Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority changes constitution and policy on filming public meetings after petition started in 2014

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority changes constitution and policy on filming public meetings after petition started in 2014

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority changes constitution and policy on filming public meetings after petition started in 2014

                                                    

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Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (13th June 2019) Agenda Item 3 – Petition

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 13th June 2019 R to L Cllr Leslie Byrom (Chair), Phil Garrigan (Chief Executive)

Yesterday afternoon (13th June 2019) I submitted and spoke to this petition started in 2014 to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority (MFRA) about its constitution and more specifically filming public meetings.
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What did the public ask at the last public meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee?

What did the public ask at the last public meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee?

What did the public ask at the last public meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee?

                                                   

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Wallasey Constituency Committee (Wirral Council) 12th March 2019 Part 1 of 2

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Wallasey Constituency Committee (Wirral Council) 12th March 2019 Part 2 of 2

Father Leon Ostaszewski asking questions at the last meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee 12th March 2019
Father Leon Ostaszewski asking questions at the last meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee 12th March 2019

Yesterday saw the last Wallasey Constituency Committee public meeting in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall as next month it will be no more.

Indeed, its Chair Labour Cllr Bernie Mooney is also leaving as a councillor in a few weeks.
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EXCLUSIVE: NHS STP plan topic of special public meeting of Wirral Council councillors on 13th February 2018

EXCLUSIVE: NHS STP plan topic of special public meeting of Wirral Council councillors on 13th February 2018

EXCLUSIVE: NHS STP plan topic of special public meeting of Wirral Council councillors on 13th February 2018

                                              

Cllr Phil Davies (Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board) 9th December 2017
Cllr Phil Davies (Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board) 9th December 2017

Edited JB 30.1.2018 20:09 to add more detail about what meeting is about.

When looking at the calendar of public meetings at Wirral Council for February 2018, I noticed a special meeting of the Adult Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been scheduled to start at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 13th February 2018 in Committee Room 1, Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe, CH44 8ED.

For those that have been following local politics around the NHS, or who read this blog regularly, you’ll be already aware of the controversy surrounding the STP plans (or to spell out the acronym Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships).

I am told that the special meeting on the 13th February 2018 (which will be held in public) will be discussing this topic as well as the NHS Five Year Forward View. As the agenda and reports are scheduled to be published on the 5th February 2018, I can’t provide more detail than that.

However there is a certain strength of feeling both on the Wirral and over in Liverpool about changes happening and proposed changes to the NHS.

It is a political topic that arouses strong feelings in people, especially those that rely heavily on NHS services.

The public meeting will be starting at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 13th February 2018 in Committee Room 1, Wallasey Town Hall, Brighton Street, Seacombe, CH44 8ED and next month the agenda and reports will be published on Wirral Council’s website at this address.

Wirral Council’s Adult Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee will also be meeting in Committee Room 1 in public tonight at a meeting starting at 6.00 pm.

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Wirral Council tries to ban filming of public meeting to award Freedom of the Borough to the 96 who died in Hillsborough!

Wirral Council tries to ban filming of public meeting to award Freedom of the Borough to the 96 who died in Hillsborough!

Wirral Council tries to ban filming of public meeting to award Freedom of the Borough to the 96 who died in Hillsborough!

                                                   

Councillor Bill Davies, Left (Chair, Licensing Act 2003 Committee (Wirral Council)) votes against a filming ban of a public meeting 26th October 2016
Councillor Bill Davies, Left (Chair, Licensing Act 2003 Committee (Wirral Council)) votes against a filming ban of a public meeting 26th October 2016

On Friday evening, at a public meeting of all Wirral Council’s councillors, freedom of the borough is expected to be awarded to the 96 that died in the Hillsborough disaster.

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I filmed Liverpool City Council award freedom of the city of Liverpool to the 96 who died in Hillsborough last year (which can be viewed above), freedom of the borough for PC Dave Phillips last year and the award of freedom of the borough for 107 (Lancashire & Cheshire) Field Squadron Royal Engineers (Volunteers) and the 234 (Wirral) Transport Squadron Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers) in 2012.

I was therefore surprised to receive the following email below from Kevin McCallum this afternoon. I have sent a response back asking Wirral Council’s Interim Monitoring Officer to provide advice to councillors as to whether this is lawful as Wirral Council are required to provide reasonable facilities for the purpose of filming the public meeting.

I’ve also pointed out I’m quite happy to film from the Council Chamber, as I have done before for a public meeting of the Wirral Schools Forum. Filming from the Council Chamber was done by another media organisation during the freedom of borough meeting for PC Dave Phillips last year. I’ve removed Kevin’s mobile number from the email below as as far as I know it’s not made public. I’ve also not included the LGC Awards 2015 Most Improved Council logo and the boilerplate text at the end.



from: MacCallum, Kevin
to: John Brace <john@johnbrace.com>
date: 11 September 2017 at 14:29
subject: Freedom of the Borough council, Friday.

Hi John,

Just wanted to let you know in advance of Friday that unfortunately the public gallery will be off-limits for the Freedom of the Borough event, as it is being reserved for invited guests of the families.

We are filming the entire event and will be posting it onto our YouTube channel.

If you would still like to attend you, along with any other members of the public wishing to view the formal part of the event, will be asked to use one of the Committee Rooms on the ground floor, where sound will be played through from the Chamber.

Thanks
Kev

Kev MacCallum
Head of Communications
Communications & Marketing

T: 0151 691 8388
M: XXXXX XXX XXX
E: kevinmaccallum@wirral.gov.uk
W: www.wirral.gov.uk & www.wirralview.com


Updated 11.3.18 I finally found the footage of the meeting over 6 months later, it hadn’t been published on Wirral Council’s Youtube Channel as Kevin suggested, but the channel of Paul Frost on the 19th September 2017.

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Councillors met to discuss 3 areas of Future Council consultation (Youth and Play, Gitrell Court and West Kirby Marine Lake)

Councillors met to discuss 3 areas of Future Council consultation (Youth and Play, Gitrell Court and West Kirby Marine Lake)

Councillors met to discuss 3 areas of Future Council consultation (Youth and Play, Gitrell Court and West Kirby Marine Lake)

                                                    

Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee  Wirral Council  3rd November 2014   L to R Legal adviser who was missing, Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair), Clare Fish and Graham Hodkinson
Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee Wirral Council 3rd November 2014 L to R Legal adviser who was missing, Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair), Clare Fish and Graham Hodkinson

Last night showed something that we’ve been promised for some time which is pre-decision scrutiny (of a sort). Now the Future Council consultation is over, the first of three overview and scrutiny committees met yesterday evening to discuss the proposed budget cuts in their area of responsibility.

Prior to this there had been a behind closed doors set of meetings among councillors, which explained why the public meeting itself was rather short.

The rather late reports (which included a Powerpoint presentation on the consultation results) concentrated on the following proposed budget cuts:

Youth and Play Service £450,000 cut closing 4 youth centres, reducing provision at the “hubs” from five evening a week to four, Play Schemes funding ceased, grant to Wirral Play Council stopped, Civil Award Scheme stopped and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme stopped. If chosen this would end play schemes in Beechwood, Gautby Road (in Bidston) and Leasowe Adventure Playground in Wallasey. These three playschemes cost Wirral Council £190,000 a year but benefit about 600 children.

The Wirral Play Council (a charity on the Wirral) runs play schemes including an annual event at Birkenhead Park attended by 3,000 children, which was discussed at the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee public meeting last week. People at that meeting were shown photos of the Mayor at this event in Birkenhead Park which I can’t show you because the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Cllr Tony Smith and Wirral Council officers decided to try to negotiate a broadcast media blackout of that public meeting and had I tried to film it, Surjit Tour would’ve advised Cllr Tony Smith to adjourn that meeting.

The detail of the effects of each proposal had been previously discussed behind closed doors by councillors who then produced a scrutiny panel report.

The other possible budget cuts involved Girtell Court (a short break respite service for adults with disabilities of £385,000), a cut to the all age disability service of £600,000 (affecting Willow Tree (overnight short breaks for children with high-level learning and physical disabilities), Children with Disabilities Team, Transition Team and the Family Support Team) and West Kirby Marine Lake (a cut of £25,000 and the possible outsourcing to a third party although an alternative option is being looked at).

Certainly these were not popular proposals (especially considering the fuss kicked up over the playschemes proposal) cuts and in not all areas did councillors agree with officers. At one point the Chair felt that the cuts were just being fitted around the amounts that had to be saved. As the budget options cover £4 million out of £2.5 million of options, some won’t happen, however you can watch the video of the meeting below to see and hear what councillors and officers said.

I will upload clearer audio of the meeting at a later date, although I felt it was important to point out the above at this point. When the overview and scrutiny committees finish (the last one is scheduled for tomorrow night), their proposals will feed into a Cabinet meeting which will make a recommendation on the budget to Council. All councillors will then meet, debate, discuss and vote on the budget, which according to the new legislation now has to be done by each councillor individually voting on each budget proposal (due to a change in legislation earlier this year). This way when it comes to election time in May, the Wirral public can look up how certain councillors standing in the election voted on the issues that matter to them if they so wish.

There are however going to be sections of society lobbying hard to make sure the Labour administration (who decide where the cuts are) spares them from the effects of the cuts. It remains to be seen how easy it will be both for councillors and political parties to deal with the public relations effects of what is proposed. As was mentioned at the meeting yesterday evening, there are large petitions opposing some of the cuts proposed. Some petitions are large enough that the petition organisers will get the right to speak at the Council meeting at which these decisions are made. The papers for this public meeting can be read on Wirral Council’s website

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Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee Wirral Council 3rd November 2014 Part 1

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Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee Wirral Council 3rd November 2014 Part 2

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