Posted by: John Brace | 5th May 2019

After the elections what happens next for Wirral Council?

After the elections what happens next for Wirral Council?

                                             

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Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds

Above is Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds that sums up how people feel after these local elections.

Cllr Phil Davies (Cabinet) 28th February 2018

Both Phil Davies and Bernie Mooney are leaving Wirral Council

Following the local elections and my piece about the results although Wirral Council has been down this path many times in the past, people have some questions about what happens next.

If you can cast your mind back to 2011 and Wirral Council, it was a similar election result to now. Labour didn’t have enough councillors for a majority. However they did have more than the Conservatives. That year Labour went for a minority administration, then when it had trouble after a few months was saved by Lib Dem abstentions but then later removed when the Martin Morton whistleblowing issues became public.

No opposition group at that time wanted to form a coalition with the Labour Group of councillors and at the moment looking at the four groups on Wirral Council (Conservative, Green, Lib Dem and Independent) I can understand in a coalition why the first three (who all gained seats) would not want to get twelve months of blame by Labour ahead of the May 2020 elections.

The Independent Group (who are all former Labour councillors) if I look back at what has happened in the last year or so wanted change. Whatever efforts they made to change the Labour Party internally by them (before they decided to leave) that didn’t succeed has instead resulted in change through the ballot box.

Most of the Labour councillors will be their former colleagues.

So that’s scenario one – a Labour and Independent deal.

Scenario two is a deal between Labour and the Lib Dems or the Greens.

Scenario three is a power sharing arrangement between all five groups and a change to the governance model of Wirral Council.

At the moment the Independent Group has put out a statement identifying the greenbelt, Hoylake Golf Resort, environmental enforcement (the Kingdom issues) and the Dog PSPO as four policy areas.

Their demands also stretch to the following too:-

a) debate and discussion takes place in public (presumably at public meetings that can be attended and watched by the Wirral public),

b) open and transparent decision-making,

c) all councillors involved in decision-making (presumably this is a reference to the Cabinet system),

d) value-for-money for the taxpayer,

e) senior managers held to account and responsive and

f) a priority for frontline services.

If you interpret that one way that means scrapping the current Cabinet model of governance.

The papers for the public meeting on the 14th that decides what happens next have two interesting agenda items, item 6 is to elect a Leader of the Council and item 7 is the Leader’s Appointment of Deputy Leader and Cabinet.

Item 8 sees Labour lose its majority on pretty much all committees including being reduced to six out of thirteen seats on the Planning Committee.

At the moment pretty much every committee on Wirral Council has a Labour Chair (who has a casting vote in the event of a tied vote).

So in summary, following the loss of majority at the elections, if there was a Labour Cabinet any of its decisions (whether of the whole Cabinet or individual Cabinet Members) could be overruled by the opposition parties either ones that are a recommendation to Council or by a call-in.

So any change to policy or budgetary measure that attracted large opposition and controversy could be stopped.

Ultimately the result of the election is that Labour no longer have the power on Wirral Council to do what they like.

It does make for more interesting politics to report on.

But ultimately the result the people have voted for is for a check and balance on Labour on Wirral Council.

What happens next is impossible to say at this point with much certainty!

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Responses

  1. A Brilliant summary of the position.

    It looks as if there will be some interesting times ahead.

    • Well I hear the Labour Group of councillors has elected Cllr Pat Hackett as Leader of the Labour Group.

      There will be plenty of decisions to be made over the next few weeks that will shape matters.

  2. The role of chairperson on the various committees should include members from the other parties other than Labour, as this would lead to greater transparency and fewer deals behind closed doors that has been the style of the present council.
    Full clear open Honest accountability is an absolute must in terms of why very expensive so called consultants are employed by WBC far too many have proven to be quite unsuitable for the tasks given, plus details of their contracts must be available to scrutiny from all sides.
    WBC must provide Value for Money that is clearly obvious in all cases, and always in the prime benefit to the whole of the population not vested or personal interests.

    • Matters have been kept hidden from the opposition party and independent councillors on Wirral Council.

      I doubt the four political groups will agree to matters staying the way they have been.

      All administrations promise openness and transparency to start with though.

      The electors of Wirral can for 30 working days each year inspect and get copies of the contracts – trouble is the redactions….

      Value for money considerations are made by Wirral Council’s auditors each year and for many of the past years because of the OFSTED report Wirral hasn’t been able to prove value for money.

  3. The Cabinet system of Governance is not suited to the present situation.

    If it is permitted, the Council should return to a Committee based system

    • Well if the Cabinet system was carried on with with all political groups represented by share of councillors there would be:-

      4.8 seats for Labour
      3.3 seats for the Conservatives
      0.9 seats for the Lib Dems
      0.45 seats for the Greens
      0.45 seats for the Independent

      In order to have at least one from each group, you’d need 4 Labour, 3 Conservatives, 1 Lib Dem, 1 Green and 1 Independent.

      There are upper and lower limits on how many can be in a Cabinet.

      Even then you’d need a Leader/Chair (who usually gets a casting vote). And Labour would insist that as they see themselves as entitled to 5 seats that has to be them (especially as the largest party).

      Nationally there’s a Conservative Cabinet (minority government) propped up by DUP votes in a confidence and supply arrangement.

      If Labour wanted to carry on with an all Labour Cabinet it would require a similar deal with one of the other political groupings as the Council (all 66 councillors) decides on the Leader who appoints their Cabinet.

  4. Where does Pat Hackett stand on the green belt agenda?


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