So what’s been happening at Wirral Council in the last week (22nd March 2020 to 29th March 2020)?
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.
This is in chronological order starting with what would have happened at the Cabinet meeting scheduled for the 24th March 2020 that was cancelled.
Cabinet (cancelled meeting of the 24th March 2020)
As far as I can tell most of the decisions that would have happened at this meeting (plus an extra one about the contingency arrangements) were taken by the Leader of the Council Cllr Pat Hackett. Due to the sheer volume of decisions this piece is covering, I will link each mention to Wirral Council’s website if you want further information (although you can also read the public reports to the cancelled Cabinet meeting on Wirral Council’s website).
Cllr Pat Hackett decided that Wirral Council could go out to tender for a new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system (also covers progress so far).
Cllr Pat Hackett agreed a change to the Council’s executive priorities during the Covid-19 outbreak. The new priorities are (i) preservation of life, (ii) supporting the vulnerable; (iii) safeguarding children; and (iv) aiding the Borough’s businesses and economy. This also delegates decision-making to the Chief Executive and Directors in various areas (albeit in consultation with the Leader, relevant Cabinet Member and/or political Group Leaders).
Cllr Pat Hackett agreed that Wirral Council make applications to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government in respect of New Ferry and Birkenhead Town Centres in relation to the Future High Street Fund by the deadline of 30th April 2020 (the Liscard application has been withdrawn by Wirral Council). Regeneration consultants Avison Young are working with Wirral Council on the full business case and this follows Wirral Council being awarded a section 31 grant of £150,000 for both New Ferry and Birkenhead to develop the business case.
A video clip below filmed by the BBC at Wallasey Town Hall explains some of the issues regarding New Ferry.
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Cllr Pat Hackett agreed to accept the money from the Department for Transport through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and also decided how this £2,149,000 is to be allocated on roads, footways, bridges and street lighting for the 2020-21 financial year. A list of roads, approximate limits and wards is included in appendix 1 (which covers the spend of £949,000 on the Highway Structural Maintenance Programme).
Cllr Pat Hackett agreed the five-year delivery plan, which followed a homeless review and public consultation. The plan aims to deliver lasting change to those at risk of or currently homeless in the Wirral.
Cllr Pat Hackett agreed the preferred option (demolish, redesign and redevelop the current market site). A further report on proposed design, funding and financial modelling is expected. Termination of existing tenancies and other arrangements at the appropriate time was agreed.
Cllr Pat Hackett agreed the recommendations for £80,000 of funding for a feasibility project involving Our Lido Ltd for a lido (open air swimming pool) complex on a Council site in Wirral (several options for sites are under consideration). According to Wirral Council, Our Lido Limited state their intention to raise future capital funding from other external grant providers.
There were then a number of decisions taken by the Chief Executive under the coronavirus contingency arrangements (referred to above that were published).
17th March 2020 – temporary closure of the Floral Pavilion Theatre and Conference Centre in New Brighton from the 18th March 2020.
18th March 2020 – decision to cease the use of bailiffs regarding residents and unpaid council tax.
18th March 2020 – rent relief for Birkenhead Market traders for the next 3 months.
18th March 2020 – closure of the Williamson Art Gallery (Oxton) and Birkenhead Priory (and Saint Mary’s Tower).
18th March 2020 – closure of the Wirral Archives Service in Birkenhead to the public.
19th March 2020 – closure of all Wirral Council leisure centres.
19th March 2020 – closure of all Wirral Council libraries.
19th March 2020 – closure of all youth clubs and playschemes.
19th March 2020 – spend of £200,000 plus £120,000 a year thereafter on a digital solution to enable working from home.
19th March 2020 – all One Stop Shops closed (except Birkenhead that remains open).
19th March 2020 – all Visitor Centres closed (all group activities in parks and countrysides ceased).
20th March 2020 – all parking charges in parks and countrysides removed.
20th March 2020 – all school crossing patrols to cease from 23rd March 2020.
20th March 2020 – bulky waste collections ceased, new garden waste subscriptions deferred.
22nd March 2020 – loan of £100,000 a month for 6 months to Age UK to maintain critical service provision.
22nd March 2020 – loan of £95,000 to Chamber of Commerce to maintain critical business support services.
23rd March 2020 – closure of youth centres across Wirral (including the Hive in Birkenhead).
23rd March 2020 – two out of five Children’s Centres temporarily closed.
24th March 2020 – contract award for Tower Road construction contract postponed.
24th March 2020 – Northbank West Sustainable Transport project postponed.
24th March 2020 – closure of all children’s play areas.
24th March 2020 – closure of all golf courses.
24th March 2020 – non-critical road markings service in highways ceased.
24th March 2020 – Birkenhead One Stop Shop reduced service provision for critical services only.
24th March 2020 – all public toilets closed.
24th March 2020 – Youth Justice service reduced – emergency contact only.
24th March 2020 – weed control services (highways) ceased.
24th March 2020 – reduction in street cleansing to prioritise services.
24th March 2020 – removal of non-offensive graffiti and flyposting ceased.
24th March 2020 – domestic refuse and recycling collections (reduction in service due to change in priorities).
24th March 2020 – closure of the pedestrian walkway around the West Kirby Marine Lake.
24th March 2020 – scaling back of parking enforcement measures.
25th March 2020 – Mancoed (tree maintenance contractor) to provide a call out service and only essential tree maintenance works for the forseeable future.
25th March 2020 – all parking enforcement scaled back.
25th March 2020 – inspection and monitoring of non-essential Street Works activities scaled back.
25th March 2020 – suspension of planned schemes (Hose Side Road footway, Argyle Street South Merseytravel access scheme, Rolleston Drive and Grove Road crossing improvement).
25th March 2020 – reduction in maximum number of mourners able to attend a funeral at Wirral cemeteries and crematorium (from thirty to fifteen). Non-essential exhumations temporarily suspended. Staff service of witnessing the scattering of ashes and burial of ashes temporarily suspended.
25th March 2020 – allotment plot holders and site secretaries told that all ‘non-cultivation’ inspections and notices are waived for three months. Also proof of ID will not be required in person for new allotment plot applications to the end of September 2020.
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