8 Labour councillors vote against motion asking for delay in closure of Girtrell Court until alternatives are in place

8 Labour councillors vote against motion asking for delay in closure of Girtrell Court until alternatives are in place

                                                     

Labour councillors (except Cllr Christina Muspratt who abstained) voting against an opposition motion on Girtrell Court at the Coordinating Committee meeting on the 16th February 2016
Labour councillors (except Cllr Christina Muspratt who abstained) voting against an opposition motion on Girtrell Court at the Coordinating Committee meeting on the 16th February 2016

The two most read stories on this blog this month have been Why did Wirral Council’s Cabinet recommend closure of Girtrell Court despite a protest against closure and opposition from the trade unions? and .

However there’s been a public meeting involving Girtrell Court that I haven’t reported on yet.

In the past when there were budget options out to public consultation, Wirral Council’s overview and scrutiny committees each met in public. This gave an opportunity for backbench councillors to give their views on each budget option with an opportunity for the public to hear this. If there was a difference of opinion between councillors alternatives could be put forward and voted on. That was how scrutiny used to operate at Wirral Council all done at public meetings on camera.

However this year (in a repeat of how it was done last year), it was all done in private in “workshops”, not in public. A report was then written up for each overview and scrutiny committee, you can read the Families and Wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee workshop report here, the Regeneration and Environment overview and scrutiny committee workshop report here and the Transformation and Resources overview and scrutiny committee workshop report here.

Around a week before the Cabinet met to decide its recommendation on the budget for 2016/17 the Coordinating Committee (who coordinate the work of the overview and scrutiny committees) met on the evening of the 16th February 2016.

I thought as Wirral Council hasn’t yet met to decide the budget for 2016/17 and people associated with Girtrell Court weren’t at this meeting that a transcript of what was said in the debate on the report from the Families and Wellbeing workshop would be useful. However you can watch this item (item 5 2016/17 Budget Scrutiny Report) for yourself in the video below. The video should start at the right point but if it doesn’t this agenda item starts at the 31 minute 7 second point and the overarching report for this agenda item can be read here.

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Coordinating Committee 16th February 2016

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair, Labour): Right, the next item on the agenda is item 5 and it is the report of the workshops that looked at budget scrutiny.

Errm, Joe [Blott] do you want to say something on that?

OK, errm, OK, just briefly as a bit of an overview, we used the same approach the workshop approach this year as was used last year with each Committee holding its own workshop, to give an opportunity for its members to examine in more detail the proposals put forward by the officers.

Errm, the obvious intention was to better understand the service implications and the achievability of the proposals as they were presented.

Errm, I do think that members who took part found them errm helpful and the purpose tonight is really to note the process that we’ve used and perhaps comment on that and whether that could be improved upon in the future and also the character of the workshops and then forward these documents to the Cabinet. I know they’ve already been reproduced and they will form part of the Cabinet minutes for next week.

Errm, I think all members don’t know really of the Council understand the scale of the task that’s underway at the moment over the budget. Errm, and I do hope errm that errm, I mean we won’t be as I said earlier in the earlier report we won’t be debating these proposals tonight, that wouldn’t be appropriate but I do hope that, errm, the non-elected, non-Executive members of the Council, this can form a good part of the consultation, their views on the consultation and that’s what it’s intended to be.

I’m going to errm, I’ll give a brief overview of what happened at Families and Wellbeing and then I’ll ask the other chairs of the other two committees to do the same.

Errm, the session that was on, held by Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee was very well attended, I know unfortunately Wendy [Clements] was unwell, but other than that we had a full turn out.

Errm, and there was err, I think everybody contributed in some form during the discussion that we had. Obviously some of the proposals that were put forward generated more discussion and comment than others.

Errm, what the Committee didn’t attempt to do was to recommend or reject any of the proposals. We didn’t see that as our role.

Errm what we did use, err do, was to use the workshops to dig deeper than the narrative that was presented by errm around the proposal by officers and to examine in more detail the impact, whether that be a positive impact or a negative impact and errm if we thought there were negative impacts to highlight those and possibly make suggestions as to how the negative impact could be errm mitigated and also we looked at the achievability of the savings because in the past errm savings haven’t always been achieved and that’s presented problems in the year, in the following year.

Errm, following the workshop, further information was requested on errm, modelling the saving around the concessions on leisure could be done differently to perhaps protect some of the most errm disadvantaged children in the Borough and since then I’ve had back a report from Clare Fish which we actually asked if we could look at what the errm the effect on the saving would be for errm children who were in receipt of free school meals if they were still entitled to a swim. Errm and the report I’ve had back from Clare Fish indicates that out of a saving of two hundred and fifty, which and there was comment if you look at the night, there was comment about, about the errm, how that figure was errm obtained, but that we would reduce err, would reduce the saving by fifteen thousand, but we would initiate a cost of two swims annually. Errm, so that’s err, as I said will go forward as well.

Errm and one of the members asked at a later stage, raised an issue around the impact of the changes around the CAMHS contract and errm the information that was received from that has been included in the narrative of the report.

Errm, the report’s already been circulated to members, participants of the Committee which the service support and I’m sure Wendy [Clements] you’ve had a copy as well.

Errm, but if you believe that it has been accepted by them as an accurate reflection of the discussion on the night and I thank all those who’ve attended and took part.

Errm, now I think it’s probably reasonable to say that at this point, Phil [Gilchrist] has submitted an email today which I didn’t really have a chance to look at this morning because I was on grandma duties, but I have looked at it as the day’s gone on and errm, I don’t know whether members of the Committee have had, I have to say Phil [Gilchrist] errm, I do believe that the areas that you’ve highlighted were thoroughly explored at the workshop and the comments errm, of Members are included in the narrative of the report.

I don’t really errm, I wouldn’t like to see this Committee, try to change the work that came out of that workshop. So I mean I’m inclined to say thank you very much for your comment and I’m sure you’d be happy to have that email forwarded to the Cabinet directly from you, but I wouldn’t want to change the errm, narrative of the Families and Wellbeing errm workshop report.

Errm, now obviously if the other people feel differently I’ll have to put that to the vote, but as the Chair of the Families and Wellbeing and the person who signed off the report, errm that’s my view. That points were raised, they were explored, they have been commented on and other consultations that maybe have taken place since, can report in their own way and I’m sure they will, but this is the work of the members of the Families and Wellbeing Committee at that workshop, that night and therefore I don’t wish to change it.

OK, errm, but I’m happy, it was, I’ll take questions on this point.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson): Just a comment, if it’s legitimate to receive information later on, which you mentioned earlier about the swimming cost issue, and members are able to get a bit more information on certain issues and they reflected on what’s submitted then it seems equally legitimate, no offence meant at all, to hear what’s been said, concerns that have been raised in other places since and then to reflect on what the Working Party heard and to try and satisfy ourselves as to whether..

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): I understand the point you’re making but I don’t agree with it. Errm, I actually, the points that were raised, one of them was raised on the night by a member of the Committee and the other was raised by a member of the Committee at a later stage. So I think we’re in a different situation to try and use this Committee to change or highlight an area where that was one of the conclusions. Those were a range of concerns that were raised on the night, errm on this issue, but other positive things were put forward as well, so just to highlight those would almost change the emphasis and I understand that you feel strongly and I’m sure that you will make representations and other consultations that are under way will also put their feedback in but that’s for them to do and for those people who are the subject of the consultation to do, not for members of the Families and Wellbeing and that’s, I haven’t got any more to say on it. If you want to put it as a proposal, I’m quite happy to put it to a vote.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson): I think Chair, I’m conscious there are a couple of deputies, I’m conscious that there are members who have been working during the day and might not have seen what I circulated and what I did circulate was a fair summary I thought, plus some suggestions and therefore I’m conscious that not everyone might have seen it, but we often suggest things during a meeting that people haven’t seen.

Errm and I’m not sure perhaps if there are members who have seen what I wrote even though it was about ten to midnight last night. If there are members who agree that it’s reasonable to put it forward they might say so and then they might be able to judge the feeling of members because of course I’m sitting here happily on my own, in my own little group as it were, but…

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): As I say, Phil if you want to read out your email and then if you want to move it and get a seconder, errm then we’ll put it to a vote. So if that’s what you want to do, fine! And I’m quite happy to do that!

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson): I’m getting some indications from members, some members are nodding who have read it that agree with the points that I’ve raised and I’m conscious it’s very lengthy.

For the courtesy of other members would you agree that I should read it out and then members can consider it?

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): Yes, err Ron [Abbey] briefly, because I want to move on!

Cllr Ron Abbey (Labour): I can’t be brief on that because I think we should take the advice of the Chair and I don’t think we should have any email or debate on this.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): We want to be fair though don’t we? So I want to give Phil [Gilchrist], I mean I’m sure it’s very difficult for Phil [Gilchrist] managing on his own. Errm, and I want to give him the benefit of all our help if I can on this, so you read it out Phil and then if you want to move it as a proposal, put it.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson): Thank you for your courtesy Chair.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): I’m always courteous with you.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson): Yes, thank you. I’m always courteous. I’m going to read

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): OK, quickly!

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson):carefully and modestly.

This meeting of the Policy and Performance Coordinating Committee wishes to highlight the concerns expressed by members of the budget scrutiny working party relating to services offered at Girtrell Court.

During those deliberations it was recognised that “the key challenge is to meet the needs of individuals with what can be provided” and that “assurances were sought about availability and quality of the independent sector provision and also how each person would have their needs assessed”.

It was also reported that, “all respite will be honoured until March 2016, but provision will be continued until all reviews are complete and all users have alternative provision in place”. That’s the quote.

Then I went on to write, “In view of the concerns raised since the working party met, it’s even more important that attention is given to meeting the detailed needs of the families involved.

Services need to be offered at Girtrell Court, until it is clear that a range of providers are in place and lined up to offer services truly tailored to the physical, recreational and emotional needs of the users and are demonstrably appropriate to their ages and circumstances.

In view of the tight timescales that have caused concern the officers and Cabinet need to ensure that the transition to future provision is appropriately managed with clients able to use services at Girtrell Court until such time as alternatives are duly commissioned”.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): Thank you very much Phil.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson): That’s a fair read.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): and that was well read, errm, yes, Phil, I do want to move to a vote on this and then move on.

Cllr Phillip Brightmore (Labour): I just want to voice some concern that this is being attached to a report that came from the Families and Wellbeing Committee. It just strikes me that this is something that should stand on its own as a proposal if it’s going to be brought forward at all. I was on that Committee and it, I’d like the report to remain as it was.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): I’m going to put it to a vote Phil so I don’t want everybody around the room giving their opinion because I don’t think it’s needed. Wendy [Clements]? I’ll just going to take one more comment and then I’ll have a vote if Phil wants me to put it to the vote. I’ll draw people’s attention to page fifteen of the report.

Cllr Wendy Clements (Conservative): Thank you Chair. This is a report which is coming to this Committee and so its got our name on it, this particular bunch of people that’s sat here tonight and I would like to say that I will second this.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): We’ll put it to a vote and then we’ll move on. All those in favour of Phil’s suggestion that we attach that errm email,

Cllr Ron Abbey (Labour): Has he got as seconder for that Chair?

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): Well Wendy [Clements]’s just seconded it! Errm, all those in favour of that, we attach it to the report from Families and Wellbeing. Please show.

6 councillors voted in favour who were:

Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat spokesperson)
Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative)
Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative)
Cllr David Burgess-Joyce (Conservative)
Cllr Wendy Clements (Conservative)
Cllr Tom Anderson (Conservative spokesperson)

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): Right and those against?

8 councillors voted against who were:

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair)
Cllr Ron Abbey (Labour)
Cllr Phillip Brightmore (Labour)
Cllr Walter Smith (Labour)
Cllr Michael Sullivan (Labour)
Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour)
Cllr Janette Williamson (Labour)
Cllr Irene Williams (Labour)

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): So that is not carried and the report…

Cllr Christina Muspratt (Labour): Sorry, we haven’t asked for abstentions!

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): Sorry ok.

Cllr Christina Muspratt (Labour): Well I’m abstaining because I haven’t had it, I don’t want to have the .. meeting.

Councillor Christina Muspratt abstained.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): OK, ok, ok, Christine!

Cllr Christina Muspratt (Labour): So I’m abstaining on all this because I’ve not been following the chain.

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): OK, one abstention, but I would ask members to look at page fifteen. So now we move on to.

Cllr Christina Muspratt (Labour): Sorry could I ask a question. I’m sorry Chair but I want to ask a question on page eighteen, the CAMHS service, do we know if the money coming from the government may help with this?

Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) (Chair): Well this is one reason Christina, why I’m saying we won’t be debating these tonight, because we haven’t got the officers here to answer those questions. So if you want to submit a question in your own right on that I suggest you do, but that’s why we’re not debating these proposals tonight and I will now ask Jeanette [Williamson] to give her report.

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Labour use casting vote to delay decision on Saughall Massie fire station land

Labour use casting vote to delay decision on Saughall Massie fire station land

Labour use casting vote to delay decision on Saughall Massie fire station land

                                          

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Cllr Chris Blakeley addressing Wirral Council Regeneration and Environment committee about a new fire station in Saughall Massie September 2015
Cllr Chris Blakeley addressing Wirral Council Regeneration and Environment committee about a new fire station in Saughall Massie September 2015

Wirral Council’s Regeneration and Environment Committee meeting of the 15th September 2015 (Part 1 of 4) who discussed a notice of motion about a proposed new fire station in Saughall Massie

A week ago I wrote Why did Councillor Blakeley ask councillors to block a fire station in Saughall Massie? which finished at the end of Cllr Blakeley’s speech which is only the beginning of that story.

Now as you’re reading the same blog a week later you can read what happened next, in what’s rapidly becoming a saga. If you’ve written as much on this issue as I have, you’d find it’s become a saga longer than the epic poem Beowulf (but not as exciting). Bonus marks to those leaving comments if they can tell me who the Grendel character is in this matter. However literary references aside here’s what happened next.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Thank you Councillor Blakeley. Is there any questions from any Members? No? No?

Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative spokesperson): Yeah, thanks Chair. As there are no questions regarding this, I’m happy to move that the three points I can only go along with to maintain the green belt, not to give, sell or lease the land and to remain to ask officers to continue to try and find an alternative solution which Councillor Blakeley’s has just said he believes that there is.

Sorry I’ll put the mike on. In view of that if I can move that the notice of motion be agreed in its entirety.

Cllr Gerry Ellis (Conservative councillor): Chair?

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Does anybody want to …, I’d just like to say that this is a planning issue and I think if it goes to Planning [Committee], I mean I’m not, am I correct to say that it hasn’t, there’s no plans been submitted yet to planning?

Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative spokesperson): Yeah if I can assist there Chair, yes the outcome may be a planning permission and there hasn’t been any application that we’re aware of yet but this Notice of Motion is as Cllr Blakeley said prior to that and we’re asking that these three issues be taken into place which doesn’t concern planning.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): OK Steve, I take that on board but what I’d like to suggest, just let me finish Chris and then you can come in, what I’d like to suggest is, that rather than have a Notice of Motion that Steve and Gerry has seconded, if we get the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Service to come and explain why they’ve identified this site, as opposed to any other site.

I don’t think it’s particularly fair that we have Councillor Blakeley’s, that side of the argument, without having the fire, somebody from the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority to come and explain their position.

Cllr Chris Blakeley: Why didn’t the Council invite them?

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Well hang on, I’ll take, if you can be quiet from the floor please Councillor Blakeley, err Chris? And then I’ll take Steve and then Dave.

Cllr Chris Spriggs (Labour): Thanks err Chair. I really want to concur with that, what I was going to suggest that there has been a, so called evidence brought forward there’s just been some emails that have been flipped through. Obviously, to be fair in this situation, I think it would be about having a conversation with the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority and getting to the bottom of some of the remarks that were made rather than going through to this Notice of Motion.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Steve?

Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative spokesperson): Councillor, you did point before this. Bringing the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Service, had this been heard as a normal Notice of Motion in Council, it’s just this new constitutional method that we’re bringing it to here. The [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Service wouldn’t be there. We’re not discussing with it, we’ve had the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority have had their meetings, this isn’t for that. This is purely for the three points, items one, two and three which I don’t believe the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Service can answer those three anyway.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Dave?

Cllr Dave Mitchell (Lib Dem spokesperson): Err, thank you Chair. Apologies for being late, I was stuck in traffic outside Cammell Lairds for forty five minutes, very unfortunate, but I.. that way. I did intend to be here on time to talk through the previous minutes. Unfortunately I missed that.

All I can say is that at the present moment, like Councillor Spriggs, I need to find out more information because stuff comes to light through emails that have been released, you talk about land deals, swaps, all sorts of things. I need to know the background of all this information prior before I make any decision at all in relation to what’s here before us.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Thanks Dave. Rob?

Cllr Rob Gregson (Labour councillor): Thanks Chair, I mean I’m just going to reiterate what was said by comments already made. We’re talking here about response times, we’re talking about a professional judgement and really whereas I do accept the arguments about green belt and the biodiversity of the area, you know and that’s a serious issue that I take seriously Chris as well and you know I’m pleased that you’ve raised that point here but at the same time we’re talking about an emergency service that has made a decision and I really feel that they should come to us and give us the information how they’ve reached that decision and chosen one site over another. Thank you Chair.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): John?

Chair (Cllr John Hale, Conservative): I’m about to say Chairman, that I’m absolutely surprised and amazed that there was a Notice of Motion that has been in existence now for some weeks coming before this Committee and now what someone has been unable to anticipate that there would be suggestions put forward and evidence put forward which would show that the wrong site had been chosen and that’s .. I’m absolutely amazed that nobody made any attempt to bring here tonight the fire officers from the Merseyside Fire Service and Authority which would’ve shortcutted all of this.

We’ve have had a vote which has been referred to us for a vote, a thing that we were denied at Council but it’s come here tonight and I’d certainly like an explanation if not from our fire officers but from the [Merseyside] Fire [&] Rescue Authority, that if you were aware of this why you weren’t here tonight? Because they are simply delaying the right of people to have this examined by the proper body!

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): OK, thanks John I take that on board. So, can we delay the recommendation tonight and we can get the fire officer to come to our next meeting and tell us and maybe the process has moved on from there, there’s no planning application been sent in as yet, so it’s not time that we lack, I think it’s due diligence and we are, I agree with Rob, we are talking about life and death here, it is a very important emotive subject and taking on board the amount of people who attended the meetings and the hostility if you like but I would like to hear from the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Service before we send any recommendations through and we’re not pressured by time.

Cllr Chris Blakeley: Oh we are!

Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative): Thank you Chair.

Member of the public: Sorry, Greasby was the original preferred site but that was withdrawn.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Can I just say that this is a private meeting held in public and I would ask you not to interrupt please, just listen please?

Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative): Thank you Chair. I think it’s importantly that we actually look at what’s being asked. I don’t think it’s beyond our remit to ask the Council to protect our green belt or to even to ask our officers to work with the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority. We’re asking them to go and deal with the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority, not for us to make the decision on behalf of the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority. We just want our council officers to go and do that on our behalf and I think that would be something that this Committee could decide tonight.

It’s not for us to decide whether the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority’s professional opinion is right or wrong, it’s just that we ask our officers to engage with them and ask them to think again, I think that’s what the spirit of the Notice of Motion is to ask them to take a look at the decision that they’ve taken and explore some alternatives and I think there’s no reason why we couldn’t make that decision without hearing the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority’s views in person.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Thanks for that, this motion stands and it is the duty of this Committee to look at these things and make recommendations but as I’ve said before, I think it would be wise of this Committee as well as listening to what Councillor Blakleley had to say, to listen to what the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority have got to say and then we make a recommendation. Well it is the responsibility of this Committee to make recommendations and I think it would, it wouldn’t be in our interests or the general public’s interest, or the Council’s interest to make a decision when we’ve only heard one part of the argument.

Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative): Sorry Chair, can I just come back on that? I don’t think …

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): You can, but then I’m going to wrap it up.

Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative): That’s fine, I don’t think I was saying that we’re not making a decision. I think what is in here this does not force a decision on the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority. It would still be for the [Merseyside] Fire [& Rescue] Authority to present their planning application. That was my point.

Chair (Cllr Mike Sullivan, Labour): Right well, I’m going to wrap it up now. If you want to make just a quick comment Gerry? If you’ve made a recommendation and you’ve seconded it we could have a vote on that.

Cllr Gerry Ellis (Conservative): Well I’m sure that there’s nothing in this resolution here that’s going to stop the process of going as it is. I would think that we should definitely support this resolution.

The voting was as follows.

For the resolution (5)

Cllr Gerry Ellis (Conservative)
Cllr John Hale (Conservative)
Cllr Tracey Pilgrim (Conservative)
Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative)
Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative spokesperson)

Against the resolution (5)

Cllr Michael Sullivan (Labour Chair)
Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour)
Cllr Jim Crabtree (Labour)
Cllr Rob Gregson (Labour)
Cllr Chris Spriggs (Labour)

Abstentions

Cllr Dave Mitchell (Liberal Democrat spokesperson)

It was therefore a tied 5:5 vote (with one abstention).

The Labour Chair was asked to use his casting vote. He stated that they would invite the head of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to the next meeting to listen to him before making a recommendation.

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Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services (Cllr Tony Smith)

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services (Cllr Tony Smith)

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These questions start at 11:00 in the video above.

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services (Cllr Tony Smith)

                               

Continues from Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones).

Cllr Walter Smith asked, “Educational attainment of young people has been very much in the news lately. I’d like to ask the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services a question on children’s achievements in Wirral’s schools, academies and colleges. Would the Cabinet Member update the Council on children’s attainment in the academic year 2012/13?”

Cllr Adam Sykes asked, “Does the Cabinet Member welcome the Government’s additional early years funding for two-year olds, which means that just shy of £4 million will be made available enabling forty percent of Wirral’s two-year olds to access Wirral’s outstanding childcare?”

Cllr Phillip Brightmore asked, “Could the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services update Council on Wirral’s intensive family intervention project?”

Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children’s and Family Services) responded, “Thank you Cllr Smith. I’m absolutely delighted Mr Mayor to bring to the full Council the achievement in Wirral’s schools and colleges for the last academic year, I think this reflects on the whole Council. As I say once again the year that has been, over the last year there have been great successes and we’ve been hearing from children in Wirral’s schools and colleges and children, parents and school staff can be truly proud of these successes.

Some of the results include and I think that you know we should be really proud of this, the key stage one the number of children achieving level two which is the accepted level for … has increased again. In most of our constituencies we are now getting well over eighty percent of children at that level. Obviously we still want to improve that and we continue to improve it with the excellent leadership of headteachers and the excellent staff that we’ve got.

At key stage two, level four achievements again are up in our schools. Again we’re getting well over eighty percent. I’d particularly like to praise the inner city schools which are achieving absolutely magnificent results when you compare them to some other authorities in the country. Again it’s the hard work of staff and parents and the excellent leadership of headteachers.

GCSEs this year we increased our percentage by one, up to sixty-six percent of children who have achieved As to Cs including maths and English. I’ve just looked back over the last ten years and in 2003 I think it was, I think it was forty-five percent of children in this authority achieved As to Cs including maths and English. So that’s a fantastic achievement by again the schools backed up by the staff in the schools. So I’d like to also say that this year in most, throughout the whole of the country there was a decline in GCSE results and we’ve actually had an increase, so again that’s very good for the authority.

A-levels, again we had almost fifty percent of our young people achieving As to Bs in their A-level results and some 97.94% of children who achieved A-levels and that included General Studies. So you know, I would like to say I praise the work of some of the schools but also say the work that’s done by the school improvement service. We do really do challenge schools, we don’t sit back, we never get complacent and I think those Members who have been on children’s services, both on the previous overview and scrutiny committees and the policy committees now, people who do challenge what is going on from the officers and that. But we have an excellent improvement service, people who collect a lot of very robust data about what is going on in schools, hence the excellent results that we get, so I praise them for their teachers and that.

The second question from Cllr Sykes, very very much welcome that additional money. I think that we do need money for the early stages of education. It’s currently absolutely crucial that our children from the ages from nought to five get the best education possible, the best support in our children’s centres, our nurseries and that and I know the staff again focus to improve the, are looking very, very carefully at the progress that is being made and we do want children to start in our primary schools at the age of five having reached what was the expected level that they should be at when they go in there, so any money in education from these lot, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

Finally on the question about the family intervention program from Cllr Brightmore. I’d just like to perhaps update the Council on what’s happening here. I think you probably know that Louise Casey, who happens to be the National Lead for the troubled families programme came to the Authority during September. This was a return visit to the families and workers about the impact of this service on their lives and the strengths of the workers engaging with families in this way.

Now I’d just like to give some key information about the programme to date, it’s a good opportunity at full Council to reflect on this. The program’s working or has worked with approximately four hundred families identified through various projects since the scheme began. There’s a dedicated group of key workers and the charity catch 22, who work with our local authority family support services delivering intensive family support across Wirral. Using this evidence based model, families are required to be firstly assessed including a specifically developed family assessment, then seeks … a value contract. Also the leader of this programme is a lead professional who acts as a main coordinator for each family and this is the model we intend to pursue in this Authority.

The main focus of the work is to improve school attendance and I think that covers that one really, reduce youth crime and antisocial behaviour and increase the number of parents in employment and up to date progress from the report of the work of Miss Casey is that we have made good progress, two hundred and four families were achieving positive outcomes and this programme is … top preventative services, working with our partner agencies and the voluntary sector which are strong. Obviously most people are aware of troubled families and that, so this particular project even though it is a national project, we embrace it as a project that we can develop really for the Wirral and to say many future families and that. We have excellent workers working in this particular area and I hope on a future date to come back with a more comprehensive report.”

Continues at Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Economy (Cllr Pat Hackett).

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Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones)

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones)

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Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones)

                               

Continues from Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones).

Cllr Adrian Jones replied to the questions with these answers, “I’ll start with the last one first which was from Cllr Sykes. The short answer Cllr Sykes is yes. Are you happy with that? Now for Cllr Ellis, you’re asking me why the top ten get paid more, the short answer to that is it’s an overall saving because if you consider how the management restructure was conducted it was not a cost to the Council, it was a saving and that was absolutely the best possible way of doing it. I’d be quite happy of course to give you an official written reply, is that ok?

Cllr Blakeley, you made reference to disruption to IT services, yes I am aware of it and I must say I was very impressed with our IT staff because on the occasion of the very first, when Scottish Power cut us off on the first occasion in the middle of the night, I was contacted first thing the following morning which was now before eight o’clock and advised as to what was happening which I thought was a pretty good service. The position there of course was it was outside of our control and there was nothing that could be done about it. As to the second part of your question I’d be very happy to give you a written reply.

And now to the question from Cllr Walsh about the business process question on page fifty-one. To be honest with you that is such a big implied question that I intend to give you a written reply on that again and you’ll be able to circulate that to whoever would want to see it.

On the asset management question on page fifty-two from Cllr Mooney I’d say exactly the same thing there, that again is a question that again covers a very large area of ground and I’d be delighted to give a written reply.”

Continues at Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services (Cllr Tony Smith).

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Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones)

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones)

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These questions start at 5m34s in the video above.

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones)

                               

Continues from Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care (Cllr Chris Jones).

Cllr Joe Walsh asked, “Taking into account what the former local MP .. is Cllr Adrian Jones in a position to provide further information?

Cllr Chris Blakeley asked, “It’s regarding the disruption to IT services. Is the Cabinet Member aware that since the major outage there have been a further three periods of disruption, particularly at weekends, where local residents who wish to contact their local councillors cannot get email through? Can he tell us what action will be taken to provide a reliable and consistent service, so that we can serve the people who elected us to the Town Hall?”

Cllr Gerry Ellis asked, “My question relates to the first part of your report which is to do with human resources. You and I both have an interest in this and in your report you mention that you’re making numerous savings in the report. My question is can you explain to the Council why the top ten Chief Officers today get paid more than the top ten Chief Officers did in 2010, when ordinary council workers have had their pay frozen during that period and progression halted under this present Administration?”

Cllr Adam Sykes asked, “Can the Cabinet Member give me their assurance that they will work with Thingwall Primary School to ensure that the old Stanley School site adjacent to Thingwall Primary is put to good use after the continued effort of the Thingwall Primary to work with the Authority in providing a facility that benefits the whole of the ward?”

Cllr Bernie Mooney asked, “The asset management report page fifty-two confirms the integration will not result in any increased costs to the Council and the trade union accommodation reduces. So will the trade union still have offices?”

Continues at Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for Central and Support Services (Cllr Adrian Jones).

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