Should all Liverpool City Council councillors have had a vote on a £110,000 "golden goodbye" for the former Director of Public Health?

Should all Liverpool City Council councillors have had a vote on a £110,000 “golden goodbye” for the former Director of Public Health?

Should all Liverpool City Council councillors have had a vote on a £110,000 “golden goodbye” for the former Director of Public Health?


Mayor Joe Anderson responds on the issue of green spaces in Liverpool 8th April 2015
Mayor Joe Anderson (Chair of the Appointments Panel), Liverpool City Council 8th April 2015

For those with long memories going back to 2012, you will remember a number of Wirral Council’s chief officers were suspended, but left Wirral Council with large payouts. One example (of many) was Bill Norman (the former Monitoring Officer/Head of Law, HR and Asset Management) leaving at a cost of £151,416.

Those with even longer memories will remember that two senior managers in Wirral Council’s Social Services department left the employment of Wirral Council the day before the Anna Klonowski Associates report was published at a cost of £109,496.45 for the Head of Support Services (Finance Department) and Assistant Director, Head of Wellbeing (Department of Adult Social Services) at a cost of £111,042.95 .

There was a certain degree of public anger that in the case of these last two councillors were not directly involved in the decision. Outrage at the amount involved led to a change to Wirral Council’s constitution, so councillors did decide whether to agree to a compromise contract in Bill Norman’s case. This also led to changes at the national level.

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP wrote to all leaders of local councils in England in February 2013, you can read read his letter here which contained the following on what should happen with regards to large severance payments.

  • Full Council should also be given the opportunity to vote on severance payments over £100,000. Many believe that pay-offs to senior local government staff are excessive and too frequent. The Localism Act brings out into the open the approach taken to severance across the sector. There is a clear case for going further and ensuring that, as well as approving their authority’s policy on severance, Members are able to consider each time it is proposed to spend local taxpayers’ money on a large pay-off.

    This follows on from my announcement in November 2012 where I said that I intend to remove the costly and bureaucratic requirement for a designated independent person to investigate allegations of misconduct by senior officers from the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) Regulations 2001. I am currently consulting with the Local Government Association and others on the draft regulations to give effect to these changes.

Accompanying Eric Pickles’ letter was guidance, which section 40 of the Localism Act 2011 stated that “A relevant authority in England must, in performing its functions under section 38 or 39, have regard to any guidance issued or approved by the Secretary of State.” Sections 38 and 39 of the Localism Act 2011 relate to pay policy statements.

At Liverpool City Council’s Budget meeting of the 5th March 2014, the pay policy for 2014/15 was agreed. The bit about large severance payments is phrased in an interesting way:

6.6(ii) Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government on severance payment puts forward a case for offering full Council the opportunity to vote on severance packages above a certain threshold and that is placed at £100k. Full Council delegates this function to the Council’s Appointments Panel. Council does so, on the basis that such delegation facilitates compliance with Data Protection legislation in respect of the entitlement to privacy of the individual concerned without prejudicing transparency as that is achieved by the City Council ensuring compliance with Access to Information Rules, Legislation and all accounting requirements placed upon the Authority.

    In other words instead of following the guidance and giving all councillors a vote at Liverpool City Council on severance payments over £100,000 and the requirement in section 40 of the Localism Act 2011 to have regard to the guidance when drawing up their pay policy statement, Liverpool City Council decided just to do things differently.

    Buried on page 82 of Liverpool City Council’s statement of accounts for 2014/15 it shows a payment of £110,000 was made for “compensation for loss of employment” to Liverpool City Council’s Director of Public Health who left on the 6th April 2014.

    So did the Appointments Panel at Liverpool City Council decide on this? The meeting of the Appointments Panel of Monday 24th February 2014 (the one directly before to the Director of Public Health leaving in April 2014) curiously has no agenda and no minutes published on Liverpool City Council’s website.

    The supplementary guidance issued in 2013 had this to state on the subject of large severance payments.

    Severance payments

    11. There has been a great deal of public scrutiny of the level of severance payments awarded to senior local government staff and rightly so. Authorities should ensure that they manage their workforces in a way that best delivers best value for money for local taxpayers and sets the right example on restraint. This includes any payments offered to staff leaving the authority.

    12. Authorities are already required to publish their policies on severance for chief officers 5 and their policy on discretionary compensation for relevant staff in the event of redundancy. 6 In addition, other regulations provide for disclosure of remuneration of senior employees including details of severance payments within authorities’ annual statement of accounts. 7

    13. Taken together, these measures enable greater scrutiny of the money spent by authorities on severance. However, given continuing public concern about the level and frequency of such payments, there is a case for going further to ensure that decisions to spend local taxpayers’ money on large pay-offs are subject to appropriate levels of accountability. Authorities should, therefore, offer full council (or a meeting of members in the case of fire authorities) the opportunity to vote before large severance packages beyond a particular threshold are approved for staff leaving the organisation. As with salaries on appointment, the Secretary of State considers that £100,000 is the right level for that threshold to be set.

    14. In presenting information to full council, authorities should set out clearly the components of relevant severance packages. These components may include salary paid in lieu, redundancy compensation, pension entitlements, holiday pay and any bonuses, fees or allowances paid.

    15. This follows on from the Secretary of State’s announcement 8 that he intends to remove the costly and bureaucratic requirement for a designated independent person to investigate allegations of misconduct by senior officers from the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) Regulations 2001. We are currently consulting with the Local Government Association and others on the draft regulations to give effect to these changes.

    So according to the guidance, should all of Liverpool City Council councillors had a vote on the £110,000 payment to the former Director of Public Health along with a published breakdown as to how this £110,000 figure was arrived at?

    Why is the agenda (and minutes if it met) of the public meeting of Liverpool City Council’s Appointments Panel immediately prior the Director of Public Health not available?

    Why state in the pay policy about “respect of the entitlement to privacy of the individual concerned” when there is legislation requiring such payments to senior officers to be included in the statement of accounts anyway (see Regulation 7(3)(iv) of the Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011)?

    Doesn’t this all seem to show that when the Coalition government tried to improve transparency and accountability in this area that Liverpool City Council just blatantly decide to carry on what it was doing before regardless of what the new guidance stated?

    Does anyone know if following consultation with the Local Government Association and others whether regulations about this area came into force (if so what are they called) or was guidance considered sufficient?

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

    Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?

    Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?

    Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?


    Councillor Paul Doughty explains why he's had sleepless nights over Town Talk and won't agree to a further £5000
    Councillor Paul Doughty explains why he’s had sleepless nights over Town Talk and won’t agree to a further £5000

    Last year, Wirral Council’s former Chief Executive Graham Burgess would’ve received this letter from DCLG about publicity issued by Wirral Council.

    To summarise the letter it reminds Wirral Council to comply with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Government Publicity and if they don’t reminds them that the Secretary of State has a legal power to direct local councils to comply.

    Since this new power came into force about a year ago, you can read here various letters written by the Secretary of State to councils that weren’t complying with the code.

    Continue reading “Should Eric Pickles intervene and stop Town Talk being delivered to Birkenhead households during the election?”

    Why are Wirral councillors trying to kill off press freedom by a new public meetings filming ban?

    Why are Wirral councillors trying to kill off press freedom by a new public meetings filming ban?

    Why are Wirral councillors trying to kill off press freedom by a new public meetings filming ban?


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    Video of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee from 3rd March 2015, the item on filming starts 43 seconds into the meeting

    Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer at Wirral Council) gives councillors his opinion at the meeting that he doesn't think the draft policy banning filming breaches the Human Rights Act 1998 3rd March 2015
    Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer at Wirral Council) gives councillors his opinion at the meeting that he doesn’t think the draft policy banning filming breaches the Human Rights Act 1998 3rd March 2015

    Last year I wrote a piece on this blog headlined The day democracy and freedom of the press died at Wirral Council: 28th October 2014 and earlier this week published my email to councillors on the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee detailing my concerns about a proposed policy banning filming at public meetings of Wirral Council.

    Last night councillors (as you can see from the video above) on Wirral Council’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee agreed to bash the final nail in the coffin of press freedom to report on public meetings of Wirral Council and recommended to all councillors at the next Council meeting on the 16th of March that press freedom remain dead and buried (that is they recommended a draft policy on the reporting of all public meetings of Wirral Council).

    Around the time a new law (the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014) came into force last August, which prevented local councils stopping filming of their meetings, Eric Pickles was quoted as saying "How can we criticise Putin’s Russia for suppressing freedom of the press when, up and down the land, police are threatening to arrest people for reporting a council meeting with digital media?"

    Labour councillors on the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee last night repeatedly prevented any discussion by opposition councillors on the controversial subjects of the closure of Lyndale School and library opening hours. If councillors from the ruling group can’t respect and listen to viewpoints they may not agree with, how can democracy actually function at all on Wirral Council?

    Despite concerns I expressed at the meeting itself about the lack of consultation and concerns over whether the draft policy breached both section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 (in respect of Article 10 on freedom of expression) and Regulation 4 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, councillors agreed to recommend it to the next Council meeting.

    The draft policy (if approved by Council) will mean that at the start of the meeting the Chair will ask anyone if they have any objections to the meeting being filmed. If someone does object the Chair will stop the meeting being filmed. However any legal powers Chairs may have had to stop filming of public meetings were repealed by the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 last year.

    The policy goes much further and states a ban on editing filming, photography or recording of a meeting that could cause “reputational harm”.

    Wirral Council seem to not recognise the importance of the independence of the press and councillors on the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee don’t seem to think there is anything wrong with this policy.

    If you’re from the Wirral and would like to make your views known to your local councillors ahead of the Council meeting on the 16th March, their contact details are on this page. As emails to councillors are no routinely filtered, I would suggest phoning or writing by mail.

    If you’re have a WordPress blog, please feel free to reblog this post. If you’d like to write about the draft policy it is on Wirral Council’s website and the other papers and reports for the meeting can be found on Wirral Council’s website here. The code to embed the Youtube video of the meeting can be found by visiting Youtube and clicking on share then embed.

    You can also give your opinion whether you think this policy is a good idea or not in the poll below:

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    The day democracy and freedom of the press died at Wirral Council: 28th October 2014

    The day democracy and freedom of the press died at Wirral Council: 28th October 2014

    The day democracy and freedom of the press died at Wirral Council: 28th October 2014

    Councillor Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) at a public meeting earlier this year L to R Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Cllr Tony Smith, Cllr Bernie Mooney and Lyndzay Roberts
    Councillor Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services) at a public meeting earlier this year L to R Cllr Stuart Whittingham, Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services), Cllr Bernie Mooney and Lyndzay Roberts

    CORRECTION 1/11/2014: The version of this article published on 29th October 2014 contained an error. Although Cllr Chris Carubia was on the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee this article stated he was not. It has since been corrected.

    I apologise to Cllr Chris Carubia for this error. It is my fault entirely. Wirral Council’s website shows him as not being on the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee (see screenshots below) although it does show the committee appointments for the other seven councillors on this eight person committee. I didn’t double check this incorrect information on Wirral Council’s website against the list of committee appointments made at the Annual General Meeting (Part 2) in June 2014. Hopefully this explains how the error was made and I apologise.

    However I cannot blame others for my mistake and have to accept responsibility. I personally apologise both to Cllr Chris Carubia and to readers for any confusion caused.

    Screenshot of Wirral Council's website for Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee meeting
    Screenshot of Wirral Council’s website for Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee meeting
    Cllr Chris Carubia page Wirral Council
    Cllr Chris Carubia page Wirral Council


    Yesterday I attended a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee and the meeting started twenty minutes late for reasons I shall go into below.

    Here is a list of the councillors on this committee:

    Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Labour) who refers to himself as Chair
    Cllr Chris Meaden (Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Labour)
    Cllr Walter Smith (Labour councillor who wasn’t present last night)
    Cllr Paul Hayes (Conservative councillor who wasn’t present last night)
    Cllr Wendy Clements (Conservative councillor who wasn’t present last night)
    Cllr Cherry Povall, JP (Conservative councillor who wasn’t present last night)
    Cllr Mrs Pat Williams (Liberal Democrat councillor)
    Cllr Chris Carubia (Liberal Democrat councillor)

    So out of that list of seven councillors, only Cllr Tony Smith, Cllr Chris Meaden, Cllr Mrs Pat Williams and Cllr Chris Carubia (four councillors) were actually present.

    Also there, but not part of the committee that met that evening was Cllr Phil Gilchrist. Cllr Phil Gilchrist is a deputy for this committee, however the two Liberal Democrat councillors were both present so he was not deputising. However as he is Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, he used his ex-officio powers to speak at the meeting.

    Prior to the meeting starting, the papers for the meeting which you can view on Wirral Council’s website hadn’t been published on Wirral Council’s website a week before the meeting as required by law but merely hours before the meeting was held.

    I asked for a copy of the agenda and reports at the meeting itself (as is my legal right to do so). I was very reluctantly given a copy of the agenda by an officer who had a big bunch of copies of the agenda but had to check he had permission to give one to me.

    Before the meeting started, I figured out they were going to show a video so asked about background music and I was told there would be background music in it, so I stated I wouldn’t be filming the twelve-minute video shown (which was agenda item five ALUMNI PROJECT – Creative Youth Development – Presentation) because of the ongoing issues I wrote about yesterday surrounding publishing video of public meetings at which video was shown containing background music.

    As the video was about twelve minutes long (and I planned to film discussion of it once it was over), this left the other seven agenda items plus the rest of that one.

    However Lindsay Davidson (whose job description is “Senior Locality Manager – Youth Support”) and is an employee of Wirral Council was before the meeting not happy with the prospect of me filming this public meeting of a local Council (that she worked at) at all.

    Another thing to bear in mind, is that whereas the Legal and Member Services section of Wirral Council send along a trained solicitor and someone to take minutes at all other meetings, this did not happen that evening.

    I pointed out that usually committees have a solicitor and a committee services officer present just to be rebutted by Lindsay Davidson with “We service our own committee.”

    She carried on saying, “As far as I’m concerned it’s a safeguarding issue because we haven’t got parental consent.”

    No, she wasn’t referring to councillors having to write to their parents and gain their written permission of their parents before they attend and get filmed at a public meeting. Nor was she apparently referring to Council officers (of which there were five including herself and the Head of Service (Head of Targeted Services) Deborah Gornik.

    She was referring to one young person present at the public meeting called Daniel (who she told me at this point was sixteen years old but in later conversation (in front of councillors and Surjit Tour) refused to divulge what age Daniel was). Interestingly Daniel hasn’t been formally appointed by Council to this committee and isn’t (despite what Council officers may state) part of the committee.

    This was my response to her “As far as I’m concerned it’s a legal issue because the regulations changed in August” and before I could even finish that sentence Lindsay started talking over me.

    She said that Daniel’s parents “don’t know”. So I talked with Surjit Tour over the phone in reception, who agreed with me that it was a committee of Wirral Council that met in public.

    However as far as Surjit Tour was concerned, he wanted to dissuade me from filming the meeting at all. So what does the law actually state on the issue now?

    Regulation 4 changed the Local Government Act 1972 to state the following (principal council doesn’t just refer to meetings of the Council at Wirral Council but also committees and subcommittees):

    “(7A) While a meeting of a principal council in England is open to the public, any person attending is to be permitted to report on the meeting.


    (7C) 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.

    (7E) Any person who attends a meeting of a principal council in England for the purpose of reporting on the meeting may use any communication method, including the internet, to publish, post or otherwise share the results of the person’s reporting activities.

    “(9) In this section “reporting” means—

    (a) filming, photographing or making an audio recording of proceedings at a meeting,

    (b) using any other means for enabling persons not present to see or hear proceedings at a meeting as it takes place or later, or

    (c) reporting or providing commentary on proceedings at a meeting, orally or in writing, so that the report or commentary is available as the meeting takes place or later to persons not present.”

    There are similar modifications also made by Regulation 3 to the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 which also apply.

    So that’s the legal position, I can film the public meeting of the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee, whether or not a sixteen year old happens to be there without his parents.

    However what happened yesterday evening is bizarre.

    The meeting did not start on time and a twenty minute conversation happened between Lindsay Davidson, Cllr Chris Meaden, Cllr Tony Smith, Surjit Tour, I think Deborah Gornik and myself in the corridor outside Committee Room 1.

    I was basically told that by Surjit Tour that if I exercised my right (enshrined in law) to film the meeting, Surjit Tour would advise the Chair (Cllr Tony Smith) to adjourn the meeting and therefore the meeting would not take place that evening.

    This is in fact why the meeting started twenty minutes late. I offered the following compromises to Wirral Council:

    a) that I would only film the side of the room that the 16-year-old was not actually sitting in: REFUSED
    b) that I would only audio record the public meeting: REFUSED
    c) that I wouldn’t film the video shown during the meeting: REFUSED

    You can tell how any other “reasonable compromises” were dealt with too.

    Wirral Council were obviously not going to budge from their stubborn position until I backed down. Personally I feel sorry for employees and opposition councillors in such an organisation as the way it was dealt with was wholly unreasonable.

    This is also probably why there have been strikes recently by the unions, because both Wirral Council’s management and politicians behave unreasonably.

    Both Surjit Tour and I knew what the legal position was and that I could film.

    Officers (including Lindsay Davidson who was “servicing the committee”) didn’t know the legal position, neither did councillors and were looking to Surjit Tour to not only offer them legal advice but to negotiate on their behalf my agreement not to film the meeting. Neither Surjit Tour or I had the text of the legislation to show them, although it takes minutes to look up these matters as Wirral Council does have both wired and wireless internet access (including in the Committee Room 1 that the meeting was being held in).

    He, Surjit Tour as Head of Legal and Member Services could only advise councillors to adjourn the meeting if I tried to film it and by then the officers had got the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services/Chair involved Cllr Tony Smith (who is obviously rather cheesed off already at the moment over my reporting on Lyndale School matters). I realise officers have had safeguarding drummed into them (perhaps this is the legacy of Martin Morton), to the extent that they repeat it as a mantra when people tell them things they don’t want to hear.

    However from a practical perspective, a 16-year-old in the UK at the moment is old enough to:

    vote in the recent Scottish independence referendum (if he or she lived in Scotland)
    join the Armed Forces
    leave compulsory education
    get married
    have children
    get arrested & probably other matters I haven’t thought of.

    However according to Wirral Council, even at 16 years old you are not old enough to attend a public meeting without getting a written note from your parents first, just in case you might get filmed or recorded on tape.

    In fact according to Wirral Council officers you are still treated as a child until you are eighteen.

    In some ways even though I am well over eighteen and in my mid 30s some Wirral Council officers (and politicians) still treat me as if I was a child. After all, the reaction last night to me trying to film the meeting was the way you’d deal with a two or three-year old having a temper tantrum.

    Although not explicitly stated by anyone, reading between the lines and based on how the discussions went, it came across as “Go outside John, we’ll tell you how you should behave, don’t you realise you shouldn’t be filming this meeting and how dare you try to do so and annoy us?”

    In other words the petulant attitude I’ve come to expect from councillors and officers at Wirral Council.

    So, although it sets a bad precedent, I decided yesterday evening after a twenty-minute stalemate on this issue pragmatically not to film the meeting because:

    a) Wirral Council officers and councillors were unaware of the legal change caused by the The Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 coming into effect on August 6th 2014 this year

    b) Surjit Tour and I have already had many exchanges of letters and verbal discussions previously about these matters and I have also had a meeting with Joe Blott.

    c) This was the first meeting of the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee since the legal change, so you can’t expect Wirral Council to know about it.

    d) Wirral Council has to make decisions that don’t breach the Human Rights Act 1998 (specifically interference with my right to freedom of speech).

    e) the way to deal with such matters in the past has been through negotiation and compromise although obviously the last time this happened (before August 2014) was back in June 2014 the Labour councillor Cllr Steve Niblock took a similarly militant stance against filming at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Licensing Act 2003 Subcommittee to make a decision about an off licence to sell alcohol in Moreton, no children were present at the meeting then, but Cllr Steve Niblock (the Chair) still shouted at me not to film it.

    So this leaves Wirral Council in the position now where the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP refers to such decisions on filming by local councils in a newspaper article as behaving in the past like “Putin’s Russia” and is exactly the sort of dispute the regulations are there to avoid.

    Wirral Council’s way of skirting around the regulations applying is to pressure me into voluntarily agreeing not to film & or audio record a meeting before it takes place. If I say no and take a militant attitude they will make sure the meeting doesn’t actually happen.

    So that is Wirral Council’s position, I am allowed to film public meetings. However if I try to do so, the public meeting won’t actually happen. It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s cat really and exactly a fortnight after this farce last night I’m sure I’ll be going over this same ground again over the Youth Parliament meeting where there will be more than one young person present.

    Below are my uncorrected notes of the meeting yesterday and in a PS I will point out that I tape record meetings because I have a writing disability because of breaking my wrist in two places in 2012. This means I can no longer write shorthand so I use the audio tape recordings for the purposes of quotes.

    However equality issues, disability issues and safeguarding concerns regarding myself are not considered by Wirral Council as hypothetical views of a 16 year olds parents trump the “reasonable adjustments” Wirral Council are required to take (it’s a legal duty) during meetings.

    For an example of a reasonable adjustment made during the meeting, Cllr Phil Gilchrist (with hearing problems) asked for the tea/coffee machine to be turned off as no microphones were used (although three were put out nobody sat near them).

    However reasonable adjustments are always made at Wirral Council for disabilities of councillors, or its own staff but its legal duties to the disabled public and press are not even thought of and if raised not considered as they should.

    Below are my notes of the meeting (I will point out that some of these service changes are currently out to public consultation at the moment):

    The reports published shortly before the meeting was held can be read on Wirral’s website.

    Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee 28th October 2014

    552 pm late start

    Visual description of young person chairing meeting (Daniel) has black curly hair, wears glasses… approx 16 years old wearing .blue short sleeved shirt

    Cllr Tony Smith (Chair) apologies discussion whether Mr Brace able will not do tonight resolved another

    Welcome y… apologies


    P Williams didnt get agenda until today cllrs missing oversight

    lindsay problems server getting on to server … … reminder gpt agenda
    P Giochrist attachemts council website couldnt open…
    lindy resolved today wasnt resolved
    daniel over to you
    go round asking people’s names
    Linndsay Davidson Senior locality manager Youth and Play service
    Cllr tony smith

    Cllr pat williams
    Cllr phil gilchrist
    Cllr chros meaden

    South and West Wirral…
    creative youth development
    P Gilchrist d…matters arising from minutes hand over Lindsay…

    Note Left side: 4 coucillors (CM (Lab), PW (LD), PG (LD) and CC (LD)), 2 officers
    Right: Cllr Tony Smith, officers (Lindsay Davidson and two others) and Daniel (young person)

    Lindsay highlight a few things senior locality manager’s report 1.1 inform latest goals project underway … following on from success under 1.2.1 lads project started in September proving to be very successful aged young men… designed to address a number issues harmful exploitative relationships… towards end program residential Oaklands outdoor education centre first project young men did have concerns drop out rate male staff working with young men retention rate high midway meeting had to get Birkenhead Youth Hub

    cllr tony smith how identified
    officers agencies targetted services… so agencies able identify needs young person get consent also used part working young people…
    lindsay challenging young men program … its a testament program…
    officer midway thing big impact groups teenage males mix in one spot … all mixed all deliberately mixed groups… a project in itself…
    p gilchrist public health funded Wirral South Constituency Committee improve funding or top up… public health mentioned … has been funding South Wirral additional residential young men… under item 2 Wallasey District Wallasey Youth Hub… 12 week…
    Chris Carubia…
    Lindsay heavily involved partnership work police don’t know aware Flaybrick Cemetery traves outreach involved not only working with young people … perpetrators… trying divert further criminal damage also working other young people locality concerned peers done this wanted to show other young people were like that workong young people rangers cemetery cleanup positive project different aspects … South Wirral Bebington Youth Hub redesigned painted music room young women crime prevention panel… under 5 West Wirral… West Wirral Youth Hub Thursdays young people additional needs disabilities accessing Youth Hub… … good practice journals weighting oist families cross agency steering group further funding… demands that particular program item 7 7. 1 housing service new Wirral based .. … yp family… ok.. and again under 7.1 aaare response young people took part healthy eating project positive outcomes chefs Barrow in Furness healthy eating techniques homeless have been… .. ok number 8 partivipation and engagement fee days ago Youth Voice Conference make aware under 8.2 have reported framework young people brought paper previous merting champion event prior Youth Parliament 11/11 what doing champion event sign up become yp champion some activities tea young people and councillors Youth Parliament into Chamber for session… busy collecting motions majority theme conference emotional health and wellbeing number 10 beechwood supporting with homework projects creating number artifacts enable young people doing things like making models atoms sex education… huge models of sperms eggs and ovaries… extremely successful giving to curriculum Daniel end report
    Daniel questions… ?
    P Gilchrist detail Fender health and safety closure building
    Lindsay Mark?
    Mark reason closed … throw …at one windows youth club on first floor thick windows stone kind of shattered… unfortuantely quite a long time to get repaired quite blessing in disguise dealing with a lot antisocial behaviour on Woodchurch coming in to building youth workers stop doing this stop doing r ship put on hold a bit take stock go out onto streets build better relationships young people Moira liasing community looking at how involve community volunteers… running youth project … all young people… mischief night along police fire service operation banger have some music playing food fire service providing sports mobile football cage looking into having … finalising the health and safety but really positive … community more and more involved people weren’t reporting antisocial behaviour positive step community get involved yp Woodchurch
    T Smith add to what Mark said engagement adults in new approach and that talking about 10-20 live on estate let someone elee do it got good leaders come forward … things move rapidly see a good future for it… hopefully lookimg at very carefully Woodchirch High … antisocial behaviour… headteacher myself working .. encouarging done a lot work
    Daniel all questions
    P Willaims on 6.4 kids timd ..
    officer supported London project families mental health shared group session whole families particular area… work children come back together pizza… got an average … referred into it 18 months at real capacity… 15 adults quite hefty put a stop to it … 2/3 referrals a month
    P Willaims very very necessary…
    officer lot of good will creative ways keeping going well needed at a satge need look…
    officer ward 10/12
    C Meaden adult dance class
    officer struggling along…
    C Meaden quick step or something as long as not Zumba
    Officer one
    Lindsay one at momemt adult singing…
    Cllr Chris Meaden leaves room…
    child alumni
    Officer film aums it up shown at alumni event watch that

    A thirteen minute film was shown at this point in the meeting.

    12m58s film

    subtitles voice over alumni … participative arts youth work… interview groups individuals… alumni project … camera 40 years old .. fivus take … final stages narrow down final set of images yecgmival skill… quirks of film photography …

    like u photographer chloe
    music and voice over
    iamges …
    Liam and Gemma Chloe… blossom tree … courtyard industrial estate next Cammell Lairds…
    Pacific swing Eliott
    shoot taken at dusk… changing shutter speed… architectural quality capture personalities… piano calmer Cathryn… leaning on piano love music… Ben photographer Jamie Lee… learn a great deal about photographry.. using film cameras… buy one for myself focus every aspect picture … rather stunning iamges … chose photograph them so many ideas choosing wlls interesting decision… interesting shot chose photograph Ben… number shots taken courtyard… rather exciting image… … shows in photograph look like a … … with… camera… I like the light and shadows in studio phases… which gives… before the … happy that i got perfect pictures since shoot … Josh photographer Maya spoke about how … hos story how improved homself… wanted reflect in photographs noticed Josh spoke.. moved graceful way… gentle person.. shadow bigger… wanted Josh suggest to them… camera … for one shoots… shutter speed not as long enjoyed having josh … way chooses words… interesting story … would’ve gone down another lath this shoot taken as film setting photographs… dropped ueard stories how much fun has … character… all told lots of funny stories… take photograph control light noticed … decided use spotlight plesed photograph… Alice many stories how nighty… red dreadlocks started to take photos different side inner confidence … interesting places… compassionate personality… … you are in darkness this is how it should be doing job well… technical skills… chose image close bond between them spotlight … my point… cerebral palsy… interview her … outside the centre… …
    educational pathway trainibg

    C Meaden there that night brilliant night what came out evening young people spoke night explained … excellent evening
    officer permanent display … biz cebtee Birkenhead Park some examples here hack stories

    large photos put up by windows not all jazz hands through a hard time give back…
    officer booking lots viewings.. takes over water a bit
    P Willaims basic equipement
    P Willaims learning …
    officer working on Priory funded by Lottery opening event huge … projections journey take community through journey about 15 in group multiple needs.. large number people on autistic spectrum
    P Williams look forward seeing in my ward at Williamson [Art Gallery]
    Chair all questions hand back Lindsay Youth Voice Conference
    Lindsay this is me youth voice conference on 16/10 havent really evaluated it fully didnt want to miss opportunity highlights conference aims… Youth Voice Conference explore issues important to them… a second about how identified that

    628 Cllr Chris Meaden leaves..

    Lindsay . again.. opportunity yp question … senior ppl partner organisations what’s imporatnt to them make sure yp truly involved… in terms conference 12th annual conference this year … approcimately 200 young people overwhelmingly wanted theme this years conference emotional health .. yes things like sex education alcohol subtance misuse important what don’t tend to talk about issues mental health wellbeing what particularly about themes look more carefully at.. looking out ourselves and each other … promoted variety invitations secondary schools… youth voice group… overarching group representative youth forums Children in care Council youth voice group planned… and developed conference consulted … identify themes young people involved every aspect conference for young people… looking at daniel involved conference too.. is about making sure young

    631 Cllr Chris Meaden returns

    Lindsay instrumental subject amtter sensitivity feel as workers .. some .. needed some supoort in terms of our partners plan workshops… organised steering group where yp met whole range partners… Wirral Autistic Society health services and schools whole range people workshops identified talk a little bit more approproate consultant partner agency… plan content workshops… and we again… this year hot seat panel…

    Cllr Chris Meaden said she had left the room before they came to that point

    Lindsay formulated questions… list some questions.. rather identifying all of them …

    Cllr Tony Smith passes out a handout (1 A4 side)…

    Lindsay ADHD autism… yp with autism actually wanting to express yourselves coping ooss change social isolation social media aad gaming .. Daniel you say something? putting you on spot concerned not only themselves but perr not going out picking up phone texting can only say what I do lost without my phone yp saying 100 fold real serious issues camh concerned about as well a lot wotkship enabling yp deal issue friends might be too isolated through gaming media literacy… some sterotypes yp concerned … airbrushing photographs what is a real image taking to Council real image not airburshed real people publicity final workshop topic dealing with homophobia… concerned about some issues daily basis .. ok haven’t fully evaluated this early days over 90 young ppl in attendance aktest count 96
    Lindsay 96 plus 20 16 school colleges involved… a scale 1-10 and what were saying to yp said at conference theme emotional health and wellbeing themes Youth Parliament motions.. prioritised in debate.. what incraesingly want to happen Wirral Youth Conference not just standalone influences number deabtes of which Youth Parliament will be one… full evaluation to follow whistlestop tour
    Debroah Gornik?.. no matter how many times consult young people cross section generally have same issues as adult population… antisocial behavior litter crime bothers young people exactly same ways articulate in terms telling us … concerns that they have concerns we would have about
    C Meaden one I sat in bullying side how recognised children being bullied are kids looking after other kids as well was interesting did sneak out left after
    Chair (Daniel) representative police didn’t answer single question
    Officer she did
    Chair hand over Steve talk about Wirral summer holiday playschemes report Wirral Play Council summer 2014 if grant give Wirral Play Council run program for us … operating since 1974 how long grant 35 years know chris received grant considerable … so as I said before restructure relook at how deliver schemes essentially meant less schemes conducted … geographical … slight increse provision… also able to get run schemes Prenton Eastham and West Kirby magenat resdents group support … West Wirral constituency spread schemes 68 schmes throught 4 districts additioanl grant smaller projects grant Love Wirral supply tomatoes strawberries growing strawberries tomatoes strawberry deadm took home flowers… cost £500 good value 4.4 again had a good return play work… 60% round about 75 playworkers fully trained qualifiaction recognsied university Gloucester intriductiry recignsied … qualified one things highlight terms program… what gone on to do over the years… lecturers.. one particular person.. deolivering training… started careers introduction work children 2-3 summers working on summer playschemes good ground how develop careers… so just moving on start slides in a second what did on playday obviously a big event … more public event about 3,000 participants what these slides are at the moment have a competition… initially artistic … again what is play asked came up all sorts ideas.. Mayor … judges competition often said won’t have want a competition who’s won really want a competition talking about cooperation climbimg being active examples one from Bebington and Woodchurch these are the plants Love Wirral… climbing wall again this year… Mayor Mayoress we also have this raet street oaijters give yp and oarehts families all get involved early in day looks like France railings Birkenhead Park paint what we want to paint… .. face painting… minim version zorbs health and safety friendly version straw bales.. football cahllenge photo with Mayor … made friends as well another photo with Mayor public heakth police all services… lot of other groups … also families themselves dont have used to supervise children… just invite ppl come down… notice that on day family day out… played and had fun… tahts it .. obviosuly appxed more detail schemes themselves 1,000 chiodren comments children parents what they think
    chair question
    P Willaims interesting shaped pots…
    P Gilchrist dropped into met yp running scheme … from Edge Hill enthusiatsic working hard occupy actaully was … making sire things happened … bottomless pit plan now what os around … …

    Officer every year
    P Gilchrist ok
    Lindsay proposl public consultation could affect Play Council and summer playschemes make people aware ..
    Chair all question thanks Steve come back Cllr Tony Smith
    Cllr Tony Smith thanks you well done quickly through meeting good experience havent notified any other business…
    P Gilchrist ask something haven’t notified haer staff whats done this year’s consultation budget with young peoples views collected fed into process opportunityty committee review in time consultation important scrutiny committees as item based topic go Families and Wellbeing where go once collected?
    C Meaden brought in just over 2,500 from young people yesterday and 300 or 400 today don’t know what committe go to hasn’t been discussed yet
    D Gornik waiting Council decision once get that position then we look to do consultation young people staff and community users not at that stage until decision
    C Meaden … all from .. play schemes quite a few boosted up numbers come into consultation yesterday
    Lindsay young people harder to reach… staff comtribute either by website or paper copied
    C Meaden making sure aware …
    P Gilchrist be clear Deboarh where all collected process to be processed wrong word studied and examined before report to Cabinet not clear where might go to
    C Meaden analysis breakdown
    T Smith responses each age group
    C Meaden in press how many responses staff know how many so far
    T smith young people made aware … £2 million is oppty number
    C Meaden what public consultation about look at it do best resolve some issues.. cash strapped authority…
    P Gilchrist resolved
    Chair right date next meeting
    Officer next one set January beginning February…
    Cllr Tony Smith thanks all Mark and Steve officers Karen and thanks very much
    C Meaden Daniel back again fine…

    Continues at The day democracy and freedom of the press died at Wirral Council: 28th October 2014 (part 2).

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    Filming public meetings on Merseyside (Open Democracy – Phase 2) Fire Authority is best, Liverpool Council is worst

    Filming public meetings on Merseyside (Open Democracy – Phase 2) Fire Authority is best, Liverpool Council is worst

    Filming public meetings on Merseyside (Open Democracy – Phase 2) Fire Authority is best, Liverpool Council is worst


    Left an unknown Liverpool City Council councillor talks about filming locations at a meeting of its Constitutional Issues Committee on the 8th September 2014 Right Cllr Sharon Sullivan Labour
    Left an unknown Liverpool City Council councillor talks about filming locations at a meeting of its Constitutional Issues Committee on the 8th September 2014 Right Cllr Sharon Sullivan Labour

    Since the law changed on filming public meetings on the 6th August 2014 as part of our “Open Democracy” project, I have filmed a number of public meetings of various public bodies on Merseyside to try to get a better understanding of differences in cultural approaches towards the issue.

    Here is the list of public bodies I filmed meetings of:

    Metropolitan Borough of Wirral (Wirral Council)
    Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority
    Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (Merseytravel Committee)
    Liverpool City Council

    Note: the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel whose host authority is Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council was originally on this list but dropped due to changes to shift patterns due to a special meeting on the same evening.

    I now have a better understanding of what makes up both best practice both for these public bodies and the media.

    I could give a detailed score for each but these are all based on a particular public meeting for each public body. However I will briefly detail below what was the best and what was the worst and explain why.

    Mersey Fire and Rescue Authority (the best)

    This was a meeting of their Consultation and Negotiation Sub-committee held on the 2nd September 2014 starting at 1pm.

    Out of the five different public bodies, in my opinion it is this one that went the best, despite a technical problem with our camera which meant filming had to be done in VGA and not HD.

    Each councillor on the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, fire officers and union representative had individual microphones that were tested before the meeting started. Agendas/reports were provided (on request) before the meeting started so that the press/public could follow the meeting. Agendas and reports are also available electronically through the Modgov iPad app. Councillors (and others speaking) knew how to use the microphones. Although some people arrived late, this could be because the room the meeting was held in was changed at short notice.

    The receptionist was professional and the organisation itself came across as well run. The atmosphere both before, during and after the meeting was pleasant and friendly. The issue under discussion (industrial relations between the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the unions) was one that attracted great public interest and much interest when published.

    The room the meeting was held in was well-lit and despite being held on the first floor had a working lift. I have no criticisms of the staff but only compliments.

    Footage from this meeting can be viewed below.

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    Merseytravel Committee (part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority)

    This was a meeting of the Merseytravel Committee held on the 4th September 2014 at 2.30pm. Each councillor and officer had and used microphones (a plus). Atmosphere was pleasant and friendly. The filming location was good as there was light from the nearby window. We were granted access to the room in plenty of time to set up a tripod and camera.

    However the meeting room itself seemed dark due to shades put across some of the windows and at times those speaking didn’t always correctly use their microphones. Due to the design and layout of the room, the spot where the public sit is suboptimal for filming from a sitting position due to sight lines (although filming from a standing position would have overcome some of these difficulties). Meeting was not available on Modgov iPad app. Agendas/reports were provided on request.

    Footage of this meeting can be viewed below.

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    Wirral Council

    This was a meeting of the Wallasey Constituency Committee Working Group held on the 6th August 2014 scheduled to start at 6.00pm. Microphones were not provided for this meeting. Access to the room was provided in advance of the meeting for setting up camera and tripod. Meeting was at times hard to follow, however filming location was optimal.

    Background noise from an outside car park, noise from shipping from the nearby River Mersey and other types of background noise including from a tea/coffee machine in the room itself sometimes drowned out what was being said.

    There were times when there was crosstalk during the meeting and unusually the meeting started without a Chair. Meeting was available on Modgov iPad app.

    Footage of this meeting can be viewed below.

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    Liverpool City Council (the worst)

    This was a meeting of the Constitutional Issues Committee starting at 3.00pm on Monday 8th September in the West Reception Room, 1st floor, Liverpool Town Hall, Liverpool.

    Upon arrival we were questioned by a private security guard working for a private security firm contracted by Liverpool City Council as to our purpose for being there. She summoned a junior Liverpool City Council employee.

    The junior employee had to get his line manager to deal with our query causing a further delay as his line manager was not immediately available.

    His line manager said that filming wouldn’t be allowed in the building as he hadn’t received “instructions” and referred to a “bylaw” (on latter reflection it seems this was actually a reference to an unchanged part of Liverpool City Council’s constitution which is not a bylaw but should’ve been changed by Liverpool City Council before the regulations coming into force on August 6th 2014). He insisted that permission was still required. Access to the meeting room before the meeting to set up a tripod and camera was originally denied by building staff line management.

    During the conversations with these two people I asked if Liverpool City councillors would be stopped from proceeding to the meeting room upstairs before the meeting started at 3pm and was told they wouldn’t be as they were “regular visitors” to the Town Hall.

    I was also told rather curiously that if they allowed filming in Liverpool Town Hall it would open up the prospect of people filming at swimming pools. If anybody could give me an example of a public meeting of a local council held at a swimming pool please leave a comment!

    The issue of mobile phones was also brought up with me in a long explanation in the context of filming/recording. This was a rather long and curious explanation to say to somebody that doesn’t own a mobile phone though and had no mobile phone on him. The building staff manager explained that mobile phones couldn’t be confiscated as they were “private property” which is a bit of a moot point if you don’t have one!

    A further conversation was had later between myself and the junior employee about how this was at odds with the documentation for the meeting (see page 1 “This is a legal duty for the Council to follow the new provisions” and page 2 “The Councils [sic] is required to provide “reasonable facilities” to facilitate reporting.”) and accompanying appendix 2 “In line with national legislation, the filming and recording of public meetings is permitted.”

    He requested his line manager (again) but there appears to have been somewhat of a misunderstanding over the junior employee’s reply to this.

    Another conversation was had with the line manager and reference was made to the reports and agenda for the meeting (which ironically was discussing the filming issue and change to the legislation). We found out later during the public meeting that Liverpool City Council had been allowing filming at its meetings for over a month yet nobody had told this building manager it seems!

    The response then was (in a stark example of silo mentality at a local council) that these reports were the responsibility of another part of Liverpool City Council “Committee Services”, who had only booked the room in the Town Hall and not staff such as himself who were managing the building (referred to as an “important building” by the person he line managed) where the room was being held.

    I then gave much explanation about regulations, House of Commons, House of Lords, how laws were made and how Liverpool City Council had to comply with its legal obligations whatever its constitution stated in a level of excruciating detail I have never had to do before or since.

    Eventually the position somewhat changed and we were escorted by the line manager to the room where the meeting was held in advance of it starting at 3pm. We were directed to a spot to film from (the only time out of this series of meetings this happened) and told if it was good enough for ITV Granada (who had according to a plaque on the way in had been awarded Freedom of Entry by Liverpool City Council) then it should be good enough for us. A socket was provided for electricity, but not required as we use batteries.

    However when the meeting was held filming from this spot involved filming straight into direct sunlight due to the west-facing windows on the other side of the room (therefore from a technical perspective unprofessional and problematic). Filming from this spot into direct sunlight also caused our batteries to run out six times faster than usual. After the friction earlier, we frankly didn’t have the will left to quibble over what location we filmed the meeting from and although an alternative location was suggested, this was ruled out by us on access grounds (which as one of the councillors arrived in a wheelchair we were proved right).

    Before the meeting started there was a loud noise of sawing from outside the room which thankfully stopped by the time the meeting started but was somewhat unnerving.

    We were put in an alcove of the room, which affected sound quality. Sound quality during the meeting itself was also affected by background noise from other parts of the building as a nearby door was left open (later shut during the meeting).

    An agenda and reports for the meeting were requested (they have a legal duty to supply them) but we were told that there were no copies for the public, but that if a councillor didn’t turn up we could have the copy (which did happen a few minutes before the meeting started which gives little time to read it in detail).

    Although some councillors used their microphones correctly during the meeting itself, others did not. One councillor arrived approximately half an hour late.

    WiFi was available, but not known about in advance. Although a plus, during the meeting itself, this was referred to as a negative by a councillor who felt that the use of mobile phones or tablets during public meetings by officers and councillors was unprofessional and disrespectful to the meeting as it gave the public and press the impression that they weren’t paying attention to what was going on.

    Strange accents of councillors during the meeting itself were at times hard to follow. However this is probably due to our unfamiliarity with the various Liverpudlian dialects rather than a problem per se.

    The meeting itself was at times bad-tempered and there seemed to be the impression given of the Labour Group of councillors picking on a councillor from another political group during the public meeting itself during the last agenda item. The fine line between party politics and politician seemed to be somewhat blurred at Liverpool City Council. In fact the councillor who was not from the Labour Group who was subjected to this, looked so upset that I thought he was about to walk out of the meeting before it came to an end.

    There was crosstalk at times during the meeting and an atmosphere that was not conducive to good decision-making.

    Some councillors were unaware or misinformed (by the statements they made) as to some of the detail as to what they were discussing on the filming item due to (in part) deficiencies and omissions in what an officer/s had provided them in the paperwork for the meeting.

    We were both glad when the meeting ended and we left and have no current desire to go back to a place that seemed to not make us feel welcome (although I’m not sure whether that was the intent behind their actions)!

    Footage of this meeting can be viewed below.

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