Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority – Minutes (30th January 2012) Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associated Assets

Minutes of the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority meeting of the 30th January 2012 and links to Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associated Assets CX/16/12 report

On the 29th March 2012, Wirral Council’s Cabinet received a report on the outcome of the Tender Exercise. Merseytravel had changed their minds about bidding on the 1st February (two days after the meeting that these are the minutes for). The reason/s behind this are partly in the resolution and in the papers and resolutions at its meeting of the 9th February 2012 as between 30th January 2012 and the 1st February 2012 Merseytravel realised how difficult a financial situation they were in, following the papers being published for the 9th February 2012 Budget meeting on the 1st February 2012.

Note: below is the official minutes of the meeting (not my own notes) from the 30/1/2012 meeting and were approved at its meeting on 9th February 2012. I wish I’d discovered that Merseytravel had started putting the minutes on a website before typing it up! Links to he report about the Wirral Tramway and Appendices on Merseytravel’s website are below.

Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associated Assets CX/16/12

Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associated Assets CX/16/12 Appendix 1

Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associated Assets CX/16/12 Appendix 2

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

30 January 2012

Present: Councillor M Dowd, Chair
Councillor A Dean, Deputy Chair

Councillors R Abbey, C Blakeley, G Friel, S Glover,
J Hanson, A Makinson, K McGlashan, M Murphy,
M Quinn, M Rasmussen, L Robinson, L Rowlands,
P Walton

Also Attended

Councillor S Foulkes – Leader Wirral Metropolitan
Borough Council,
Councillor R Round Leader Knowsley Metropolitan
Borough Council and
Councillor B Grunewald Deputy Leader St Helens
Metropolitan Borough Council


Apologies for absence were submitted by
Councillors J Dodd, B Griffiths, J Salter, D Callan, T Elwood
C Roberts, Councillor J Anderson (Leader, Liverpool City Council)
and Councillor P Dowd (Leader, Sefton Metropolitan Borough


78.   Local Transport Plan Delivery, Bus and Merseytram Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the Local Transport Plan Delivery, Bus and Merseytram Committee held on the 8 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

79.   People, Organisational Development and Governance Delivery

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the People, Organisational Development and Governance Delivery Committee held on the 10 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

80.   Tunnels, Ferries and Visitor Economy Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Tunnels, Ferries and Visitor Economy Committee held on the 12 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

81.   Corporate Social Responsibility Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee held on the 12 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

82.   Rail Services Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Rail Services Committee held on the 11 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

83.   Policy and Delivery – Review Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Policy and Delivery – Review Committee held on the 19 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

84.   Strategy and Finance Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Strategy and Finance Committee held on the 19 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

85.   Urgency Sub – Committee

Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Urgency Sub – Committee held on the 12 January 2012 be approved insofar as they require the approval of the Authority.

86.   Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associates Assets

Councillors R Abbey, C Blakeley and L Rowlands together with Councillor S Foulkes (visiting Wirral Metropolitan Council Leader) all declared a personal interest as members of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

The Authority considered a report of the Director of Resources regarding the Acquisition of Wirral Tramway and Associated Assets. Together with presentations from Mr Richard Mawdsley (The Peel Group) and Mr Scott McIntosh (Mott McDonald) and a verbal update from Mr. Steve Cook (Merseytravel’s Forward Planning Officer) (copies attached to these minutes).

Mr. R Mawdsley in his presentation gave a brief background history to The Peel Group as a company; its development around Salford Quays and the vision for Wirral Waters; The Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone and Peel International Trade Centre and its goal to redress the balance around local investment on both sides of the River Mersey. This was the hope that from the investment, especially with the Trade Centre, 700 jobs will be created. The Wirral Waters projects was seen as a 30 year initiative that the time line of which could not be specified however Wirral Waters and Liverpool Waters were seen as sister projects. The tramway was envisaged an exemplar part of the scheme supported by the Government which it was envisaged would assist in increasing patronage to the Rail and Ferry services as well as a Visitor Economy for the Merseytravel attractions.

Mr. Steven Cook outlined to the Authority the transport planning all aspects for the Wirral Waters and how officers from relevant departments of Merseytravel were

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

working together to achieve this Section 106 Agreement. The Agreement was for 25 years however the project had a number of variables and timescales were not set, therefore it was a challenge and a Steering Group consisting of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Officers, Peel, the Highways Agency and Merseytravel had been established.

There had been agreement on rail infrastructure development; bus service links from Birkenhead to Seacombe; park and ride; protection of railway line and a figure of £15.4 million had been reached to ensure the East Float area was sustainable. Due to the lack of a timescale the agreement was based on a time if arrangement, so as they were built monies were released.
The Authority then received a presentation by Scott Macintosh and from Mott McDonald. (Copy of presentation attached to these minutes). The key message from the presentation was that it was considered a one off business opportunity, the tram industry were excited by the prospects and there was a lot of interest, including offers of assistance of second hand equipment and some European tramway operators. The Government too were interested in the project.

Cllr Dowd thanked those who had presented and opened the floor to Members and invited Leaders for questions and comments.

Cllr Ann Murphy commented on the ‘deja vu’ aspect of the debate and previous aspirations have been dashed, disciplinary was also expressed at the lack of reference to the whole of Merseyside in the benefits of the projects as all would be contributing to the finance.

Cllr A Makinson enquired that as the current and tender was for the Heritage Tramway and the suggestion was to develop to a commuter service it must be acknowledged that the heritage trams would not meet commercial, environmental or statutory standards, so what would be the implications and the extra costs.

The Director of Resources confirmed that Officers would ensure that the trams met statutory requirements.

Councillor R Abbey commented that the previous scheme had been let down politically and a Merseywide approach

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

had always been taken by the Authority as shown by the support for the Liverpool/Knowsley tram project. However before commitment to the project it had been proven to be deliverable on sound financial reasoning.

Councillors G Friel welcomed the presentation however he felt it did not answer his concerns. If Government supported as suggested how did this reconcile with the reduced funding for Local Authorities, the impact of which was cuts to vital services together with the reduced finance to the Transport authorities.

Councillor J Hanson thanked those presenting and commented that Merseytravel wanted to do what it could to support Wirral and Liverpool Waters but expressed concern at the lack of timescales. There could be a 10 year buy in but nothing happening due to the 20 – 30 year nature of the project. It will be £2.5 million with nothing to show and money that Merseytravel and the District Authorities would need to find at a very challenging time. The amount was not a real issue to all lecture members. There were also a number of concerns with regard to finance and revenue commitment. More information was required he felt before any commitment or bid could be considered.

Councillor A Dean also wished to thank the presenters and felt the report came a little closer to the issues but once again fell short of all the information required before any real decision could be made. There seemed to be a change in emphasis to the Wirral Waters project. Councillor Dean had real concerns around the rolling stock and the continuing ‘make do’ for Merseytravel with someone else’s ‘cast offs’. If project does get approval the stock must be of quality he did not want hidden charges arrangements of maintenance or obsolete kit. If the tram was so key to the Wirral Waters project why was it not included in the section 106 agreement. The District were picking up the bill for the last tram project which had political support withdrawn.

The costs needed to be properly detailed and clarity was required that it was a lot of money £2.5 million pounds which the District Councils and Merseytravel could use in other areas, a decision could not be made on potential costs. Some of the comments in the presentation, re patronage had no evidence base and a failure to meet predictions would add further to the cost, he felt clarity was required.

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

Councillor M Quinn welcomed the report, it was a lot clearer than previous but did raise concerns. The Local Transport Plan 3 (LTP 3) was the aspirational wishes for transport, this scheme was not within the plan, if cannot match aspiration how can the authority be expected to take on new projects. From previous experience costs can escalate, more financial clarity was required. With regard to all of the offers, why? And would they be available to other bidders, so what was the value. The previous projects £70 million was still being paid for and the present scheme had no reference to revenue cost. The money may be better spent supporting the bus network and getting people to work.

Cllr L Robinson echoed Members thanks and expressed full commitment to a World Class region and world class service but signficant concerns with the business plan. There was a concerns around people having to change modes of transport, from personal experience of working the industry commuters want a point to point system and Salford to Manchester City tram patronage referred to was not great.

Councillor K. McGlashan supported Councillor J Hanson’s comments but all sat as Members of the Integrated Transport Authority and must view projects in a fresh light with the regional perspective. The Authority wished to provide a good transport system for all the people on Merseyside including trams if appropriate but needed to have the full information before any ‘leap of faith’.

Councillor L Rowlands supported Councillor K McGlashan’s comments and felt the presentation filled some of the information not previously received, however drew Members’ attention to the fact that Merseytravel had not reached its current position without being visionary and being able to take a 30 year view. It was acknowledged that more information was required however support for this project would not only be support for Wirral Waters but also Liverpool Waters. The vision could help the patronage levels for the Ferries and other Merseytravel attractions. Councillor Rowlands felt a decision should not be made until the Authority had the full details but Members should not forget how to look to the future.

Councillor C Blakeley thanked those presenting supported the comments are looking at the project with the ‘vision’ shown previously by the Authority and felt it

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

was sustainable and would add to the region not just Wirral Waters. Although no recommendation in the report reading the conclusion Officers would welcome opportunity to bid however all were aware that business case and cost need further work. Councilor Blakeley did not at this time wish to close the door on the opportunity to bid.

The Director of Resources confirmed that the business case did require more work it was out of date and needed testing and he would suggest than an external firm be commissioned as he did not currently have the staff resources.

Councillor S Glover drew Members attention back to the core business of the Authority to concentrate on transport. Tourism was an ‘add on’ but if appropriate then any time project should be a first class 21st century system, with new 21st century kit. If all was second hand then it followed that there would be an impact on reliability. The business case had not been completed and therefore he felt it could not go forward. However if the Authority wished to progress with the project it should have new stock and equipment; a proper business plan; commitment from national level and provide of service fit for this century. Once in place then all could look to get similar provision for the other side of the river.

Councillor B Grunewald, Deputy Leader, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council, thanked the meeting for the invite and acknowledged that Merseytravel had a long history of taking strategic decisions, but any ‘leap of faith’ could not be taken without hard facts and on reading the papers there was amazement that Members were being asked to make decisions without all the facts and figures. Support would be difficult in light of the lack of clarity.

The District Leaders and representatives were invited if they wish to, to make comments by the Authorities.

Councillor S Foulkes, Leader Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council also thanked the Authority for the invite. Wirral welcomed all bids and recognised that the waterfronts were linked and it was customers who set their own boundaries. All were aware of Merseytravel’s bad experience in the past and the the City Region had not been recognized as one which could achieve the big projects however with the success of Liverpool One this perception had to change. There was a need to be brave

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

and visionary, the future job prospects of the waterfront developments were for all of Merseyside. Merseytravel did have the experience and skill set said to be a bidder. It was accepted that Members may be wary especially in these challenging times. The project sat well with Merseytravel’s other attractions at Woodside and Merseytravel was used to partnership working. Councillor Foulkes encourage the Authority to submit a bid of think big.

Councillor R Round, Leader of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, also thanked the Authority for the invite and opportunity to add his comments to those of the other representatives. Councillor Round had seen Peels presentations on a number of occasions and was still impressed by the project, he appreciated that the Authority was going through the same financial challenges and considerations as the District Councils. He accepted that the previous experience of Government support had been very disappointing however felt that the City Region needed to think big too and commented he would like to see the tram run the full length of the river.

It was a very difficult decision but through bidding Councillor Round felt that the Authority would show support to the regeneration of both sides of the river it would show vision, as he was sure that if successful Merseytravel would operate it well and would provide employment opportunities. Therefore he would wish to encourage the Authority to put in a bid.

The Director of Resources confirm that the Authority were already supported Wirral Waters through the Section 106 Agreement however Members needed to be confident in the business plan, good governance would require something more robust than currently available.

With regard to timescales for the bid, it was confirmed that all bids had to be submitted by 3rd of February, 2012.

Councillor M Dowd once again confirmed that Authority were totally supportive of the Wirral and Liverpool Waters schemes and it was good to hear that the project had Government support. The Authority did not want to shut doors and if the Government were serious then it may be productive to send an all party delegation to see if funding was forthcoming.

Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority

Councillor A Dean once again urged caution as there was still detail missing from the report, the business case needed to be revisited.

Region Mawdsley, Peel Holdings offered financial support of 50% towards the costs of the business case, in light of the financial challenges and Scott McIntosh, Mott McDonald, offered his personal time if required.

The Authority thanked all for their time and contribution to date.

It was felt that without the business case a bid could not be submitted at this time however so as not to shut the door completely the Chair moved the following motion viz:-

Motion by Councillor M Dowd seconded by councillor A Dean.


(a) the Authority give its in principle support to a bid subject however to a more rigorous assessment of the business case by an external firm of accountants such assessment to take into account the reservations and concerns expressed at this meeting;

(b) the offer from Peel to fund 50% of the cost, for this assessment be welcomed and accepted;

(c) the cost of any such assessment be capped at £50,000;

(d) the results of this assessment be reported if necessary to a special meeting of the Authority as soon as possible;

(e) subject to all of the above an all party delegation to government be approved to seek contributory funding for any bid which is submitted.’

The Motion was then put and carried unanimously and was Resolved Accordingly.