Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations

Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations

Councillors to decide soon on starting 12 week consultation on closure of West Kirby and Upton fire stations

                                                   

Merseyside Fire and Rescue crew 2nd September 2014
Merseyside Fire and Rescue crew 2nd September 2014

A key meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority will decide on Thursday 2nd October 2014 whether to consult on the closure of Upton and West Kirby fire stations (on the Wirral). Fire officers are asking councillors (which includes four Wirral Council councillors) to agree on consultation on the closure plans.

If politicians agree to a consultation it will run from the 3rd October 2014 for twelve weeks.

One of the more controversial aspects to this closure plan is it involves building a new fire station on Frankby Road, Greasby on a piece of land now owned by Wirral Council (used for a library, children’s centre (there is a current consultation on closure of these run by Wirral Council), community centre and other uses.

Negotiations between Wirral Council and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority have been ongoing for some time. If the consultation went to plan and the other two fire stations closed, the site on which the library, community centre and children’s centre would be cleared. In its place a new fire station, library and community space would be built. Indicative floor plans might be available by the date of the meeting on Thursday.

Agreement in principle to a lease from Wirral Council to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has been given by Wirral Council officers, but no action will take place until the consultation has taken place.

After the consultation, a further report will come back to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority in order for a decision to happen. However closing two fire stations will lead to an increase in response times. There will however be a saving in salaries (of about £900,000 a year) by having one fire station instead of two.

Building a new fire station at Greasby will cost about ~3.45 million, however this could be offset by selling the land that Upton and West Kirby fire stations are now on. Mersey Fire and Rescue Authority is hoping to get a DCLG grant of £1.5 million towards the cost of building the new fire station and will hear back from DCLG on that towards the end of the year.

Any difference will be met from reserves built up in part by a underspend in last year’s budget. The capital costs of the project (appendix H) are being kept secret for commercial reasons (whether this is the Fire Authority itself, DCLG and/or a third-party is a little unclear).

The report and nine out of its ten appendices can be found on the Fire Authority website.

Wirral Council now have four representatives on Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. These are Labour (3) Cllr Denise Roberts, Cllr Jean Stapleton and Cllr Steve Niblock and Conservative (1) Cllr Lesley Rennie.

Currently the makeup of the committee that will make a decision on Thursday in Bootle comprises up of 16 Labour councillors, 1 Lib Dem councillor and 1 Conservative councillor.

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Filming public meetings on Merseyside (Open Democracy – Phase 2) Fire Authority is best, Liverpool Council is worst

Filming public meetings on Merseyside (Open Democracy – Phase 2) Fire Authority is best, Liverpool Council is worst

Filming public meetings on Merseyside (Open Democracy – Phase 2) Fire Authority is best, Liverpool Council is worst

                                                                            

Left an unknown Liverpool City Council councillor talks about filming locations at a meeting of its Constitutional Issues Committee on the 8th September 2014 Right Cllr Sharon Sullivan Labour
Left an unknown Liverpool City Council councillor talks about filming locations at a meeting of its Constitutional Issues Committee on the 8th September 2014 Right Cllr Sharon Sullivan Labour

Since the law changed on filming public meetings on the 6th August 2014 as part of our “Open Democracy” project, I have filmed a number of public meetings of various public bodies on Merseyside to try to get a better understanding of differences in cultural approaches towards the issue.

Here is the list of public bodies I filmed meetings of:

Metropolitan Borough of Wirral (Wirral Council)
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (Merseytravel Committee)
Liverpool City Council

Note: the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel whose host authority is Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council was originally on this list but dropped due to changes to shift patterns due to a special meeting on the same evening.

I now have a better understanding of what makes up both best practice both for these public bodies and the media.

I could give a detailed score for each but these are all based on a particular public meeting for each public body. However I will briefly detail below what was the best and what was the worst and explain why.

Mersey Fire and Rescue Authority (the best)

This was a meeting of their Consultation and Negotiation Sub-committee held on the 2nd September 2014 starting at 1pm.

Out of the five different public bodies, in my opinion it is this one that went the best, despite a technical problem with our camera which meant filming had to be done in VGA and not HD.

Each councillor on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, fire officers and union representative had individual microphones that were tested before the meeting started. Agendas/reports were provided (on request) before the meeting started so that the press/public could follow the meeting. Agendas and reports are also available electronically through the Modgov iPad app. Councillors (and others speaking) knew how to use the microphones. Although some people arrived late, this could be because the room the meeting was held in was changed at short notice.

The receptionist was professional and the organisation itself came across as well run. The atmosphere both before, during and after the meeting was pleasant and friendly. The issue under discussion (industrial relations between the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the unions) was one that attracted great public interest and much interest when published.

The room the meeting was held in was well-lit and despite being held on the first floor had a working lift. I have no criticisms of the staff but only compliments.

Footage from this meeting can be viewed below.

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Merseytravel Committee (part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority)

This was a meeting of the Merseytravel Committee held on the 4th September 2014 at 2.30pm. Each councillor and officer had and used microphones (a plus). Atmosphere was pleasant and friendly. The filming location was good as there was light from the nearby window. We were granted access to the room in plenty of time to set up a tripod and camera.

However the meeting room itself seemed dark due to shades put across some of the windows and at times those speaking didn’t always correctly use their microphones. Due to the design and layout of the room, the spot where the public sit is suboptimal for filming from a sitting position due to sight lines (although filming from a standing position would have overcome some of these difficulties). Meeting was not available on Modgov iPad app. Agendas/reports were provided on request.

Footage of this meeting can be viewed below.

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Wirral Council

This was a meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee Working Group held on the 6th August 2014 scheduled to start at 6.00pm. Microphones were not provided for this meeting. Access to the room was provided in advance of the meeting for setting up camera and tripod. Meeting was at times hard to follow, however filming location was optimal.

Background noise from an outside car park, noise from shipping from the nearby River Mersey and other types of background noise including from a tea/coffee machine in the room itself sometimes drowned out what was being said.

There were times when there was crosstalk during the meeting and unusually the meeting started without a Chair. Meeting was available on Modgov iPad app.

Footage of this meeting can be viewed below.

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Liverpool City Council (the worst)

This was a meeting of the Constitutional Issues Committee starting at 3.00pm on Monday 8th September in the West Reception Room, 1st floor, Liverpool Town Hall, Liverpool.

Upon arrival we were questioned by a private security guard working for a private security firm contracted by Liverpool City Council as to our purpose for being there. She summoned a junior Liverpool City Council employee.

The junior employee had to get his line manager to deal with our query causing a further delay as his line manager was not immediately available.

His line manager said that filming wouldn’t be allowed in the building as he hadn’t received “instructions” and referred to a “bylaw” (on latter reflection it seems this was actually a reference to an unchanged part of Liverpool City Council’s constitution which is not a bylaw but should’ve been changed by Liverpool City Council before the regulations coming into force on August 6th 2014). He insisted that permission was still required. Access to the meeting room before the meeting to set up a tripod and camera was originally denied by building staff line management.

During the conversations with these two people I asked if Liverpool City councillors would be stopped from proceeding to the meeting room upstairs before the meeting started at 3pm and was told they wouldn’t be as they were “regular visitors” to the Town Hall.

I was also told rather curiously that if they allowed filming in Liverpool Town Hall it would open up the prospect of people filming at swimming pools. If anybody could give me an example of a public meeting of a local council held at a swimming pool please leave a comment!

The issue of mobile phones was also brought up with me in a long explanation in the context of filming/recording. This was a rather long and curious explanation to say to somebody that doesn’t own a mobile phone though and had no mobile phone on him. The building staff manager explained that mobile phones couldn’t be confiscated as they were “private property” which is a bit of a moot point if you don’t have one!

A further conversation was had later between myself and the junior employee about how this was at odds with the documentation for the meeting (see page 1 “This is a legal duty for the Council to follow the new provisions” and page 2 “The Councils [sic] is required to provide “reasonable facilities” to facilitate reporting.”) and accompanying appendix 2 “In line with national legislation, the filming and recording of public meetings is permitted.”

He requested his line manager (again) but there appears to have been somewhat of a misunderstanding over the junior employee’s reply to this.

Another conversation was had with the line manager and reference was made to the reports and agenda for the meeting (which ironically was discussing the filming issue and change to the legislation). We found out later during the public meeting that Liverpool City Council had been allowing filming at its meetings for over a month yet nobody had told this building manager it seems!

The response then was (in a stark example of silo mentality at a local council) that these reports were the responsibility of another part of Liverpool City Council “Committee Services”, who had only booked the room in the Town Hall and not staff such as himself who were managing the building (referred to as an “important building” by the person he line managed) where the room was being held.

I then gave much explanation about regulations, House of Commons, House of Lords, how laws were made and how Liverpool City Council had to comply with its legal obligations whatever its constitution stated in a level of excruciating detail I have never had to do before or since.

Eventually the position somewhat changed and we were escorted by the line manager to the room where the meeting was held in advance of it starting at 3pm. We were directed to a spot to film from (the only time out of this series of meetings this happened) and told if it was good enough for ITV Granada (who had according to a plaque on the way in had been awarded Freedom of Entry by Liverpool City Council) then it should be good enough for us. A socket was provided for electricity, but not required as we use batteries.

However when the meeting was held filming from this spot involved filming straight into direct sunlight due to the west-facing windows on the other side of the room (therefore from a technical perspective unprofessional and problematic). Filming from this spot into direct sunlight also caused our batteries to run out six times faster than usual. After the friction earlier, we frankly didn’t have the will left to quibble over what location we filmed the meeting from and although an alternative location was suggested, this was ruled out by us on access grounds (which as one of the councillors arrived in a wheelchair we were proved right).

Before the meeting started there was a loud noise of sawing from outside the room which thankfully stopped by the time the meeting started but was somewhat unnerving.

We were put in an alcove of the room, which affected sound quality. Sound quality during the meeting itself was also affected by background noise from other parts of the building as a nearby door was left open (later shut during the meeting).

An agenda and reports for the meeting were requested (they have a legal duty to supply them) but we were told that there were no copies for the public, but that if a councillor didn’t turn up we could have the copy (which did happen a few minutes before the meeting started which gives little time to read it in detail).

Although some councillors used their microphones correctly during the meeting itself, others did not. One councillor arrived approximately half an hour late.

WiFi was available, but not known about in advance. Although a plus, during the meeting itself, this was referred to as a negative by a councillor who felt that the use of mobile phones or tablets during public meetings by officers and councillors was unprofessional and disrespectful to the meeting as it gave the public and press the impression that they weren’t paying attention to what was going on.

Strange accents of councillors during the meeting itself were at times hard to follow. However this is probably due to our unfamiliarity with the various Liverpudlian dialects rather than a problem per se.

The meeting itself was at times bad-tempered and there seemed to be the impression given of the Labour Group of councillors picking on a councillor from another political group during the public meeting itself during the last agenda item. The fine line between party politics and politician seemed to be somewhat blurred at Liverpool City Council. In fact the councillor who was not from the Labour Group who was subjected to this, looked so upset that I thought he was about to walk out of the meeting before it came to an end.

There was crosstalk at times during the meeting and an atmosphere that was not conducive to good decision-making.

Some councillors were unaware or misinformed (by the statements they made) as to some of the detail as to what they were discussing on the filming item due to (in part) deficiencies and omissions in what an officer/s had provided them in the paperwork for the meeting.

We were both glad when the meeting ended and we left and have no current desire to go back to a place that seemed to not make us feel welcome (although I’m not sure whether that was the intent behind their actions)!

Footage of this meeting can be viewed below.

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Government asks councils in England to bid for £16 million of money to tackle fraud

Government asks councils in England to bid for £16 million of money to tackle fraud

Government asks councils in England to bid for £16 million of money to tackle fraud

 

Last month, the Department for Communities and Local Government invited local councils to make bids to it (closing deadline is 5th September 2014) for £16 million of money to help with counter fraud. This is not for the purpose of tackling benefit fraud (which is a different issue) but would be for projects to reduce the risk of for example the £45,779.46 Wirral Council lost in a care home fraud last year.

Certainly Wirral Council’s counter-fraud team (considering the size of the organisation and complexity of its finances) isn’t very big. The last time somebody asked how big it was I think the answer was two. Since then I think at least one person has left who I assume was in counter fraud (although whether the post has been filled or left vacant as a way to save money I’m not sure). So as fraud is losing Wirral Council money and if they made a successful bid the money would not have to come out their existing budgets I hope Wirral Council does bid (although who knows)?

I know counter-fraud is at times a rather dull back office function and I doubt on the doorstep people are saying to political parties “You must do something about improving your counter fraud activities!”. However it is important, because although the risk of fraud may be small, the amounts can be large (some authorities have lost far larger amounts in frauds). Admittedly with the fraud referred to above Wirral Council admitted that the fraud was sophisticated and convincing but that staff hadn’t followed their internal rules to prevent this sort of thing happening. I think the staff involved were “subjected to disciplinary measures”.

However to make it as easy as I can for Wirral Council, here is a link to the application form and is a link to the nine pages as to what it is about and when they will get the money if their bid is approved. So, if you have any juicy tips about Wirral Council losing money to fraudsters (recently) or have some suggestions as to what they could do better to reduce the risk of fraud please leave a comment (even if it has to be anonymous)!

In the interests of open reporting here is a link to the DCLG press release about this.

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So what’s been happening with the filming public meetings law (Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014)?

So what’s been happening with the filming public meetings law (Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014)?

Labour councillors at a public meeting of Wirral Council's Coordinating Committee vote to consult on closing Lyndale School (27th February 2014) (an example of the kind of meeting the regulations will cover)

Labour councillors at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Coordinating Committee vote to consult on closing Lyndale School (27th February 2014) (an example of the kind of meeting the regulations will cover)

So what’s been happening with the filming public meetings law (Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014)?

                           

I’ve written before about the law going through Parliament about filming public meetings. Sadly when it comes to the House of Commons and House of Lords nothing seems to happen quickly! Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened so far. The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 became law on the 30th January 2014. Sadly this issue wasn’t dealt with through primary legislation, but s. 40 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 gives the Secretary of State (Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP) the power to make regulations about the filming issue. S. 49(2) of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 meant that the power given to the Secretary of State to lay regulations came into effect two months after the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 became law (30th March 2014).

Shortly after this date, on the 3rd April the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP (you will need to scroll down to the section marked Appendix for the right point) laid the draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations along with a draft Explanatory Memorandum.

S. 43(3) of the Local Audit and Accountability Act required that such regulations “may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament”. So the draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 don’t have the force of law until a motion to approve them has happened in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Standing orders mean that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (which comprises both Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords) must assess every statutory instrument to check that the draft regulations are in line with the power under an Act of Parliament granted to the Minister to make them. Since the draft regulations were laid, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has met twice.

At its meeting on 7th May 2014 it considered regulations such as the “European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and Protocol thereto on matters specific to Aircraft Equipment) Order 2014”, “Licensing Act 2003 (FIFA World Cup Licensing Hours) Order 2014”, “Submarine Pipe-lines (Electricity Generating Stations) (Revocation) Regulations 2014”, “Public Gas Transporter Pipe-line Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2014”, “Central African Republic (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2014” and “Protection of Wrecks (Designation) (England) Order 2014” but sadly not the draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.

At the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments’ meeting on the 14th May 2014 it considered regulations such as the “Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (Indexation of Annual Chargeable Amounts) Order 2014”, “African Legal Support Facility (Legal Capacities) Order 2014”, “Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions) (England) Order 2014”, “Civil Legal Aid (Financial Resources and Payment for Services) (Amendment) Regulations 2014”, “Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Over the Counter Derivatives, Central Counterparties and Trade Repositories) (Amendment) Regulations 2014”, “Marine Licensing (Application Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 2014”, “Plant Health (England) (Amendment) Order 2014” but again not the draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014.

Sadly the House of Lords can’t approve the draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 before the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments have met and reported on it. Since the draft regulations the Department for Communities and Local Government have produced a draft Councils and other local bodies – filming and reporting their meetings, knowing what they do: your rights (A guide for local people) guide which the Department for Communities and Local Government asked for comments on by a date shortly after the local election results being announced last month.

On the 7th May the House of Commons agreed that the following MPs (Adam Afriyie (Conservative, Windsor), Mike Crockart (Lib Dem, Edinburgh West), Mr Jim Cunningham (Labour, Coventry South), Nick de Bois (Conservative, Enfield North), Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour, Poplar and Limehouse), Robert Flello (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent), Mike Freer (Conservative, Finchley & Golders Green), John Healey (Labour, Wentworth & Dearne), Kate Hoey (Labour, Vauxhall), Susan Elan Jones (Labour, Clwyd South), Brandon Lewis (Conservative, Great Yarmouth), Robert Neill (Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst), Claire Perry (Conservative, Devizes), Andy Sawford (Labour, Corby), David Simpson (Democratic Unionist, Upper Bann), Mrs Caroline Spelman (Conservative, Meriden), Craig Whittaker (Conservative, Calder Valley) and Simon Wright (Lib Dem, Norwich South) make up the Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee (Draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014).

On the 12th May the makeup of the Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee (Draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014) was changed slightly. Simon Wright (Lib Dem, Norwich South) was discharged from membership of the committee. When the Sixth Delegated Legislation Committee (Draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014) meets, it will vote on the motion “The
Committee has considered the instrument” and ninety minutes will be given to debate it. The Government always votes in favour of these types of motion and as the committee comprises of 8 Conservative MPs, 7 Labour MPs, 1 Lib Dem MP and 1 Democratic Unionist MP such a motion will be agreed.

The Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee considered the Draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 on the 6th May and made these comments on it and the draft Explanatory Memorandum:

“35. In the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to these draft Regulations, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) says that they give greater rights to report at open meetings of local government bodies, by filming, photographing, audio-recording or any other means. DCLG comments that local people will be able to film, make audio-recordings and provide written commentaries during a meeting and provide oral commentaries outside the meeting, allowing those who are unable to attend the meeting to follow the proceedings. The Regulations also require a written record of certain decisions made by officers of such bodies.

36. DCLG states that it did not undertake formal consultation on the Regulations, but that they were the subject of an informal soundings exercise with the Local Government Association (LGA), Lawyers in Local Government, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives. All but the last-named of these submitted comments, as did a number of other interested organisations, and a member of this House.

37. DCLG’s account of the outcome of the soundings exercise identifies no unequivocal support for the Regulations. For example, the LGA opposed them and commented that “the Government’s approach, as set out in the draft Regulations, appears completely contrary to the principles of Localism and is in fact micro-management of the sector.” While the NALC supported the objective of transparency, it raised concerns (in common with other respondents) that some provisions in the Regulations, such as filming or recording a meeting, and recording and publishing decisions taken by officers, would have significant detrimental, costly and disproportionate effects on local councils.

38. The Department has not been persuaded by these concerns. As is made clear in the EM, it holds to the belief that “localism requires robust local scrutiny and local accountability”, and that “allowing the public to attend and report meetings promotes health democracy and should not be seen as an intrusion [which does not create] burdens on the councils or local government bodies.” We note that much of the EM consists of similar declarations; we would urge the Department to bear in mind that EMs are intended to provide explanation, not exhortation.

39. DCLG proposes to bring the Regulations into force on the day after which they are made. In the EM, the Department refers to Ministerial statements and press notices which have set out the importance of allowing filming and the use of social media in their meetings. While it refers to two specific press notices, we understand that there have been no Ministerial Statements to Parliament about the Regulations. As an instrument subject to affirmative resolution, the Regulations will be debated in the House: this will provide the Department with an opportunity to explain its intentions to Parliament, as well as to the recipients of its press releases.

So, the draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations will probably become law at some point this month, let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later!

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Government gives Wirral Council 6 months to publish information on contracts, land, grants, trade unions & parking

Government gives Wirral Council 6 months to publish information on contracts, land, grants, trade unions & parking

Government gives Wirral Council 6 months to publish information on contracts, land, grants, trade unions & parking

                         

The government on the 1st May published the Local Government Transparency Code 2014. The aim of it is to make local councils more transparent. The code’s published using a legal power the government has by s.2 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 and applies to county councils, district councils (such as Wirral Council), some parish councils, fire authorities (such as Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority), joint waste authorities (such as Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority), combined authorities (such as the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) and other types of public bodies. However it doesn’t apply to Police and Crime Commissioners.

The transparency code lists at page 9 information that must be published by these bodies starting with expenditure of over £500 (which is already published monthly on Wirral Council’s website). The main difference the transparency code introduces in this area is a need to publish for each transaction VAT that can’t be recovered.

Details of invitations to tender for contracts of a value of £5,000 or more will in future be published by Wirral Council because of the transparency code. Details of any “contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000” will also need to be published. This will include descriptions of the goods/services provided, amounts paid or estimated annual spend, supplier details, start/end/review dates and whether the supplier is a small to medium-sized enterprise or voluntary or community organisation. The topic of the public knowing what they’re getting from suppliers to Wirral Council was discussed at a previous Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting.

In addition to the invoices and contracts information the following information will need to be published annually:

  • local authority land,
  • grants to voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations,
  • organisation chart,
  • trade union facility time,
  • parking revenues,
  • controlled parking spaces,
  • senior salaries,
  • constitution and
  • the pay multiple.

For example on land, Wirral Council will have to publish details of all its freeholds, leaseholds, properties occupied or run under Private Finance Initiative contracts, other properties they own or use, surplus or vacant properties, undeveloped land, lease agreements and information on some other land related categories.

Information on grants (such as the Love Wirral scheme) to voluntary, community or social enterprise organisations will also have to be published such as a description of what the grant is for and the amount. The organisation chart showing the top three levels of management will mean that for each member of staff that this covers that their grade, job title, department and team, contact details, salary in £5,000 brackets and salary ceiling will have to be published.

The information required to be published on trade union facility time will include the trade unions involved, total number of staff who are union representatives, total number of staff that devote at least 50% of their time to union duties and an estimate of the spending on trade union duties as a percentage of the total pay bill.

Parking revenue data will be how much Wirral Council collects from on street parking, off street parking and parking enforcement notices. Wirral Council will need to publish the numbers of on and off street parking spaces.

The requirement on senior salary details goes further than the current requirements and includes bonus and payments in kind details for senior employees earning £50,000 or more and publishing a list of responsibilities for senior staff. The list of responsibilities means the services and functions that they are responsible for, budget held and number of staff.

The requirement to publish Wirral Council’s constitution on their website is already met by Wirral Council. The requirement to publish the pay multiple is the ratio between the highest paid salary and the median salary of the whole workforce.

The transparency code also includes details of recommended items that local councils should publish such as transactions over £250, transactions on corporate credit cards, numbers of free parking spaces, details of their counter fraud work and other matters. Councils and other public bodies have six months to publish the mandatory information required by the new transparency code.

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