What are 3 public meetings happening this week about?

What are 3 public meetings happening this week about?

What are 3 public meetings happening this week about?

                                     

MV Snowdrop (one of the iconic Mersey Ferries) on the River Mersey with Liverpool skyline in the background
MV Snowdrop (one of the iconic Mersey Ferries) on the River Mersey with Liverpool skyline in the background

Below is a list of details of three public meetings of local government this week by date along with a short commentary on what they are about.
Continue reading “What are 3 public meetings happening this week about?”

What were the top 10 most viewed videos on this blog’s Youtube channel in 2015?

What were the top 10 most viewed videos on this blog’s Youtube channel in 2015?

                                               

Cllr Phil Davies at a recent Cabinet meeting
Cllr Phil Davies at a Cabinet meeting (which makes the list at number 10)

I never expected when I was young, I would end up running a TV channel (albeit only a Youtube channel). So it’s time for a new feature on this blog looking back at the most viewed videos of 2015.

Hopefully in 2016 I will record even better videos than the ones so far. This list is not based on views but watch time (that is how many hours each video has been viewed). I’ll leave a brief comment below as to what each video is about and why it became popular.


1. Liverpool City Council Budget Meeting 4th March 2015 Part 1

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Liverpool City Council Budget Meeting 4th March 2015 Part 1

The annual budget meeting of local councils are known for being the time at which each political party sets what it would do if they were in charge after the elections. This video isn’t popular really for those reasons though.

The blog post Why did Mayor Anderson claim a councillor was "behaving like a child" for highlighting a cut of £42,000 to domestic violence charities? explains better what this meeting became known for (in fact I think it ended up being referred to on the regional TV news).

A councillor called Jake Morrison took exception to a cut to a domestic violence grant to a local charity. The meeting had to be adjourned for a short while. This was because neither the Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Erica Kemp nor Mayor Joe Anderson appeared to know how to deal with this sort of sustained objection by a councillor (other than to adjourn the meeting).

The dramatic scenes are towards the end of this clip, which ends when the meeting was adjourned. Words were had behind the scenes during the adjournment.


2. Liverpool City Council 8th April 2015 Part 1 Mayor Joe Anderson responds to green space protestors

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Liverpool City Council 8th April 2015 Part 1 Mayor Joe Anderson responds to green space protestors

The next meeting is also of Liverpool City Council. In the midst of the local and General elections last year it saw a clash between Mayor Anderson and various groups (including an umbrella group) trying to protect green space in Liverpool. Again there’s a linked blog post headlined Mayor Joe Anderson responds to green space protestors "I’ve got news for you, I’m going to stand again [as Mayor]".


3. Liverpool City Council public meeting 11th November 2015 Part 2 of 6

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Liverpool City Council public meeting 11th November 2015 Part 2 of 6

Another more recent meeting of Liverpool City Council also makes the top ten list. This time it was a notice of motion (the earlier few minutes of the notice of motion can be viewed in part 1) about another green space issue (which was to do with Liverpool City Council plans for Beechley Stables, Calder Kids and the Miniature Railway). This was the most well attended meeting of Liverpool City Council I’ve seen by members of the public.


4. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 1 of 4

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Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 1 of 4

To more local political issues than those across the River Mersey, again just before the 2015 elections, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service held a very heated public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie. Hundreds of people turned up to the meeting but couldn’t get in, which may in part explain the high viewing figures on this video.

There are three blog posts about this meeting, Public consultation meeting in Saughall Massie on proposed new fire station (written before the meeting) and Saughall Massie residents ask Wirral Council for reasons why greenbelt site suggested for new fire station and Saughall Massie residents express their opposition to fire station plans at first consultation meeting.


5. Liverpool City Council 16th September 2015 Part 1 of 6

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Liverpool City Council 16th September 2015 Part 1 of 6

Another Liverpool City Council meeting, but instead of green space issues this one was instead (according to Mayor Anderson) about mud. The interest (which there was a lot of media coverage on both locally and nationally) were in the issues in the blog post headlined Mayor Joe Anderson "my good name [has been] dragged through the mud" over £90,000 legal bill for unfair dismissal case.

Indeed on this topic, as recently as the 22nd December 2015, Mayor Anderson (who had just been made Chair of the Combined Authority) refused to answer a question on this topic asked by a member of the public at a public meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.


6. Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee 23rd November 2015

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Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee 23rd November 2015

Finally in 6th place is the first Wirral Council meeting, normally the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee attracts little interest, however the facial expressions of its chair during this meeting attracted many comments and more views of the video of the meeting.


7. Liverpool City Council Budget Meeting 4th March 2015 Part 2

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Liverpool City Council Budget Meeting 4th March 2015 Part 2

Liverpool City Council makes its final entry in the top ten list, with what happened at the Budget meeting after the adjournment (for what happened before the adjournment see the video at number one).


8. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 2 of 4

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Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 2 of 4

This is part 2 of the public consultation meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service held in Saughall Massie on a proposed fire station in Saughall Massie (part 1 makes this list at number 4).


9. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 3 of 4

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Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service consultation meeting Saughall Massie 20th April 2015 Part 3 of 4

Part 3 of the public consultation meeting of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service held in Saughall Massie on a proposed fire station in Saughall Massie (part 1 makes this list at number 4 and part 2 at number 8).


10. Cabinet Wirral Council 12th March 2015

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Cabinet Wirral Council 12th March 2015

Finally, a Wirral Council Cabinet meeting makes the last in this list. In an unusual change of venue it was held at Birkenhead Town Hall.

I can’t remember (nine months later) anything particular that was controversial discussed at this meeting a few weeks before the May elections. The only high-profile issues discussed and decided at this meeting were the "Master Plan Principles" for Birkenhead Town Centre, the outcome of consultation about Pensby High Schools and the nomination for Civic Mayor/Deputy Civic Mayor.

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Wirral Council consult on £1.1 million scheme to change Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square

Wirral Council consult on £1.1 million scheme to change Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square

Wirral Council consult on £1.1 million scheme to change Birkenhead’s Hamilton Square

                                                

Remembrance Day 2012 outside Birkenhead Town Hall. If the traffic scheme goes ahead then this area outside Birkenhead Town Hall won't be solely for pedestrians but will be open to two-way road traffic
Remembrance Day 2012 outside Birkenhead Town Hall. If the traffic scheme goes ahead then this area outside Birkenhead Town Hall won’t be solely for pedestrians but will be open to two-way road traffic

Councillor Pat Cleary (Green Party for Birkenhead and Tranmere ward) writes on his blog about a current consultation by Wirral Council proposing changes to Hamilton Square and the surrounding area.

If agreed the changes (you can view a plan of the proposals on the Wirral Green Party’s website it would mean:

  • The removal of the taxi rank outside Hamilton Square train station in Hamilton Street. The reason would be so there could be a puffin crossing outside Hamilton Square train station. This taxi rank would be relocated to two sections of Bridge Street (one for four taxis, one for five taxis).
  • A bus stop in Bridge Street would be relocated to Hamilton Street.
  • The existing bus stop outside Hamilton Square train station would be moved further down Hamilton Street.
  • The area in front of Birkenhead Town Hall which is now closed to road traffic, solely for pedestrians and protected by bollards would become part of the road and open to traffic.
  • The mini roundabout at the Hamilton Square/Hamilton Street junction (to the North-East of Birkenhead Town Hall) would be removed and replaced with a Give Way junction instead.
  • The mini roundabout at the Hamilton Square/Hamilton Street junction (to the South-West of Birkenhead Town Hall) would be removed and replaced with a Give Way junction.
  • The closure at this junction which prevents traffic going to Hamilton Square from the South-West along Hamilton Street would be removed.
  • Hinson Street (now one-way) would be made two-way between Hamilton Street and Henry Street.
  • Hamilton Street (now one-way between Hamilton Square and Conway Street) would be made two-way between Hamilton Square and Conway Street.
  • Conway Street will be closed at its junction with William Street.
  • Alterations to the traffic signals at the Bridge Street/Hamilton Street junction.

The deadline to respond to this consultation is Friday 13th November 2015.

You can respond to the consultation online by visiting this link to Wirral Council’s website (then click on “Comments and objections about new traffic schemes“).

Click Next.

Then enter your contact details and email address (twice).

Click Next again.

The Scheme name/details to enter on the next page are “Hamilton Square re-design“.

The Scheme number is “DC-STEP-1516-2

If you wish to comment or ask a question on the scheme select Comment/ask a question about the scheme from the drop down menu.

If you wish to object to the scheme select Object to the scheme and enter your reasons in the box below.

If you wish to do both select All of the above and enter your comments and objections separately.

Then click Next, followed by Submit.

There was a drop in session on Tuesday November 10th 2015 at Birkenhead Town Hall, Hamilton St, Birkenhead CH41 5EU, between 3pm and 7pm so people could view the plans.

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Labour councillors on Wirral Council’s Cabinet agree to consultation on master plan for Birkenhead

Labour councillors on Wirral Council’s Cabinet agree to consultation on master plan for Birkenhead

Labour councillors on Wirral Council’s Cabinet agree to consultation on master plan for Birkenhead

                                                       

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You can watch what happened at the Cabinet meeting on the 12th March 2015 above.

Wirral Council Cabinet meeting at Birkenhead Town Hall Thursday 12th March 2015 Left to right Surjit Tour, Cllr Phil Davies and Joe Blott
Wirral Council Cabinet meeting at Birkenhead Town Hall Thursday 12th March 2015 Left to right Surjit Tour, Cllr Phil Davies and Joe Blott

Wirral Council’s Cabinet met at a different venue to usual (Birkenhead Town Hall). At the start, Councillor Phil Davies wanted to show people the trophy that Wirral Council had received for being “Most Improved Council”. You can see a photo of when they received the award on the Local Government Chronicle website, but below is a photo of Cllr Phil Davies showing people the award at the Cabinet meeting.

Councillor Phil Davies shows off the Local Government Chronicle award Wirral Council received for being most improved council 12th March 2015
Councillor Phil Davies shows off the Local Government Chronicle award Wirral Council received for being most improved council 12th March 2015

Moving to what was on the agenda, Cabinet recommended the draft pay policy statement to the next Council meeting, the revenue financial monitoring report for month ten was hardly commented on, however various councillors commented on various capital projects.

Kevin Adderley talks to the Property Development Framework report at Cabinet on the 12th March 2015
Kevin Adderley talks to the Property Development Framework report at Cabinet on the 12th March 2015

Kevin Adderley talked to the Property Development Framework report after which the Cabinet agreed the recommendations in the report.

Kevin Adderley talking to the Enterprise Zone report at Cabinet on the 12th March 2015
Kevin Adderley talking to the Enterprise Zone report at Cabinet on the 12th March 2015

Mr Adderley then talked to the Enterprise Zone report and again Cabinet agreed the recommendations.

Cabinet agreed a slight increase in the amounts paid to residential and nursing homes and the arrangements for the delivery and commissioning of social care.

Cllr Tony Smith tells Cabinet what the outcome of the consultation on Pensby High School was 12th March 2015
Cllr Tony Smith tells Cabinet what the outcome of the consultation on Pensby High School was 12th March 2015

Councillor Tony Smith told Cabinet what the results were of the consultation to merge Pensby High School for Boys with Pensby High School for Girls. Cabinet agreed to move to the next stage of publishing notices.

The draft admission arrangements for primary schools and secondary schools were also agreed.

Cllr Pat Hackett talks at a Cabinet meeting about the master plan for Birkenhead Town Centre
Cllr Pat Hackett talks at a Cabinet meeting about the master plan for Birkenhead Town Centre

Councillor Pat Hackett spoke to the report recommending a consultation on the masterplan for Birkenhead Town Centre. He referred to an “improved market” and the stage one lockout agreement that the Council had entered into with Neptune Developments Limited. The detail of the proposals were covered in an earlier blog post. Cabinet agreed that Neptune Development Limited were to consult with the public (as well as staff who work at Europa Pools) on the masterplan.

Kevin Adderley pointed out that the Mars Pension Fund had recently advertised the Grange and Pyramids shopping centre in Birkenhead as being for sale. The recommendation to have a consultation was agreed by Cabinet.

A slight increase from April in fees charged to scrap metal dealers was agreed. Cllr George Davies spoke on the report reporting the consultation on licensing of private landlords in four areas on the Wirral. Cabinet agreed to refer the proposals to the Council meeting on the 16th March 2015.

The nominations from Cabinet for Civic Mayor and Deputy Mayor for 2015/16 were as follows:

Civic Mayor: Cllr Les Rowlands
Deputy Mayor: Cllr Pat Hackett

Cabinet then excluded the press and public from the rest of the meeting.

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Expense claim forms for Councillor John Hale (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor John Hale (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor John Hale (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

                                                   

Carrying on with the series of councillor’s expense claim forms we get to councillors whose surnames begin with H and the first one of those is Councillor John Hale. Councillor John Hale is a Conservative Party councillor for the ward of Hoylake and Meols (that’s the name of one ward not two different wards). He’s been a councillor since 1975 and according to Wirral Council’s website apart from a few months in 1999 has been a councillor for nearly all that time.

He’s one of Wirral Council’s representatives on the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel who earlier this year banned filming at one of their meetings in Birkenhead Town Hall. The Merseyside Police and Crime Panel most recent meeting on September 4th 2014 could be filmed (however we weren’t at it). I will however point out that Councillor John Hale was a member of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel but wasn’t present at the meeting of 24th April 2014 when that filming decision was made by Councillors Frank Prendergast (Everton, Liverpool City Council (Labour)), Peter Brennan (Old Swan, Liverpool City Council (Labour)), Doreen Kerrigan (Linacre, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council (Labour)) and Moira McLaughlin (Rock Ferry, Metropolitan Borough of Wirral (Labour)).

However in a cunning move the “powers that be” (Knowsley is the host authority for the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel), made sure that future meetings of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel are now held in Huyton (reason given was “cost grounds” at the public meeting I wasn’t allowed to film earlier this year) which when you consider this increases the costs of many councillors’ expenses claims travelling there, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff travel costs etc it would seem to be a rather spurious claim as although Knowsley said they could get their own Council Chamber for “free”, it’ll still form part of the administrative costs I’m sure they’ll claim back from the Home Office.

It seems a common theme that the increased costs of doing things differently are never brought up in a public meeting (which let’s face it in many places are run for the convenience of officers and councillors not the “public” who often aren’t even there) just the supposed “savings”. After all Knowsley officers had a very long briefing (in private) with the four councillors before the meeting started and one can only guess (from what was during the public meeting that they wouldn’t allow to be filmed which is a decision that didn’t even make the official minutes) that the officers persuaded them to hold future public meetings where officers work (therefore Knowsley officers wouldn’t have to travel much to different bits of Merseyside but the many people on the Panel, whether independent members or councillors, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff and everyone else going to this meeting would have to travel further) and not holding it at a more central place in Merseyside. I assume it’s Wirral Council paying these travel costs (for its councillors on the Panel) because nobody has ever told me whether these expenses are recharged back to Knowsley (as the host authority).

What however is interesting to note is that Knowsley Council received £53,000 in 2013/14 for the administration costs of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel and £11,040 for those on it (which is up to £920 per panel member for expenses) from the Home Office.

Maybe Knowsley think the room hire cost for Birkenhead Town Hall is just too extortionate when you consider Knowsley are only receiving a paltry £53,000 from the Home Office!

However peering into the murk of Wirral Council councillor’s expense claims, it’s now unclear whether Councillor John Hale’s expense claim to Wirral Council for travelling to the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel are (or have been) recharged back to the host authority Knowsley or not. Certainly if Knowsley is getting “up to £920 per member for expenses” it would seem terribly unfair for Wirral residents to be footing the bill through both national and local taxes whilst Knowsley gets the money. It’s something I’ll have to ask Wirral Council’s auditor Grant Thornton about though as I’m unsure.

Its predecessor body (before the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November 2012) the Merseyside Police Authority met in Liverpool City Centre. However from what I remember the new Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy as far as I know decided that the building the Merseyside Police Authority used to meet in wasn’t needed. Public meetings involving the Merseyside Police now happen in a variety of different locations.

Huyton, from a historical perspective is part of Lancashire and we both half wondered if this came about because in Birkenhead Town Hall (whilst waiting for the briefing to finish) we both said in earshot of a Knowsley Borough Council employee that if they had the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel as far away as Huyton that we probably wouldn’t be able to get to its public meetings.

This is just one aspect of his expenses claim though but if expenses aren’t currently being recharged back to Knowsley it may represent a small saving to Wirral Council if it was. It’s certainly a question I should ask of Wirral Council’s auditors.

Below are Councillor John Hale’s expense claim forms.

Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2
https://johnbrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/cllr-john-hale-expenses-claim-2013-2014-page-3.jpg
https://johnbrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/cllr-john-hale-expenses-claim-2013-2014-page-3.jpg
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

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