Labour councillors vote to close Girtrell Court
It is hard to know where to begin when writing about last night’s Council meeting of Wirral Council at Wallasey Town Hall to decide on the budget. Above is a photo of the demonstration outside the main entrance to Wallasey Town Hall protesting about Girtrell Court being closed.
Realising that councillors were bypassing this entrance and using the door by Committee Room 3, there was another protest outside that way in too.
The meeting started and within the first few minutes the petition item was reached. The Mayor asked Bernard Halley (pictured below with his son David) to present his petitions opposing the closure of Girtrell Court. His e-petition had 1,200 signatures (of those nearly a thousand were Wirral residents). There was also a linked paper petition with over six hundred signatories opposed too.
Bernard Halley said, “Both petitions begged this Council to keep Girtrell Court running until proper alternatives are established, costed, evaluated, consulted upon and proven to be adequate.”
There was a larger petition opposing the closure of Girtrell Court of 3,054 signatures. As this petition was of over 3,000 signatures, it gave the lead petitioner Paddy Cleary of UNISON five minutes to speak.
He gave a similar speech to the one he had made at the Cabinet meeting. Mr Cleary felt closing Girtrell Court was contrary to one of the 2020 pledges to protect the vulnerable and his opinion was that the proposed saving through closure would not save Wirral Council money but cost more money. Reference was also made by him to a proposal in 2011 proposed by Cllr Steve Foulkes and seconded by Cllr Phil Davies to stop the closure of Council-run care homes.
He expressed concern about the quality of care in the private sector and added, “At a time when users, their families, the public and staff see press stories of the frivolous use of taxpayers’ money, we implore you to look in the mirror, look into the eyes of those people in the balcony upstairs and tell them hand on heart how there is better provision out there.
We know you can’t do that and as such we urge you to fully drop this proposal. Thank you for your time.”
Although petitions of over 3,000 signatures can be debated for fifteen minutes, a decision was made to debate Girtrell Court during the budget debate instead.
Each of the political parties on Wirral Council with more than one councillor had a slightly different policy in their budget about Girtrell Court.
The Labour budget proposed closing it, subject to a later decision of the Cabinet Member Cllr Chris Jones and Director of Adult Social Services Graham Hodkinson.
The Conservative budget removed the need to close Girtrell Court by finding savings elsewhere instead. Three of the proposed areas for savings (amongst others) the Conservatives proposed were removing the free taxi service for councillors to and from the Town Hall, deleting the Executive Support Officer post held by Martin Liptrot and reducing the Council’s press, marketing and destination management team from fourteen posts to eleven and a half.
The Lib Dem budget stated this on Girtrell Court, “Council believes that the closure of the Lyndale School and the anguished debate about the re-provision of services at Girtrell Court underline the need to work closely with service users and their families. Council has a duty of care to ensure their concerns are fully addressed.
In the case of Girtrell Court, Council requests that the Director of Adult Social Services and the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health produce regular reports to Members. These must set out how a range of sufficient quality alternative services is to be achieved. Members would be failing in their duty if they were not to seek assurance about the quality, availability and capacity of the
You can read each party’s budget in the supplementary agenda (Labour’s is pages 12-24, Conservative’s is pages 25-35 and the Lib Dem budget is pages 37-40).
Around three hours after the meeting had started, despite many heartfelt pleas about reversing their proposed closure of Girtrell Court, there was a vote on Labour’s budget and the amendments proposed by the Conservatives and Lib Dems.
The amendments proposed by the Conservatives and Lib Dems were lost (due to Labour councillors voting against them). The Labour budget was agreed (due to the majority of Labour councillors on Wirral Council).
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