Cabinet 1st September 2011 Part 9 – Community Asset Transfer (Update), Community Asset Transfer – Various Properties

Bill Norman introduced the next report (Community Asset Transfer – Update) and Appendix A and Appendix B and said as a footnote that Heswall Hall had been completed today. Cllr Adrian Jones asked about the cost implications at 2.2. Bil Norman replied that if the transfers ran out of time they would have to use … Continue reading “Cabinet 1st September 2011 Part 9 – Community Asset Transfer (Update), Community Asset Transfer – Various Properties”

Bill Norman introduced the next report (Community Asset Transfer – Update) and Appendix A and Appendix B and said as a footnote that Heswall Hall had been completed today. Cllr Adrian Jones asked about the cost implications at 2.2. Bil Norman replied that if the transfers ran out of time they would have to use Community Fund money, however this would have to be agreed with Wirral Partnership Homes. He did see this as something reasonable and that could be achieved. However funding was only guaranteed until March.

Cllr Adrian Jones then referred to page 83, section 5.1 specifically the reference to the gap between £5.25 million and £4.8 million. Cllr Harry Smith declared a personal interest and asked what they thought the prospects were for Beechwood Recreation Centre. Bill Norman said he was awaiting a business case. Cllr Phil Davies said it would extend beyond 2012, improving the much-needed support to the community groups keen to take over. They would use financial help as proposed in 6.2 onwards. The remaining buildings would be transferred when ready and according to business plans. He was keen for as much support as possible for everybody who wants to be involved. The report’s recommendations were agreed.

The next item also introduced by Bill Norman was Community Asset Transfer – Various Properties, CAT – Various, CAT – New Ferry Village Hall, CAT – Westbourne, CAT – Kylemore Plan, CAT – Woodchurch Community Centre and CAT – Pensby Community Centre. Bill Norman said it detailed four properties in the list, with Pensby being the precursor. Cllr Phil Davies asked Cllr Adrian Jones if he had anything to add, he didn’t. Cllr Davies said they were content to agree the report.

Cabinet meeting (Wirral Council) 22/02/2011 Part 1 – the Conservative/Lib Dem budget cometh and Labour is not happy

Well yesterday the Conservative & Lib Dem Cabinet “unveiled” their Wirral Council budget for 2011/2012. Labour’s (opposition) budget will arrive by noon on Friday the 25th February.

Next Monday (1st March) the full Council will vote on the budget, although with 41 (yes I know it’s 42 including the Lib Dem Mayor but generally he doesn’t vote as he’s supposed to be politically neutral as part of his office) “progressive partnership” councillors to Labour’s 25 24 (edit – I sometimes forget Cllr. Knowles had switched from Labour to Tory and the independent Cllr Kirwan isn’t still with Wirral Council) councillors, I’m sure even Labour can do the maths and realise Labour’s budget will be defeated next Monday (with no need for Budget Part 2 on the evening of the 9th March) by around seventeen votes.

Can you see which bits of the Budget are from the Lib Dem side and which from the Conservative side? Yes you can see “the seams” between the two halves as we continue to be two independent political parties with minds and policy making processes of our own. If you look really hard you can see the bits influenced by yours truly and others (for example the 4-year rolling programme for 20 mph residential zones discussed last year by the party when Cllr Quinn was Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Transport) now carried forward by Cllr Rennie.

One Lib Dem policy coming into play is the pupil premium which means about £5 million extra for Wirral Schools to spend on children on free school meals, looked after children and service children. You should’ve heard the “wails of anguish” at the Wirral Schools Forum from headmasters/headmistresses from the more prosperous parts of the Borough when they realised £5 million would be spent on improving the educational chances of the most needy! Clearly Wirral is a place of large social divides and the extra money will be a welcome boost to the schools in Bidston & St. James.

So what may you ask is “in the budget”? Well, first to deal with the elements of the council tax that are made up by Merseyside Police’s budget and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s budget. Both Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service froze their contributions from Council Tax compared to last year (2010/2011).

Due to increased costs and inflation (as well as a high proportion of its costs being on staff), Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will be cutting some jobs. Their Chief Exec/treasurer explains the situation in a self-styled “podcast” (I don’t think he quite knows what a podcast is but I have to give them a few marks for trying), which unfortunately with my browser Firefox either opens a blank black window or six video windows of him at once creating an echo effect so I’ve uploaded it to Youtube (which has slightly better audio quality than five echoes).

For the purposes of any copyright lawyers out there, as the work has been made previously available to the public (and still is on Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s website at this location), this is classed as “fair dealing” under s.30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and is being done for the purpose of news reporting (and making sure you can hear what the speaker says).

Quite why councillors on Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service left it to an officer to record a video to explain the cuts is a mystery I’m sure my humble readers can enlighten me on in the comments section (or maybe I’ll just ask Cllr Ellis, Cllr Niblock, Cllr Rennie or Cllr Roberts next time I see them).

Lib Dems deliver 150,000 new affordable homes – WPH’s Bramall Construction contract & Labour Party donations

Following on from the Bidston & St. James Focus article about housing I am pleased to read that the high-rise flats Vittoria Court owned by Wirral Partnership Homes are to receive investment.

There are also plans being discussed for more social housing on the Beechwood estate. In addition the Coalition government and Council have agreed the Wirral Waters scheme.

Many Wirral Partnership Homes properties in this area have also received investment following a construction contract with Brammall Construction last year. With Labour sitting on Wirral Partnership Home’s board, perhaps there could be an explanation as to whether any declaration of interest was declared in regards to a contract awarded to Bramall Construction after a £2,000 donation was made from Brammall Construction to the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party? A spokesperson for Bramall Construction rejects any connection and explains the donation as follows:-

“In 2000 we entered into a partnering arrangement called the Tranmere Partnership with Riverside Housing Association, Maritime Housing Association & Consultants which carried out some major works in Tranmere.

As part of our commitment to working with the local community, we sponsored an event [ED – in 2004, not 2000] at Prenton Park which was organised by the local Labour Party. Like many other local firms [ED – although the Birkenhead Labour Party records no donations or sponsorship from others], we took a table of 12 and sponsored the night by putting three bottles of wine on each table. We viewed the event as putting something back into the local community. Our donation to this event was registered by the Labour Party.

In 2004/5 we put in a bid to carry our major repair works for Wirral Partnership Homes but we were unsuccessful. The work was awarded to two other contractors. In 2007 we understood that there was a contractual issue with one of the incumbent partner contractors and in line with the framework agreement were given the opportunity to express an interest in undertaking decent homes works. After following all of the required procurement procedures we were awarded a section of works. To suggest there is a link between our sponsoring of a Labour party organised event and the awarding of a contract of WPH is a very serious allegation which we strongly reject.”

The link to the Electoral Commission website doesn’t link directly to the information, however an extract from the register is below.

Received by
Date accepted
Conservative Party
Grange (Birkenhead) Property Co. Ltd
status: Company
company reg no: 00045284
17a Balls Road
CH43 5RF
04/06/04 £ 500.00
Conservative Party
Tranmere Conservative Club Ltd
status: Company
company reg no: 00869082
68 Argyle Street
CH41 6AF
10/06/04 £ 1,250.00
Labour Party [The]
Birkenhead Clp
Bramall Construction
status: Company
company reg no: 1467161
Unit 3D
Newton Court
Faraday Road
Wavertree Technology Park
L13 1EJ
13/05/04 £ 2,000.00
Section total:£ 3,750.00

To be fair (as I always like to be) to Labour they are required by law to declare an interest when representing Wirral Council on outside bodies and withdraw from any discussions. The public must know that their representatives are acting in the public interest. With trust in politicians low, isn’t it about time WPH published any documents of meetings held about this?

Isn’t it time the public had a bit more openness and transparency when it comes to Wirral Partnership Homes, a company that receives £43 million in rent a year (some of this from the taxpayer from Housing Benefit claims)?