Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee 20th October 2011 PACSPE Call-in

Tonight’s meeting was as the Cabinet decision of the 22nd September 2011 on the PACSPE contract had been called-in by Cllr Jeff Green, Cllr Tom Harney, Cllr Dave Mitchell, Cllr Lesley Rennie and Cllr David Elderton.
At the end of a 3 1/2 hour meeting the voting went as follows.

Labour Amendment to Conservative motion

This amendment upheld the original decision.

Votes For         : 5 (Labour councillors)
Votes Against : 5 (Conservatives councillor plus one Liberal Democrat councillor)

Abstention       : 0
Casting vote of Conservative Chair: AGAINST

Votes For        : 5 (Labour councillors)

Votes Against: 6 (Conservatives councillor plus one Liberal Democrat councillor) + Chair’s casting vote
Abstention     :  0


Conservative Motion

Votes for          : 5 (Conservative councillors plus one Liberal Democrat councillor)

Votes against: 5 (Labour councillors)

Abstentions   : 0

Casting vote of Chair: For

Votes for:          6 (Conservative councillors plus one Liberal Democrat councillor) + Chair’s casting vote

Votes against: 5 (Labour councillors)

Abstentions:  0

MOTION PASSES (Proposed Cllr John Hale, seconded Cllr Don McCubbin)

Text of Motion:

This committee notes that:

    • The Cabinet appeared to ignore, and did not even mention, the findings of the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews that the Parks & Countryside Services Procurement Exercise (PACSPE) had been subjected to.
    • No attempt was made to publically question officers from the Finance Department, the Legal Department and the Procurement Unit who were members of the PACSPE Project Board as to whether the “risk” identified by District Audit, and made such play of in the Cabinet resolution could or had been satisfactorily mitigated.
    • No discussion was had by Cabinet Members of the risks of not awarding the contract.
    • No mention or discussion took place regarding stakeholder management or the views of key stakeholders about the benefits of clear quality improvements that were built into the procurement exercise. In fact, other than the view of the Council’s Trade Unions, the results of the consultation and the views of the park users and user groups were not even mentioned in a single Cabinet meeting.
    • No reference was made to the new post of Community Engagement Manager to work with Friends, stakeholders, user groups, and local Area Forums or the new key performance indicators developed through PACSPE to reflect the change to a more customer and community focused service.
    • Insufficient account seemed to have been taken of the reduction from costs of £8.1 million per year to £7.4 million per year already achieved by the PACSPE process with the potential to reduce costs by a further circa £500,000. Indeed, it is hard to understand how the Leader of of the Council characterised a £1.2 million per annum potential saving arising from PACSPE to be sufficiently marginal to be ignored.
    • No effort appeared to be made by Cabinet Members to discuss or evaluate the additional costs to Council Tax Payers of purchasing what has been accepted as worn out equipment requiring immediate replacement (circa £2.5 million) or the TUPE costs of bringing current contractor staff into the Council workforce and pension scheme, per annum or over the 10 year period.
    • No mention was made of the training and development programme for staff and volunteers or the three to six new apprentices to be created as part of PACSPE.
    • No explanation was given at Cabinet regarding the opposition to a 10 year contract that would reduce annual costs by circa £1.2 million and improve the quality of our parks and countryside, other than the expressed need contained in the resolution to reduce spending by £85 million over three years.
    • Therefore we believe that the decision to refuse to award the PACSPE contract would see the ever decreasing quality of a service starved of investment by this administration which is already characterised by going for the quick fix instead of making the difficult but necessary strategic decisions in the interests of Wirral residents.

The Committee recommends to the Cabinet

*Editor’s note will have to check rest of resolution due to noise preventing taking it down*

My guess is that the rest of it is “reconsider the decision”.


In the interests of openness, John Brace lives opposite Bidston Hill which is covered by the PACSPE contract.

134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH

Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.