Notice of Motion on flooding in Moreton to be debated by Wirral’s councillors tonight

Notice of Motion on flooding in Moreton to be debated by Wirral’s councillors tonight

Notice of Motion on flooding in Moreton to be debated by Wirral’s councillors tonight

                                                             

Cllr Chris Blakeley (foreground centre) the proposer of the Notice of Motion on flooding in Moreton at a public meeting last month
Cllr Chris Blakeley (foreground centre) the proposer of the Notice of Motion on flooding in Moreton at a public meeting last month

Wirral Council has a sub domain (democracy.wirral.gov.uk) on its website which is used to publish information to do with public meetings.

Due to the way its configured, the search engines (at least the search engines that respect such rules) are barred from searching pages on its website.

I have to declare at this point that I earn money from Google. However to illustrate this point a quick search of the site in Google will only show one page even though there are many more pages than that.

So I used a program called Xenu Link Sleuth to create an index of pages on that part of Wirral Council’s website. This has thrown up many interesting (and some quite frankly dull pages).

For example, one of the larger files on that part of Wirral Council’s website at nearly 17 megabytes is the Mersey Heartlands Water Cycle Study (January 2014) (100 pages) which was done for Wirral Council and Liverpool City Council by URS Infrastructure & Environment UK Ltd. The report is connected to this delegated decision made by the Cabinet Member for the Economy made on the 26th February 2014 and is a material consideration when deciding on planning applications.

Pages 65 to 72 of that report deal with management of flood risk and Notice of Motion 4 to tonight’s Council meeting is about flooding in Moreton. Labour have submitted an amendment (amendment 2 on this list) that adds an extra two paragraphs to the original motion.

That report mentions in detail the risks of various types of flooding and refers to the River Birket. As it states in the report:

  • "The main river draining the Wirral Mersey Heartland, the River Birket, relies on pumping, and the area is reliant on flood defences to minimise flood risk to the existing development both from fluvial and tidal flood risk and surface water drainage channels. Failure of these defences constitutes a residual risk of flooding to the area."

If you’re wondering what fluvial means, it means “of or relating to a river”.

The report also details what how new homes should be more water efficient through the Water Efficiency Targets such as through water efficient showers, rainwater harvesting and other measures to cut down the amount of water used by households.

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Baldrick has a “cunning plan” about horse trading (satire)

Baldrick has a “cunning plan” about horse trading (satire)

Baldrick has a “cunning plan” about horse trading (satire)

                         

The following is a work of satire. Any similarities to people living or dead are purely coincidental.

Baldrick has a cunning plan about horse trading (Blackadder)
Baldrick has a cunning plan about horse trading

HORSE TRADING

by

John Brace

INT. A LARGE OFFICE ROOM OF TYRRELL COUNCIL – DAY

BALDRICK
I have a cunning plan.

BLACKADDER
Does it involve turnips?

BALDRICK
No.

BLACKADDER
Does it involve closing half of the local libraries because Deputy Big Cheese is still cheesed off about that?

BALDRICK
No.

BLACKADDER
It doesn’t involve overcharging the disabled?

BALDRICK
No, my plan involves horses.

BLACKADDER
Horses? Well that’s new I suppose, but we’re a local council, we do serious stuff like schools and social services. We don’t horse around!

BALDRICK
Ahh, but this is a cunning plan involving other people’s horses.

BLACKADDER
Other people’s horses? Isn’t that theft?

BALDRICK
Have you heard of Turnbank Farm?

BLACKADDER
No.

BALDRICK
Well this council owns it. We rent it out to a riding stables for a pittance of a rent. The land is worth millions.

BLACKADDER
I still don’t understand what your cunning plan is.

BALDRICK
Well the lease comes up for renewal soon. My cunning plan is to send the tenants a letter saying we’ll renew the lease. The tenants will be lulled into a false sense of security and will think we want to renew. We then wait for the existing lease to expire then we can get them evicted. The land can then be sold for millions for housing and it’s on a flood plain!

BLACKADDER
That is a very dastardly, diabolical cunning plan. Is it legal though?

BALDRICK
Well if anyone queries why we sent the wrong letter, with all the bad things that have happened here over the past few years it’ll just be put down to incompetence rather than design.

BLACKADDER
That is the most evil, diabolical cunning plan you’ve ever come up with Baldrick. Not only are you suggesting we use trickery to get what we want but you’re suggesting houses should be built on a flood plain.

We just have to make sure none of the local press or bloggers find out before we get a judge to sign off on a possession order otherwise we’ll be foiled (and probably sacked). In case our in-house solicitor opens his mouth about this in court make sure he’s on holiday when it comes to trial.

BALDRICK
Certainly, Blackadder. Who will we get instead?

BLACKADDER
Well when the public find out about all this going on they’ll need cheering up, how about we get the famous comedian Dara O’Briain to represent us in court?

BALDRICK
I’m afraid the cupboard is a little bare after agreeing all those gagging orders, so we can’t afford the famous comedian Dara O’Briain. How about Sally O’Brion instead? She’ll only cost us £1,800.

BLACKADDER
Great. Let’s do it then. If anyone kicks up a fuss afterwards we’ll just say that it’s part of our job description to act “in a commercial manner” so they can’t sack us.

THE END OR IS IT?

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Extra £7 million announced by government in funding for councils to help with flood costs: Will Wirral apply?

Extra £7 million announced by government in funding for councils to help with flood costs: Will Wirral apply?

Extra £7 million announced by government in funding for councils to help with flood costs: Will Wirral apply?

                      

At a recent Cabinet meeting I heard Cllr Phil Davies talking about how some (£250,000) of the projected underspend for this year’s Budget was set aside to pay for the clean up and repairs to infrastructure after the floods in December. He said that although there was a government fund that local councils could apply to for emergency financial help following such events (called the Bellwin scheme), Wirral Council didn’t qualify as it hadn’t spent more than 0.2% of its annual budget which for Wirral is £930,432.

However the government has since announced a further £7 million of funding to councils for this kind of expenditure in what they call a severe weather recovery scheme. Half of it is for repairing roads damaged by flooding and the other half for expenditure incurred through supporting communities.

Applications for this money have to be made by February 19th February at 5pm and ministers have stated that all local authorities in England who apply and are eligible will receive the money. To qualify for the community element of the grant Wirral Council will need to show that “at least ten residential and/or commercial properties had been reported as flooded (water having entered the property)” in Wirral and that Wirral Council had “incurred expenditure on supporting their communities during the recovery phase”.

To qualify for the highways element Wirral Council would have to prove that the floods caused damage to parts of the highway of more than one and a half metres that they were responsible for. Whether Wirral Council qualify for this element I’m not sure. However as some of their expenditure on the community element side would seem to be eligible, here’s a link to the application form. After all if Wirral Council is entitled to the money why don’t they apply for it?

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Was the recent flooding of New Brighton made worse by man-made dredging of the River Mersey?

Was the recent flooding of New Brighton made worse by man-made dredging of the River Mersey?

Was the recent flooding of New Brighton made worse by man-made dredging of the River Mersey?

                               

Halfway through November after having attended (instead of going to one of the fireworks displays across the Borough) a Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee at Wirral Council on Guy Fawkes’ Night I made a Freedom of Information Act request to Wirral Council for the briefing note that officers promised councillors about the effect of Peel’s dredging of the River Mersey on Wirral’s beaches.

The first reply stated I would have it by the 3rd December, then a further one by the 10th December, then on the 12th December they said they didn’t have one (making me think that was an end to it). On the 20th December I received an email telling me that the briefing note had gone out to councillors the day before. A copy of the briefing note was attached.

As it’s in the form of a Word document file, it doesn’t display in HTML correctly on the whatdotheyknow.com website, so I’ve included the briefing note below.

Briefing note requested by Members of the Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee on 5 November 2013

1 Introduction

At the above meeting Members asked for a briefing note on dredging of the River Mersey and the Liverpool 2 proposals. This information is now provided in the narrative below and by reference to the documents which are available on the Marine Maritime Organisation’s web site. If any further information is required then please do not hesitate to let me know.

2 Dredging and Liverpool 2

In response to formal consultation from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) during September 2012, the Council noted that it’s own Coastal Strategy proposes continued maintenance of coastal protection infrastructure in the New Brighton/Egremont area and went to conclude based on the evidence provided, Wirral Council was satisfied that the proposed development will align satisfactorily with its terrestrial and marine plans and projects (see page 45 at: http://www.marinemanagement.org.uk/licensing/public_register/cases/documents/liverpool2/consultation_responses.pdf). The application to the MMO was approved on 12 December 2012.  

Consequently, the Council has not raised any objection to the arrangements for dealing with the dredging that would arise from the Liverpool 2 project, which have been subject to environmental assessment (see pages 3 and 8 at: http://www.eib.europa.eu/attachments/pipeline/20120101_nts_en.pdf) .

David Ball

Head of Regeneration and Planning

19 December 2013

The first document linked to explains that in order to make the channel deep enough for “post-Panamax container vessels” that the depth of the channel will be increased from 6.9m to 8.0m to “enlarge the tidal window through which vessels will be able to access the quay” and the dredging was expected to “commence in late 2013” lasting six to nine months.

The dredging is being done using the rather wonderfully named “trailer suction hopper dredgers, cutter suction dredgers and backhoes”. Wirral Council’s response to the consultation on this is below.

Wirral Borough Council (WBC)
Further to your email, the following sets out the position in relation to the three questions in your email;

How does the development impact on existing infrastructure within Wirral Borough?
ANSWER The consultation material submitted with the MMO Licence application draws heavily on the Environmental Statement submitted with the original Harbour Revision Order application and Wirral Council is satisfied that the information provided, and subsequent discussions with Peel Ports/Royal Haskoning on the placement of monitoring equipment, give sufficient comfort to Wirral that the works to be consented under this licence application will have no detrimental impact on existing infrastructure within Wirral Borough.

How does the proposed development align with any existing Wirral Borough Council plans or projects
ANSWER There are no terrestrial projects that would be adversely impacted by the proposed development. The Council is supportive of the principle of the Seaforth Dock expansion given the strategic importance of the Port of Liverpool for Merseyside and the North West and the need to secure it’s long term competitive position in the face of competition from ports elsewhere in the UK and Europe and support objectives. Wirral Council is preparing a Core Strategy for the Borough and no proposals within the Core Strategy will be adversely impacted by the proposed development. The Strategic importance of the port is also recognised within the Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West. The Council is also consulting on a Coastal Strategy that proposes continued maintenance of coastal protection infrastructure in the New Brighton/Egremont area. From the evidence provided and the monitoring strategy proposed, Wirral Council is satisfied that the proposed development will align satisfactorily with its terrestrial and marine plans and projects.
The reports to the Council’s Cabinet/Select Committee previously emailed to you provide further context and detail, if required.

Any other comments on the proposed development
ANSWER Whilst not constituting an objection to the MMO Licence application, Neil Thomas’ email of 2nd November referred to the fact that Wirral Council is not satisfied with the initially proposed location of wave and current monitoring equipment. However, the Council is in discussion with Peel Ports/Royal Haskoning with regard to re-locating monitoring equipment closer to the coastal defences at New Brighton, within the Mersey Estuary, with the intention of providing a more effective means of monitoring the impact of the development on Wirral’s coastal defences and navigation within the Mersey Estuary.

What’s interesting in Wirral Council’s response to the consultation is that they state both “that the works to be consented under this licence application will have no detrimental impact on existing infrastructure within Wirral Borough” but also “the Council is in discussion with Peel Ports/Royal Haskoning with regard to re-locating monitoring equipment closer to the coastal defences at New Brighton, within the Mersey Estuary, with the intention of providing a more effective means of monitoring the impact of the development on Wirral’s coastal defences”.

So what does the environmental report state about the likely impact of this dredging on New Brighton? On page 16 it clearly states “The proposed scheme is predicted to have a minor adverse impact on tides and waves at New Brighton, MHDC have agreed to place a wave/current meter to monitor any changes in parameters which could affect this frontage. This measure forms part of a Deed of Agreement between MDHC and Natural England.”

All this of course leads to a number of questions (and I hope someone who knows more about this topic will leave a comment in answer to them).

1. Considering the above, was the recent flooding at New Brighton made worse by this dredging considering the “minor adverse impact on tides and waves at New Brighton” in the environmental report?

2. Why when the environmental report was available at the time of the consultation, did Wirral Council state in its response to the consultation “Wirral Council is satisfied that the information provided, and subsequent discussions with Peel Ports/Royal Haskoning on the placement of monitoring equipment, give sufficient comfort to Wirral that the works to be consented under this licence application will have no detrimental impact on existing infrastructure within Wirral Borough.” and that considering what Wirral Council knew about the vulnerability of Marine Point to flooding that “There are no terrestrial projects that would be adversely impacted by the proposed development.”?

3. Was the recent flooding of New Brighton made worse by man-made dredging of the River Mersey?

4. Which reports to Wirral Council’s Cabinet and committees were “previously emailed”?

5. Was the above known when planning consent was given for Marine Point and did the design of Marine Point take the above into account when considering flood risk?

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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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