Expense claim forms for Councillor Andrew Hodson (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014
Expense claim forms for Councillor Andrew Hodson (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014
Councillor Andrew Hodson is a Conservative councillor for Heswall ward. His expense claim forms are below.
Some of his duplicate claims seem to have been disallowed.
To be honest I did manage to do this myself once over a very small claim when a politician (although our expenses claims were over smaller amounts than councillors plus we didn’t get paid allowances (only the fulltime ones did)). Our expenses took an incredibly long time to process as they all required four signatures (three politicians and an officer)) which at times put you off claiming at all. All our expense claims had to be initially signed off by two politicians (the person claiming and another politician). Rather stupidly I completely ignored the verbal advice of our treasurer at the time who told me it was a duplicate claim and then got rather embarrassed later when it was brought up by an officer when it got processed and disallowed as I got shall we say shouted at by an officer for doing so. However I admitted my mistake, said I was sorry for stupidly ignoring someone’s warnings and learnt my lesson about actually listening to people you are senior to and I never did it again.
Part of the problem was that I had submitted the original claim many weeks ago and as it hadn’t been paid yet, I naturally assumed that I had forgotten to do so as I have a tendency to be absent-minded at times. Rather embarrassingly the original claim got paid a day or two after I submitted the duplicate.
So duplicate claims happen, even to people like me! Human error can happen and that’s why there are checks and balances. Certainly the expenses system we had in place was (and we’re talking about sums of about ~£25 per a year per a politician and only about ~£8 (or less) a year of that sum was actually from the taxpayer, so it was very small sums indeed I got shouted at over) was even more arcane and bureaucratic than Wirral Council’s is. When I handed over to the person who replaced me, some jokes were made at the time about it being like the MP’s expenses system, I had to tell them it wasn’t that generous!
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On Monday evening the issue of the future of Lyndale School was debated by Wirral Council councillor for about forty-five minutes. I’m going to try and sum up what was said and decided in a short blog post so inevitably I will be leaving some things out.
The notice of motion by the Conservatives and Labour’s amendment to it is already covered here. The response from the Lyndale parents is here, in addition to that there were a further ninety or so responses to the consultation.
Cllr Paul Hayes (proposing the motion to keep the school open) started by referring to the consultation response by Lyndale parents and the passion and “strength of feeling” he’d observed at a recent consultation meeting (which you can listen to in full). He said he hoped all councillors had received a copy of the consultation response.
The Mayor Cllr Steve Foulkes said that some councillors had received it on the day of the meeting and that he didn’t believe they could be expected to read it in full as they hadn’t had time to digest it.
Cllr Paul Hayes continued by referring to an earlier consultation on Kingsway Primary School and the similarities between the two. He was critical of an officer chairing the Lyndale School closure consultation meeting and said that as well as the majority of people feeling that the officer wasn’t neutral, he also described him as “rude and dismissive”. He described the consultation process as “farcical”.
Cllr Stuart Kelly asked whether Labour’s amendment should be ruled out of order as it was negating the original motion. Labour’s motion deleted all paragraphs in the original motion bar one line. He said surely the same effect could be achieved by voting against the motion?
The Mayor (Cllr Steve Foulkes) said he would allow a legal opinion, but it had been a difficult decision on his part to allow the notice of motion on Lyndale School to be debated. From his point of view he felt that Cllr Stuart Kelly “didn’t have a leg to stand on” with regards to the [Labour] amendment being ruled out of order.
Surjit Tour said that the notice of motion referred it to the Cabinet as the final decision rested with te Cabinet. The amendment also did exactly the same in referring it to a special meeting in September. Therefore in his view the amendment was lawful.
The Mayor said that points of order was not the way he wanted to open the debate and asked the mover of the amendment to speak.
Cllr Phil Davies said that it had been agreed some time ago that they need to have a special Cabinet meeting and that there had been a very detailed consultation exercise, the results of which they had not yet seen. In his view the consultation responses were a “hugely important piece of evidence” which the Cabinet needed to consider before taking a view. To take the clear view expressed in the Conservative notice of motion before the special Cabinet meeting was “premature” as they would be making the decision now in advance of the special meeting. He was also very concerned that if the notice of motion was agreed then they would fall foul of predetermination. He thought it was a shame that Cllr Hayes had said that officers were not neutral.
He continued by referring to his time as Cabinet Member and again referred to the claim that officers were not neutral. Cllr Davies said that the amendment asked that they take no action on the motion tonight but refer it. Again he said that he was worried if they agreed the motion it would have predetermined the outcome before the Cabinet had considered the evidence, but there was no question that Lyndale School provided a “unique and caring environment”. He had visited the school but it was essential he had an open mind and considered all the evidence. He worried that if they made a decision tonight then they would be completely ignoring important evidence that they had not yet seen.
Cllr Andrew Hodson referred to his daughter who had learning difficulties, despite being in her 30s she had a mental age of nine. He considered himself lucky that she had her full health, but that the children at Lyndale had complicated health needs. Although his daughter lived in an establishment she still had her independence in fact [Cllr] George [Davies] had been at the opening.
He referred to the Corporate Plan about protecting vulnerable people and how Lyndale School was an essential service that met people’s complex needs. The staff at Lyndale were geared up to making sure that while receiving an education the children were safe and well cared for. He was perplexed by the decision as the Council would not benefit financially from the closure of Lyndale School so why do it? He finished by making a plea to keep the school open.
Cllr Phil Gilchrist said that the Childrens and Young People Department had told him they had received ninety response and that he had had time to read the documents. He knew that members of the Council had been concerned about the future especially [former] Councillor Tom Harney. He referred to the document received at the weekend and referred to the reference in it to a working party.
Cllr Gilchrist referred to the space that children using wheelchairs need, children with epilepsy, those require oxygen and those who required time consuming feeding. He had attended two of the consultation meetings and concurred with Cllr Paul Hayes’ description. He referred again to the parents’ response to the consultation quoting from it and that it may be September by the time the issue was resolved. He said that the high needs budget for 2013/14 was £31.7 million.
After being given extra time, he referred to the strain on families, the SEN Improvement Test and said that if they wished, councillors on the Cabinet could choose not to vote on this notice of motion (and amendment). The notice of motion was about Council’s view.
Councillor Dave Mitchell said that the way the process worked was that councillors who stood were indicating that they wished to speak in the debate and that if no Labour councillors stood up then councillors who wished to speak should still be allowed to address the Council. Cllr Chris Blakeley said he had no objections.
The Mayor (Cllr Steve Foulkes) said that if that was an early test, that he would decide what goes on, who was asked and which councillor would make a contribution.
Councillor Dave Mitchell said that he’d pick up on the point made by Cllr Paul Hayes at the start. He too had been surprised at the way the presentation had been presented by officers to the parents and that the parents knew what was required and that the parents were the ones who should be listened to. Cllr Mitchell recommended that councillors read every page of the parent’s response to the consultation and absorb every part as it “rips to shreds” the proposal [to close the school] and deals with the real issue which was the children.
Cllr Mitchell continued by saying that it had nothing to do with the schools formula funding as it was all there set by the government and had never been taken away. This was not the case with education funding and the way the funding was divvied out was decided by Cabinet. One of the problems that concerned him with the consultation itself was the way parents had asked questions to officers and had no responses till the last day of the consultation.
Cllr Pat Williams objected to the Mayor refusing to let her speak. She said she was being deprived of her democratic right and that she’d been elected by the people of Oxton to speak.
The Mayor [Cllr Steve Foulkes] changed his mind and agreed to let her speak after all.
Cllr Pat Williams said that during the consultation period it was made abundantly clear that the appropriate place was to let the children remain at Lyndale School. She referred to the petition against closure of nearly 11,000 signatures which demonstrated how much Lyndale School was valued as a unique asset. She like other councillors referred to the parents response to the consultation and wanted the profound and complex needs of the children fairly reflected in the funding.
She had visited the school and was always most impressed by the caring an dedication of the staff and when she was Mayor had had the pleasure of formally opening the sensory garden. The consultation had ended and it was overwhelming apparent that Lyndale School should stay. She asked councillors to take note and resolve that Lyndale was to remain open.
Councillor Pat Cleary (the new Green Party councillor) said that he wanted to make a brief point. He said that Lyndale School doesn’t have to be closed and he appreciated the sincere feelings. He was disappointed as he didn’t understand the Labour councillors not engaging.
One issue he wanted to raise was that 18 months ago there had been a letter from the Leader of the Council during the What Really Matters consultation about whether local elections should only be held once every four years. It had been said that the reason the proposal was being brought forward was that early analysis of the consultation results had shown 91% supporting this change. In that instance a recommendation had been brought forward before the consultation was finished, he wanted to know why the current situation was any different?
Cllr Tony Smith said that he agreed that the uncertainty about Lyndale School must be resolved and had been an ongoing concern for a number of years. The consultation had been undertaken, but reducing numbers of children on the school roll, changes in funding arrangements and questions about the future viability of the school were the reasons behind the consultation. He stressed that the consultation was not about the quality of the education.
He continued by saying that any decision about future provision would be informed by individual needs and make sure people’s requirements were fully met. The government required the [SEN Improvement] test to be undertaken to show that the proposal was as good as or better than the children’s current provision. He said that they would make sure they had an up to date understanding of each child’s needs.
They had undertaken a consultation and there was oversight from the [Wirral] Schools Forum. The original decision had been called in and it was made clear then at the outset that the process should be open and transparent over the twelve week consultation.
Prior to the consultation starting, there had been a meeting with parent governors of Lyndale and throughout the consultation six public meetings. Eighty-five people from the community had turned up to these, with some attending more than one. Wirral Council had commissioned an independent person to consider each of the published options and any new options and consider the application of the government’s [SEN Improvement] test. All councillors had also been invited on an escorted bus tour which included Lyndale School. Twenty-two councillors had taken part in these visits on the 16th/17th June. He made the assurance that all information relevant to the consultation would be made publicly available prior to the Cabinet meeting to inform the decision making when the Cabinet would be taking all factors into account such as the needs and welfare of each individual child.
Cllr Jeff Green (seconder to the Conservative motion) reminded people that when Cllr Tony Smith spoke that closure is a preferred option. He reminded people why it was called in and referred to the speeches of Cllrs Hayes, Gilchrist, Mitchell and others (as well as congratulating Cllr Cleary on his maiden speech). He said a maiden speech was normally held in silence but the response from Labour councillors was because he’d beaten them in an election.
Cllr Green said that Lyndale was unique and incredibly special and that that needed to be safeguarded.
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The presentation by Wirral Street Pastors starts at 1:39 in the video above.
Councillors on Wirral Council’s Licensing Act 2003 Committee yesterday listened to a brief talk from a Mark Latham of Wirral Street Pastors about what Wirral Street Pastors do on a Friday evening and Saturday morning in Birkenhead. Mr. Latham said that he would give a quick overview of what Wirral Street Pastors do and what they are and hoped from that that the councillors would glean valuable information.
He said that his role as coordinator was to try to develop a better relationship between local government, Wirral Council and the police. So far he had had meetings with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside (Jane Kennedy), Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, Cllr Ian Lewis and Emma Degg (a couple of times). Mr Latham said that these meetings were to bridge the gap between what the Wirral Street Pastors do and what they see.
He explained that street pastors started ten years ago when they saw a need that people in the night-time economy were drinking, being drunk and that there were lots of problems relating to those things such as fighting, antisocial behaviour, violence and crime in general. Mr Latham said that Wirral Street Pastors did the same as what other street pastors across the country did and that they were out on Friday night around Birkenhead patrolling the streets, making sure people were safe and making sure particularly vulnerable individuals got home safely.
The example of a young girl on her own was given and he said that one of his team (which were made up of female and male individuals) would stay with them and either ring their parent or a friend or get them into a taxi to make sure they get home safely. Wirral Street Pastors also gave out free flip-flops to ensure that women who had taken their shoes off don’t stand on broken glass or the general filth that’s on the streets.
In addition to free flip-flops Wirral Street Pastors also give out bottles of water and space blankets to the homeless and people who’d had one too many to drink. The aim of this was to hydrate them so that the taxis would take them. He said that some people were so drunk that taxi drivers refused them rides as the taxi drivers were concerned that these people would throw up in the back of their taxi.
Mr Latham said that the average cost to the National Health Service of a drink related incident was £4,000. He said every pair of flip-flops that they gave out meant that that person wasn’t standing on broken glass requiring an X-ray which would cost the taxpayer money. For every fight that the Wirral Street Pastors had broken up, every antisocial behaviour incident that was simmered down put less of a strain on police resources.
He said that they had a standard operating procedure with the police that allowed Wirral Street Pastors to engage with people allowing the police to concentrate on what they needed to do. Mr Latham said the Wirral Street Pastors dealt with the homeless who they gave space blankets too as well as signposting them to the Wirral Churches Ark Project, ARCH Initiatives and other agencies.
Mark Latham gave an example of somebody having their head stamped on a fortnight ago was given, Wirral Street Pastors stayed with him until the ambulance turned up and that he was fortunate that Wirral Street Pastors had been with him “because he would have been dead within about half an hour” because he was losing consciousness.
He told councillors about another person who was “roaming round”, who was “suffering from mental illness” that the Wirral Street Pastors “got back on his medication” and dealt with his needs. Mr Latham said that most of the time that the Wirral Street Pastors were just there to make sure people are safe and to be a listening ear. He referred to Cllr Ian Lewis coming out with the Wirral Street Pastors recently and that Cllr Ian Lewis could relate his experiences of that to the other councillors on the Licensing Act 2003 Committee. Mr Latham said that the Wirral Street Pastors were engaging with the community, the neighbourhood and the people who were out in the night-time economy. He said that there was much more to it than he had outlined, but he was happy to take questions from councillors.
The first question was from Cllr Harry Smith asking if the Wirral Street Pastors were connected to a church and whether they wore any special gear when they were out at night. Mark Latham replied that they had a uniform that they had to wear which was a DayGlo duotone blue jacket. He said that it was a condition of their insurance that they had to wear these uniforms but also so that they were identifiable and that the police knew who they were. He said that the Wirral Street Pastors are a Christian organisation. He said there were various inter denominational churches across the Wirral that were involved.
Mr Latham said that the Wirral Street Pastors were the only recognised ministry by the police and that the reason why it was recognised was because it wasn’t proclamation, that the Wirral Street Pastors didn’t go out preaching but they were just there to help people. He added that the Wirral Street Pastors were a highly trained group of individuals that had “police training”.
Cllr John Salter asked who the Wirral Street Pastors got funding from? Mark Latham answered that they don’t and that all volunteers paid £300 each to do it. Although it was supported by the Home Office, their standard operating procedures were “signed off by Scotland Yard and the Home Office” that that was the entirety of their involvement. He said that the national statistics were fed back regularly to David Cameron, but that the only funding they got was what they received from individuals as well as grants from Christian organisations.
Cllr Andrew Hodson asked how many Wirral Street Pastors there were in total and how many were out on the streets? Mark Latham answered that there were fifteen. He said that they went out every Friday night in teams of four (two men and two women) starting at half past ten at Charing Cross and finish at four.
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An account of the special meeting of Wirral Council’s Coordinating Committee of the 24th June 2013 to discuss the call in of the decision by Conservative councillors to send five councillors and two officers to the LGA Conference as an approved duty
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Labour councillors on new Coordinating Committee reject Conservative councillor’s view that spending £2,475 plus travel costs to send five councillors and two officers to the LGA Conference is not “value for money”
Coordinating Committee (previously called Scrutiny Programme Board)
Cllr Stuart Wittingham (Chair)
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Vice-Chair)
Cllr Andrew Hodson (spokesperson)
Cllr Alan Brighouse (spokesperson)
Cllr Ron Abbey
Cllr Leah Fraser
Cllr Paul Doughty
Cllr Jean Stapleton
Cllr Moira McLaughlin
Cllr John Salter deputy for Cllr Patricia Glasman
Cllr Denise Roberts
Cllr Adam Sykes
Cllr Steve Williams
Cllr Bernie Mooney
Cllr David Elderton
He asked for any apologies for absence. Cllr John Salter sent Cllr Pat Glasman’s apologies and said he was deputising for her. There were no declarations of interest or party whip made.
Cllr Moira McLaughlin started by asking that as the Conservative spokesperson on the committee Cllr Andrew Hodson was a signatory to the call in whether this amounted to predetermination?
Ed – news flash for Cllr McLaughlin, there’s no such thing as predetermination any more, it got abolished on the 15th January 2012 by the implementation of s.25 of the Localism Act 2011.
Surjit Tour answered that being a signatory to the call in doesn’t amount to predetermination. Cllr Hodson, Conservative spokesperson said that despite the fact that some on this side of the table (referring to himself and Cllr Leah Fraser) were signatories to the call-in, that they hadn’t made up their minds and that they would make an unbiased decision.
He went on to say that he felt the way that officers had dealt with the call-in was “in an unprofessional manner” and accused officers of making rules up as they went along. Cllr Hodson said that they’d been asked by Surjit Tour to disregard an email from Cllr Phil Gilchrist (who had an interest in the matter). He said, “We know he was told what to say by Shirley Hudspeth.” and that at a later time Surjit Tour told them to carry on. Cllr Hodson said he wanted to stick to the fact that they were only dealing with transport and attendance.
Surjit Tour said that Cllr Gilchrist had said he wanted to make written submissions to the members of the committee, but that there had been “no authorisation for that information to be circulated”. He’d therefore asked members of the committee who’d received Cllr Gilchrist’s email to disregard it. Instead Surjit Tour only wanted Cllr Gilchrist’s written submissions to be circulated to the committee if the Chair agreed to it. He said that that was why he’d sent out the email telling councillors to disregard Cllr Gilchrist’s email.
Cllr Hodson pointed out that Cllr Gilchrist wasn’t present, Surjit Tour responded to his points. Cllr Adrian Jones, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services interjected from the audience and asked the Chair to ask people to speak louder as it was difficult to hear what people were saying.
The Chair, Cllr Stuart Wittingham asked people to speak up and moved onto agenda item 3, Surjit Tour said that it was a reminder of the committee’s terms of reference, the terms of reference were noted by the committee, the Chair moved the meeting onto agenda item 4 (Procedure for considering a decision that has been Called-in). Surjit Tour said that members of the committee would’ve received in their packs the proposed call in procedure regarding the call-in. He said that paragraph two set out the process and went through the various stages. The Chair asked for agreement, the committee agreed to the procedure and the meeting progressed to item 5 (the call-in).
Employment and Appointments Sub-Committee (Compromise Contracts)
Date: 20/9/2012 Time: 5.15pm
Committee Room 4
Employment and Appointments Subcommittee (Compromise Contracts)
Cllr Chris Meaden, Labour
Cllr Andrew Hodson, Conservative
Cllr Mark Johnston, Liberal Democrat
Andrew Mossop, Committee Services Officer
Surjit Tour, Acting Director of Law, HR and Asset Management
Chris Hyams Head of HR and Organisational Development
Tony Williams, Employee Relations
Cllr Jeff Green, Conservative
Cllr Adrian Jones, Labour, Cabinet Member (Corporate Services)
Two members of public
1 Appointment of Chair
Cllr Andrew Hodson proposed Cllr Chris Meaden as Chair.
Cllr Mark Johnston seconded Cllr Chris Meaden as Chair.
There were no other nominations for Chair.
Cllr Chris Meaden was appointed as Chair.
Cllr Chris Meaden took the Chair.
2 Declarations of Interest
The Chair, Cllr Chris Meaden, asked if anybody had any declarations of interest to make. None were made by Cllrs Meaden, Hodson or Johnson.
3. Exclusion of press/public
The Chair asked if the Sub-Committee agreed to exclude members of the press and public for agenda item 4 by a resolution moved using s.100(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 c. 70 (information relating to any individual). The other members of the Subcommittee, Cllr Mark Johnston and Cllr Andrew Hodson agreed with her.
The two members of the public left the meeting.
4. Compromise Contract
A four page report of Chris Hyams, Head of HR and Organisational Development (in conjunction with Legal) was considered by the Sub-Committee of Cllrs Meaden, Johnston and Hodson regarding a recommendation about a proposed compromise contract of over £30,000 to terminate the employment of a Wirral Council employee’s contract (who wasn’t a member of school staff).