ID Cards Scrapped

Labour’s ID Card Scheme, having racked up £330 million pounds in costs was scrapped at midnight. Any existing ID cards can no longer be used for travel or for proving identity. The information held on computer as part of the scheme will be erased and the equipment shredded. This comes at a further cost of … Continue reading “ID Cards Scrapped”

Labour's ID Card Scheme

Labour’s ID Card Scheme, having racked up £330 million pounds in costs was scrapped at midnight. Any existing ID cards can no longer be used for travel or for proving identity.

The information held on computer as part of the scheme will be erased and the equipment shredded. This comes at a further cost of £400,000 .

Once again this shows the Lib Dems and Conservatives in government are making a difference. To put the costs in comparison, Wirral Council’s yearly revenue budget (that pays all its staff and running costs) is less than the costs of the ID card scheme.

Those who have already received an ID card will not be receiving a refund of the fee.

In unrelated news, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor (Alan Johnson) pictured holding an ID card has resigned. When will Labour realise they shouldn’t have gone on a spending spree with the country’s credit card on white elephant schemes like ID cards and just say sorry for more Labour cuts?

Freedom of Speech and Censorship – Time Labour said sorry for cuts

I’ve just been reading the joint statement on Wikileaks released by the UN.

Section 4 really caught my eye with regards to the pressure put on yours truly about this story. As readers may be unaware a tax-payer funded body is threatening a lawsuit on a matter that is protected in UK law from libel lawsuits.

They also threaten to "write to" the company hosting this blog and to get it deleted. Thankfully being hosted in America there are stronger legal protections on freedom of speech.

As the UN put it "Such illegitimate interference includes politically motivated legal cases brought against journalists and independent media, and blocking of websites and web domains on political grounds."

I was ready to give Labour the benefit of the doubt in this matter as generally their councillors are honest (especially Cllr Foulkes) enough to declare a prejudicial interest. In fact I mentioned this in the article I wrote.

This whole "storm in a teacup episode" has overtones of the time last year that Cllr. Harry Smith moaned to the Lib Dems (in a letter he did have the decency to copy to myself along with a Wirral Council compliment slip with the box for immediate action ticked) that I’d stated in a Focus article (which was true) that while Vice-Chair he hadn’t gone to a Pensions Committee meeting at which it had been revealed the Fund had lost ~£700 million (which leads to extra costs to Wirral Council that can’t be used to fund frontline services).

Cllr. Harry Smith was annoyed that residents were going to his surgery and talking to him about pensions. However isn’t talking to local residents at your surgery about decisions you’ve made part of being a (well-paid) local councillor Harry? In your election literature (which I still have from 2007) your promise was Give me 15 minutes of your time and I’ll give you 4 years of mine.

How do you square choosing to go on holiday (instead of representing your residents) and being suspended as a councillor for a week with this promise? How about the person you put on your election literature under a headline like "We’re voting for Harry Smith" who didn’t even vote at all? As a local resident in Bidston & St. James I would hope that Labour’s leaflet is not misleading local residents to vote for them. Isn’t it time residents got an apology and the truth?

£48 million has recently had to be cut from this year’s budget (voted for by Labour in March) due to the Labour government’s mismanagement of the country’s finances and spiralling costs on bureaucracy. These are Labour’s cuts to services (whose Minister said there was "no money left") that will next year directly affect residents harshly here in Bidston & St. James. Cllr Foulkes (Labour’s leader) has already apologised publically to the people of Wirral for mistakes the earlier Labour administration made. Isn’t it time other Labour councillors said sorry to the residents of Wirral for the mistakes they’ve made that have led to these cuts?

Lib Dems deliver 150,000 new affordable homes – WPH’s Bramall Construction contract & Labour Party donations

Following on from the Bidston & St. James Focus article about housing I am pleased to read that the high-rise flats Vittoria Court owned by Wirral Partnership Homes are to receive investment.

There are also plans being discussed for more social housing on the Beechwood estate. In addition the Coalition government and Council have agreed the Wirral Waters scheme.

Many Wirral Partnership Homes properties in this area have also received investment following a construction contract with Brammall Construction last year. With Labour sitting on Wirral Partnership Home’s board, perhaps there could be an explanation as to whether any declaration of interest was declared in regards to a contract awarded to Bramall Construction after a £2,000 donation was made from Brammall Construction to the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party? A spokesperson for Bramall Construction rejects any connection and explains the donation as follows:-

“In 2000 we entered into a partnering arrangement called the Tranmere Partnership with Riverside Housing Association, Maritime Housing Association & Consultants which carried out some major works in Tranmere.

As part of our commitment to working with the local community, we sponsored an event [ED – in 2004, not 2000] at Prenton Park which was organised by the local Labour Party. Like many other local firms [ED – although the Birkenhead Labour Party records no donations or sponsorship from others], we took a table of 12 and sponsored the night by putting three bottles of wine on each table. We viewed the event as putting something back into the local community. Our donation to this event was registered by the Labour Party.

In 2004/5 we put in a bid to carry our major repair works for Wirral Partnership Homes but we were unsuccessful. The work was awarded to two other contractors. In 2007 we understood that there was a contractual issue with one of the incumbent partner contractors and in line with the framework agreement were given the opportunity to express an interest in undertaking decent homes works. After following all of the required procurement procedures we were awarded a section of works. To suggest there is a link between our sponsoring of a Labour party organised event and the awarding of a contract of WPH is a very serious allegation which we strongly reject.”

The link to the Electoral Commission website doesn’t link directly to the information, however an extract from the register is below.

Received by
Date accepted
Conservative Party
Grange (Birkenhead) Property Co. Ltd
status: Company
company reg no: 00045284
17a Balls Road
CH43 5RF
04/06/04 £ 500.00
Conservative Party
Tranmere Conservative Club Ltd
status: Company
company reg no: 00869082
68 Argyle Street
CH41 6AF
10/06/04 £ 1,250.00
Labour Party [The]
Birkenhead Clp
Bramall Construction
status: Company
company reg no: 1467161
Unit 3D
Newton Court
Faraday Road
Wavertree Technology Park
L13 1EJ
13/05/04 £ 2,000.00
Section total:£ 3,750.00

To be fair (as I always like to be) to Labour they are required by law to declare an interest when representing Wirral Council on outside bodies and withdraw from any discussions. The public must know that their representatives are acting in the public interest. With trust in politicians low, isn’t it about time WPH published any documents of meetings held about this?

Isn’t it time the public had a bit more openness and transparency when it comes to Wirral Partnership Homes, a company that receives £43 million in rent a year (some of this from the taxpayer from Housing Benefit claims)?

Wirral’s Future – Be a Part of It, Wirral Council’s consultation on the budget

Comment on the Wirral’s Future – Be a Part of It budget consultation and the Prenton/Oxton Area Forum meeting of the 19th October 2010

Wirral’s Future – Be a Part of It, Wirral Council’s consultation on the budget


The new Lib Dem-Conservative coalition in charge of Wirral Council as part of their aim to bring about a culture of openness and accountability started a public consultation on next year’s budget.

I asked a question of the Lib Dem leader at last night’s Prenton and Oxton Area Forum as to whether the consultation would feed into the capital budget (the money used for investment eg new schools, new pedestrian traffic lights) as well as the revenue budget (which is mentioned on the front of the questionnaire).

He confirmed it would. This gives an opportunity for the public to feed their views into the budget process and despite Labour’s criticism of the process; a chance for all voices to be heard rather than just the ruling parties.

Whatever method of consultation was used, there’d be criticism. However I am pleased that (like the You Decide consultation last year) this is also being done using an online survey.

Last night Wirral Council officers also detailed how they’ve been trying to reach hard to visit groups; whether by knocking on doors or visiting supermarkets. As was pointed out yesterday, short of an insert in the free newspaper or writing to everyone, not every member of the public can be reached but over 1% of the public have returned a questionnaire. Considering the average turnout in this year’s election was 65% and in some places only 26% of the public decide vote for their elected representative; who are there to represent all their residents (not just the ones who voted for them), I think the consultation is doing its best to gather as many people’s views as possible.

Labour have called for public meetings; as there were over the library/community centre/leisure centre closures. However at the one I attended in Birkenhead people were turned away as the venue was full. That packed meeting started with a rather long presentation on the strategic asset review leading to the audience getting more and more livid as their felt their voices weren’t being heard. At least with a questionnaire everybody’s views can be taken on board.

Public meetings are best when they involve the audience and give members of the public a real chance to influence decisions. As mentioned above, when in some areas 74% of the electors haven’t voted at all in their local council elections; how are their views taken on board when some councillors feel that people who didn’t vote for them can be ignored?

There were similar issues raised about the You Decide consultation; however I genuinely think that involving the public in decision-making can only lead to better decisions being made. As mentioned last night, ultimately it is councillors who will together be making the budget decisions for 2011/2012 next March. However I have heard at least one Labour councillor say openly in a public meeting (and one of another party privately) that they didn’t even read the budget they vote on.

After the fiasco that was the library closures; I hope the new administration has learnt lessons on public consultation and fully takes on board the views of the public (who pointed out well before the budget was set in a public meeting at Wallasey Town Hall that Wirral Council hadn’t adhered to the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964).

On a sadder note, I heard yesterday evening that Mr. Garrett had died (about a month ago). He was the secretary of the Wirral Transport Users Association and on the Merseytravel Advisory Panel. He was a staunch champion of public transport and as Cllr. Pat Williams described enthusiastic. He will be missed.

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Town Hall drama: Labour’s lost the plot – more playground politics

Town Hall drama: Labour’s lost the plot – more playground politics

Town Hall drama: Labour’s lost the plot – more playground politics


Last night’s full council meeting at Wallasey Town Hall certainly had some firsts:-

a) the first time a Labour councillor has refused to answer a question at Public Question Time
b) the first time two journalists have been asked to leave (highly irregular and illegal) from the Council chamber merely for exercising their rights under Wirral Council’s constitution to ask questions (and as a result irking Cllr. Harry Smith).

As I really doubt Cllr. Harry Smith is aware of the law on this I will quote it here (with a little underlining of the relevant points):-

"Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960

1 Admission of public to meetings of local authorities and other bodies.


(4) Where a meeting of a body is required by this Act to be open to the public during the proceedings or any part of them, the following provisions shall apply, that is to say,—

(c) while the meeting is open to the public, the body shall not have power to exclude members of the public from the meeting and duly accredited representatives of newspapers attending for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for those newspapers shall, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report and, unless the meeting is held in premises not belonging to the body or not on the telephone, for telephoning the report at their own expense."

As Cllr. Smith well knows the press table is situated in front of the Labour benches in the Council Chamber. There are no "reasonable facilities" in the public gallery as there’s no large flat surface to write on.

It got so bad that to sum up the words of one member of the public (previously a councillor) in the public gallery "My brain hurts and I’m going home". Cllr. Foulkes gave long speeches about how he believes in scrutiny and democracy. However not it seems in respect of any Labour Party councillors. His own councillors heckled both members of the public during the time they asked questions, Cllr Adrian Jones slandered me (why can Labour never get their facts right?) and behaved like spoilt children who’ve had their toys taken away throwing a temper tantrum merely because a couple of people asked one of their councillors questions.

As if Labour councillors wasn’t bad enough and I am being serious now (surely you can’t be serious I hear you say) a senior officer was even heard making racist remarks about my wife. Officers are supposed to be politically neutral and adhere to the officer’s code of conduct.

I am a person who believes in freedom of speech; but until the Labour Party learns some respect and manners; I will continue to be ashamed that I’m represented in Bidston & St. James ward by three Labour Party councillors.

However, I here is a list of the notices of motion/amendments at last night’s meeting, which can be found on Wirral Council’s website.

Bill Norman was made the new Returning Officer. Jim Wilkie will carry on for the next 9 months as Interim Chief Executive.

P.S. I am getting well used to the fact that a 15 minute adjournment ends up being half an hour; why don’t they just say they need 30 minutes to start with?

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