Flaybrick Cemetery – What will happen next? (Claughton byelection)

Flaybrick Cemetery – What will happen next? (Claughton byelection)

Flaybrick Cemetery – What will happen next? (Claughton byelection)

                                   

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Flaybrick Cemetery – What happens next?

John Brace at Flaybrick Cemetery 28th April 2017
John Brace at Flaybrick Cemetery 28th April 2017

Leonora recorded this brief video of myself speaking about the problems at Flaybrick Cemetery. I need to learn better to continue to face the camera as I’m speaking as when I turn to refer to what’s behind me, sound quality can be an issue.

Flaybrick Cemetery over the years has had problems with flytipping and damage to its walls. The area I filmed in called Crossways is mainly Magenta Living properties, but many are vacant. Cllr Steve Foulkes (one of the existing Claughton councillors is one of Wirral Council appointed directors of Magenta Living (formerly called Wirral Partnership Homes)). Since the vacancies have increased the problems with flytipping have increased.

After the video was filmed and I was heading back home a resident talked to us and wanted it to be improved.

Although there are longer quotes in the video, I include below quotes from a Labour councillor for this area Brian Kenny and the Lib Dem candidate for Claughton ward David Evans.

People go to vote in Claughton on Thursday 4th May 2017 for both their local councillor and Metro Mayor and the election result is expected on Friday 5th May 2017.


Response from Liberal Democrats (David Evans – candidate for Claughton ward) sent on 27th April

From: David Evans drcynlaisevans@btinternet.com

Hi John

I have family members interred in Flaybrick and I am saddened not only by the flytipping but also the vandalism of the grave stones and the fabric of a site that is part of the history of Birkenhead.

Birkenhead Park, Bidston Hill and Flaybrick are fantastic assets and a vital part of the heritage of Birkenhead – Flaybrick is similar in many ways to Highgate Cemetery and is much loved by the community as evidenced by the current work to preserve the chapels (although I understand that this is due to the efforts of a local heritage group rather than the council)

Flytipping is also a problem around Bidston Hill and Noctorum (Thermopylae Pass) as is the regular setting alight of the gorse on Bidston Hill.

The council seems to be unconcerned about the importance of local heritage (see demise of Woodside Hotel and ESWA problems)

I would like to see a role for the return of “Park Police” to patrol these areas to act as a visible deterrent and contact point for locals to report incidences of anti social behaviour.

I would also like to see local kids encouraged to value these assets by way of community education about the history of the area, this could involve local volunteers and agencies visiting schools etc.

Maybe the money spent on Wirral View could be diverted to projects such as this…

As you can see, I am an idealist but Birkenhead Park was on its uppers until Friends of Birkenhead Park was set up so involvement of local action groups is vital.

There is much to be appreciated in and around Birkenhead.

Best Regards


Labour’s position (sent on the 18th April) from Cllr Brian Kenny briankenny@wirral.gov.uk:

Dear Mr & Mrs Brace

I thought you would be interested in this email exchange.
There has been a great deal of activity around Flaybrick Cemetery, over the last week or so.

I will shortly be attending a meeting, to discuss further improvements.

Many Thanks.

On 18 Apr 2017, at 12:30, Burrell, Joanna joannaburrell@wirral.gov.uk wrote:

We have asked probation to clean up these areas.
….
Dear Jo

Please see this email and attachments, sent to me a few minutes ago, by Jayne Phennah.
The original was sent to Brian Sinton.
As you can see, Jayne is very upset by this appalling situation.
I would be obliged if you could please have a look at this situation, Jo, and see if there is anything you can do to eliminate the problems.
Please let me know if you require any more details, or clarification.
I am also copying this to the Claughton Ward Councillors, for their information.

Many Thanks, Jo.

Brian Kenny
Labour Councillor for Bidston & St. James Wirral Labour Group Chief Whip
….
Hi Brian,

Spoke to my mum today and she took me up to the cemetery, at the roman catholic end, where the houses are. I was shocked at what I saw. A tree has come down and took the fence off the wall. So anyone can now access the cemetery though here. The tree that has fallen, has been chopped into sections and left sitting on the railings on the floor, on the outside of the cemetery. So the gates on the entrance from lower flaybrick road are a waste of time, due to a big section of the railings being underneath the fallen tree. I took some photos for you. Fell free to forward this email to the appropriate people. I will also send this to Julie and Brian who are local councillors in the area. Let me know what you think, it breaks my heart to see this!

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What happened while Cllr Denise Roberts was Chair of MFRA’s Audit Sub-Committee?

What happened while Cllr Denise Roberts was Chair of MFRA’s Audit Sub-Committee?

                                     

Cllr Denise Roberts (Chair, Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee) (27th November 2014)
Cllr Denise Roberts (Chair, MFRA (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) Audit Sub-Committee at a previous meeting of the MFRA)

The author of this is the appellant in a First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) case involving Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.

There have been serious corporate governance allegations raised about how MFRS (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service) has been managed and led during the period when Wirral Council Councillor Denise Roberts has chaired the MFRA (Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) Audit Sub-Committee.

MFRS’s press office was approached to provide a press officer for today’s public meeting of its Audit Sub-Committee. However that request for a press officer was refused. A reply received from a senior manager who intervened in our request stated that a press officer is not able to attend this and indeed future public meetings due to “other responsibilities”.

Ultimately it is up to you dear reader to try and understand the reasons why such a decision would be taken.

Clearly Wirral Cllr Denise Roberts (Chair of MFRA’s Audit Sub-Committee) is not entirely to blame as reports to the Audit Sub-Committee she chairs (including to today’s meeting) have been either inaccurate or misleading (or indeed both at the same time) and indeed her time on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority comes to an end in a week.

Instead, Cllr Brian Kenny and Cllr Chris Meaden will replace Cllr Denise Roberts and former Labour Cllr Steve Niblock as two of Labour’s representatives from Wirral Council on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. Both Conservative Cllr Lesley Rennie and Labour’s Cllr Jean Stapleton remain.

It remains to be seen whether a future Chair of the Audit Sub-Committee continues with Cllr Denise Roberts’ approach and what happens next.

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Merseyside’s Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens answers councillor’s questions about proposed closures of Wirral’s Fire Stations

Merseyside’s Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens answers councillor’s questions about proposed closures of Wirral’s Fire Stations

Merseyside’s Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens answers councillor’s questions about proposed closures of Wirral’s Fire Stations

                         

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service's Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens Answering Wirral's Councillors Questions About Fire Service Cuts On Wirral
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens Answering Wirral’s Councillors Questions About Fire Service Cuts On Wirral

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Dan Stephens, Chief Fire Officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service gave a presentation to Wirral Council’s Regeneration and Environment Committee on his “least worst operational response options”. He explained that due to budget cuts, if they could get the land (and money from government) to build a new fire station in Greasby that this would lead to the closure of fire stations at West Kirby and Upton.

He described in detail the various options to save money instead of station mergers, which ranged from only crewing stations during the day to just having firefighters on call (which would lead to a further five-minute delay in responding to emergencies and less time for training).

Dan Stephens in his presentation said that on fire station closures “as much as this is a very unpalatable option it may be inevitable especially in light of forecasted cuts until 2020”. During his presentation at each point he mentioned cuts to the fire service’s budget by the government Cllr Harry Smith (who wasn’t on the committee but just there to watch) heckled with a loud one word heckle of “criminal”.

The Chair asked Dan Stephens a question about how response times would be affected if they closed Upton and West Kirby stations and built a new one in Greasby. Dan Stephens said that it was difficult to predict, but there would be a slight increase in average response time to both areas. Some areas would see a faster response time and other areas would see a longer response. He believed the average response time would increase by an extra ten seconds to five minutes twenty-five seconds.

The Chief Fire Officer was then asked by the Chair about the likelihood of getting capital funding for a new fire station at Greasby. Dan Stephens answered that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service would be bidding for the money along with other fire authorities, however the bids would be judged on projected efficiencies.

Cllr Steve Foulkes thanked Dan Stephens for his presentation. Cllr Steve Foulkes asked why the cuts to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service were more than the cuts to other fire authorities and asked what percentage change in the precept would be needed to prevent the need for any cuts.

Dan Stephens said it would take a thirty-seven percent increase in the precept to prevent the need for cuts. He said that for every one percent increase in the precept they would raise an extra 67 pence per a Merseyside household.

On Cllr Foulkes’ other question he said that after World War II, the fire service moved from central government control to the control of local authorities. At this time they set national standards of fire cover. In the 1950s there had been lots of heavy industry on Merseyside for example docks. Call outs to industrial areas required a response of two fire engines within five minutes and one within eight minutes. The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was therefore designed to combat the risk that existed back in the 1950s. The Merseyside population in the 1950s was 1.7 million, now was only 1.385 million.

In 2004 the old Fire Service Act was repealed and the standards of fire cover went too. Population based funding came in, which made Merseyside very expensive per a head of population. Although Merseyside got extra funding based on deprivation this didn’t totally offset the loss of funding.

Cllr Brian Kenny (not a member of the committee but Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability) thanked Dan Stephens and asked when they would make final decisions on the cuts. Dan Stephens answered that the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority would set its 2014/15 budget at its budget meeting on the 22nd February 2014. He explained that although the changes to Wirral’s fire stations wouldn’t happen until 2015/16 that they needed to start now on implementation as it would take between eighteen months and two years to build a new fire station. Dan Stephens said that they needed to look into whether they could secure land in Greasby, once this was established they would go to public consultation.

The Chief Fire Officer estimated that they would know within three months whether they would be able to buy the land for a new fire station in Greasby. After public consultation if a decision was made to go ahead, then it would take a year to build a new station. He said that they were working with Wirral Council to try to secure land.

Cllr David Elderton said that if the two fire stations at Upton and West Kirby were merged at Greasby that he was concerned about the effect on response times to call outs to Hoylake. Dan Stephens said that “Greasby is the best operational location” and explained how some of the alternatives to a merger would also impact response times.

Cllr Steve Foulkes asked what the impact of the cuts would be on fire prevention such as fitting free smoke alarms. Dan Stephens said they had cut ninety jobs which included those in advocacy roles. He explained that with agreement with the Fire Brigade Union that they had changed shift patterns. The savings from this offset the total savings they needed to make. He said they would maximise the amount of time they could spend on fire prevention but that there would still be cuts to this area.

The Chair thanked the Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens for answering questions from councillors.

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Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny)

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny) on dog fouling, litter, garden waste, brown bins, Wirral Coastal Strategy and flooding in Leasowe

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Cllr Brian Kenny’s answers start at 4:58 in the video above.

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny)

                               

Continues from https://johnbrace.com/2013/10/28/council-wirral-council-14th-october-2013-questions-to-the-cabinet-member-for-the-environment-and-sustainability-cllr-brian-kenny/.

Cllr Brian Kenny replied, “On the first question from Cllr Rennie, I must admit I do smile when this Labour administration has been forced to implement cuts of over £109 million over three years, a third of our budget in a situation where there doesn’t appear to be any protest to the national Government for resources, .. into that position. Many decisions that we have to make as part of last year’s Budget are very difficult decisions that we did have to implement and now we’re getting complaints as a result of those reductions. So can I say that we are very concerned about dog fouling, litter picking et cetera and one of the reasons why we’re shortly going to be allocating £10,000 to each of the new four constituency committees to spend on the basis that we want them, within their constituencies, to use that money to basically clean up the area, decide for themselves what their priorities are et cetera et cetera. So money will be allocated for that.

Also at the end of last week Mr Mayor I did have a meeting with Mike Collins, one of the senior dog wardens, on the whole question of dog fouling. I understand a couple of staff have recently left and have not yet been replaced. That is in the process of being dealt with at the moment but hopefully before too long the number of prosecutions will come up but when we’re talking about prosecutions, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again now. People can’t be prosecuted for allowing their dog to foul unless somebody is willing to come forward with evidence. So if anybody in this chamber or anybody in the Wirral has ever got any evidence of allowing their dog to foul without cleaning up please pass the evidence on and I can assure you that evidence will be viewed.

On Cllr Doughty’s question, yes you can from the report that we’ve already had over thirty-five thousand people in the Wirral sign up for the new garden waste scheme. The original target was thirty thousand, so we’re well above the target and again as you can see in the report I’ve been asked to go and speak at a conference, unless it’s called in, but I’ve been asked to speak at a conference outside of Wirral on this whole area, … but I understand that many councils up and down the country have already as Cllr Doughty said, have already introduced charges for garden waste, most of those seem to be well above the charges that we introduced on the Wirral and as we speak many other councils are now considering introducing charges for garden waste and they are very interested in learning from our experience here in the Wirral. Again Cllr Doughty mentioned home composting, I think again the figures in the report are very encouraging because one big aspect of introducing the garden waste scheme was that we wanted to encourage more residents of the Wirral to go down the road of home composting and I’m pleased to say that many of them have already done that.

Again Cllr Gilchrist referred to the question of garden waste. Now we will very shortly be going out to tender to get bids in for the taking away of brown bins for those people who don’t want them. Brown bins will be taken away around about the end of November. At the moment there are no specific figures as to how many are going to be taken in, it will be part of the tendering process as to what the people who tender will intend to do with the brown bins. I am happy to give a written answer on that when we have more details.

Cllr Janette Williamson asked about the Wirral Coastal Scheme and said basically can we afford it. I think my answer to that is we can’t afford not to. We’ve just spent over two years looking at the whole of Wirral coastal strategy scheme to decide what we’re going to do for literally the next hundred years. I can’t guarantee I’ll be here at the end of that hundred years, I probably won’t but it is such an important issue for the Wirral, obviously with it being a peninsula it’s surrounded by water on three sides so we can’t afford to ignore this issue, and that’s why we’ve instructed Kevin Adderley to go away and identify funding from places like the Environment Agency, other areas of funding where the work can be done over the next twenty years to make sure all the coastal areas are protected. So we’ve got to find the money for that one it is so important.

On the last question Mr Mayor about this question about flooding. Well I understand one of the main areas of flooding in the Wirral over the last few years has been in the area of Reedville Grove and Reeds Lane in Leasowe and I understand as a direct result of a public meeting called by Cllr Abbey and Cllr Leech, followed by meetings with United Utilities, we’ve now I think got good news on that one. United Utilities have recently announced that they are putting aside £5 million to resolve this problem. So they’re going to introduce a new pumping station and I think that would be very much welcomed by the residents that live in that area and also people who have cause to use the local station, Leasowe station so there is some good news on that one Mr Mayor.”

Continues at Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Governance and Improvement (Cllr Ann McLachlan).

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Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny)

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny) on dog fouling, flooding, garden waste and the Wirral Coastal Strategy

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These questions start at 1:53 in the video above.

Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny)

                               

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

Cllr Lesley Rennie asked, “Brian, I’m really pleased to note that Council are actually drafting a litter reduction strategy and clearly part of that strategy will be a key focus on dog fouling within that, but surely wouldn’t you not agree with me that the best way to discourage dog fouling is to increase not axe the number of dog wardens that we have? And therefore by increasing you may be able to improve the number of prosecutions for those that actually flout the law in that respect but I have to say Brian, unfortunately under your Cabinet leadership, the number of prosecutions have been nothing short of appalling.”

Cllr Paul Doughty asked, “I’d just like to ask the question, following a very interesting presentation by the Leader of Sevenoaks Council on Saturday a discussion was had with himself where he congratulated Wirral Council on the successful implementation of our garden waste scheme and also was pleased and able to see how low the cost of the service is when in his authority, a Conservative authority, the cost is £43 a year? And also can I congratulate the Cabinet Member on the percentage increase of garden waste composition announced that continues to be implemented?

Cllr Phil Gilchrist asked, “My question is on the issue of garden waste, I wonder if the Cabinet Member has an idea or an estimate how many brown bins are likely to be returned and what is likely to be the fate of the brown bins in terms of their recycling or reuse and what is he going to do with the brown bin mountain?”

Cllr Janette Williamson asked, “Given the Council’s very difficult financial position can you afford to implement the Wirral Coastal Strategy?”

Cllr Tony Norbury, “This question relates to the Coastal Strategy. I welcome the proposals for Council to explore funding options in relation to the Coastal Strategy. Given the serious level of flooding that has been within the Borough recently to people’s homes and land, can the Cabinet Member advise when and where work has been done in relation to this issue with United Utilities and the environmental officers?”

Continues at Council (Wirral Council) 14th October 2013 Answers to Questions to the Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability (Cllr Brian Kenny).

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