So what’s been happening at Wirral Council in the last week (22nd March 2020 to 29th March 2020)?

So what’s been happening at Wirral Council in the last week (22nd March 2020 to 29th March 2020)?

So what’s been happening at Wirral Council in the last week (22nd March 2020 to 29th March 2020)?

                                     

Councillor Pat Hackett (Leader of Wirral Council) and Paul Satoor (Chief Executive of Wirral Council) 23rd December 2019
Councillor Pat Hackett (Leader of Wirral Council) and Paul Satoor (Chief Executive of Wirral Council) 23rd December 2019

By John Brace (Editor)

The House of Commons and House of Lords are now no longer sitting (due to return on the 21st April 2020) so this is an update on roughly a week of activity at Wirral Council as it is important people know what’s been decided. Due to delayed publication of decisions unfortunately this will lead to delayed reporting.
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Why did Wirral Council’s Cabinet recommend closure of Girtrell Court despite a protest against closure and opposition from the trade unions?

Why did Wirral Council’s Cabinet recommend closure of Girtrell Court despite a protest against closure and opposition from the trade unions?

                                                             

There was a protest outside Wallasey Town Hall before Wirral Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday morning. One of the decisions at that Cabinet meeting was to recommend to a meeting of all councillors (which will be on the 3rd March 2016) a budget for Wirral Council for 2016-17. The protest was about a proposal to recommend to close Girtrell Court. Pictures of the protest are below (each photo should link to a higher resolution image).

Protest outside Wallasey Town Hall against closure of Girtrell Court 22nd February 2016 photo 1 of 5 thumbnail
Protest outside Wallasey Town Hall against closure of Girtrell Court 22nd February 2016 photo 1 of 5 thumbnail

Continue reading “Why did Wirral Council’s Cabinet recommend closure of Girtrell Court despite a protest against closure and opposition from the trade unions?”

Wirral Council’s Cabinet agrees to consultation on £2.498 million of cuts

Wirral Council’s Cabinet agrees to consultation on £2.498 million of cuts

                                                             

There were hundreds of people at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

In fact there were so many people present that the venue for the Cabinet Meeting that evening was moved from Committee Room 3 (maximum 46 people) at Wallasey Town Hall to the Civic Hall (maximum 370 people). However those maximum numbers are reduced further by about twenty if you bear in mind the ten councillors on the Cabinet plus senior management that support the Cabinet at its meetings.

Before the meeting started at 6.15pm there was a large protest outside Wallasey Town Hall.

As it was dark, at that time of the evening my photos of the protest haven’t come out very well. You should however be able to see the flags and some of the protest slogans in the pictures below (although I apologise that some are unreadable). The trade unions were protesting about the potential loss of jobs, there were those who use the Council’s services that are under threat there too.

protest outside Wallasey Town Hall 17th December 2015 before Cabinet meeting photo 1 of 6 thumbnail
Protest outside Wallasey Town Hall 17th December 2015 before Cabinet meeting photo 1 of 6 thumbnail

Continue reading “Wirral Council’s Cabinet agrees to consultation on £2.498 million of cuts”

Wirral’s Cabinet expected to start consultation on 4% Council Tax rise and £2.4 million of cuts

Wirral’s Cabinet expected to start consultation on 4% Council Tax rise and £2.4 million of cuts

                                                                     

Cllr Phil Davies at a recent Cabinet meeting
Cllr Phil Davies at a recent Cabinet meeting

Wirral Council’s Cabinet will meet next Thursday evening to discuss further cuts to Wirral Council’s budget for the 2016/17 year. Councillors are expected to agree to a public consultation on £2.5 million of budget options as well as a 4% council tax increase. Cabinet is also expected to agree to a staff consultation on budget options such as reducing the pay rise from 2% to 1%.

The consultation will run from the 18th December 2015 and finishes on the 29th January 2016. At the end of the consultation Cabinet will propose a budget to be voted on at a meeting of all Wirral’s councillors.

The nine budget options that Cabinet is expected next week to start a consultation on start on page 16 of this report to Cabinet and are:


  • Community Safety (£367,000) – litter enforcement was recently outsourced to Kingdom Security and this proposal would see the same happen to dog fouling enforcement, Wirral Council hope to increase income to the community safety service from landlords and schools.

  • Discretionary Housing Payments & Advice (£406,000) – this proposal would see Wirral Council only covering rent shortfalls to people in hardship to the amount they receive from the government, it would also see the end of Wirral Council providing welfare benefits advice.

  • Girtrell Court service re-provision (£155,000) – Girtrell Court provides short breaks for carers of adults with physical and learning disabilities, this proposal would see that service provided by the private sector instead of directly by Wirral Council.

  • Highways Maintenance and Road Safety (£320,000) – This proposal means Wirral Council would only use the money it receives for highways maintenance, only 100 out of 300 grit bins would be filled and school crossing patrols would be reviewed.

  • Leisure Centres and Golf Courses (£641,000) – Discounts and free access would be removed, such as free access for long serving Council staff, foster carers and families, free swimming for those under 18 in the school holidays and free swimming for the over 65s between 9am and noon.

  • Libraries Re-provision (£203,000) – Transferring up to 12 of Wirral’s libraries into "community ownership" (run by volunteers rather than paid staff).

  • Parks Community Partnership Working (£108,000) – Increasing the role of community organisations and volunteers in parks maintenance and looking to increase parks income.

  • Charging for the Pest Control Service (£30,000) – Charging landlords, business and residents who can afford to pay for dealing with rats.

  • Charging for the Garden Waste Service (£196,000) – Increasing the brown bin charge from £35 a year to £40 a year (but with a £5 discount if paid online).

So to summarise the proposed cuts (along with a 4% council tax increase) are to dog fouling, community safety, covering rent shortfalls for those in financial hardship, axing the welfare right service, the short breaks for carers service, highways maintenance, grit bins, school crossing patrols, free swimming for children, free swimming for pensioners, free leisure access for some Council staff, transferring many of Wirral’s libraries to be run by volunteers, having more volunteers involved in parks maintenance, charging for dealing with rats and increasing the brown bin charge by £5.

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Why did Wirral Council pay £700.43 for a private company to check when a fire alarm went off at Irby Library?

Why did Wirral Council pay £700.43 for a private company to check when a fire alarm went off at Irby Library?

                                                        

Wirral Council invoice Dante Irby Library £700.43 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Dante Irby Library £700.43 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Dante Wallasey Town Hall £671.33 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Dante Wallasey Town Hall £671.33 thumbnail

Above are a couple of invoices from Dante Group to Wirral Council. Of course on the Dante theme, Wirral Council has its own version of the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Limbo is the circle that whistleblowers are sent to, lust has already been covered by the more tabloid leaning Wirral Leaks, gluttony (some politicians have fallen into this trap and it’s a shame unlike the House of Commons they don’t have to get up and stretch their legs when voting), greed is too massive a topic to go into in detail, anger (again too many examples of politicians losing their temper), heresy seems to be the circle of hell politicians fall into when somebody disagrees with them, thankfully Wirral Council is not in control of the Armed Forces so violence is rare, but allegations of fraud (which whistleblowers repeat until they’re blue in the face) still ring in the ears of those who have given up listening and of course the ninth circle of hell is one that’s wrapped up in the tapestry of Wirral’s politics treachery.

However back to the invoices (the thumbnails above link to more readable versions), the first is for one of the two most sensitive issues in Wirral’s politics that begin with l which is libraries (the other being Lyndale).

I explained to a colleague (not hard to work out who) that this invoice was for being called out to Irby Library because a fire alarm was beeping and asked her to guess how much is was for. As readers of this blog may already know Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service since 2012 don’t attend non domestic premises when an Automatic Fire Alarm goes off.

So on the 28th July 2014, Wirral Council asked Dante Group to attend Irby Library. According to something scribbled on the invoice it states "mess left (something undecipherable) by library staff Sat 26".

The public are being told that public sector bodies have no choice but to outsource to the private sector because it’s cheaper. Wirral has what used to be called the Community Patrol (before enforcement of littering got outsourced to Kingdom Security earlier this year and I think what’s left is now called the Corporate and Community Safety Team). Part of the role of the Community Patrol was to keep an eye on Wirral Council’s buildings and land.

If it was still dealt with in-house and if the Community Patrol took the long way round to Irby library, spent the whole day there and sent a team of three to investigate (along with meal expenses) I’m sure the costs wouldn’t never be as high as £700.43.

However that’s what Dante charged Wirral Council for the call out.

The other invoice for £671.33 is for fitting 1 x 8W emergency lighting tube and 4 emergency light fittings at Wallasey Town Hall and 4 12 volt batteries. Surprisingly (despite the parts) the invoice comes to £671.33 (less than the call out to Irby Library).

So if Wirral Council are paying out £700.43 each time the fire alarm goes off in a library, can they really honestly say the reason they have reduced library hours (which no doubt has led to more expensive invoices as it’s increased the hours each week libraries are closed) is because of lack of money?

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