Who’s leaving Wirral Council and what is a 20,085 signature petition against?

Who’s leaving Wirral Council and what is a 20,085 signature petition against?

Who’s leaving Wirral Council and what is a 20,085 signature petition against?


Mayor Cllr Ann McLachlan , Council (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017
Mayor Cllr Ann McLachlan , Council (Wirral Council) 10th July 2017

Yesterday’s email from Mr Tour, ended with “you are required to return to the public gallery”.

However when I did return to the entrance to the public gallery above the Council Chamber, after asking my question, Wirral Council’s Community Patrol unsuccessfully tried to stop me re-entering.

I have however sadly learnt in life to ignore a lot of Wirral Council employee’s more bizarre requests and slipped past him. The guy from Community Patrol tried to grab my arm to stop me but lost his grip.

Ironically as I had had a stand up protest downstairs over the nonsense over the seating arrangements, typing away notes on my iPad, in the hot weather my bare arm was so sweaty by then that his hand couldn’t grip on to me.

So I thank Surjit Tour for putting into place a chain of events that thwarted another Wirral Council employee.

As I’d forgotten to turn my tape recorder off downstairs there’s a tape of the whole matter and conversation.

Maybe Community Patrol will have better luck at the next Planning Committee?

Indeed Wirral Council losing its grip seemed to be a running theme of the evening.

The petition against the planning application for a fire station (on Council owned land) in Saughall Massie presented by Cllr Chris Blakeley has reached 4,034 signatures. The report from Wirral Council’s planning department recommends it for approval. The matter will be decided at the Planning Committee on the 20th July 2017, after a site visit on the 18th July 2017.

Another large petition, of a mere 20,805 signatures, submitted by Cllr Chris Blakeley on behalf of Cllr Jeff Green opposed the introduction of car parking charges in the country parks (which goes to a call-in meeting on the 18th July 2017).

Cllr Phil Davies (Leader) and the Labour councillors however does not agree with Cllr Chris Blakeley on many policy matters.

After questions for Cabinet Members from various councillors, there were general questions, followed by just over half an hour of debate about senior managers’ employment status.

A quick summary is Julia Hassall (Director of Children’s Services) resigned, Tom Sault (Assistant Director: Finance) is entering a “phased retirement”, Surjit Tour (Assistant Director: Law and Governance, Monitoring Officer and Senior Information Risk Officer) has resigned and Clare Fish (Executive Director for Strategy) has requested early retirement.

The Chief Executive, Eric Robinson also wants to regrade the Director for Children post to the £140-£155k band and create a new post for a senior manager (Director of Strategy and Partnerships) on a salary range of £103k-£115k. He also wants to increase the salary range for the Assistant Director: Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer post to a maximum of £93k. Those are most of the changes (there are some other ones too).

The changes to the senior management team that were recommended in a private meeting of the Employment and Appointments Committee were agreed by Council yesterday evening on a 35:25:1 vote (for:against:abstain). The 1 is the Labour councillor who is the Mayor abstaining. The other 35 are Labour councillors and the 25 were a combination of opposition councillors.

The effect is that Surjit Tour remains serving out his notice (until some point in September 2017), Clare Fish’s early retirement request is agreed, Tom Sault retires (but phased) and Penna (the external recruitment consultants) have a massive pay-day from advising Wirral Council on recruitment to all these posts (estimated by one councillor at ~£12k a post).

The senior management team was restructured last in November 2016 and at least one councillor suggested that changing again so soon implies that the previous model hadn’t worked.

Cllr Bernie Mooney referred to people being paid, “too bloody much”.

Certainly the senior management team hasn’t been changed this much since 2012, when a large number of them were suspended, then paid large sums to leave as the suspension wasn’t done properly.

There was also a short debate on wildlife sites.

Most people however were there in the public gallery (patiently waiting around two hours before the meeting got to that point) to hear debate on a Notice of Motion about the New Ferry explosion.

Cllr Warren Ward received cross-party plaudits for his work as a ward councillor for this area.

Labour councillors blamed it on the government.

Conservative councillors said that part of the response was the responsibility of Wirral Council.

In the end though, after just over 30 minutes of debate, councillors of all parties agreed a notice of motion that will result in Wirral Council writing a letter to the Prime Minister and a letter to the government minister for Communities and Local Government.

After that agreement, the Mayor called for a ten minute adjournment (which turned into a fifteen minute adjournment).

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Why did Wirral Council pay £700.43 for a private company to check when a fire alarm went off at Irby Library?

Why did Wirral Council pay £700.43 for a private company to check when a fire alarm went off at Irby Library?


Wirral Council invoice Dante Irby Library £700.43 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Dante Irby Library £700.43 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Dante Wallasey Town Hall £671.33 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice Dante Wallasey Town Hall £671.33 thumbnail

Above are a couple of invoices from Dante Group to Wirral Council. Of course on the Dante theme, Wirral Council has its own version of the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

Limbo is the circle that whistleblowers are sent to, lust has already been covered by the more tabloid leaning Wirral Leaks, gluttony (some politicians have fallen into this trap and it’s a shame unlike the House of Commons they don’t have to get up and stretch their legs when voting), greed is too massive a topic to go into in detail, anger (again too many examples of politicians losing their temper), heresy seems to be the circle of hell politicians fall into when somebody disagrees with them, thankfully Wirral Council is not in control of the Armed Forces so violence is rare, but allegations of fraud (which whistleblowers repeat until they’re blue in the face) still ring in the ears of those who have given up listening and of course the ninth circle of hell is one that’s wrapped up in the tapestry of Wirral’s politics treachery.

However back to the invoices (the thumbnails above link to more readable versions), the first is for one of the two most sensitive issues in Wirral’s politics that begin with l which is libraries (the other being Lyndale).

I explained to a colleague (not hard to work out who) that this invoice was for being called out to Irby Library because a fire alarm was beeping and asked her to guess how much is was for. As readers of this blog may already know Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service since 2012 don’t attend non domestic premises when an Automatic Fire Alarm goes off.

So on the 28th July 2014, Wirral Council asked Dante Group to attend Irby Library. According to something scribbled on the invoice it states "mess left (something undecipherable) by library staff Sat 26".

The public are being told that public sector bodies have no choice but to outsource to the private sector because it’s cheaper. Wirral has what used to be called the Community Patrol (before enforcement of littering got outsourced to Kingdom Security earlier this year and I think what’s left is now called the Corporate and Community Safety Team). Part of the role of the Community Patrol was to keep an eye on Wirral Council’s buildings and land.

If it was still dealt with in-house and if the Community Patrol took the long way round to Irby library, spent the whole day there and sent a team of three to investigate (along with meal expenses) I’m sure the costs wouldn’t never be as high as £700.43.

However that’s what Dante charged Wirral Council for the call out.

The other invoice for £671.33 is for fitting 1 x 8W emergency lighting tube and 4 emergency light fittings at Wallasey Town Hall and 4 12 volt batteries. Surprisingly (despite the parts) the invoice comes to £671.33 (less than the call out to Irby Library).

So if Wirral Council are paying out £700.43 each time the fire alarm goes off in a library, can they really honestly say the reason they have reduced library hours (which no doubt has led to more expensive invoices as it’s increased the hours each week libraries are closed) is because of lack of money?

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Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee 26/3/2012 part 1 (exempt bit)

Well apart from about seven minutes of exempt session, I was present during the whole of the Council Excellence meeting last night.

During those seven minutes (spent in the lobby), the Deputy Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Gerry Ellis arrived (the picture below isn’t from last night but a recent Area Forum that he chaired).

Deputy Mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis

After the Deputy Mayor left to a Mayor’s dinner for Wirral Award recipients, Mike Collins of the Wirral Council’s Community Patrol arrived with a 13-year old youth in tow, who was there to apologise to the a member of the facilities staff because it was alleged he (that is the youth, rather than Mr. Collins or the Deputy Mayor) had thrown stones at cars in the car park.

Mike Collins, Community Patrol said to the youth, “I’m not going to do anything else today, if I come across you again, or the staff have a problem with you again, I’ll be knocking on your door and I’ll be knocking on the school’s door so I’ll speak to the headteacher as well if anything happens with you. Go on and tell your mates to do the same.”