Westminster House is being sold to Wirral Partnership Homes for £1.9 million (as has been reported in the press) Part way through this item Cllr. Hodson declared a prejudicial and personal interest and left the room as the company he’s a director of cleaning company (based in Bidston & St. James) that cleans Wirral Partnership Home properties.
Clearly it wouldn’t be the done thing for a councillor to sell a building to make more money for himself! Although I’m pleased councillors are declaring interests as they should (unlike sometimes when they don’t).
Cllr Holbrook introduced a motion that amended the recommendations to include an overage clause as there seem to be the concern that Wirral Partnership Homes may make money in the future from the car park that is part of Westminster House. The sale of Westminster House will mean that Wirral Council will make more use of the North/South Annexes to Wallasey Town Hall.
Cllr Hodson then returned.
It was then agreed that a primary school in Eastham be sold to the Anglican Diocese of Chester.
Item 18 (a referral from the Audit and Risk Management Committee) sparked a discussion about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. Cllr Holbrook added an extra recommendation pointing out that Wirral Council’s usage had been low and stating five areas it had been used in.
The main changes were (that are currently proposed by government) the requirement for a magistrate to authorise as well as changes to the level of crime it could be used for. Cllr. Green did ask for a clarification over hate crime; which the Borough Solicitor seemed to be at a loss to answer.
Due to the provisions in the criminal law – “hate crimes” – crimes where there is an element of victimisation based on a protected characteristic eg disability, gender, age etc can carry heavier sentences than usual. Although the Borough Solicitor Bill Norman didn’t know last night whether this would bring them into the category of crimes covered by RIPA under the new guidelines.
Cllr Elderton asked about the use of RIPA regarding cockle picking on Wirral’s beaches; bringing to Cabinet’s attention rubbish problems on Wirral’s beaches. It was pointed out that as the beaches are a public place, surveillance would not be covert and therefore not covered by the RIPA provisions.