What has Wirral Council been spending money on in 2017 and 2018 (part 2)?

What has Wirral Council been spending money on in 2017 and 2018 (part 2)?

What has Wirral Council been spending money on in 2017 and 2018 (part 2)?


Last week I published some invoices to Wirral Council, I received some more of the invoices I’d requested on Friday, some of which are below.

Some are to Wirral Council for the legal expenses of barristers (who are self-employed). Section 26(8) of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 specifically states that names that relate to a business carried on by a sole trader can’t be withheld as personal information. Despite this Wirral Council has blacked out the names of the barristers on some of the invoices below.
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What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?


Mayor Joe Anderson Chair at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017
Mayor Joe Anderson (Chair) at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

As there is some interest in what a Metro Mayor (or Liverpool City Region Mayor) will do I thought, despite the fact that everyone registered to vote will have received a booklet (or should shortly receive one) I’d answer some questions.

There are however some errors in the booklet I’d like to point out here. The booklet also omits that the Mayor will end up being paid £77,500 a year (a decision made last Friday by Cllr Phil Davies, Mayor Joe Anderson and others).

In the booklet it states the City Region Mayor “will not be responsible for … setting Council Tax.”

(Another decision made on Friday was to hire a temporary Comms/Engagement person for 3-6 months).

First, I’d better describe the current arrangements. The executive arm of the Combined Authority (Merseytravel) levies each of the district councils (based on population) in addition to money it receives from other sources (such as Mersey Tunnel tolls).

The model on which the Combined Authority will work in future is based on the London model. As it states in this briefing note for MPs “Elected mayors will be able to raise a precept on constituent authorities’ council tax bills”.

I presume (if the Mayor decides to go down this route) it’ll be an extra line on everyone’s council tax bill like the lines for police (decided by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Police and Crime Panel) and fire (decided by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) at the moment.

So yes, the Combined Authority (although this will almost certainly go up next year) for example this year has a budget of £139.371 million of capital spending and £255.5 million of revenue. (Predictions are of a underspend in the revenue budget at year-end of £81.2 million (I feel obliged to point out that Labour councillors repeatedly state they’re not given enough money)).

The bit where there’s an answer to the question about whether the Liverpool City Region Mayor will made decisions over my local council/ the services they provide? is in my opinion also wrong. I’ve already written a detailed blog post about What are the new powers of the Metro Mayor to decide on planning applications?.

However, for a taste of one of the matters the new Mayor will be doing (chairing Liverpool City Region Combined Authority public meetings) you can watch my video below of the 15 minute meeting (there are about one of these a month).

So that’s 3-4 hours a year of work (probably more if the meetings are longer).

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Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

Unlike in London, where there are 25 elected London Assembly Members to scrutinise the Mayor this won’t happen in the Liverpool City Region.

There will still be a Scrutiny Committee, but it’ll be made up of councillors nominated by the district councils as before. At the moment there are 14 councillors on that Committee (12 Labour, 1 Lib Dem and 1 Green).

On the opposition front, out of the last three Scrutiny Committee meetings in public, the Lib Dem councillor has sent her apologies for two of them, the Conservative councillor (from Wirral) resigned years ago and no-one else was appointed instead and the sole Green councillor (Liverpool would normally under proportionality rules nominate all Labour councillors but Liverpool decided they wanted at least some opposition) has been to the last three meetings. He’s also the Green Party candidate in the election.

There will be some decisions made solely* by the newly elected Mayor which I will summarise below:

a) matters devolved from the Homes and Communities Agency around land and infrastructure such as housing, regeneration, infrastructure, powers about burial grounds and consecrated land, powers in relation to statutory undertakers,

b) deciding on grants to the local councils in the LCR region,

c) reviewing the local transport plan (at least every five years),

d*) planning applications (of “potential strategic importance”)

*interestingly decisions on these planning applications will also require the consent of the member of the Combined Authority for the area the application for planning permission was made,

e) matters relating to the spatial development strategy and

f) matters to do with Mayoral development areas.

Originally I know the plan had been was for the Combined Authority to combine Merseyside-wide authorities such as the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority to give two examples (similar to old Merseyside County Council).

Even when just talked about, these sorts of proposed changes caused so much resistance from certain existing Labour councillors (who angrily and vocally were against any such changes) that as far as I can tell such plans at the present time were dropped by the negotiating team and the government.

Polling day for over a million people in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority area (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral) is on 4th May 2017 (although postal voters may receive their ballot paper before this date).

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Planning Committee (Wirral Council) 3rd January 2011 Part 5 APP/11/01118 – Land to the North , South and East of Gasholders, Hind Street, Birkenhead, Wirral CH41 5DA

The Chair said that item 8 (APP/11/01118 – Land to the North , South and East of Gasholders, Hind Street, Birkenhead, Wirral CH41 5DA – Application to replace an extant planning permission 2005/07764 – Erection of non food retail, office, trade sales, restaurant/public house, car showroom and crèche (Outline)) had been before the Committee before.

Matthew said that the application was for an extension of time for the 2005 & 2008 applications. They had to look if anything had changed since then. There was a North West Regional Spatial Strategy, Planning Policy Statement 4 and any assessment had to take into account policies. It was for a signficant edge of centre development with regeneration benefits. There was the opportunity for trade and Birkenhead had a sub regional role. The application was to extend the time limit by three years.

The Chair mentioned page 45.
The Vice-Chair asked a question about access for emergency vehicles in reference to the previous outline planning consent given and asked why this wasn’t continued?
The Chair said this was about the decision of 12th January 2009.
The Vice-Chair asked about other conditions?
The Chair asked Matthew to find it and asked the Vice-Chair if she didn’t have the conditions on her?
The Vice-Chair answered no.
Matthew said yes, information had been added to the decision notice, they did this when there was other legislation or in response to a response from the fire service. However it was only informative on the decision notice.
The Vice Chair said it did not have to be as a condition.

Cllr Peter Johnson proposed approval. Cllr John Salter seconded approval. The application was put to the vote.

For: Cllrs Elderton, Clements, Boult, Johnson, Kenny, Salter, Realey, Mooney, Walsh, Kelly and Mitchell (11)
Against: None (0)
Abstention: None (0)

Planning application APP/11/01118 was approved with conditions (11:0:0)

Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 7th November 2011 Part 14 Housing Market Renewal Initiative

Cllr Realey said she was new on this committee, but pointed out that councillors meet a lot of people that might be entitled to investment and could staff come to a future meeting and give a talk on this?

David Ball said he would make the information available and Paula was available already to businesses. He said they cold come to each meeting and signpost councillors.

The Chair said he had added an item to the work program that day, which was an update on the Housing Market Renewal Initiative by Ian. Ian said a decision was imminent, there was a transition fund but they had been left in limbo.

Cllr Niblock said he lived in a Housing Market Renewal Initiative area, declared a prejudicial interest and left the room.

Ian said a decision was imminent, he had spoken to the Homes and Communities Agency. They had advised him that by January 2012 a decision should be made.

The Chair, Cllr Johnston said the next meeting on the 16th January was on his 40th birthday. He thanked the officers.

Cllr Gerry Ellis queried why the committee had to go into closed session for the last item regeneration update, surely Wirral Council should be open with the public? The Chair Cllr Johnson replied that it was because of commercially sensitive information and the press and public were asked to leave.