VIDEO: A round-up of local Wirral and Merseyside politics by John Brace (part 1)

VIDEO: A round-up of local Wirral and Merseyside politics by John Brace (part 1)

VIDEO: A round-up of local Wirral and Merseyside politics by John Brace (part 1)


Screenshot from Youtube video of John Brace
Screenshot from Youtube video of John Brace

Below is a transcript of a video I’ve recorded about a range of local political matters. I’ve added some extra detail which I don’t say on the video in [] brackets and of course links to more detailed stories. I realised when I finished recording that I’d been talking for nearly eighteen minutes. It’s about a variety of local political issues.

At the time of publishing this blog post the video has been uploaded to Youtube, but is still processing at Youtube’s end.

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.

John Brace on local Wirral and Merseyside politics (part 1)

JOHN BRACE: Hello, I hope you can hear me clearly. I’m John Brace and I’m going to be filming a series of videos as due to the half term holidays next week, there’s a shortage of public meetings.

So, I thought I’d start off by looking at one of the bigger stories on my blog this week.

That was about what I said at a meeting of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to the Chair Cllr Dave Hanratty and his response about councillors’ expenses.

I suppose I’d better briefly explain what the situation is regarding councillors’ expenses and allowances.

Councillors on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority are entitled to claim expenses for instance for travel to public meetings and each year they’re supposed to publish a table detailing each councillors’ name and how much has been spent over the year in expenses for that particular councillor in various categories.

In fact that’s a legal requirement, a very basic level of transparency.

However unfortunately what Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was doing was, where they received invoices directly rather than councillors claiming back expenses they’d incurred themselves, where trips were booked through Capita, train travel that kind of thing, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service were invoiced directly but this wasn’t appearing on the actual annual lists so that about £6,000 or so of expenses were being left off. So I have been pointing this out over the past few months.

There’s also the issue that councillors get paid allowances and on this National Insurance and presumably things like income tax were paid. Now those amounts weren’t included in the annually published lists either.

I did ask Councillor Hanratty earlier, I think it was the day before yesterday whether these amounts would be included in future, didn’t get an answer.

Asked a question about this at the Birkenhead Constituency Committee, told it was a matter for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service/Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.

I think they don’t want to give me answers on this, I think they hope I’ll just stop writing about it and move on to other things. After all I think there are far less councillors getting a taxi from home to the public meetings now since I started publishing what these expenses were for.

Anyway, another news story that’s seems to be popular on the blog is that Merseytravel’s Chief Executive David Brown is leaving. I think he’s leaving from some time next month to become Chief Executive of Transport for the North. Obviously that’ll be news for people that work at Merseytravel and I suppose you’re wondering what Transport for the North is!

Well it’s a new kind of regional body that’s been set up regarding transport matters and eventually it’ll become like Merseytravel is and the Combined Authority a statutory body. So I wish him luck in his new job and I think the Deputy Chief Executive Frank Rogers will be Acting Chief Executive until councillors decide on who the permanent Chief Executive should be, which should come to a future meeting in the future.

Anyway, another thing I’ve written about on the blog recently is to do with the whole Lyndale School closure matter. Now for those who have been following this story this is probably going to repeat what you already know, but Wirral Council officers said the reason the school had to close was that from 2016/17 which is the next academic year, that funding that they’d get for education from the government would be based on pupil numbers rather than place numbers.

Now at the moment I think there are about forty places at Lyndale School and about must be a dozen or so pupils. So basically they were saying that from next year, there would be a shortfall in Lyndale School’s budget.

But this hasn’t happened!

The Cabinet still decided to close the School, but the funding changes haven’t happened, Wirral Council will get the same funding as they did the previous year.

However despite them getting the same funding, they have actually made cuts from the SEN budget because there is flexibility at Wirral Council in that they can move money around within the education budget. They’ve still got to spend it on education, but they can move money around from say that allocated for teaching assistants for special educational needs to something else within that education budget and one of the things that’s been causing pressures on the budget is that they have a massive contract, I think it’s about half way through thirty years or something.

I’ve read through the contract and it’d take too long to go into here, but it’s a contract with Wirral Schools Services Limited for basically to rebuild a number of schools, but as well as the payments that relate to that there are also payments of millions a year I think that the schools have to pay this private company for services to do with the schools. For instance I think school meals is part of it, possibly cleaning and maintenance.

So the situation had been that Wirral Council was getting a grant from the government for some of this, but the contract meant that the costs were rising each year for PFI.

What was happening was, this money was being funded outside the education budget by Wirral Council. But then a political decision was made [by Wirral Council councillors] not to do this, which meant that a few million had to be cut out of the education budget elsewhere.

Hence why special educational needs got a cut, but again one of the other interesting twists and turns that came out in the Lyndale School saga is that the whole issue of whether the School should be closed or not seemed to arise around the time there was a revaluation of the land and buildings.

Off the top of my head I think the valuation was about £2.4 million [it was actually £2.6 million]. I’d better make it clear at this stage this is a what they call a technical, what’s it called, depreciated replacement cost value. It’s not a they send in an estate agent and they say how much would would we get for this and how much would we get for the school playing fields and so on?

No, it’s more they have to have on their asset list, a list of how much their assets are because obviously as a Council they have liabilities, they have to offset that with their assets.

But it’s a great shame what happened regarding Lyndale School, it’s not closed yet, it’ll close at the end of the academic year, but I think it could’ve been handled a lot better.

Obviously there’ve been recent revelations come out that the person that chaired the consultation meetings on the Lyndale School closure wasn’t in fact a Wirral Council employee, but is a what do you call it, a temp, a temporary worker because they couldn’t recruit somebody to the post [for £775+VAT/day].

He’s called Phil Ward and the problem was that, there was quite a bit of criticism levelled at him for the way he chaired the consultation meetings. Now obviously you can criticise anybody for chairing high profile consultation meetings. I’m sure there were criticisms of how Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority did their consultation meetings.

But moving back to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, the Saughall Massie issue, it was agreed by councillors on the Fire Authority to go ahead, they’ve agreed the four or so million pounds in the capital budget and a planning application has been submitted.

Now I’ve checked on Wirral Council’s website and I can’t see a planning application there yet but obviously they have to scan it in and put it on the website for consultation so people can make their comments and so on.

The other issue is there was a vote recently on whether Wirral Council should give the land or they may get something for it I don’t know, maybe they’ll give it to them, should give this land to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority for this new fire station in Saughall Massie.

Now, that was a five for, five against vote with one abstention so it got deferred to another meeting.

Now obviously it would be better if Wirral Council could make a decision reasonably quickly but I understand the point that councillors made at the meeting, that they felt they were only hearing one side of the argument and that they hadn’t got the information in front of them regarding the emails that had been released under Freedom of Information Act requests, they hadn’t heard the Fire and Rescue Service’s point of view because nobody had been invited along from the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and basically better decisions are made by politicians when they have the facts in front of them and they don’t like making decisions if they’re going to be made fools of later when it turns out there’s something they should’ve known or was in the public domain.

An example of that New Brighton car parking Fort Perch Rock fiasco. Now that went out to budget consultation, was agreed by Cabinet, was agreed by Council but what wasn’t known at the time was that Wirral Council had a lease for the Marine Point complex and that lease said that if Wirral Council introduced car parking charges at Fort Perch Rock, that they could be introduced in the car parking elsewhere there and Liverpool Echo journalist I think it was Liam Murphy got in touch with the company that runs the Marine Point complex and they said yes they’d have to introduce charges because obviously if Wirral Council had introduced charges at Fort Perch Rock car park then it would’ve displaced some parking to the free parking elsewhere, so then they’d feel they’d have to introduce charges themselves, but once these matters came out then there was a U-turn done on it and they decided they’ll make up the budget shortfall somewhere else.

But that goes back to my point about politicians having the information in front of them so they can make reasonably informed decisions. Now the reports that go before officers, sorry politicians whether that’s at Wirral Council, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Merseytravel and so on are written by officers. That is employees of the particular public body that the politicians are politicians for.

But there’s a question of, officers can have a particular point of view and make a recommendation and therefore ask the councillors to approve it, but officers aren’t actually going to know everything, but where do the public fit in all this?

Because of course in an ideal world, like for instance the Planning Committee yesterday where the public gets to speak for five minutes if they’ve got a qualifying petition. In an ideal world, if you were making a decision, say a major decision about a fire station being built, well that’s two decisions really, it’s a planning decision and whether Wirral Council give them the land. When you’re making a major decision like that, then not only should you have some sort of consultation with the public and by consultation I don’t mean publishing the papers for the meeting a week before, although that does give some advance warning so people can lobby the decision makers.

I’m talking about that people who are affected by the decision should have their say at a public meeting and I know there’ve been consultation meetings, that the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have run and that’s fine. But what I’m saying is the ball’s now in Wirral Council’s court, there has to be the usual consultation on planning applications, but it’s a very emotive issue.

And I think basically if I can sum up the positions, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service have received a grant for some of the cost of this fire station and of course with the West Kirby and Upton fire stations being closed, they’ll receive something for the sale of those but basically they want to build it now in Saughall Massie because the site in Greasby has been withdrawn.

But the problem is that this is greenbelt land and there’s a lot of resistance from the residents regarding a fire station there.

Now in the not too distant past Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service did put in a planning application for a temporary fire station in Oxton while Birkenhead Fire Station was being rebuilt. I know that was later withdrawn but that caused a similar level of fuss and outrage and politicians saying they were against it and so on.

But the problem was that was only a temporary ~12 month arrangement, eventually they found some way round finding somewhere else. But the same issues that were brought up then, have been brought up regarding this Saughall Massie issue, you know the issues regarding sirens, traffic and so on but I think the elephant in the room really for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is that a number of the fire stations they’ve got are part of the PFI scheme, so they can’t close those without massive penalties.

I mean I think Birkenhead Fire Station is one example of one of the fire stations they’ve got under this PFI scheme.

So there are fire stations they can’t shut, so that leaves if they want to make any budget savings, for instance through cutting jobs and merging fire stations, they’ve only got the ones that aren’t the PFI fire stations that they can choose from.

And that’s part of the reason why Upton and West Kirby got chosen.

But I think one of the things that has currently got the public going, is that after there was pressure put regarding the Greasby site, that the offer of Greasby where there’s a library and community centre there was withdrawn and people are asking why Wirral Council isn’t doing the same thing with Saughall Massie?

Well basically these are decisions yet to be determined, it’s a party political matter because three political parties involved in the last decision on this voted three different ways, but I can see a problem because firstly Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service can’t keep Upton and West Kirby open. They just don’t have the budget for the amount of firefighters that would take.

Now one alternative is, just keep Upton open, now the downside to this according to the Chief Fire Officer is that this would increase response times to the Hoylake and West Kirby area, so that’s why they want somewhere roughly in between the two stations.

However then people raised the issue of Upton’s close to Arrowe Park Hospital, so it’ll take longer to get to there so wherever you have a fire station there’ll be people that have a quick response time and people that have a slow response time.

But the fire engines aren’t always at the fire station all the time, I mean about half the time they’ll be called out on a job, well maybe a bit more than that, they’ll be out somewhere else and that can’t really be predicted where they’d be at, whether they’d be fitting a smoke alarm or something like that.

So there are a lot of issues to do with the Saughall Massie fire station and basically I’ll be reporting on it, but at the same time I think it’s interesting seeing both the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority meetings and the Wirral Council meetings and how this issue has been dealt with at both of them.

Of course if the government hadn’t offered Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service a large grant to build a new fire station there, then I doubt this would’ve gone ahead, admittedly they could’ve borrowed the money or found the money from somewhere but I think that what’s interesting is I did make a FOI for the grant application that they made to DCLG, was told that this information would be published in the future so I couldn’t have it now and I’d have to wait till after the consultations were finished and by that they didn’t just mean the Upton and West Kirby consultations but they meant the other consultations because this grant is not just for a fire station at Saughall Massie, there are similar consultations and mergers and closures happening elsewhere across Merseyside.

So hopefully that will sum up things and I’ll point out that tonight at the Wallasey Constituency Committee, I won’t be there but I noticed because I read through the reports and the agenda, that the Motability, they have a little place in Birkenhead that hires out wheelchairs and things like that are looking to set up a place in New Brighton, so people can hire wheelchairs and that kind of thing.

So that’s a possibly positive move for New Brighton, because I know there’s been a lot of criticism at New Brighton and a large petition over the dropped car parking plans.

Anyway I’d better finish for now, but thanks for listening.

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

5 questions answered about the Lyndale School closure plans

5 questions answered about the Lyndale School closure plans

5 questions answered about the Lyndale School closure plans


The Wirral Globe has just arrived through my door and in it is a letter from a Keith Crowden of Upton titled “Any Answers?” although in the online version its “Any answers on Lyndale?” .

Keith Crowden of Upton asks:

1) How many pupils go to the school and how many teachers and other staff are there at present?

Wirral Council state that there are now 21 pupils on the roll at Lyndale School (as of yesterday 30th September 2014). However it is noted that a number of these will reach secondary school age next year and will not be directly affected by the proposed closure in January 2016.

Reference: section 8.1 of this letter from Surjit Tour published yesterday.

According to the Lyndale School website there are 19 teaching assistants and 3 teachers at the school. However this information might be out of date. It is possible there are other staff too that are not listed on its website. However only The Lyndale School could answer the actual current number about how many teachers and other staff are now employed on this particular day as this number fluctuates. My own guess is that the total number of staff is somewhere between twenty-two and thirty-five (I am assuming you are referring in your question to paid staff and not volunteers).

2) How many different schools are likely to be used for the transfer of the children if the school is closed and would the attention they receive now be diminished in another environment?

Stanley School and Elleray Park have already been named as alternative schools so at least two, however some parents have said they will not send their children to either of those schools if Lyndale School closes. So the number of different schools if it was closed that the children at Lyndale School would go to is likely to be a number between three and six. In theory it could be as high as twelve, but that’s highly unlikely.

In answer to the second part of your question, if the school was closed and the pupils were transferred to either Elleray Park or Stanley School, then Wirral Council plans to spend less money on a per pupil basis than Lyndale currently receives. Currently Lyndale School receives on average ~£33,000 per pupil, this would drop to between ~£17,000 per a pupil to ~£26,000 per a pupil depending on which one of five new bands that particular former Lyndale School pupil is assessed in based partly on their EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan).

However if Lyndale School shut and the former Lyndale pupil/s was transferred to an independent special school, the amount received per a pupil would be uncapped. If the former Lyndale School pupil went to a special school outside of Wirral (bear in mind Lyndale School is in Eastham very close to the edge of Wirral so it is a possibility parent/s would choose placements outside of Wirral) the amount would also be uncapped based on the current policy.

This is because Wirral Council’s current policy is to not have a cap on funding for independent special or out of borough special placements, but they intend to introduce a cap for special pupils in schools on the Wirral Borough from next year assuming they get agreement to this from the various decision-making bodies.

This reduction in funding will probably lead both to less staff time available per a child and/or a reduction in other costs that the school has. That is the view of the parents, some councillors, staff and other people replying to the consultation. However Wirral Council takes a different view on this point.

I do not think it is realistic to state that education would remain the same as they receive at Lyndale School although Wirral Council would disagree with me on that point.

3) Would all children find places nearer or further away from home as at present and would transport be provided for them to go and come back from school each day?

The first part of that answer is impossible to answer until a final decision over closure is made and a parental choice is made about alternative schools. However I remember one parent stating that they moved house so that they could be nearer to Lyndale School, therefore in some cases the places would be further away from their home.

SEN Transport can be provided for pupils to go and come back from school, however some parents choose to take their children to school themselves. If your question is would SEN Transport be provided at the new schools as a choice, then the answer if yes if it was requested. However SEN Transport is not compulsory and results in a cost to Wirral Council.

4) What would happen to the present teachers and other staff if the school was closed?

They would lose their jobs, that is to say they would be made redundant as the school had closed. It would then be down to the individual members of staff to apply for jobs elsewhere if they so wished to do so at that stage.

It is to be noted that Wirral Council made an error in the consultation document in relation to what would happen to the staff if the Lyndale School closed.

Despite how the unimplemented Cabinet resolution of 4th September 2014 is phrased, no jobs are guaranteed. Any decision over employing former Lyndale staff elsewhere would be up to that school’s governing body, the usual legal processes such as filling out application forms, criminal record background checks, interviews etc and the former Lyndale staff would be in a competitive process with other applicants for any new jobs created at other schools.

Due to the funding reduction, even if all the former Lyndale School staff applied for jobs at the places where the former Lyndale School pupils had been moved to, the funding reductions would mean that there would be a reduction in posts compared to current staffing levels at Lyndale School.

5) Would the real saving come from the sale of the Lyndale premises and site?

The land and buildings are valued at £2.7 million in February 2013 by Wirral Council. However it could not be sold unless:

(a) it was declared surplus to requirements (a decision that would have to be made by Wirral Council)
(b) a buyer was found
(c) there are other decisions that would have to be made by bodies outside Wirral Council in relation to the land and buildings before a sale could proceed as it is a school. It is unknown whether such bodies would agree to it or not. For example multiple approvals would be needed from the government in relation to the land and buildings before any changes such as a sale or change of use were made.
(d) in order to change its use planning permission would be required (a decision that would have to be made by Wirral Council)

It is to be noted at this stage that the Land Registry entry for Lyndale School refers to a conveyance agreement (if memory serves correct 1952) between Cheshire County Council, a limited company and an individual. I note that prior to the creation of Wirral Council in 1974, this piece of land was in the Cheshire County Council area. Although Cheshire County Council was abolished in 2009, in 2009 its functions were transferred to Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East.

I do not currently have access to a copy of this document, which is lodged with Land Registry, Birkenhead. Due to public service cutbacks I have to wait for an appointment with Land Registry in order to view and request a copy of it although either Chester West and Chester or Cheshire East should have a copy when the Cheshire County Council records were transferred.

I have given as full an answer as I can to the above questions, considering that some of the detail is either not known to me, would take too long to collate or would result in me having to make enquiries of others.

There will be a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Coordinating Committee on 2nd October 2014 starting at 6.00pm in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall to discuss the recent Cabinet decision and decide what to do next.

At the moment implementation of the decision has been put on hold pending the outcome of that meeting.

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

Councillor John Salter “when you make a decision you’ve got to do it behind locked doors”

Councillor John Salter “when you make a decision you’ve got to do it behind locked doors”

Councillor John Salter “when you make a decision you’ve got to do it behind locked doors”


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.

Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee meeting of the 3rd July 2014

Last Thursday Wirral Council’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee met and there was an interesting discussion by councillors (and the independent members) on agenda item 4 (the work programme for 2014/15) and its Appendix (terms of reference of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Working Group.

This transcript below starts at about 14:38 in the video above. Apologies for any poor sound quality in the video, but microphones weren’t provided to the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee that evening.

One example is the issue about filming, the regulations around filming, blogging, tweeting has now become operative and will be operative by the end of this month. So that’s expected there are a number of areas where we need to ensure the constitution reflects some of those changes which are reported… so those are the key areas I’ve suggested which obviously you can add if you confirm areas of work which you feel are necessary around the committee’s remit.

I just have a comment. Over the years I’ve noticed that there’s been less and less public coming in to see our Councils and so forth. This has a bearing on culture as well because when you’ve got members of the public there observing the Council meeting then you know bode for somebody to start shouting all kinds of obscenities across the Chamber. So I think the level of etiquette when I first started as a councillor here was much, much higher than it is today. I think in my own mind that’s part of it because the public was involved.

Is there any way that we can err whether it’s publicising, I realise we can’t drag them in off the street but is there any way that we can work on a project where we can actually start to try and engage in meetings. I mean it’s a great start by having independents but you know participation in the Council Chamber itself ie bringing the public in to view what we’re doing. I just think it’s really sad that that has dropped off and we seem to have lost this connection with our public. We do have our own constituencies but they don’t seem to know what goes on in this Council.

One of the things that came out very strongly in terms of the survey that I’m going to talk about was for Members, as I said open and accountable to backbench Members errm was that one of the ways full Council operates, notwithstanding that and I suppose we’re all guilty at some time or another of that behaviour, absolutely I put my hands up to that, but all of us felt that actually that the way full Council behaves and the idea of a that first one was just to re establish things like standing up when the Mayor comes in, those sort of things that have fallen by the way.

… not being the Chair as I need to be, he or she has that, it’s that kind of very errm basic respect really for first of all for the authority of the Chair or the Mayor, Mayor as Chair and then each other and it’s a culture but if we put our minds to work on that basis, then possibly we wouldn’t be subject to criticism as well, but certainly we wouldn’t be embarrassed to see that happening but it’s a chicken and egg isn’t it?

The other Les, I think the timing of what you’ve just said is perfect as well, because in the Mayor’s speech he did say about it, the role of councillors and you know you should revisit how we market ourselves, how we get together and go out. Errm, I think I’ve said about it but I’ll just finish with students, full-time students and you know I was at university talking to many of the younger students who were studying politics and they weren’t even aware that you could just walk in to public meetings and I’m talking about Liverpool, you know we met outside and they drew me on what do you mean, the back cleared area at public meetings, they weren’t aware of the public gallery and obviously that could be an area we could easily promote.

I think that’s a good idea, I mean we could go to colleges and also … I’ve seen colleges go into art galleries and some I’ve seen them … why can’t they come into the Town Hall?

Yes, a bit more on the second point in relation to all that. While I was canvassing, errm I did go up and people were asking me if I could give if some, how many of the meetings weren’t open to the public? People do want to get involved and it’s a case of publicising it, it’s easily done in the press and people do want to attend, I’m sure we’ve even thought about that.

There’s a flip side to that, people might come along and see all the members seated in the House of Commons, Councillor Salter.

Yeah, I mean the biggest attendance of anyone from outside is either at licensing or planning and that’s when and I’ve been on both. I’ve been where on planning where we’ve got these two rooms open and absolutely chock a block and Committee Room 1, so you know it’s only when there’s something happening really that they want to come along to, otherwise like anything it’s apathy, they’ll go ahead and do it anyway and that’s the attitude, we don’t.

You know we sit down and we do this planning and on licensing and we have one of the biggest arguments going, behind locked doors, when you make a decision you’ve got to do it behind locked doors to give you a sufficient chance to discuss.

I think as well as I remember, when I came on the Council it was electric the atmosphere it was. Errm, it was almost intimidating really and … the Council things have changed, I mean sometimes I think remarks like we’re watching paint dry and that’s true because things have changed, there’s not a lot of debate going on and if you think about by the time they have question time, then question the Cabinet and so on and before that we … have notices of motion, so things have changed now since I’ve come on.

If the general public know that the Cabinet is going to make a particular decision, they will turn up and they will make an issue about it and they will make representations about that.

They will also at full Council, if Cabinet have made a decision which they disagree with, you wait and see what happens about Lyndale, other people have clearly came and they speak very strongly about it and there have been times, I’ve been a councillor since 1987, so there’ve been a lot of things happening during that time, but I’ve had to fight my way in to this Town Hall on numerous occasions over these years but I believe now the committee system that we have, with the Cabinet and the scrutiny split and people think it’s a waste of time turning up and once Cabinet have made a decision it is very, very unusual for that to be changed.

So people think ‘what’s the point?’ and once they, once they’ve been here and they’ve been up in the public gallery, when their particular issue of concern has been dealt with. It’s, it’s, they’ve got to really want to be here because it’s not so easy to hear from the public gallery especially when councillors are shouting at each other and being you know disrespectful, so I think you know, we councillors have got a big responsibility to treat each other with respect and also then in mind if members of the public are here we should behave ourselves to allow people to listen, speak clearly and make sure they are welcomed into the Town Hall and you know they’re able to be here, it’s a privilege to be here but it’s also their right you know so we’ve got to make it welcoming and positively encourage people to come in.

Of course the Youth Parliament is a good way to encourage young people isn’t it to know about Council about how they can turn up at any time you know to witness what goes on. So I think a lot of it is in our hands to do something about.

Well, people, well that’s goes for our Labour Party and the party over there, we don’t do business shouting and screaming at each other especially at Council meetings and that’s the way it is. I think all sides of the Council, all parties agree on that.

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

Can We Choose a Better President Through Online Voting?

Why the 2012 American Presidential Election is a “two-horse race” despite $5 million given to produce a third party choice

Last spring, an organization called ‘Americans Elect’ attempted to create “the first nonpartisan, national online presidential primary”, as stated on their website. The initial funds for the organization (five million dollars) were contributed by Dr. Peter Ackerman, a New York venture capitalist.

Vote for Burns License: Creative Commons laverrue (Ludovic Bertron) goal of the organization was to have the 2012 election be a three party election, rather than a two party election – with the third contender being elected based not on their party, but on their political beliefs. Unfortunately, the idea did not get enough buy in, even from its own delegates, and Americans Elect had to bow out of the 2012 election by May.

The failure of American Elect, however, cannot solely be blamed on their attempt to organize a third party through online means. Third parties have always struggled to win states in the primaries, and even heavy-hitter, Ross Perot, was unable to win a single one in 1992. Online elections, on the other hand, have in fact been successful in other organizations – some of which are global and high-profile. This online success has led some experts to believe that the virtual party system does in fact have a future in the decade to come.

With the rise of social media, comes the ability to bring together an unlimited number of people with similar beliefs and goals. Activists can now initiate online petitions to counter almost anything, from banks foreclosing on houses, to government actions that potentially harm the environment. The reality is that it’s working. Companies are paying attention to the masses and changing business decisions and company practices, sometimes on a case by case basis. Why not apply this same “power of the people” towards the current structure of American politics?

The online nomination process would start with candidates answering questions using multiple choice answers, on relevant political issues. Then, supplemental material would be added to their “profile”, including videos and biographical data. Voters could then be shown, graphically, how each candidate matches up to their own personal stances, based on their answers to the same multiple choice questions. They would then be able to go to a page to “vote” for their preferred candidate, much akin to the Facebook “like” system. Some would argue that this approach is like online dating, for political parties, but it could actually offer a clear and concise picture, unmarred by other media sources.

Like any new and proposed process, there are potential benefits, and serious concerns.

Possible benefits for the online nomination system include:

  • Better educated voters — with all data on the candidates already in front of them.
  • Voters choosing a candidate who matches their beliefs, rather than their political party.
  • An increase in voter turnout, specifically for the state elections with historically low numbers.
  • Previously unknown candidates having a chance to go through.

On the other hand, concerns regarding online nomination systems include:

  • Reliability of online servers.
  • Online security concerns, including identity verification.
  • The possibility for fraud.
  • Gaining funding for third party candidates.

In reality, initiatives that were started online are already playing a part in today’s politics. Occupy Wall Street, for example, was a movement born of a blog post. Technology is changing how we “make a change”, and is inspiring uncounted groups of people to find alternatives to frustrating and previously held practices.

The hope for a new, less dysfunctional, political system could possibly drive the next election to be determined through an online nomination process. The future of American politics might one day be a digital battle, determined by how much we “like” our candidates.

Attached Images:
  •  License: Creative Commons laverrue (Ludovic Bertron) image source on Flickr

About author: Serge is the founder and managing partner at Edictive service the film, TV and broadcast industry with production tools and film marketing services.

Election Petition Rules, 1960


1960 No. 543 (L. 3)

The Election Petition Rules, 1960

Made -  -  -  -  -  -  - 21st March 1960
Laid before Parliament   28th March 1960
Coming into operation     1st April 1960

We, the authority having for the time being power to make rules of court for the Supreme Court, hereby make the following Rules in exercise of the power conferred on us by section 160182 of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 19491983(a):-

1. These Rules may be cited as the Election Petition Rules, 1960.

2.—(1) The Interpretation Act18891978(b), shall apply to the Interpretation of these Rules as it applies to the Interpretation of an Act of Parliament.

(2) In these rules, unless the context otherwise requires—

“the Act” means the Representation of the Peoples Act 
19491983 ;

“local election petition” means a petition questioning an election under the local government Act as defined in section 172145 (1) of the Act ;

“petition” means a parliamentary or local election petition ;

“election petitions office” means the office of the Master’s Secretary’s Department at the Royal Courts of
Justice ;

“rota judge” means a judge on the rota for the trial of parliamentary election petitions ;

“Divisional Court” means a Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court ;

“constituency” in relation to a local election petition means the local government area to which the petition relates ;

“returning officer” means the Returning officer of the constituency to which the petition relates ;

(3) The Master of the Supreme Court (Queen’s Bench Division) who is for the time being nominated under section 137 (4)???(?) of the Act as to the prescribed officer in relation to parliamentary elections shall also be the prescribed officer in relation to elections under the local government Act, and references in these Rules to the prescribed officer shall be construed accordingly.

(4) Subject to the provisions of the Act and these Rules, the practice and procedure of the High Court,
including the rules relating to the discovery and inspection of documents and the delivery of interrogatories, shall apply to a petition under these Rules as if it were an ordinary action claim
within its jurisdiction, notwithstanding any different practice, principle or different rule on which the committees of the House of Commons used to act in dealing with election petitions.

(5) Any document required to be filed in proceedings under these Rules shall be filed in the election petitions office.

(a) 12, 13 & 14 Geo. 6. c. 68. (b) 52 & 53 Vict. c. 63.


Procedure (Election Petition Rules) 3173

3.—(1) Any jurisdiction conferred by these Rules on a judge shall, if practicable, be exercised by a rota judge and, if not, by some other judge of the Queen’s Bench Division.

(2) Any jurisdiction conferred by these Rules on a master shall be exercised by the prescribed officer or in his absence by some other master of the Supreme Court (Queen’s Bench Division).

4.—(1) A petition shall be in the form set out in the Schedule to these Rules or a form to the like effect with such variations as the circumstances may require, and shall state—

(a) in which of the capacities mentioned in section 108121(1) or section 113128 (1) of the Act the petitioner or each of the petitioners presents the petition ;

(b) the date and result of the election to which the petition relates, showing in the case of a parliamentary election the date on which the return was made to the Clerk of the Crown of the member declared to have been elected;

(c) in the case of a petition mentioned in subsection (2) or (3) of section 109122 or subsection (2), (3) or (4) of section 114129 of the Act, the date from which the time for the presentation of the petition is to be calculated ; and

(d) the grounds on which relief is sought, setting out with sufficient particularity the facts relied on but not the evidence by which they are to be proved ;

and shall conclude with a prayer setting out particulars of the relief claimed.

(2) The petition shall be presented by filing it and at the same time leaving three copies at
the election petitions office.

5.—(1) Within five days after the presentation of the petition, the petitioner shall serve on the respondent within the meaning of section 108121 (2) or section 113128 (2) of the Act and on the Director of Public Prosecutions a notice of the presentation of the petition, and of the nature of the security for costs which the petitioner proposes to give persuant to section 119136 of the Act, together with a copy of the petition.

(2) Service shall be effected in the manner in which a writ of summons is served and an affidavit of service shall be filed as soon as practicable after service has been effected.

6.—(1) Where, in the case of a local election petition, the amount of security for costs which the petitioner proposes to give is the maximum which may be directed under the Act, an application to fix the security at that amount may be made ex parte by summons claim form to a master.

(2) A recognisance as security for costs shall be acknowledged before a person authorised to take affidavits under the Commissioner for Oaths Acts, 1889 to 1891 and shall be filed forthwith after being acknowledged.

(3) The recognisance shall be accompanied by an affidavita certificate of service sworn by each surety and stating that after payment of all his debts he is worth a sum not less than that which he is bound by his
recognisance, and a copy of the affidavit shall be forthwith be served by the petitioner on the respondent.

7.—(1) Where the respondent intends to object to a recognisance on any
ground mentioned in section
119136 (4) of the Act, he shall, within five days after service on him of
the notice referred to in Rule 5, serve on the petitioner notice of his objection, stating the grounds thereof, and issue and

33001(3) M



serve on the petitioner
a summonsan application notice to determine the validity or otherwise of the objection.

(2) The summons application shall be heard in chambers by a master, subject to an appeal to a judge within five days after the master’s decision.

(3) If the objection is allowed, the master or judge having cognisance of the matter, shall at the same time determine what sum of money will make the security sufficient, and the petitioner may within five days there-after remove the objection by deposit of the sum.

8. The list of petitions at issue kept by the prescribed officer persuant to section 121138 (1) of the Act shall be conspicuously displayed at the election petitions office and shall be available for inspection by the public during office hours.

9. —(1) Within twenty-eight days after the first day on which a petition is at issue the petitioner shall apply by summons application notice to a rota judge for a time and place to be fixed for the trial of the petition and if the petitioner fails to do so, any respondent may, within a further period of twenty-eight days, apply in the same manner as the petitioner could have done.

(2) If no application to fix a time and place for the trial of the petition is made in accordance with the last foregoing paragraph, the prescribed officer shall refer the matter to a rota judge, who shall thereupon fix such a time and place.

(3) In the case of a parliamentary election petition not less than fourteen days, and in any other case not less than seven days, before the day so fixed, the prescribed officer shall cause notice of the time and place of the trial to be displayed in a conspicuous place in the elections petition office and sent by post to—

(a) the petitioner,

(b) the respondent,

(c) the Director of Public Prosecutions, and

(d) in the case of a parliamentary petition the sheriff or mayor by whom the judges trying the petition are to be received and in any other case the clerk of the authority for which the election was held.

(4) the said sheriff, mayor or clerk shall upon receipt of the notice forthwith publish it in his county or borough or in the area of his authority, as the case may be.

(5) The judge fixing the time and place of trial shall also appoint an officer of the Supreme Court to act as registrar of the election court for the purposes of the trial.

10.—(1) Where the petition claims the seat or office for an unsuccessful candidate on the ground that he had a majority of lawful votes, every party shall, not less than seven days before the day fixed for trial, file a list of the votes which he contends were wrongly admitted or rejected, stating in respect of each vote the grounds for his contention, and serve a copy of the list on every other party and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(2) Where the respondent to a petition complaining of an undue election and claiming the seat or office for some other person intends to give evidence, persuant to section 122139 (5) of the Act, to prove that that person was not duly elected, the respondent shall, not less than seven days before the day fixed for the trial of the petition, file a list of his objections to the election of that person on which he intends to rely and serve a copy of the list on the petitioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Procedure (Election Petition Rules) 3175

(3) Any party to the petition may inspect and obtain an office copy of any list filed persuant to either of the two last foregoing paragraphs.

(4) Except by leave of the election court—

(a) no evidence shall be given by a party against the admission or rejection of any vote, or as to any ground of contention, which is not specified in a list filed by him persuant to paragraph (1) of this Rule ; and

(b) no evidence shall be given by a respondent of any objection to a person’s election which is not specified in a list filed by him persuant to paragraph (2) of this Rule.

11. An application for a special case to be stated persuant to section 126146 (1) of the Act shall be made by motion application notice to a Divisional Court.

12.—(1)An application for leave to withdraw a petition shall be made by motion application notice to the election court or a Divisional Court at such time and place as the court may appoint.

(2) Not less than seven days before the day so appointed the petitioner shall—

(a) serve notice of motionthe application notice on the respondent, the returning officer and the Director of Public Prosecutions and lodge a copy in the election petitions office.

(b) publish notice of the intended motion application in at least one newspaper circulating in the constituency to which the petition relates.

(3) The notice of motion application notice shall state the grounds on which the application to withdraw is made and contain a statement to the effect that on the hearing of the application any person who might have been a petitioner in respect of the election may apply to the court to be substituted as a petitioner.

(4) The returning officer shall upon receipt of the application notice forthwith publish it in his constituency.

(5) Where on the hearing of the application a person is substituted as a petitioner, any security required to be given by him shall be given within three days after the order of substitution.

13.—(1) An application by a respondent to stay or dismiss a petition before the day fixed for the trial shall be made by motionapplication notice to the election Court or a Divisional Court at such time and place as the court may appoint.

(2) Not less than seven days before the date so appointed the respondent shall serve notice of motion the application notice, stating the grounds thereof, on the petitioner, any other respondent, the returning officer and the Director of Public Prosecutions, and shall lodge a copy at the election petitions office.

14.—(1) Where a petition is abated by the death of a sole petitioner or the survivor of several petitioners, the solicitor acting for him in the proceedings at the date of his death or, if he had no such solicitor, any respondent learning of his death shall—

(a) lodge notice thereof in the election petitions office

(b) serve notice thereof on the returning officer, who shall forthwith publish it in his constituency; and


(c) publish notice thereof in at least one newspaper circulating in the constituency to which the petition relates. Each such notice shall contain a statement to the effect of the next following paragraph.

(2) Within twenty-eight days after the publication of any notice referred to in sub-paragraph (c) of the last foregoing paragraph any person who may have been a petitioner in respect of the election may apply by motion application notice to the election court or a Divisional Court, at such time as the court may appoint to be substituted as a petitioner.

15. A respondent who does not intend to oppose the petition shall, not less than seven days before the date fixed for trial, serve notice to that effect on the petitioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

16.–(1) On the happening of any event mentioned in section 134152 (1) of the Act, the respondent concerned shall—

(a) lodge notice thereof in the elections petitions office ;

(b) serve notice thereof on the returning officer who shall forthwith publish it in his constituency; and

(c) publish notice thereof in at least one newspaper circulating in the constituency to which the petition relates.

Each such notice shall contain a statement to the effect of paragraph (3) of this Rule.

(2) The duties imposed by the last foregoing paragraph on the respondent concerned, in the case of the death of a respondent, be performed by the solicitor acting for him in proceedings at the date of his death
or, if he had no such solicitor, by any petitioner learning of his death.

(3) Within fourteen days after the publication of any notice referred to in sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph (1) of this Rule any person who might have been a petitioner in respect of the election may apply by motion application notice to a member of the election court or to a Divisional Court to be admitted as a respondent to oppose the petition.

17. A party giving particulars in persuance of an order or otherwise shall file a copy within twenty-four hours after delivering the particulars to the party requiring them.

18. —
(1) The shorthand writer who is to attend the trial of a local election petition shall be appointed by the commissioner to whom the trial is assigned and shall be entitled to be paid expenses on the same scale
as a shorthand writer attending the trial of an action in the Queen’s Bench Division at assizes.

(2) The commissioner may also appoint a proper person to act as his clerk for the purposes of the trial.

19.—(1) Any period of time prescribed by Rule 7 shall be computed in accordance with section 106139 of the Act and shall not be enlargedvaried by order or otherwise, but save as aforesaid by the provisions of Order LXIV 3 of the Rules of the Supreme Court rules 2.8 to 2.11 and  3.1(2)(a) the Civil Procedure Rules 1998(1) shall apply to any period of time prescribed by these Rules as if it were prescribed by the Rules of the Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules.

(2) Where any period of time limited by the Act for presenting a petition or filing any document expires on a day (not being a day mentioned in section 106 139 (2) of the Act) on which the election petitions office is closed,

Procedure (Election Petition Rules) 3177

the petition or document shall be deemed to be duly presented or filed if it is placed in the letter box provided for the purpose at that office and an affidavit stating the time at which this was done is filed on the next day on which the office is open.

20. Where by any provision of these Rules a petition or notice is required to be published by the returning officer, the cost of publication shall be paid in the first instance by the petitioner or, as the case may be, by the person by whom the notice was given, without prejudice to the manner in which such cost shall ultimately be borne by one or more of the parties to the petition.

21.–(1) A solicitor appointed to act for a respondent in proceedings on a petition shall forthwith give notice of his appointment to the petitioner and lodge a copy of the notice in the election petitions office.

(2) Any notice required to be served on a respondent to a petition may be served—

(a) by delivering it or sending it by post to any solicitor who has given notice under the last foregoing paragraph that he is acting for the respondent ; or

(b) if no such notice has been given, in the manner provided by section 162 of the Act.

(3) Any notice required to be served on the returning officer or the Director of Public Prosecutions in proceedings under these Rules may be served by delivering it or sending it by post to him.

22. The Parliamentary Election Petition Rules dated the 21st day of November, 1868, the 19th day of December, 1868, the 25th day of March, 1869 and the 27th of January, 1875, and the Municipal Election Petitions Rules dated the 17th day of April, 1883(a) are hereby revoked.

23. These Rules shall come into operation on the first day of April, 1960, but shall not affect any petition presented before that date.

Dated the 21
st day of March, 1960.

Kilmuir, C.
Parker of Waddington, C.J.
Evershed, M.R.
Merriman, P
B.Ormerod, L. J.

Harold Dankwerts, J

Colin H. Pearson, J

Reginald W. Goff.

John F. Donaldson.
Charles Norton.

(a) Rev. 1903 XII, pp. 640 to 656



Rule 4(1)
Election petition
In the High Courts of Justice,
Queen’s Bench Division
In the Matter of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 19491983

And In the Matter of a Parliamentary [or Local Government] Election for [state
held on the day of , 1920 .

The Petition of A.B. of [and C.D. of ] shows:—

1. That the Petitioner A.B is a person who voted [or had a right to vote] at the above election [or was a candidate at the above election] [or in the case of a Parliamentary election claims to have had a right to be elected or returned at the above election] and the Petitioner C.D. [state similarly the capacity in which he presents the petition].

2. That the election was held on the          day of          , 1920  , when E.F., G.H. And J.K. were candidates and on the day
of       ,
1920  , the Returning Officer returned E.F. And G.H to the Clerk of the Crown as being duly elected [or
in the case of a local Government election
and E.F. and G.H. were declared to be duly elected].

3. That [state the facts on which the Petitioner[s] rely].

4. That [in the case of a petition mentioned in section 109122 (2) or (3) of section 114129 (2), (3) or (4) of the above Act state the event on which the time for the presentation of the petition depends and its date].

The Petitioner[s] therefore pray[s]:—

(1) That it may be determined that the said E.F. was not duly elected [or returned] and that the election was void [or
that the said J.K was duly elected and ought to be returned] [
or as the case may be.

(2) That the Petitioner[s] may have such further or other relief as may be just.

Dated this       day of       ,1920 .

This petition was presented by whose address for service is

[and who is agent for of ]
,[solicitor for the said
It is proposed to serve a copy of this petition on of [and of ] and on the Director of Public Prosecutions.


(This Note is not part of the Rules, but is intended to indicate their general purport.)

These Rules replace in modern form (with a few minor and consequential changes in procedure) the Rules relating to parliamentary and local government election petitions. Some of the existing provisions have been omitted in reliance on the general practice and procedure of the High Court, which will apply notwithstanding any different practice followed by committees of the House of Commons in dealing with election petitions before 1868. It will thus be possible for the election court to make orders for the discovery and inspection of documents and the delivery of interrogatories although such orders were not made by committees of the House of Commons.