Isle of Man company cancels plans for ICT College in Birkenhead

Isle of Man company cancels plans for ICT College in Birkenhead

                                                     

Wirral Council (15th December 2015) Cllr Adrian Jones announced plans that have now been cancelled for an ICT College in Birkenhead last month
Wirral Council (15th December 2015) Cllr Adrian Jones announced plans that have now been cancelled for an ICT College in Birkenhead last month

The Isle of Man Today website (which is the website for the three Manx newspapers such as the Isle of Man Courier) reported yesterday that the International Centre for Technology Ltd has "pulled the plug" on a plan to re-use the Conway Building and Hamilton Building (both in Birkenhead).

The Conway Building and the Hamilton Building are both owned by Wirral Council. Manx Education Foundation who had been behind the plans had a minority shareholding in the International Centre for Technology Ltd. However the International Centre for Technology Ltd have since bought out Manx Education Foundation’s shareholding which means the plan for a creative industry training college in Birkenhead will now not happen.

ICT Ltd are instead concentrating on developing a property on the Isle of Man called the Nunnery that they bought from the Tynwald (Isle of Man government) for £5 million that they hope to open later this year.

The now shelved plans for the Conway Building and Hamilton Building were previously reported on this blog and by the Liverpool Echo. News of the plans were first revealed in a report by Cllr Adrian Jones (Cabinet Member for Resources: Finance, Assets and Technology) to councillors last month.

It looks like Wirral Council will have to re-think what they will do with the Conway Building and the Hamilton Building in Birkenhead.

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How much a mile do taxis for Wirral’s councillors cost (between &#1a63;1.33 and £6.40/mile)?

How much a mile do taxis for Wirral’s councillors cost (between £1.33 and £6.40/mile)?

How much a mile do taxis for Wirral’s councillors cost (between £1.33 and £6.40/mile)?

Last year I published the £multi-million contract Wirral Council has called the Passenger Transport Contract which covers transport for children with special educational needs/disability, children in care and vulnerable adults (to places like school and day centres) (Lot 1), ad hoc journeys for these categories of people (Lot 2), the "Maxi Taxi" scheme (taxis for people to work) (Lot 3) and of course that most interesting category of all taxis for councillors (Lot 4).

From the answer Cllr Adrian Jones gave recently (this blog post details the aspects of the request that relate to an underspend on the modern equivalent of the Poor Laws), I think it is fair to summarise that his answer states that providing me with a 44 A4 page contract about a £multi-million contract such as this, is a great drain on Wirral Council’s resources (bear in mind this is an organisation that has a revenue budget of hundreds of millions of pounds a year plus a capital budget of a similar size). Just the annual invoices to their external auditors Grant Thornton comes to a six-figure sum! Personally I’d prefer Wirral Council to routinely publish such information (but they don’t). Maybe if all such contracts that Wirral Council has for millions of pounds were published the public would know what they were getting for their money?

He pointed out at a public meeting to me last month that it takes a long time to black out " personal information" on such contracts. Out of those 44 pages I published, as only one telephone number is blacked out on page 39, I am truly glad that Wirral Council is saving the public from knowing the phone number of a local taxi company (that I’m pretty sure will be in the phone book anyway!)

It’s a contract estimated at £4.1 million (no that’s not all on taxis for councillors).

Of course, as regular readers of this blog will know, despite the information on councillors’ expenses being open to inspection at "all reasonable times" actually getting information out of Wirral Council on councillors’ expenses is a bit like a dentist asking a patient do they want their teeth out!? I asked (again) and the answer from Cllr Adrian Jones was that I should be "patient".

I gather that "all reasonable times" by Wirral Council’s interpretation of the legislation is at some point between to be poetic "when hell freezes over" or the councillor (or former councillor) to whom the expenses relate is dead.

From a public relations perspective I would say that the drip, drip, drip of information on councillors’ expenses at Wirral Council and repeated attempts to block information is probably far more embarrassing (to all councillors including the ones that don’t claim any expenses) than actually releasing the information in the first place! Has their new PR adviser heard of the Streisand Effect! This FOI request (which will be the third time of asking for this information so I must have a lot of patience) is one I hope will be answered. However dear reader I presume this request will be either refused or ignored (despite the Court of Appeal judgement [2015] EWCA Civ 388, [2015] 1 WLR 2879, [2015] WLR 2, [2015] WLR(D) 194 referred to being extremely clear that such information has to be released). As there is for want of a better term "political resistance" at Wirral Council to the release of expenses information, I am beginning to think an ICO decision notice (which will take an answer to this FOI request past the May 2016 elections) may be what it takes. Who knows? Please leave a comment if you know more than me.

However moving on to oversight and scrutiny. I have conducted some oversight and scrutiny on my original publication of the contract and realised that there was a schedule containing rates that I didn’t include when I published the original contract. That table can be found below. This table is how much that Wirral Council is charged by Eye Cab Limited for taxis for councillors.

Here is an easy read version of Councillors Pricing Schedule LOT 4.

You can see the original below (linked to a more high-resolution version). Personally I feel this web version and the PDF file I’ve created above are far easier to read (especially for those with visual issues like myself it can be zoomed in without loss of resolution). However don’t get me started on Wirral Council’s track record towards people with disabilities. I hate to think how much I’d be moaned at if I asked for large print versions of documents and how much of a drain I’d be regarded on resources then!

Councillors Pricing Schedule LOT 4

Item

 Description
 1 Mile = 1609.344 Metres


Distance


Quoted
Mile Cost

Quoted
Total
Journey
Cost

1

 First 805 metres (half mile)

First mile

£3.20

£3.80

£3.80

2

 Remaining 805 metres

£0.60

3

 Additional mile @1609 metres

1-5
miles

£1.40

£9.40

4

 Additional mile @1609 metres

5-10
miles

£1.40

£16.40

5

 Additional mile @1609 metres

10-15
miles

£1.30

£22.00

6

 Additional mile @1609 metres

15-20
miles

£1.20

£26.60

7

 Waiting time (if applicable)

Per Minute Cost

£0.20

  Additional Information or Charges:
  All vehicles are Hackney Carriages 5/7 seat vehicles and have been quoted accordingly, any tolls will be charged extra at the appropriate return rate.

Passenger Transport Contract Councillors Pricing Schedule Lot 4 thumbnail
Passenger Transport Contract Councillors Pricing Schedule Lot 4

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Why did Cllr Adrian “Father Christmas” Jones try to block scrutiny of £2.6 million given to Wirral Council to spend on the poor?

Why did Cllr Adrian “Father Christmas” Jones try to block scrutiny of £2.6 million given to Wirral Council to spend on the poor?

                                                

Leonora Brace and Councillor Adrian Jones in Birkenhead Christmas 2013
Leonora Brace and Councillor Adrian Jones in Birkenhead Christmas 2013

As you can see from the photo above (and let’s face it three days away from Christmas this is becoming topical), it’s well-known politician Cllr Adrian Jones dressed as Father Christmas and my wife Leonora Brace.

Yesterday (to my surprise), the Wirral Globe ran a story headlined Councillor scolds Wirral blogger over information requests about expenses. If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m the blogger (also described as online journalist) referred to in the article.

Now firstly, I’ve been taken back by all the positive comments people have left both to that article and on social media. It would probably take Christmas to respond to them all.

Firstly I will take this opportunity to wish Councillor Adrian Jones a happy Christmas. However this story isn’t really about him or myself. It’s a far more complicated saga than that. I’ve replied to a number of comments on social media to try and clarify some of it.

This story came about because of two other people who I am going to take the time to thank in this article (before I write any more about this subject).

Firstly, Heather Brooke (who indeed is somewhat of the inspiration behind the story). Heather Brooke wrote a book called Your Right to Know: a citizen’s guide to the Freedom of Information Act (available to read in Wirral Council’s libraries) and was the person that took to task the House of Commons/House of Lords over MPs’/Lords’ expenses (only to find herself scooped by a leak to the newspapers). She writes a blog here.

The second person I’d like to thank is Ted Jeory. He writes a blog here. His blog covers local politics in Tower Hamlets. He’s a former accountant, then newspaper journalist who now works for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

To be honest with you, in my opinion (although this is only an opinion) they are both far better at journalism than I am!

However back to the story (which isn’t just about Cllr Adrian Jones and myself but this is a good place to start). Before doing what we both do now, Cllr Adrian Jones and I came from the academic world (a somewhat different world to politics).

In the academic world, my question to Cllr Adrian Jones would be like the equivalent of an oral exam where I’ve challenged his more orthodox view of the political world. He’s then disagreed with me over some points and it’s all gone to peer review now and now everyones’ commenting on the merits of each sides’ arguments. Fine, fair enough, that much I can understand and yes there should be a public debate and discussion about politicians’ expenses beyond the walls of Wirral Council’s Council Chamber.

It makes more sense that instead of the Heather Brooke route of 5 years of court battles that it is much more cost-effective (as this is a worry of Cllr Adrian Jones’) to have this debate in the media instead.

The world of politics however is very different to the world of academia. Despite sharing some features in fact they’re like oil and water.

I am now going to sound terribly like an academic now and reference a tweet I wrote yesterday about the new Poor Laws (and by new I mean 1844).

The way I made the request to Wirral Council dates back to this legal right from Victorian times, but is still relevant today. It’s an important right that gives access to local voters (such as myself) on what public money is being spent on. I realise the Wirral Globe headline is about councillors’ expenses, however I will instead highlight another part of the request that probably won’t generate as many headlines in the newspapers. In fact on this topic I can only find one article written two years ago by the Wirral Globe.

I’m going to briefly mention an area that you may not have heard of, that Wirral Council was given a budget of £1,345,925 a year to spend on. It’s called the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. The whole point of it (rather like the point of the Poor Laws) was to reduce poverty.

Wirral Council invoice Furniture Resource Centre
Wirral Council invoice Furniture Resource Centre

The thumbnail for this invoice will be hard to read (it does link to a higher resolution version), however it’s for a cooker, electric kettle and washing machine (total £778.20). This would have been given to someone who made an application under the scheme. The other invoices are for very similar items too such as microwaves. The whole point of it is to help people in need who are have emergencies. The scheme also covers basics such as food and utilities.

Admittedly there can be a lot of public debate over the best ways to help people and there is a detailed report on this on Wirral Council’s website and there are many party political aspects to this issue that I am trying very hard to avoid dwelling on

You may well say good for Wirral Council, isn’t it great that they spent £1.3 million a year on helping poor people? However this isn’t what happened. As estimated by one councillor at this meeting, Wirral Council so restricted (or didn’t publicise enough) what they were doing, that there was an estimated (this was cumulative so it was over two years) £2.1 million underspend of a £2.6 million budget.

Yes this was money given to Wirral Council for the relief of the poor, on which there was an estimated £2.1 million underspend. Bear in mind we often hear Wirral’s councillors repeat that they feel the government are not giving Wirral Council enough money!

By Cllr Adrian Jones’ logic (in answer to the request I put in), I should be restricted from enquiring and writing questions/requesting the invoices for the above matter because it costs too much (despite an estimated over £2 million underspend).

In doing so (oh dear, I’m about to make what could be construed as a party political point here so advance warning), it makes it far easier for the Conservative government to axe funding for this area (as indeed they have done so already). Why, because if Wirral Council blocks or delays press scrutiny of it, then there is little discussion of it in the media in defence of it.

Therefore national politicians think it can be cut as they look somewhat to the press as an indicator of public opinion.

I know his fellow Labour councillor Cllr Janette Williamson has spoken passionately in defence of her view that the underspend should be used for its intended purpose rather than swallowed up to be spent on something else by Wirral Council.

As it is Christmas, I’ll try and give some respite to Cllr Adrian Jones’ on the rather vexed issue of councillors’ expenses (which is the tip of massive iceberg of Wirral Council expenditure) and finish by making these points which because of the time of year probably fall into religion rather than politics.

I was brought up as a Catholic and part of those teachings are about seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. There are many good things that Wirral Council does, but if you block my queries it makes it more difficult for me to write about it. Personally, it doesn’t bother me too much if you try to block me, but it seems to be unpopular with the people that you are there to serve. To give the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme issue as outlined above, councillor scrutiny on it was done behind closed doors, not in public but as a task and finish group.

The story then sadly becomes about the secrecy (which let’s face it is the kind of story about cover ups the rest of the press like to write about). Frankly if you do this it’s very good for my career and bad for Wirral Council’s reputation (although you know this already). In three days time it will be Christmas (on the day I’m writing this). Christmas is a time of year when society concentrates on the religious and there is a break from politics.

I don’t expect politicians or those working in the public sector to be saints, but I sincerely hope they know the difference between right and wrong (and yes my view of right and wrong is probably slightly different to yours and everybody else’s as right and wrong is subjective).

Although you may not believe this, I don’t wish to quarrel with Wirral Council or its councillors, in fact believe me I try my best not to interfere in your internal affairs. I just see your world from outside the goldfish bowl that is local politics rather than inside. Happy Christmas!

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A farce at Wirral Council’s public question time (Act 2, Scene 1) Is Wirral Council “open and transparent”?

A farce at Wirral Council’s public question time (Act 2, Scene 1) Is Wirral Council “open and transparent”?

A farce at Wirral Council’s public question time (Act 2, Scene 1) Is Wirral Council “open and transparent”?

                                                                

A question on councillors expenses to Cllr Adrian Jones Wirral Council 14th December 2015
A question on councillors expenses to Cllr Adrian Jones Wirral Council 14th December 2015

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Wirral Council’s Public Question Time 14th December 2015

Before I write about the question I asked of Councillor Adrian Jones at public question time, I am going to explain some of the legal background, what’s happened so far and why there are echoes of the extreme lengths that the former Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin went to over MPs’ expenses.

There are a number of different laws (and a bit of history) here that apply to this, so I am going to start by explaining my understanding of them and explain why Cllr Adrian Jones has unfortunately fallen into the trap of believing things officers tell him and also getting bamboozled by some of the legal jargon. Here is a link to a transcript of a previous answer he gave.

I’m a local government elector here on the Wirral (basically that means I get to vote in elections to Wirral Council).

Each year, during the audit there is a period of about three weeks when local government electors have a legal right to inspect and receive free copies of accounts to be audited and copies of all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to them.

Wirral Council can remove any details of employees, but has to seek the external auditor’s permission (in this case Grant Thornton) to remove anything else.

This is detailed in this piece of legislation Audit Commission Act 1998, s.15.

Once the inspection period ends, there is then a period when questions can be asked of the auditor followed by a period when formal objections can be raised or requests for a public interest report.

In case Wirral Council thinks I’m picking on it, this year I made requests to Merseytravel (part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority), Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (also called Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority), Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority and Liverpool City Council.

Each of those other bodies managed to respond and provide the information for inspection more or less within the inspection period.

Two of these authorities (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority and Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority) provided some of what I requested in electronic format.

For example this one contract that MFRA (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) has that comes to over 11,000 A4 pages I could’ve requested in paper format, but didn’t as I was quite happy to receive it on one DVD as opposed to three large boxes of paperwork. The £1.2 billion contract that Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority provided is over 800 pages long.

Wirral Council however decided that providing me with what I’d estimate at 10% of what I asked for was reasonable. It’s not!

These other public bodies I refer to are much smaller (in terms of staff and budget) than Wirral Council, yet by being flexible saved to give the example as outlined above the internal costs of copying a contract of over 11,000 pages in length. Had I requested such a contract from Wirral Council I would still be waiting as they would insist on supplying it in paper format!

So getting back to what I did request. I requested the 44 page contract that Wirral Council has for providing taxi services to councillors, the Highway Services Contract with BAM Nuttall (you can read the first 83 pages here) Wirral Council spend roughly £5 to £6 million a year on this and the contract variations to the Biffa contract (I’m still waiting for the latter).

In addition to this I requested various invoices and to inspect the councillors’ expenses (I haven’t seen any of the latter and received about one in ten of the former).

To give an example of some of the invoices I requested, it answered the details of Wirral Council spending ~£7.2 million on agency staff/consultants as opposed to hiring to these positions. It showed that in one case Wirral Council made a senior member of staff redundant, then hired agency staff (at a vastly increased cost) to do their job. You can view some of the invoices relating to that here.

There are other categories of public expenditure that I requested from Wirral Council that are in the public’s interest to know about too.

Indeed, Wirral Council’s Cabinet itself has referred to this blog in its decision making. The accompanying report to the decision refers to the lease for the New Brighton Marine Point development at 2.5 which was published on this blog.

By reversing this decision Wirral Council saved ’thousands in the costs of perhaps adding an extra hour to the next Highways and Traffic Representation Panel public meeting, the cost of it then going on the agenda of the next Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee public meeting and the cost of a Cabinet Member finally making a decision (along with the associated costs of officers trying to persuade objectors to drop their objections).

I might point out that as I put this information in the public domain had Cabinet reversed their decision at an earlier stage the costs of consultation on the proposed traffic regulation order (an expensive public notice in the local newspaper etc) would have been saved too.

However going back to councillors’ expenses. As I have not seen any councillors’ expenses for 2014/15, my question to Cllr Adrian Jones must be classed as a request to exercise this legal right (The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003, regulation 15 to inspect such documents.

I do not like having to ask twice! Cllr Adrian Jones as far as I remember in his answer stated that these amounts were included in the annually published list both in answer to my question this week and earlier this year.

I would suspect that councillors’ use of taxis would be broadly comparable from year to year. So let’s test Cllr Adrian Jones’ assertion.

In response to this FOI request the taxi bill in 13/14 was ~£3k and Cllr Adrian Jones confirmed in answer to my question that for the 14/15 financial year the total cost was roughly the same.

Here are three councillors that got taxis in 13/14 and the costs:

Cllr Moira McLaughlin £755.30
Cllr Pat Hackett £700
Cllr Steve Niblock £493.90

Had anyone of those stopped getting taxis at Wirral Council’s expense the total amount for 14/15 would’ve dropped dramatically.

Yet here are the relevant amounts from the 2014/15 published list:

Cllr Moira McLaughlin £NIL
Cllr Pat Hackett £NIL
Cllr Steve Niblock £NIL

If these three councillors had all decided to give up getting taxis and the £NIL amounts were correct (the latter point Cllr Adrian Jones states in answer to my question) then the total amount would drop by ~£2k (the combined total of all three). However it hasn’t!

You can see the full exchange between myself and Cllr Adrian Jones below.

Cllr Ron Abbey (who is a member of Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee) makes the point before Cllr Adrian Jones that it is implied that this is unlawful and isn’t that terrible to imply such a thing?

If Wirral Council is as strongly suspected from what is outlined above publishing incorrect figures, then it is breaching breach of The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003, Regulation 15(3).

Clearly as clearly outlined above, had Wirral Council not flouted a number of its other legal responsibilities I would be able to answer that question and Wirral Council’s cultural attitudes towards its legal responsibilities continue to have the effect of interfering with the freedom of the press and triggering the Streisand effect.

Councillor Adrian Jones makes the point that councillors are trusted not to misuse the public purse paying for their taxis.

Below is a claim form (as I’m being seasonal) from one of Cllr Adrian Jones’ party colleagues, a Councillor Peter Brennan (a councillor at Liverpool City Council) who claimed from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (and was paid for) £5.64 for car mileage expenses to and from a carol concert at St Nicholas’ Church. In the grand scheme of things you may point out that £5.64 doesn’t matter and at least he didn’t get a taxi! However it’s the cumulative cost to the public purse of these matters and the excessive secrecy at Wirral Council that is leading to suspicion as to why despite Cllr Adrian Jones’ claims about openness and transparency that at Wirral Council they are being anything but on this politically sensitive topic!

Cllr Peter Brennan car mileage claim November 2014 to February 2015 page 1 of 2 thumbnail
Cllr Peter Brennan car mileage claim November 2014 to February 2015 page 1 of 2 thumbnail

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A farce at Wirral Council’s public question time (Act 1, Scene 1) No microphone, silent musical chairs & no answers

A farce at Wirral Council’s public question time (Act 1, Scene 1) No microphone, silent musical chairs & no answers

                                                             

Public Question Time (Wirral Council) 15th December 2015 Mrs Nowell asking a question to Cllr Adrian Jones about a fire station at Saughall Massie
Public Question Time (Wirral Council) 15th December 2015 Mrs Nowell asking a question to Cllr Adrian Jones about a fire station at Saughall Massie

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Wirral Council Council meeting on the 15th December 2015 starting at public question time agenda item

Public question time at Wirral Council’s meeting on the evening of the 15th December 2015 was a farce. You can watch this in the video above. I’d better declare an interest as I was one of the two asking questions of Cllr Adrian Jones.

The first member of the public to ask a question was Mrs Nowell (yes it’s Christmas although I’m not making that name up), she was ushered to a chair by Patrick Sebastian to ask her question.

However there was no microphone there.

Cllr Phil Davies (giving up his chair for the second time this week having earlier this week given up the Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) then gave up his chair for Mrs. Nowell. So in the Town Hall version of musical chairs (but without any music) everyone got a chair except Cllr Phil Davies who was left standing next to Mr. Tour.

The seasonal fun however did not end there!

Mrs Nowell got about four words into her question to be interrupted by Cllr Ann McLachlan sitting to her left who then apologised.

Mrs Nowell resumed her question which was,

"Given the substantial local opposition to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s proposal to build a fire station directly adjacent to sheltered accommodation, will Wirral Borough Council Members honour their commitment, as set out in the 2020 Vision, to "empower locally" and attempt to gain a "deep and meaningful understanding of what local people want" by agreeing to "detailed engagement and conversation with local people" prior to gifting, releasing or selling the only significant publicly amenable green-space in Saughall Massie?"
   

The Mayor thanked her for the question.

Cllr Adrian Jones then replied as follows, "Mayor, it is customary to have some advance notice of the question! I’ve had no advance notice and therefore I’m very happy to give a written reply!"

I will point out at this stage that unlike myself Mrs Nowell submitted her question about a month before the meeting (which reminds me of the following famous poem I have rewritten for this):

Though the mills of Wirral Council grind slowly;
Yet they grind exceeding slowly;
Though with patience Cllr Adrian Jones stands waiting for the question,
Waiting for the question which he has done for a whole month,
He is never sent it.
  

The Mayor looked at Mrs Nowell and asked, "Is that OK for a written reply?"

She answered, "That means I don’t get to ask another question. I did email the question in plenty of time."

The Mayor then said to Cllr Adrian Jones, "Cllr Adrian Jones is it possible to give a reply? I understand that you don’t know the full details."

Cllr Adrian Jones answered, "Mr Mayor, I’ve had no advance notice of this, therefore I’ve done no research on this occasion, I’d be very happy to give a written reply but I think in any case it’ll have gone to planning, therefore it will be dealt with fully at that particular point."

The Mayor thanked Mrs Nowell for her question.

As Cllr Jones had now answered she asked the following supplementary, "Why was Cllr Blakeley not allowed to respond to Dan Stephens at the Regeneration meeting?"

The Mayor said, "Cllr Adrian Jones is the Cabinet Member for this particular question to be addressed to."

Cllr Adrian Jones said, "Had I been given some advance notice, I would have done something about it, I’m terribly sorry but we do have a system here as a courtesy, if you want to ask a question."

A councillor heckled, "But she’s done that!"

Surjit Tour said, "I’ll need to look into why the question and the issue about the question why it didn’t make its way to Cllr Jones and I’ll respond to that for that as regards to the process."

Cllr Jeff Green said, "Mr Mayor, we do have the Chair of the relevant select Committee, maybe Cllr Sullivan could answer that?"

Surjit Tour replied, "The appropriate form for a further question to come to Council around that advance notice of it, I appreciate the expectation was that it would be appropriate for a question to be asked in the circumstances."

The Mayor said, "OK, there seems to have been some sort of delay in the question, advance notice being got to the Cabinet Member or the Chair so we need to give them the opportunity to research that and give you a written response."

Mrs Nowell replied, "My second question, I don’t have to give notice of that you see!"

The Mayor said, "It’s called a supplementary question and unfortunately you’re unable to ask the supplementary because the substantive question hasn’t been answered and replied to."

Cllr Chris Blakeley said, "Can I ask, as I know Mrs Nowell submitted the question some time ago, why hasn’t it found its way to the Cabinet Member for a response to that?"

Surjit Tour replied, " I’ll have to look into to understand exactly what has happened."

Mrs Nowell said, "I sent the question to you."

There was laughter from councillors at this point.

Surjit Tour continued, "Yes, that’s agreed, apologies for not following the process, I just need to understand why Cllr Adrian Jones didn’t get the question and then I’ll report back to Council after that moment."

Cllr Adrian Jones said, "Mr Mayor I would be very happy to deal with this question at the next meeting and it goes without saying that I promise to do everything within my power to protect Council." There was more laughter at this point.

The Mayor said, "Under those circumstances, could I ask that the question be asked at the next Council meeting? Where opportunity will have been given to the.. Adrian Jones?"

Cllr Chris Blakeley added, "It may well be too late Mr Mayor!"

The Mayor finished by saying "We’re going to have to leave it to the written reply then I’m sorry."

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