What happened at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee to discuss budget cuts proposals for 2022/23?

What happened at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee to discuss budget cuts proposals for 2022/23?

What happened at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee to discuss budget cuts proposals for 2022/23?


Wirral Council Policy and Resources Committee (25th October 2021) Left to Right Councillor Janette Williamson Philip McCourt resized
Wirral Council Policy and Resources Committee (25th October 2021) Left to Right, Councillor Janette Williamson (Chair) (left) and Philip McCourt (Monitoring Officer) (middle)

Before this piece on the special meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee in the interests of openness and transparency I have three specific interests to declare.

1. During the meeting itself I am mentioned (briefly) by name by Councillor Julie McManus as I emailed her prior to the meeting with a combined series of questions, some of which are merely journalistic inquiries, others as I’m a local resident and she’s my local councillor. At the time of writing and publication I have not received answers to these questions yet from Wirral Council but when (and if) I do so I plan to update this piece with Wirral Council’s responses (although you can watch the video below for what was said by employees and councillors at te meeting).
Continue reading “What happened at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Policy and Resources Committee to discuss budget cuts proposals for 2022/23?”

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).

Please accept YouTube cookies to play this video. By accepting you will be accessing content from YouTube, a service provided by an external third party.

YouTube privacy policy

If you accept this notice, your choice will be saved and the page will refresh.

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).

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.

What were top 7 most viewed articles and top 7 most viewed videos for May 2016?

What were top 7 most viewed articles and top 7 most viewed videos for May 2016?



Well just over a month has passed since polling day the election for a Merseyside PCC and local councillors on the Wirral and on the 23rd June 2016 there will be a referendum about membership of the EU.

As I’ll be at Wirral Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday morning, instead I thought I’d look back at the most read stories of last month (May 2016) and some of the most watched videos. Both are in order of most viewed (so the top number 1 slot was the one that attracted the most interest).

Top 7 articles on this blog (May 2016)

1. Who wouldn’t want you to read this story about the election of 4 Wirral councillors?

Since I wrote this story question marks have also been raised about the election of two further Wirral councillors not referred to by name in the article, which leads to unanswered questions about over a quarter of the 23 councillors elected. If all six elections had been (or are in the next 2 years) declared null and void*, no political party would have a majority on Wirral Council.

*Highly unlikely considering how this country works or doesn’t work and I’d like to point out that councillors/candidates are innocent until proven guilty and that trial by media doesn’t count.

Continue reading “What were top 7 most viewed articles and top 7 most viewed videos for May 2016?”

What are the election statements of the 4 Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner candidates?

What are the election statements of the 4 Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner candidates?


Jane Kennedy (left), the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Labour Party candidate in the 2016 elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside at a public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (2015)
Jane Kennedy (left), the current Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Labour Party candidate in the 2016 elections for a Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside at a public meeting of the Police and Fire Collaboration Committee (2015)

Each candidate for Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner has produced a statement outlining what they would do if elected, which can be read on the Chose My PCC website. However I doubt many of the 1.4 million people on Merseyside who can vote in this election have heard of that website, so I have copied their election statements below. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by surname. For those voting in this election at their polling station, polling stations will be open for voting from 7 am to 10 pm on Thursday 5th May 2016.

David Robert Burgess-Joyce (Conservative Party candidate)

For over 30 years I have supported law and order locally, nationally and internationally in Merseyside Police as a former Special Constabulary Chief Officer, and as a member of the National Crime Squad and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. However, the most important post is the one I am applying for now, that of Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner. This is not just a wish to get back into the policing world but a genuine belief that the communities of Merseyside have not felt their police force has prioritised their needs in recent years.

Each year thousands of residents and businesses lose large sums of money through hackers and scammers who prey on their trust. More sinister too are the threats from paedophile gangs. I will ensure Merseyside is a hostile environment for those seeking to harm our children and vulnerable people.

It is clear to many people that the police have retreated from our streets. One of my first decisions will be to redress this by making all officers available for front-line duties. I don’t want to see any ‘forgotten’ areas in Merseyside; we all deserve access to sensible levels of policing.

I believe a re-organisation of current resources is more important than increasing council tax and guarantee we can get more out of our police force without necessarily putting more money in.

Local police and fire services work well together. As Police and Crime Commissioner I will merge much of their work, saving money to put where it is needed most: protecting law-abiding citizens and arresting criminals.

My priority will always be to make Merseyside safer for the law-abiding and hostile to the criminal.

Prepared by Simon Eardley on behalf of David Burgess-Joyce both of Wirral West Conservative Association, 24 Meols Drive, Wirral, CH47 4AN.


Email: davidburgessjoyce4pcc@mail.com

Tel: 07769 326170

Christopher David Vincenzo Carubia (Liberal Democrat Party candidate)

Chris Carubia – working to cut crime and protect frontline policing in Merseyside.

Chris was elected as a Liberal Democrat Councillor in Wirral in 2014 – where he lives with his wife and daughter. Chris has spent over 35 years working in electrical engineering and I.T. management both in the UK and abroad.

Chris’s priorities for Merseyside are:

– Maintain a visible presence by defending front line policing

– Protect neighbourhood policing and fully support our PCSOs

– Ensure swift and effective response to reports of anti-social behaviour

– Prioritise tackling domestic violence and sexual exploitation

– Champion the rights of the victims and the use of restorative justice

“I am standing for Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner to work hard and make Merseyside the best police force in the country.

Policing faces many funding challenges and I believe this post needs a fresh, practical approach. One that is not influenced by existing culture.

I believe to be effective in this role you need to listen to residents of Merseyside. The Commissioner should be the voice of the community within the police force – not the police force’s voice in the community.

With your support on May 5th I’ll make sure we have an effective, well-funded police force that will help keep you and your family safe.”

This election address was prepared by Kris Brown on behalf of Chris Carubia both at 509 Smithdown Road, Liverpool, L15 5AE.


John Bernard Coyne (Green Party candidate)

Traffic policing has not been a key priority for Merseyside Police and, while general crime has been falling, road crime such as dangerous speeding has not. The toll of killed and seriously injured across Merseyside remains high.

I would call on the police to tackle road danger as a key priority, with challenging targets. If needed, I would propose an increase in the police precept to provide resources for road policing.

Other police priorities are widely agreed, such as action on serious and organised crime, domestic abuse, hate crime, burglary, violent crime, support for victims, tackling antisocial behaviour and supporting neighbourhood policing.

As a city councillor from 2002 until 2015, I worked alongside the neighbourhood policing team in my ward, gaining insights into the value of local policing. To make neighbourhood policing more effective and more visible, I would encourage police to use cycles rather than cars for non-emergency patrols.

The illegal drug trade fuels the gun and gang culture on Merseyside: the police and the community need to act against it. The PCC should speak to government about its failure to either reconsider the need for drugs to continue to be illegal or else provide adequate funding to deal with the consequences.

In the meantime, resources should not be wasted punishing people with a medical condition which they manage by cultivating a few cannabis plants.

The PCC should build trust between every part of the public and the police. I would monitor and review local policing to make sure the police were not seen to be acting in an oppressive way against any element of the public, such as ethnic minorities or vulnerable people, particularly the homeless or those in fear of eviction.

This form has been prepared by John Coyne, 86 Belgrave Road Liverpool L17 7AH

web www.coyne4pcc.org

email john@coyne4pcc.org

Jane Kennedy (Labour Party candidate)

Re-elect Jane Kennedy as Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner

I am asking the people of Merseyside to re-elect me as their Police Commissioner on 5th May.

The Tories have cut police budgets hard and areas like Merseyside have lost a huge number of jobs. Since 2010 we have lost 1600 police officers and staff due to the Tories savage cuts. I fought hard to stop them from cutting the Force even further and thanks to a strong public response last October, over 16,000 people signed my petition in just two weeks.

As a result of public pressure George Osborne promised to stop any further cuts and so we can save our PCSOs, our mounted unit and neighbourhood patrols along with a wide range of other services which were under threat. I am in no doubt that if I had not challenged him about the cuts and if Merseysiders had ignored my petition, we would be in grave danger of reducing the police force to a ‘blue light’ only emergency service.

But there is something to celebrate. In spite of being one of the hardest hit by Tory cuts Merseyside Police have been judged to be one of the best performing metropolitan police forces in England by the independent police inspectorate, HMIC.

As Merseyside Police Commissioner I will:

  • Work hard with the Chief Constable to maintain this outstanding performance

  • Build even better services for the victims of crime

  • Work hard to make our roads safer for all

  • Fight against further cuts to the police budget

With the support of the people of Merseyside I can do this and more. That is why I am seeking re-election on May 5th 2016.

Promoted by Peter Dowling on behalf of Jane Kennedy at 108 Prescot Road, Liverpool L7 0JA


Twitter: @jane4merseyside

Facebook: Jane Kennedy


If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.

Why did I blow the whistle to Merseytravel?

Why did I blow the whistle to Merseytravel?


Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Audit Committee 26th January 2016
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Audit Committee 26th January 2016

Below is an email I’ve just written about what happened today. I look forward to reading your comments on it. If I had faith in the whistleblowing procedures at Merseytravel I would not see the need to publish it, however these remarks do not inspire me with confidence. I realise I tend to get a bit verbose

I wonder what the response will be?


“Louise Outram (Monitoring Officer, Merseytravel)” <louise.outram@merseytravel.gov.uk>,
“Stephanie Donaldson (Head of Internal Audit, Merseytravel)” <stephanie.donaldson@merseytravel.gov.uk>,
“Liz Carridge (Press Office, Merseytravel)” <liz.carridge@merseytravel.gov.uk>,

Angela Sanderson (Monitoring Officer, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority)” <angelasanderson@sthelens.gov.uk>,
“Cllr Anthony Carr (Chair, LCRCA Audit Committee)” <anthony.carr@merseytravel.gov.uk
“Cllr Pam Thomas (LCRCA Audit Committee)” <pamela.thomas@liverpool.gov.uk
“Cllr Nina Killen (LCRCA Audit Committee/Scrutiny Panel)” <nina.killen@councillors.sefton.gov.uk
“Cllr Andy Moorhead (LCRCA Audit Committee/LCRCA)” <andy.moorhead@knowsley.gov.uk
“Cllr Rob Polhill (LCRCA Audit Committee/LCRCA)” <rob.polhill@halton.gov.uk
“Cllr Mike Sullivan (LCRCA Audit Committee/Scrutiny Panel)” <mikesullivan@wirral.gov.uk
“Cllr Kevin Wainwright (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <kevan.wainwright@halton.gov.uk
“Cllr David Baines (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” St Helens c/o <cllraburns@sthelens.gov.uk
“Cllr Lawrence Brown (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <Lawrence.Brown@liverpool.gov.uk
“Cllr Anthony Burns (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <cllraburns@sthelens.gov.uk
“Cllr Eddie Connor (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <
“Cllr Patrick Hurley (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <
“Cllr Allan Jones (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <cllrajones@sthelens.gov.uk

Cllr Anita Leech (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <anitaleech@wirral.gov.uk>,
“Cllr Sue McGuire (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <
“Cllr Michael O’Brien (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <
“Cllr Marie Stuart (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <marie.stuart@knowsley.gov.uk
“Cllr Bill Woolfall (LCRCA Scrutiny Panel)” <Bill.Woolfall2@halton.gov.uk
“Frank Rogers (Interim Chief Executive/Interim Head of Paid Service, Merseytravel)” <frank.rogers@merseytravel.gov.uk
“Mayor Joe Anderson OBE” <mayor@liverpool.gov.uk
“Councillor Phil Davies” <phildavies@wirral.gov.uk

Councillor Barrie Grunewald” <CllrBGrunewald-Leader@sthelens.gov.uk>,
“Robert Hough CBE” <
“Councillor Ian Maher” <ian.maher@councillors.sefton.gov.uk

Ian Warwick (KPMG)” <ian.warwick@kpmg.co.uk>,
“Richard Tyler (KPMG)” <Richard.tyler@kpmg.co.uk>,
“Karen Christie (Knowsley press office)” <Karen.Chritie@knowsley.gov.uk>,
“Liam Robinson (Chair, Merseytravel)” <liam.robinson@liverpool.gov.uk>,
“Cllr Steve Foulkes (Merseytravel)” <stevefoulkes@wirral.gov.uk>,
“Cllr Jerry Williams (Merseytravel)” <jerrywilliams@wirral.gov.uk>,

Cllr Ron Abbey (Merseytravel)” <ronabbey@wirral.gov.uk>,
“Cllr Les Rowlands (Merseytravel)” <lesrowlands@wirral.gov.uk

Subject: protected disclosure (Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998)ED 18th February 2016: Although I originally thought I fell within the definition of worker in this legislation it seems I do not.

Dear all,

I am making this protected disclosure to Merseytravel, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and KPMG.

Basically I am blowing the whistle and as I have little confidence in these matters being taken seriously by the public sector or addressed in a satisfactory manner I am also taking the step of publishing these concerns.

Obviously there are other routes I can go down other than this, but I hope this will resolve matters.

From this part onwards I will number the sections for ease of reference in replies to this communication.


I am a member of the press called Mr. John Brace. Part of my job is covering public meetings of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. For clarity I am both a member of the broadcast media (as I film such meetings) and new media as I write online about these meetings. I write online at http://johnbrace.com/ , which last month (December 2015) had an audience of around 3,345 readers. I publish the video I record on the Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/level80 which in December 2015 was viewed for a total of ~87 hours.

Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014

On the 6th August 2014 a piece of legislation called the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 came into effect. These can be read at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/2095/contents/made and I will briefly summarise some of the main changes it made relevant to this protected disclosure:

a) it changed the existing legislation to place a positive duty on certain public bodies that now had to allow filming at their public meetings (regulation 4(5)),

b) it changed the existing legislation to make it clear that such recordings of public meetings could be published (explicitly mentioning the internet) (regulation 4(5)),


c) Please note in order to allay any confusion in what I am about to quote, I will point out that s.100J of the Local Government Act 1972 (which defines various terms used in Part VA means that “principal council” includes a combined authority.

This is a quote from regulation 4(5) which modifies the Local Government Act 1972.

“A person attending a meeting of a principal council in England for the purpose of reporting on the meeting must, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for doing so.”

3. 26th January 2016
On the morning of the 26th January 2016 I attended the Merseytravel Offices which are at No 1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP. For the purposes of brevity I will refer to this location as Merseytravel HQ.

This was to attend and report on a public meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Audit Committee which was scheduled to start at 10.30am. I was there with my wife and colleague Leonora Brace.

There was also at least one other member of the public present during the meeting called Ian Warwick, who works for the external auditors KPMG to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

4. What happened

We arrived at the ground floor of Merseytravel at approximately 10 am.

The meeting was to be held on the first floor of Merseytravel HQ (in a room called the Authority Room).

We were told by the receptionist (I have a recording of this conversation on tape which can be supplied) that we would not be permitted to go through the barrier to this meeting (which started at 10.30am), until 10.45am.

Obviously had we taken her assertion at face value (and it causes a certain degree of work place stress to have to continually fact check what a public sector employee states to us) this would have been a breach of our rights to attend the public meeting and report on the public meeting.

There have been times in the past at Merseytravel HQ when we have arrived in plenty of time before a meeting has been to start.

However to give an example of what happened once, we had been kept waiting and not permitted to go to the room where the meeting is held until well after the meeting had started (by the time we were allowed to attend it was from memory had started thirty minutes before). It then causes us embarrassment to arrive late to a meeting when we had indeed on that occasion arrived in plenty of time. It made it impossible then for example to report on agenda items that had already happened.

Public meetings start at different times. For example these are the start times of public meetings held at Merseytravel HQ this month (I include the cancelled Combined Authority meeting scheduled for the 22nd January 2016 too):

11.00am, 11.15am, 10.30am, 2.00pm, 2.00pm, 2.00pm.

There are other public meetings held in Merseytravel HQ too such as the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (also known as the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority) which start at 1.00pm.

Invariably due to the confusion caused by the receptionist stating that we wouldn’t be able to go into the meeting until 10.45, I had to double-check the time of the meeting using the guest wi-fi.

I found out that the meeting was supposed to start at 10.30am. The receptionist was therefore wrong in her assertion that we should not be allowed in until 10.45am.

I also took the opportunity to read the Combined Authority’s policy on filming.

The Monitoring Officer for the Combined Authority is Angela Sanderson. She does not work for Merseytravel, but for St Helens Borough Council.

The agreed filming policy for the Combined Authority meetings (which presumably covers meetings of its Audit Committee) is based on that originally adopted by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council. It was agreed on the 22nd September 2014.

It can be viewed here http://councillors.knowsley.gov.uk/documents/s30342/140919%20delegated%20report%20filming.pdf?StyleType=standard&StyleSize=none .

In that policy the phone number of 0151 443 3536 (the press office of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council) is given for enquiries.

However Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council have (as far as I know) no part in the public meeting of the Liverpool City Combined Authority Audit Committee of the 26th January 2016.

The papers for the meeting are published on Merseytravel’s website, see http://moderngov.merseytravel.uk.net/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=336&MId=1343 and the minutes are taken by a Merseytravel employee.

Here is a transcript of part of my conversation I had with the receptionist (who seems a textbook example of the doctrine of “superior orders”) to the extent below:

John Brace: This is the filming policy they use here, it’s the Knowsley Council one they use because they’re the ones that administer the Combined Authority and it says,

“Anyone wishing to do so is asked to inform them in advance to ensure any necessary arrangements can be made.”

So does that mean you need to ring the press office here or Knowsley?

Denise (who has a phone on her desk) (Merseytravel employee): No, they’ve given me instructions not to let any members of the public in there.

John Brace: No what I’m saying is your filming policy …

Denise (who has a phone on her desk) (Merseytravel employee): up until 15 minutes before until someone else is in that room.

John Brace: Sorry this is something different. Your filming policy says you request to be informed in advance of the meeting, so that’s what I’m doing.

Denise (who has a phone on her desk) (Merseytravel employee): Yeah, yeah.

John Brace: So what I’m saying is, it says media enquiries to be conducted to the Communications Team, does that mean

Denise (who has a phone on her desk) (Merseytravel employee): There you go, there’s Louise.

5. The conversation with Louise Outram

Before the public meeting started, myself and Leonora Brace had a conversation with Louise Outram (who as far as I know is the Monitoring Officer for Merseytravel) about these matters.

I will point out at this stage that this is not the first conversation I have had with Louise Outram about these issues.

Louise Outram: OK, Mr & Mrs Brace, can I take over here please?

Louise Outram: What’s the problem this morning?

John Brace: Well, the filming policy does say you require advance notice, so I was just asking whether that goes, because the policy was Knowsley’s policy so I’m not sure whether that phone number is Knowsley’s press office or your press office?

Louise Outram: Err, that looks like Knowsley’s number.

John Brace: Ahh, OK.

Louise Outram: Well I think it’s been accepted that you will film. We don’t have a problem with that. We can’t gain access to the building until there’s a committee officer within that room.

Leonora Brace: Yeah, but surely we can go upstairs and sit outside?

Louise Outram: No, you can’t. It’s a public, this is the public area and the meeting is a public meeting and we will afford you the reasonable facility to film.

Fifteen minutes before the meeting gives you sufficient time to set up your camera and at fifteen minutes before the meeting there’ll be a democratic services officer in that room.

We cannot allow the public unrestricted access to this building. We’ve got private tenants and public offices.

John Brace: Well we’ve seen plenty of members of the public go through when we’ve just been here in this short period for instance there’s one of your auditors from KPMG that doesn’t actually work for Merseytravel has gone through. You know other people have gone through into what you term as a non-public area. So,

Louise Outram: They, those officers have a legitimate meeting in this building. You have a right to the public meeting. The public meeting doesn’t start until 10.30, it’s only 10 o’clock now.

John Brace: You said 10.30, is that

Louise Outram: Yes.

John Brace: correct? I’ll just check on that, because I thought the time was different on the website,
Louise Outram and Leonora Brace: No, it’s 10.30.

John Brace: If you look here I’ll just show you, oh yes it says 10.30. Sorry I’m thinking of another one that starts at 11.15,

Louise Outram: They’re all different times unfortunately, so it is important to check the time.

(a number of people speak at once)
Louise Outram:
Yes, as soon as a Committee Officer, a Democratic Services Officer is in that room, they’ll advise Denise and Denise will allow you access up to that room to set up your camera, in the place that you normally set it up.

John Brace: The only other thing is that Leonora was saying is she’s a ********. The problem with sitting here opening and closing a lot it does get quite cold and draughty down here.

Louise Outram: Well I’m afraid we can’t do anything about that. The door has to open and close. I mean all I would suggest is that you arrive at 10.15 or fifteen minutes before whatever meeting time is scheduled and in doing that you will then be afforded the facility to come through.

John Brace: Well today for instance, as you know there’s bad weather and disruption to the transport network so it’s only advisable to leave a bit of extra time.

Louise Outram: Well I can’t allow you into the room until there’s a democratic services officer. Denise will advise you when that is. So if you’d like to sit, you’re more than welcome to sit here.

If you’d like to walk around the block, you’re more than welcome to do, but they’ll allow you in fifteen minutes before the meeting starts. OK, alright? I’ll notify Democratic Services that you’re filming again today. We do generally take it as read that you are afforded facilities to do that, so, we’ll, that’s not a problem, ok?

John Brace: Well another question I want to ask is, it states err “reasonable facilities” in the regulations, but it doesn’t actually state what they are so, is there some kind of understanding between us as to what they are or what?

Louise Outram: You come in, you are there are seats available, you generally set your tripod up, you generally move it around as in the camera around, so

John Brace: Sorry receipts?

Louise Outram: There are seats available for the public and you generally.

John Brace: Sorry I thought you said receipts.

Louise Outram: No,


John Brace: It’s the echoes in here isn’t it?

Louise Outram: No, you generally sit yourself in a particular position which affords you a good view of the, I mean I’ve seen your films, you know it affords you a good view of the Chamber and people are reminded to use their microphones, so we do try and ensure you get a good video of the meeting.

So I think we afford you reasonable if not very good facilities!


Louise Outram: The legislation unfortunately doesn’t describe anything formal but, and it doesn’t give any guidance as well, so I would say we (unclear)

I think so, I think you’re getting yourself a good spec.

Leonora Brace: It’s nearly ten past now!

Louise Outram: Well the Democratic Services officer will notify Denise and she’ll allow you access through.

John Brace: But it’s not Denise’s decision?

Louise Outram: She’s acting on instructions from ourselves.

John Brace: Oh I was trying to explain to Leonora, that she was getting instructions from above, it’s not her decision to make.

Louise Outram: It’s not Denise! (laughter)

John Brace: Does that help at all or not?

Leonora Brace: No.

6. Conclusion

There are many issues this raises.

For example the public sector equality duty (which was ironically raised by Cllr Pam Thomas at the meeting we were at). .

For example the area Louise Outram insists we wait in has no access to water or toilets.

This discriminates against two people with protected characteristics as Merseytravel is fully aware why we would require greater access to these than others.

To give one example, the pollution found in Liverpool City Centre, where Merseytravel HQ is based makes me thirsty because I’m an asthmatic.

Merseytravel is fully aware of the disability I have and the nature and extent of those disabilites as a District Judge at Birkenhead County Court found in the past that Merseytravel had discriminated against me three times (but accepted Merseytravel’s defence that on each occasion it was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim).

One could regard denying me access to water in such circumstances as degrading treatment contrary to Article 3.

Are we expected to bring our own water to such meetings?

Article 2 deals with freedom of movement which is again restricted.

It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way this is incompatible with a Convention Right (s. 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998).

Merseytravel states that it prides itself on good industrial relations with its workforce. We both work in Merseytravel HQ, yet not for Merseytravel. Yet Merseytravel management unilaterally imposed this new policy upon us without formally consulting us first.

I hope I will receive a satisfactory response to the issues raised. Not just for my benefit, but for that of Leonora, other members of the media who attend public meetings at Merseytravel HQ and indeed the wider public who may wish to do so.

Long drawn out legal cases are neither beneficial to either Merseytravel or myself, adverse press criticism is about the only tool I have to bring about change.

Merseytravel is part of the public sector and should be able to resolve this issues well before they get to this stage.

I would hope that after having read the above that matters will change.

However realising how difficult cultural attitudes are to change in an organisation, I am not hopeful of a quick resolution to these matters.

I can be contacted in the following ways:

Address: Jenmaleo, 134 Boundary Road, Birkenhead, CH43 7PH
Email: john@johnbrace.com
Tel: 0151 512 2500 (but please not that due to the nature of my work you are highly likely to just get the answering machine)

P.S. Last year I heard Mayor Anderson (now Chair of the Combined Authority) state at a public meeting how hurt he was when decisions affecting his employment with Chesterfield School were made without prior consultation and about his political beliefs as a trade unionist.

If Merseytravel have behaved in the way I describe above (which I have the tape to prove), then management is not acting in accordance with the political belief of the Chair of the Combined Authority who is answerable to the public for its functioning.

I would also like it confirmed (as three senior managers at Merseytravel, Stephanie Donaldson, Liz Carridge and Louise Outram) were involved in trying to persuade me to alter the article here:

Merseytravel’s Head of Internal Audit brands some whistleblowing as “Mickey Mouse” & “complete nonsense”

that these actions described above haven’t been implemented by Merseytravel management in response to that matter.

Yours sincerely,

John Brace

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.