Councillors recommend 10p rise in Mersey Tunnel cash tolls from 1st April 2018

Councillors recommend 10p rise in Mersey Tunnel cash tolls from 1st April 2018

Councillors recommend 10p rise in Mersey Tunnel cash tolls from 1st April 2018

                                          

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Transport Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) 1st February 2018 Part 1 of 2

Cllr Steve Foulkes (Transport Committee) LCRCA 1st February 2018 Mersey Tunnel tolls item
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Transport Committee) LCRCA 1st February 2018 Mersey Tunnel tolls item

The author’s wife has a Fast Tag for the Mersey Tunnels issued on disability grounds, therefore she does not have to pay the tolls referred to below.


Yesterday (at the time of publication which you can watch above) was the annual public meeting where councillors on the Transport Committee (formerly called the Merseytravel Committee) of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority made a recommendation on the Mersey Tunnel tolls (although the final decision will be made after this article is published by a different set of politicians on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority). Continue reading “Councillors recommend 10p rise in Mersey Tunnel cash tolls from 1st April 2018”

Wirral Council’s councillors decided on backdated pay rises for 4 councillors costing an extra £34,226 a year!

Wirral Council’s councillors decided on backdated pay rises for 4 councillors costing an extra £34,226 a year!

Wirral Council’s councillors decided on backdated pay rises for 4 councillors costing an extra £34,226 a year!

                                          

Councillor Steve Foulkes (centre) 16th October 2017 voting to give himself a backdated £10,108 pay rise
Councillor Steve Foulkes (centre) 16th October 2017 voting to give himself a backdated £10,108 pay rise

Wirral Council councillors on Monday evening voted to give four councillors a backdated pay rise costing Wirral Council an extra £34,226 a year.

Councillors from Wirral Council (Councillors Abbey, Foulkes, Rowlands and Jerry Williams) on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee (formerly called the Merseytravel Committee) will now receive a backdated basic allowance for their work on the Transport Committee annually of £5,675 each.

On top of the basic allowance of £5,675 (backdated to May) three councillors received extra amounts too. Cllr Les Rowlands received an extra £2,660 as Opposition Spokesperson, Cllr Steve Foulkes an extra £4,433 as Lead Member for Finance and Organisational Development and Cllr Ron Abbey an extra £4,433 as Lead Member for Bus.

A report of the Independent Panel on Member’s Allowances stated that prior to May “the allowances paid to the four Wirral Members were paid by the Council and reimbursed by Merseytravel” but went on to explain that after May 2017 Merseytravel would no longer do this and it would become a decision for individual councils.

Despite a legal requirement to publish the total amounts Wirral Council pays to individual councillors as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of a year it appears from this page on Wirral Council’s website that it has not yet done so for the 2016-17 year.

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Council (Wirral Council) 16th October 2017 Agenda item 11C Members Allowance Scheme

Earlier in the same public meeting, councillors heard from UNISON trade union representative Paddy Cleary who supported a Notice of Motion that called for the “immediate end of public sector pay restraint”.

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Merseytravel blamed by Merseyrail as cause of 1 day strike tomorrow by RMT over axing guards from trains

Merseytravel blamed by Merseyrail as cause of 1 day strike tomorrow by RMT over axing guards from trains

Merseytravel blamed by Merseyrail as cause of 1 day strike tomorrow by RMT over axing guards from trains

                             

Merseytravel Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) meeting 25th June 2015 Middle Row L to R Cllr Jerry Williams, Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Malcolm Sharp, Cllr Terry Shields
Merseytravel Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) meeting 25th June 2015 Middle Row L to R Cllr Jerry Williams, Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Malcolm Sharp, Cllr Terry Shields

UPDATED 12.37 13.3.17: Merseyrail have suspended all trains until at least 2pm as drivers (presumably not part of the RMT union) refuse to cross picket lines, so trains are not running at all on the Merseyrail network at this point in time.

It was like the Wild West out there at the train station.

And who should I spy scurrying away, why a blast from the past Steve Maddox (with his wife)!

Those who remember will know that Steve Maddox was once clerk to Merseytravel (in the days it met at Hatton Garden).

So in a way I think the universe is gently nudging me to write this story!

In train related news, the workers are getting cross at the local politicians’ plan to axe the guards when new trains are introduced .

Decided in a behind closed doors extraordinary meeting last year, councillors (including Cllr Steve Foulkes (Labour), Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour) and Cllr Les Rowlands (Conservative)) agreed to new trains that only need drivers and not guards.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has called a strike for tomorrow (Monday 13th March 2017).

The strike will lead to disruption of timetabled services.

Merseyrail (their employer) objected to the High Court on the basis that RMT’s dispute was with Merseytravel not with Merseyrail, however this call for an injunction was rejected by the judiciary.

RMT is also striking on Northern Rail services too on the same day.

On the Merseyrail network (in addition to the planned engineering works that mean Liverpool Lime Street (Wirral Line), Moorfields (Wirral Line) and Liverpool Central (Wirral Line) will be closed), during the day of the strike action tomorrow Merseyrail plan to run trains only from 7am to 7pm with a half hourly service.

Services from Liverpool Lime Street (which was only recently reopened) travelling with Northern Rail to Manchester Victoria and Wigan North Western services will also be disrupted.

Northern Rail has a page on their website outlining the changes to timetables and so does Merseyrail.

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Councillors on Wirral Council’s Audit Committee approve changes to Annual Governance Statement after critical OFSTED report

Councillors on Wirral Council’s Audit Committee approve changes to Annual Governance Statement after critical OFSTED report

Councillors on Wirral Council’s Audit Committee approve changes to Annual Governance Statement after critical OFSTED report

                                         

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Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting held on the 26th September 2016 | The item on the Annual Governance Statement starts at 41m:22

Wirral Council's Audit and Risk Management Committee (26th September 2016) voting on an amended Annual Governance Statement L to R Cllr Phil Gilchrist, Cllr Kathy Hodson, Cllr Les Rowlands and Cllr David Elderton
Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee (26th September 2016) voting on an amended Annual Governance Statement L to R Cllr Phil Gilchrist, Cllr Kathy Hodson, Cllr Les Rowlands and Cllr David Elderton

Councillors at a meeting of Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee on Monday finally voted to approve an amendment to the Annual Governance Statement for 2015-16 relating to the recent OFSTED report.

Councillors talked about the Annual Governance Statement and amendment to it for fifty-six minutes, followed by an adjournment for twenty-one minutes (so the spokespersons and Vice-Chair could reach agreement on it in the Library), followed by a further eight minutes before it was finally voted on.

This is what was in the amendment:

“ As Members will be aware the Council received a report from Ofsted on 20 September 2016 which rated Children’s Services in Wirral as inadequate.

Given the significance of the issues highlighted the following amendment are [sic] to be made to the Annual Governance Statement:-

Section 6 : Significant Governance Issues

The Council received a report from Ofsted on 20 September 2016 which rated Children’s Services in Wirral as inadequate. The report highlighted ‘serious and widespread failures’ in the delivery of services to children who need help and protection in Wirral; focusing on frequent changes in social workers, issues in how partners work together, and evidence of poor records management across a range of areas.

The Ofsted findings have been accepted and the response will deliver major and sustained improvements which are carefully planned and considered.

An Improvement Board has been established and will initially be led by the Chief Executive until the appointment of an Independent Chair. The Improvement Plan has to be agreed with the Department for Education before 30 December 2016. A Department for Education adviser will assist the Council and Ofsted will return quarterly to review progress.

Description of Governance Issue Responsibility / Lead Officer Expected Delivery
Ofsted highlighted serious and widespread failures in the delivery of services to children who need help and protection in Wirral; focusing on frequent changes in social workers, issues in how partners work together, and evidence of poor records management across a range of areas.

Improvement Board established to lead the process including identification and delivery of an Improvement Plan.

Improvement Board / Julia Hassall (Director of Children’s Services) Improvement plan before 30 December 2016

Later in the same meeting councillors heard from Wirral Council’s external auditor Grant Thornton that because of the OFSTED report, their value for money opinion for 2015/16 would be qualified.

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Merseytravel councillors agree to push for ½ hourly service on Bidston Wrexham “Borderlands” line

Merseytravel councillors agree to push for ½ hourly service on Bidston Wrexham “Borderlands” line

Merseytravel councillors agree to push for ½ hourly service on Bidston Wrexham “Borderlands” line

                                     

Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace)
Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace) Photo taken by Leonora Brace

A public meeting of councillors on the Merseytravel Committee (part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) last month considered a report on enhancing services on the Borderlands Line between Bidston and Wrexham, as well as an Executive Summary of the Borderlands Line Service Enhancements Economic Appraisal Report.

Three councillors from the Wirral (Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Jerry Williams and Cllr Les Rowlands) each spoke on the item, which you can watch starting at the 24 minutes 20 second point in the video below.

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Merseytravel Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) 28th July 2016 Part 2 of 2 (Enhancing Services on the ‘Borderlands’ Rail Line starts at 24:20)

The Merseytravel Committee agreed to work with the Welsh Assembly Government to push for a twice hourly service, to set up a joint steering group with the Welsh Assembly Government and to develop a realistic project plan to:

a) improve the line,
b) introduce a bus-rail interchange in the Hawarden Bridge area,
c) enhance intermediate stations (such as Heswall and Upton) to make them more convenient, attractive and accessible and
d) to look into a potential new station at Woodchurch.

Future reports on progress are expected to be made to the councillors on the Merseytravel Committee.

Attending the public meeting was the Chairman of the Wrexham Bidston Rail Users Association John Allcock. When asked for a quote for WBRUA’s views on the decision by the Merseytravel Committee he wrote, “The WBRUA welcomes the Merseytravel Committee’s decision to support the enhancement of the Borderlands Line. This railway has been a Cinderella line for many years but has the potential to be a significant part of the transport network in our area and benefit the communities and businesses it connects.”

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