Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors

Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors

Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors

                                                         

Fort Perch Rock Car Park, New Brighton, Wirral (29th June 2015)
Fort Perch Rock Car Park, New Brighton, Wirral (29th June 2015)

By John Brace (Editor)
and
Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)

First publication date: Wednesday 11th August 2021, 11:44 AM (BST).

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Decision Review Committee (Wirral Council) 29th July 2021 Car Parking Charges Call In

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Decision Review Committee (Wirral Council) 10th August 2021 Car Parking Charges Call In

At the end of two lengthy public meetings which you can watch above (and you can read a report on the previous adjourned meeting here), a majority of councillors voted to uphold the decision of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee to go ahead with car parking charges options 1, 3 and 4 (as outlined in this report. The changes were opposed by Conservative and Lib Dem councillors but voted through by Labour and Green councillors, however Lib Dem councillor Chris Carubia voted in favour to consult on charges at new locations and increase charges at existing locations that charge.
Continue reading “Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors”

Wirral Council councillors adjourn public meeting that met to decide on controversial car parking charges proposals

Wirral Council councillors adjourn public meeting that met to decide on controversial car parking charges proposals

Wirral Council councillors adjourn public meeting that met to decide on controversial car parking charges proposals

                                                                

By John Brace (Editor)
and
Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)

First publication date: Friday 30th July 2021, 1:18 PM (BST).

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Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee (Wirral Council) 14th June 2021

Decision Review Committee (Wirral Council) 29th July 2021
Decision Review Committee (Wirral Council) 29th July 2021

On the 14th June 2021 (which you can watch above) a majority of councillors on Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee in a vote that was 6 councillors in favour, 4 against with 1 abstention voted to adopt car parking charges options 1, 3 and 4. Option 1 was to introduce car parking charges for off street car parks that were currently free. Option 3 was to introduce car parking charges at coastal locations (New Brighton, West Kirby, Hoylake, Moreton etc). Option 4 was to have a standard range of charges for both the existing car parks, new locations proposed and applying to both on and off street car parking.

This decision was then “called in” by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors. Whilst decisions are called in they are not implemented until a decision on the call in is reached.
Continue reading “Wirral Council councillors adjourn public meeting that met to decide on controversial car parking charges proposals”

Wirral Council’s Cabinet alters car parking charges proposal following outcry

Wirral Council’s Cabinet alters car parking charges proposal following outcry

Wirral Council’s Cabinet alters car parking charges proposal following outcry

                                        

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Cabinet (Wirral Council) 20th February 2017

Cllr Stuart Whittingham (Cabinet Member for Transport) (left) about to speak on the Budget proposals 20th February 2017
Cllr Stuart Whittingham (Cabinet Member for Transport) (left) about to speak on the Budget proposals 20th February 2017

Labour councillors on Wirral Council’s Cabinet have recommended a 4.99% rise in council tax for Wirral residents next year. However once the police and fire precepts are taken into account (expected to be a 1.99% rise each) the overall effect on council tax bills will be slightly less than five percent.

The controversial on street car parking proposals have been altered with a full report on the changes available on Wirral Council’s website.

The proposal to increase the charges at all council operated car parks that currently charge by 50 pence has been reduced to a 20 pence increase. The new £4 flat rate tariff proposed for country parks (Arrowe Country Park, Royden Country Park, Eastham Country Park and Thurstaston Country Park) has been altered to 50 pence for the first hour, £1 for two hours and £2 all day.

Proposals to introduce charges for parking at Birkenhead Park, New Brighton, West Kirby, Hoylake, Heswall, Liscard, Bromborough, Bebington, Irby, Upton and Moreton have been dropped.

These altered proposals will be discussed at a meeting of all Wirral Council councillors when they meet to set the budget for next year on the evening of the 6th March 2017.

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Why did Wirral Council have to pay back £255,177.21 after overcharging fees for information requests?

Why did Wirral Council have to pay back £255,177.21 after overcharging fees for information requests?

Why did Wirral Council have to pay back £255,177.21 after overcharging fees for information requests?

                                        

The author of this piece is the Appellant in a First-tier Tribunal case in which Wirral Council is Second Respondent.

Below this story is an invoice Wirral Council paid to Bevan Brittan (who are lawyers) which was for disbursements.

In layman’s terms that means money that Bevan Brittan was dispersing on Wirral Council’s behalf which totalled £255,177.21.

This was to settle an overcharging issue involving fees Wirral Council had charged in the past to those making EIR [Environmental Information Regulations 2004] requests.

In 2012 Leeds City Council appealed two ICO decision notices (FER0372970 and
FER0354510) to the First-tier Tribunal over whether Leeds City Council could levy a £22.50 charge over processing CON29 forms (a form used in conveyancing by property search businesses to do checks about information held by the local council).

After a three-day First-tier Tribunal hearing in February 2013, the appeal of Leeds City Council was dismissed in March 2013 and the decision found the charges had been unlawful.

Firstly Leeds City Council should’ve published a list of charges before charging and secondly they were only allowed to cover certain costs involved and not set a flat rate charge.

Moving to Wirral Council, the £255,177 in disbursements below paid by Wirral Council is to (presumably) refund various organisations that had been overcharged by Wirral Council following the First-tier Tribunal decision in March 2013 (although this decision was later appealed and another similar case asked for an opinion by the Court of Justice of the European Union).

However that is just the disbursements (£255,177), the legal costs to Bevan Brittan will come to more than this amount.

In the "old days" at Wirral Council this sort of amount of money would have to be signed off by politicians, however I don’t remember a decision or report that explicitly mentioned this issue in the last 12 months. Maybe I missed something?

The invoice below was unearthed by myself during the 30 day working period during the 2015/16 audit, which I requested because of its size.

Certainly it raises a lot of questions as to whether this has been remedied, not just paying back what was overcharged, but making sure the charges are lawful going forward.

Maybe this is what Wirral Council means when they state, “It is about having a private sector head with a public sector heart.”

187 Bevan Brittan Wirral Council 25th June 2015 £255177 21 APPS Settlement
187 Bevan Brittan Wirral Council 25th June 2015 £255177 21 APPS Settlement

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FOI response details reasons why Fort Perch Rock car park charging plans were opposed

FOI response details reasons why Fort Perch Rock car park charging plans were opposed

FOI response details reasons why Fort Perch Rock car park charging plans were opposed

                                                 

Fort Perch Rock car park 29th June 2015 Photo 1 of 3
Fort Perch Rock car park 29th June 2015

After the U-turn last month on car parking charges at Fort Perch Rock car park, New Brighton I made a Freedom of Information request for the objections made during the consultation period.

In addition to a petition of objection which when the consultation finished had 876 signatures but now has 4,010 signatures there were nineteen written objections which included a thirteen page letter sent on behalf of the Wilkie Leisure Group.

Objectors referred to pay and display parking in Hamilton Square, Birkenhead and the reduction in visitors once charges for parking had started. Many objectors thought that car parking charges would put people off from visiting New Brighton. Some objectors thought that what charging would be unlawful. Others felt that Wirral Council ordering the pay and display ticket machines before the consultation on the proposed traffic regulation order started pre judged the outcome of the consultation.

The most detailed objection from Singleton Clamp & Partners Limited sent on behalf of the Wilkie Leisure Group stated:

The official reason for the U-turn given was the what was in the lease that meant that this could lead to parking charges elsewhere in New Brighton. Promenade Estates were quoted in a Liverpool Echo article by Liam Murphy that they would charge for parking at other car parks in New Brighton if charges at Fort Perch Rock car park were brought in.

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