Why is a Labour councillor denying a vote took place on Girtrell Court?

Why is a Labour councillor denying a vote took place on Girtrell Court?                                                                As you can see from the still from a video I took of the Coordinating Committee meeting held on the 16th February 2016 Cllr Moira McLaughlin (second from the left in the background) is quite clearly voting on Cllr Phil Gilchrist/Cllr … Continue reading “Why is a Labour councillor denying a vote took place on Girtrell Court?”

Why is a Labour councillor denying a vote took place on Girtrell Court?

                                                              

Cllr Moira McLaughlin voting against Girtrell Court motion at Coordinating Committee 16th February 2016 thumbnail
Cllr Moira McLaughlin (second from the left) voting against Girtrell Court motion at Coordinating Committee 16th February 2016 thumbnail

As you can see from the still from a video I took of the Coordinating Committee meeting held on the 16th February 2016 Cllr Moira McLaughlin (second from the left in the background) is quite clearly voting on Cllr Phil Gilchrist/Cllr Wendy Clements’ motion about Girtrell Court.

This was a story in a blog post I published yesterday headlined 8 Labour councillors vote against motion asking for delay in closure of Girtrell Court until alternatives are in place. That blog post contains a video of the meeting and a transcript of what was said during that the discussion and vote on the motion about Girtrell Court.

Following publication of that piece, one of my readers emailed the Labour councillors involved in the vote. The reader forwarded a copy of a response received from Cllr McLaughlin which is included below (along with the original email). Cllr McLaughlin is Vice-Chair of Wirral Council’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee (therefore expected to lead by example when it comes to standards) but she responds in her role as Chair of the Coordinating Committee.

I have asked the reader for permission to publish this email, but at the time of publication have not heard back yet. Therefore I have removed their name, email address and signature block from both emails.

However considering Cllr McLaughlin’s denial in the email that a vote on Girtrell Court happened, I felt it was in the public interest and important that this is published before Budget Council meets on Thursday evening. Maybe Cllr McLaughlin can explain at Thursday’s meeting why she wrote this in an email (not just to the resident, but a number of other Labour councillors too)? This is one of those rare times I make a decision as editor using s.32 of the Data Protection Act 1998 to publish such material.

I have not approached Cllr McLaughlin for a right to reply to this piece as I believe her views are conveyed in publication of the email itself.

From: McLaughlin, Moira (Councillor)
Date: 29 February 2016 at 14:44
Subject: RE: GIRTRELL COURT
To: ************** <****************>, “Abbey, Ron O. (Councillor)” , “Brightmore, Phillip A. (Councillor)” , “Smith, Walter W. (Councillor)” , “Sullivan, Michael (Councillor)” , “Williams, Jerry (Councillor)” , “Williamson, Janette (Councillor)” , “Williams, Irene R. (Councillor)”
Cc: “Davies, Phil L. (Councillor)”

Dear Mr. **********,

Thank you for contacting us.

I`m afraid , though, your information is inaccurate .

We have had no vote, as yet, on the future of Girtrell Court and I`m really not sure what information you have based this email on.

I don`t think it is appropriate for me to address the other points you make in your email

Regards

Moira

Councillor Moira Mclaughlin
Councillor for Rock Ferry Ward
Tel: 0151 644 8234
Fax: 0151 652 3248

The contents of this e-mail are the personal view of the author and should in no way be considered the official view of Wirral Council

From: ****************** [mailto:******************] On Behalf Of ******************
Sent: 29 February 2016 14:07
To: Abbey, Ron O. (Councillor); McLaughlin, Moira (Councillor); Brightmore, Phillip A. (Councillor); Smith, Walter W. (Councillor); Sullivan, Michael (Councillor); Williams, Jerry (Councillor); Williamson, Janette (Councillor); Williams, Irene R. (Councillor)
Subject: GIRTRELL COURT

Dear All!

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)

Is my interpretation correct that the above-named Councillors voted against a delay in the closure of Girtell Court until alternatives are in place?

If so, hang your heads in shame.

As a life-long Labour Party supporter, I believe in looking after the vulnerable in our society.

Since having become one of those vulnerable people (I am disabled), I had been hoping that the Party would help look after me. Now I see that it cares not one jot nor tittle. The Conservative Party looks after those able to cope with the vicissitudes of life. To whom must I turn at the next and future elections?

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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 councillor bans filming at public meeting to decide whether to licence a taxi that’s over 10 years old

Labour councillor bans filming at public meeting to decide whether to licence a taxi that’s over 10 years old

Labour councillor bans filming at public meeting to decide whether to licence a taxi that’s over 10 years old

                                           

Last Thursday there was a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee. Part of this meeting considered an item deferred from a Licensing Panel the week before.

The report on that item titled HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLE LICENCE APPLICATION – LTI TXII REGISTRATION NUMBER WX03 FPE can be read by following this link.

The application was for a hackney carriage vehicle that is 12 years old.

In August 2014, new regulations came into force that prevent councils stopping filming at public meetings.

Below is a transcript of what happened at the Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee meeting on the 25th March 2015. It shows that Wirral Council still thinks it has the power to stop filming at public meetings.

Derek Cummins is a union representative in the UNITE union. Margaret O’Donnell works for Wirral Council.

Councillor Bill Davies gets irate and starts wagging his finger when he's told he can't ban filming any more Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee 25th March 2015
Councillor Bill Davies gets irate and starts wagging his finger when he’s told he can’t ban filming any more Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee 25th March 2015

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Licensing, Health and Safety and General Purposes Committee (Wirral Council) 25th March 2015

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): The next item, the last item is… Margaret? Do you want to come forward sir?

CLLR TOM ANDERSON: Is this exempt?

CLLR JOHN SALTER: Are we exempted?

CLLR STEVE NIBLOCK: Can we ask for legal clarification about whether or not this item should be exempt because it might be to do with personal or financial circumstances with regard to this application and I’d prefer that we should consider whether it was exempt?

LEGAL ADVISOR TO COMMITTEE: I think we need to clarify whether or not there’s an objection first from the individual before we determine whether or not a decision needs to be made in that respect.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Are you objecting sir?

TAXI DRIVER: Well, yeah sorry, are you talking about my finance?

DEREK CUMMINS: He didn’t quite understand. Yeah, if it’s possible.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): If you’ll just come forward.

TAXI DRIVER: Sorry.

MARGARET O’DONNELL: Just stay there.

CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yeah, just, just keep, yeah sorry, so you don’t, you’re not identified at the present time.

DEREK CUMMINS: Yeah, just to be confident it’s that disagreement on the internet, I don’t want for, for the, could we just sort of err stop filming this side? Well I would suggest it.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: Yes, he said stop filming.

UNKNOWN COUNCILLOR: Stop filming.

CLLR JOHN SALTER: So do it under 12A!

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): You don’t want to be filmed or recorded?

TAXI DRIVER: I’m ok, it’s just err on the finance.

CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yeah.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): There’s finance involved?

CLLRS STEVE NIBLOCK AND CLLRS JOHN SALTER: Yeah.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Right you cannot be filmed because finances are going to be involved.

JOHN BRACE: Sorry did he say he was ok with being filmed but we’re going to be excluded anyway?

DEREK CUMMINS: Yeah, he did.

JOHN BRACE: In a bit yeah? That’s fine, but they’ve got to agree the exclusion first.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): I can’t, I can’t hear from up here, would someone, would someone?

MARGARET O’DONNELL: Can I assist? Firstly, err Derek are you representing the applicant?

DEREK CUMMINS: He didn’t come to me at all, it’s just he doesn’t quite understand what the agenda is.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: We’re concerned about you being filmed and disclosing personal information.

DEREK CUMMINS: That goes on the internet.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: That could very well end up on the internet

OTHER COUNCILLOR: Yeah.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: and on Youtube.

DEREK CUMMINS: So you’d rather have that handled?

TAXI DRIVER: No, yeah. Yeah.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: We’re trying to protect your interests so you’re alright.

TAXI DRIVER: Thank you.

DEREK CUMMINS: So there’s a thing called 7A so we’re excluded, everyone’s excluded, except you.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: So would you be happier if we just said no filming?

TAXI DRIVER: Please.

CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yes.

TAXI DRIVER: Please.

CLLR JOHN SALTER: Yes Chair.

JOHN BRACE: If they’re excluding the public then it doesn’t matter.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Sorry, it’s not an exempt item. The person can stay but they don’t film.

JOHN BRACE: I’m getting confused now. Sorry are you excluding members of the public or not?

CLLR BILL DAVIES (and other councillors): No, no, no, no.

CLLR MICHAEL SULLIVAN: But you can’t film.

JOHN BRACE: But the reason….

CLLR BILL DAVIES: He’s an individual, if he’s got human rights like everybody else. He doesn’t want to be filmed, he doesn’t want to be filmed.

JOHN BRACE: I was just going to point out that although we had this discussion a lot longer at Standards

CLLR DAVID ELDERTON: Please take it down and take it out.

JOHN BRACE: Sorry can I finish what I’m saying? Err, I thought you were about to say you were going to exclude the members of the press and public and he was going to stay and you were just going to decide that, but now you’re saying you’re going to decide, if you’re going to decide this when the press and public are going to be here then the regulations say that any bit of the meeting that’s public can be filmed but obviously if we were excluded then we can’t film it.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Well the gentleman there does not want to be filmed.

JOHN BRACE: Yeah but I can film the other side of the room?

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): That’s what he’s saying. I think that’s quite clear! Some of us don’t want to be filmed. At the end of the day, if it ends up on the internet or Youtube this committee and the officers and something goes wrong will be responsible. It won’t be you, it will be us and this man has said, do you want that recorded. Do you want to be filmed or recorded?

TAXI DRIVER: No.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): That’s fine. You can stay but you don’t film or record. I have made it quite clear because the gentleman, if the gentleman wants to be filmed, no problem. He doesn’t.

JOHN BRACE: OK.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): OK.

CLLR DAVID ELDERTON: It is the Chair’s discretion.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Yep. OK.

CLLR JOHN SALTER: Will you switch it off?

JOHN BRACE: At the Standards Committee it was said if you’re going make a decision that filming is not allowed, then you record that in the minutes with the reasons.

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): Yeah, I will do that.

JOHN BRACE: OK, could you give..

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): but we’re not at the Standards Committee, we’re at the Licensing Committee.

JOHN BRACE: Yeah, I know, but just

CLLR BILL DAVIES (Chair): but you must realise that there’s certain times when individuals have private, personal or financial and they do not want their business spread elsewhere.

JOHN BRACE: I’ll just say I’d like that recorded in the minutes and if that’s the case then I’ll stop filming because I want to challenge that anyway under the regulations so that’s my position.

=======================================================================================================

Once the camera was switched off and the lens cover was shut, councillors went back on what they’d said and excluded the press and public from the rest of the meeting anyway!

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The many reasons I’m objecting to the proposed traffic regulation order for Birkenhead Market Service Road

The many reasons I’m objecting to the proposed traffic regulation order for Birkenhead Market Service Road

The many reasons I’m objecting to the proposed traffic regulation order for Birkenhead Market Service Road

                                                   

Proposed traffic regulation order public notice (Birkenhead Market Service Road) 9th July 2014
Public notice of proposed traffic regulation order (9th July 2014) Wirral Globe Birkenhead Market Service Road

I’d better point out than along with Leonora we are both objectors to this proposed Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). This is about item three (OBJECTION: PROPOSED WAITING & LOADING RESTRICTIONS – BIRKENHEAD MARKET SERVICE ROAD, BIRKENHEAD). The report and map is already on Wirral Council’s website.

Previous articles on this matter can be read at:

Objection to Traffic Regulation Order (KO) for Birkenhead Market Service Road (25/9/14).

https://johnbrace.com/2014/09/17/a-meeting-with-2-wirral-council-officers-about-parking-behind-birkenhead-market-and-disability-issues/ (17/9/14)

The shocking tale of Wirral Council trying to scapegoat the disabled and forcing them to pay more £s for parking (8/8/14)

Below is my submission (in the interests of openness and transparency) to the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel that meets on the 21st November 2014 starting at 9.30am.

CC:
Cllr Michael Sullivan
Cllr Steve Williams
Cllr Dave Mitchell
Mark Smith
Ken Abraham
Vicky Rainsford

Subject: Agenda item 3 (OBJECTION: PROPOSED WAITING & LOADING RESTRICTIONS – BIRKENHEAD MARKET SERVICE ROAD, BIRKENHEAD) Highways and Traffic Representation Panel Friday 21st November 2014

Dear all,

As one of two objectors to the proposed TRO for Birkenhead Market Service Road, I am announcing my intention to speak at this meeting.

I have received a letter through the post detailing the date and time of the meeting. I’m also (although you may have guessed this) going to film agenda items 1, 2 and 3.

Leonora (the other objector) may wish to speak too. However as I have had time to read the report, published yesterday there were some points I wish to raise in advance of the meeting in order that officers (and councillors) are given appropriate advance notice of the points I will raise.

I refer to the original numbering of the report.

3.4 “objector’s” should read “objectors'” as there are two of us.

3.5 Although access to Birkenhead Market Service Road can travel through Birkenhead Bus Station, as you can see from the map this is one of two ways vehicles can access the Birkenhead Market Service Road. Therefore it’s misleading to imply that people in the Birkenhead Market Service Road must have come through the Birkenhead Bus Station.

It would be useful if officers could clarify which designated bays they are referring to and what specific longer observation periods they are referring to.

3.6 Both The Grange and The Pyramids (except on a Sunday) charge for parking.

Here is the detail of blue badge spaces at the other car parks referred to (total number of spaces in brackets):

Europa Square 14 blue badge (150)
Oliver Street 6 blue badge (16)
Conway Street (on street) ~6 (6)
Burlington Street unknown

Policy SPD4 (which I’m sure councillors who are currently or have been previously on Planning Committee are familiar with) state minimum numbers of spaces for vehicles carrying disabled people as follows:

1 in the first 10 spaces should be allocated for disabled people. Thereafter 1 in every 20 spaces or 6% of the total (whichever is greater).

Applied to the Europa Square car park of 150 spaces using Class A1 – Retail this is:

first ten spaces: one space
other 140 spaces: seven spaces
Total: eight

However 6% is the greater. Depending on how you calculate the 6% (whether 6% of 150 or (6% of 140)+1) it either comes out as either 9 spaces or 9.4 spaces (rounded up to 10).

However the number of blue badges issued to the Wirral population (visitors can also use their blue badges) is higher than 6% putting pressure on existing spaces in Europa Park. On the day of the site visit with officers, there were no free Blue Badge spaces available in the Europa Park car park (out of 14) and this is pretty typical of how it is during the times the shops are open.

I quote:

“Officers consider there are sufficient parking spaces within existing Council and privately owned car parks in close proximity to the Market Hall to accommodate any overspill of blue badge holder parking from Birkenhead Market Service Road.”

In order to know that you’d have to do a traffic survey of how many spaces are free in car parks in close proximity to the Market Hall, how many of those spaces are blue badge spaces and actually know how many park in the Birkenhead Market Service Road currently with a blue badge. As far as I know (although I may be wrong) this is merely based on an opinion of officers without doing a survey. Many of the “sufficient parking spaces” are unsuitable for those with disability as disabled people if they parked in the regular spaces would not have enough room around their vehicle (especially if parked adjacent to a car) to safely get in and out of their vehicle.

3.7 Of course the Birkenhead Market Hall isn’t going to object to a traffic regulation order it’s actually funding half of the cost of. Individual traders were told by officers at the site visit that the proposals wouldn’t affect their customers unloading and loading, just parking. The traders haven’t been individually consulted and unless they read the notice on the lamppost, or found out by other means they just won’t be aware of this proposed TRO. Even if they did object, they might not know how to go about it. Bear in mind the proposals weren’t available to view in the Conway Street One Stop Shop just across the road, but were a considerable distance away at Wallasey Town Hall, Seacombe.

3.8 There are various points in the Birkenhead Market Service Road (as you can see on the plan) that are much narrower than others. Cars (or other vehicles) parked there or near there (unlawfully) can be causing an obstruction to the free flow of traffic. Although Wirral’s CEOs do not have powers to remove vehicles, the police do. Wirral’s CEOs can issue tickets (which hopefully act as a deterrent).

3.9 This is an acknowledgement by officers that the draft TRO (as consulted on) cannot be decided by the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel.

It is unclear from what is put in the report exactly what modifications officers are proposing to the proposed TRO. However what is clear is that only the original TRO has been consulted on (twice) and not the modified TRO.

The requirements in regulation 9 cause a public inquiry held by an inspector to be held if the requirements in regulations 9(3) to 9(5) are met.

To summarise these are (subject to paragraphs 4 and 5) for orders if:

(3) Subject to paragraphs (4) and (5), this paragraph applies to an order if—

(a) its effect is to prohibit the loading or unloading of vehicles or vehicles of any class in a road on any day of the week–

(i) at all times;
(ii) before 07.00 hours;
(iii) between 10.00 and 16.00 hours; or
(iv) after 19.00 hours,

and an objection has been made to the order (other than one which the order making authority is satisfied is frivolous or irrelevant) and not withdrawn; or

(b) its effect is to prohibit or restrict the passage of public service vehicles along a road and an objection has been made to the order in accordance with regulation 8–
(i) in the case of a road outside Greater London, by the operator of a local service the route of which includes that road; or
(ii) in the case of a road in Greater London, by the operator of a London bus service the route of which includes that road or by London Regional Transport.

(4) For the purposes of paragraph 3(a), an order shall not be taken to have the effect of prohibiting loading at any time to the extent that it—
(a) authorises the use of part of a road as a parking place, or designates a parking place on a road, for the use of a disabled person’s vehicle as defined by section 142(1) of the 1984 Act;
(b) relates to a length of the side of a road extending 15 metres in either direction from the point where one road joins the side of another road,

unless the effect of the order taken with prohibitions already imposed is to prohibit loading and unloading by vehicles of any class at the time in question for a total distance of more than 30 metres out of 50 metres on one side of any length of road.

(5) Paragraph (3) does not apply to an order —

(a) if it is an experimental order;
(b) made under section 84 of the 1984 Act (speed limits on roads other than restricted roads); or
(c) to the extent that it relates to a road which forms part of a priority route designated by the Secretary of State pursuant to section 50 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 (designation of priority routes in London).

(6) In this regulation “public service vehicle” has the meaning given by section 1 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981.

As you can see from the above, even if the loading bays in the proposed TRO are modified to apply to all vehicles and not just goods vehicles, it’s the stretches it restricts of >30m in 50m stretches around the Birkenhead Market Services Road that are the problem. Without these being also taken out of the proposed TRO the requirement for a public inquiry by an inspector still applies.

Neither the TRO consulted on, nor the changed TRO can be decided by the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel because of Regulation 9.

3.10
The exceptions referred to in officer comments in relation to vehicles driven other than by the blue badge holder for the purposes of picking up the blue badge holder don’t as far as I can see form part of the consulted on TRO.

4.1
Even if in theory a TRO was granted, without enforcement it wouldn’t result in any change. There are plenty of loading bays and plenty of time deliveries will happen and there will be a goods vehicle already in the space they wish to load or unload. Whereas it can be inconvenient for drivers of large lorries to try and drive down the Birkenhead Market Service Road, the vast majority of vehicles there are connected to the market stalls or the Pyramids/Grange. Going one way to the Birkenhead Market Service Road, the Birkenhead Bus Station provides greater challenges to the drivers of goods vehicles than the Birkenhead Market Service Road itself in my opinion.

5.1
There are options that have not been considered these are:

A) Consulting on the modified TRO. In fact consultation is a requirement of Regulation 8 (Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996). The new proposals would also have to be published in a local newspaper (Regulation 7) and there would have to be a period for objections.

What’s interesting is the modified TRO officers propose hasn’t been consulted on, therefore can’t be decided by the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel.

B) Having a public inquiry chaired by an inspector on the proposed TRO (Regulation 9, 10 & 11). Again this would require a notice in a local newspaper and 21 days notice.

Lastly I would like to request that item 3 (which is this item on the agenda) it taken ahead of item 2 as both Leonora and I planned to attend the meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority starting at 11.00am.

In order to get to that meeting, we will be able to stay at a meeting of the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel no later than 10.15am. Therefore it is important that the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel starts promptly at 9.30am and that is part of the reason why I am submitting this information in advance so that agenda item 3 can be dealt with quickly.

I realise this may inconvenience the objector to agenda item 2, however I cannot see it as being possible to deal with both agenda items in 45 minutes based on previous experience of Highways and Traffic Representation Panel meetings.

Thank you for reading this,

John Brace

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