Coordinating Committee (Wirral Council) 24th June 2013 | Special Meeting to discuss Conservative call in of LGA (Local Government Association) Conference decision | Labour councillors on new Coordinating Committee reject Conservative councillor’s view that spending £2,475 plus travel costs to send five councillors and two officers to the LGA Conference is not “value for money”

An account of the special meeting of Wirral Council’s Coordinating Committee of the 24th June 2013 to discuss the call in of the decision by Conservative councillors to send five councillors and two officers to the LGA Conference as an approved duty

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The first part of Monday’s meeting is above, if you want to watch the entire meeting, here is a link to a Youtube playlist covering it.

Coordinating Committee 24th June 2013

Labour councillors on new Coordinating Committee reject Conservative councillor’s view that spending £2,475 plus travel costs to send five councillors and two officers to the LGA Conference is not “value for money”

Coordinating Committee (previously called Scrutiny Programme Board)
Cllr Stuart Wittingham (Chair)
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Vice-Chair)
Cllr Andrew Hodson (spokesperson)
Cllr Alan Brighouse (spokesperson)
Cllr Ron Abbey
Cllr Leah Fraser
Cllr Paul Doughty
Cllr Jean Stapleton
Cllr Moira McLaughlin
Cllr John Salter deputy for Cllr Patricia Glasman
Cllr Denise Roberts
Cllr Adam Sykes
Cllr Steve Williams
Cllr Bernie Mooney
Cllr David Elderton

The Chair started by stating that it was a special meeting of the committee to consider the call in by eleven Conservative councillors of the decision by the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Cllr Adrian Jones to make attendance by five councillors and two officers at the LGA conference an approved duty (meaning Wirral Council pays for their costs).

He asked for any apologies for absence. Cllr John Salter sent Cllr Pat Glasman’s apologies and said he was deputising for her. There were no declarations of interest or party whip made.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin started by asking that as the Conservative spokesperson on the committee Cllr Andrew Hodson was a signatory to the call in whether this amounted to predetermination?

Ed – news flash for Cllr McLaughlin, there’s no such thing as predetermination any more, it got abolished on the 15th January 2012 by the implementation of s.25 of the Localism Act 2011.

Surjit Tour answered that being a signatory to the call in doesn’t amount to predetermination. Cllr Hodson, Conservative spokesperson said that despite the fact that some on this side of the table (referring to himself and Cllr Leah Fraser) were signatories to the call-in, that they hadn’t made up their minds and that they would make an unbiased decision.

He went on to say that he felt the way that officers had dealt with the call-in was “in an unprofessional manner” and accused officers of making rules up as they went along. Cllr Hodson said that they’d been asked by Surjit Tour to disregard an email from Cllr Phil Gilchrist (who had an interest in the matter). He said, “We know he was told what to say by Shirley Hudspeth.” and that at a later time Surjit Tour told them to carry on. Cllr Hodson said he wanted to stick to the fact that they were only dealing with transport and attendance.

Surjit Tour said that Cllr Gilchrist had said he wanted to make written submissions to the members of the committee, but that there had been “no authorisation for that information to be circulated”. He’d therefore asked members of the committee who’d received Cllr Gilchrist’s email to disregard it. Instead Surjit Tour only wanted Cllr Gilchrist’s written submissions to be circulated to the committee if the Chair agreed to it. He said that that was why he’d sent out the email telling councillors to disregard Cllr Gilchrist’s email.

Cllr Hodson pointed out that Cllr Gilchrist wasn’t present, Surjit Tour responded to his points. Cllr Adrian Jones, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services interjected from the audience and asked the Chair to ask people to speak louder as it was difficult to hear what people were saying.

The Chair, Cllr Stuart Wittingham asked people to speak up and moved onto agenda item 3, Surjit Tour said that it was a reminder of the committee’s terms of reference, the terms of reference were noted by the committee, the Chair moved the meeting onto agenda item 4 (Procedure for considering a decision that has been Called-in). Surjit Tour said that members of the committee would’ve received in their packs the proposed call in procedure regarding the call-in. He said that paragraph two set out the process and went through the various stages. The Chair asked for agreement, the committee agreed to the procedure and the meeting progressed to item 5 (the call-in).