authority and a trade union representative. Wirral Council are the administering authority for the £4.7 billion Merseyside Pension Fund, which at its last valuation had a £1.3 billion deficit. Quite what are the real reasons behind this move we’re not entirely sure, although it makes the public wonder what they’ve got to hide (agenda and reports on Wirral Council’s website here)?

I quote from this letter from their previous Director of Law, Bill Norman dated 22nd July 2011 “Finally, I can confirm that, since Monday 28 February 2011, blogging, Tweeting and the use of video cameras have all been permitted during meetings of the Council. Indeed, a number of people were using some of these technologies in the meeting on 1 March. Wirral Council was the first local authority in Merseyside to respond to the request by the Government to take this step to allow greater public scrutiny of meetings and decisions.”

The below was also agreed as Wirral Council policy (agreed unanimously on 12th December 2011),

(2) Reaffirms its commitment, made last year by the previous Conservative Liberal Democrat administration, to ensure that any member of the public who wishes to film or broadcast from a public Council meeting is encouraged to do so.

However since taking over in May, some Labour councillors seem determined to make decisions that ride roughshod over agreed policy or decisions they don’t agree with (such as the Budget for 2012/2013 agreed by the former Conservative/Lib Dem administration). Certainly the last time the former Chair of the Planning Committee, Cllr David Elderton tried this just over a year ago, there was a U-turn within a few days.

It’ll be interesting to see (pun intended) what happens next.

Standards Committee (Wirral Council) 19th November 2012 Part 1 Councillors debate the complaints system

Standards Committee (Wirral Council) 19th November 2012 Part 1 Whether to publish reports about complaints about councillors

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Standards Committee

Mr Brian Cummings MBE
Mr David Robert Burgess-Joyce
Mr Chris Jones
Prof Ronald Samuel Jones
Cllr Denise Roberts
Cllr Bill Davies
Cllr John Salter
Cllr Steve Foulkes deputy for Cllr Moira McLaughlin
Cllr Chris Meaden deputy for Cllr Ron Abbey
Cllr Chris Blakeley
Cllr Les Rowlands
Cllr Leah Fraser

Wirral Council Officers
Surjit Tour
Shirley Hudspeth
Geoff Paterson

Apologies for the ~19 minutes missing from the start of the meeting. No declarations of interest were made and the minutes of the meeting held on the 3rd July 2012 were agreed. In item 3, it was agreed that one of the independent persons sit on the Standards Working Group.

Surjit Tour introduced his report on whether reports made in response to complaints about councillors between 2008 and 2012 could be made public and the legal framework.

Cllr Foulkes declared asked if as a person who had made a complaint or had had a complaint made against them, did this mean he had to declare a conflict of interest?

Surjit Tour answered that it wasn’t a prejudicial interest, but it didn’t prevent him declaring a personal interest.

Cllr Foulkes declared a personal interest, so did Cllr Blakeley, Cllr Roberts, Cllr Salter and Cllr Rowlands (who then asked for a blanket personal interest to be recorded for everyone that fell into this category).

Surjit Tour continued summarising his report, detailing the legislation and the consequences he felt would arise from publishing reports (as outlined in 2.f(i) of his report), ranging from “unwanted media attention”, discouraging legitimate complaints and other reasons.

Cllr Blakeley asked about the obligation to publish in the local press the findings unless the councillor stated they didn’t want this to happen, he asked if the person who was the subject of the complaint consented to disclosure could the report be published?

Surjit Tour stated this would require the consent of the other parties. This is the point at which the video of the meeting starts.

Cllr Blakeley said, “It is very easy for people to make complaints, and just get away with it because they’ve submitted a complaint and there’s no case to answer, the person complained against is subject to an investigation, been put through that stress and turmoil and the complainant just walks away with a smile on their face, so I think the complainant should have to take some flak if there is no case to answer.”

Surjit Tour responded to Cllr Blakeley’s comments.

Cllr Foulkes said, “… I think the Council’s reputation is bad enough at the moment, with more difficult things at hand, do we want to invent another mechanism for dredging up stuff that’s gone on many, many years previous to that? … Imagine the position where picking out where we have someone who is a persistent complainant or someone who may have a different view of the world, and continually complains, with the knowledge that whatever they say would find the light of day?

We all know that subsequently we have a press that report things, they don’t report things to make it you know uninteresting, they will use any lurid issues or any lurid accusations that the complainant makes during the complaint process and a little paragraph at the end reading “no case to answer” so, so we have all the public glare of something that might have been … not to say the complaint was vexatious, but there was no case to answer and you have the whole story of the whole complaint aired in public, and we all know how the press … and if we all know what the rules are from now on, that there is an extreme likelihood, a high percentage that the findings and the report itself may find in the public gaze, then that’s how we’re all entering the whole system of complainants and those who’ve been complained against but I think it’s a little bit unfair to retrospectively to publish past reports…”

Surjit Tour pointed out that s.63 of the Local Government Act 2000 c.22 still applies to information obtained during an investigation and that confidentiality still applies.

Employment and Appointments Committee (Wirral Council) 15th November 2012: Compromise Contracts and Grievance Policy Changes

Employment and Appointments Committee (Wirral Council) 15th November 2012: Compromise Contracts and Grievance Policy changes

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

Last Thursday’s Employment and Appointments Committee had the usual regular report on attendance. However it was the new Employee Relations Performance Report that received some press coverage in the Wirral News about the large percentage of employees that have had dealings with Human Resources in the Department of Adult Social Services (which according to the quote in the article from the Director mainly involve “absence management”). An extension to the current Occupational Health contract with Capita Health and Well being was also agreed.

Changes to the Grievance Policy were also agreed with the aims of the changes to speed up the process and give more of a role to line managers.

Outside of the more high-profile compromise contracts reported in the media, compromise contracts totalling nearly £100,000 covering three employees had been agreed by officers.

The agenda and reports for this meeting can be read on Wirral Council’s website.

Police and Crime Commissioner (Merseyside) Election Results

Police and Crime Commissioner (Merseyside) Election Results

Election Candidate Party 1st Choice Votes
Geoff Gubb Conservative Party 15,870
Hilary Jane Jones UK Independence Party 8,704
Paula Keaveney Liberal Democrat 9,192
Jane Kennedy Labour Party 70,844 (ELECTED)
Kiron Reid Independent 14,379
Paul Duane Rimmer English Democrats “More Police – Catching Criminals” 7,142
 Total 123,256

Rejected ballot papers: 2,915
Electorate: 1,014,183
Total votes: 126,171
Turnout: 12.4%