Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors

Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors

Wirral Council’s Labour and Green councillors vote for increased on and off street car parking charges despite opposition from Conservative and Lib Dem councillors

                                                         

Fort Perch Rock Car Park, New Brighton, Wirral (29th June 2015)
Fort Perch Rock Car Park, New Brighton, Wirral (29th June 2015)

By John Brace (Editor)
and
Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)

First publication date: Wednesday 11th August 2021, 11:44 AM (BST).

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Decision Review Committee (Wirral Council) 29th July 2021 Car Parking Charges Call In

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Decision Review Committee (Wirral Council) 10th August 2021 Car Parking Charges Call In

At the end of two lengthy public meetings which you can watch above (and you can read a report on the previous adjourned meeting here), a majority of councillors voted to uphold the decision of Wirral Council’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee to go ahead with car parking charges options 1, 3 and 4 (as outlined in this report. The changes were opposed by Conservative and Lib Dem councillors but voted through by Labour and Green councillors, however Lib Dem councillor Chris Carubia voted in favour to consult on charges at new locations and increase charges at existing locations that charge.
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What’s in the nomination papers for the 96 candidates in the 2018 Wirral Council elections?

What’s in the nomination papers for the 96 candidates in the 2018 Wirral Council elections?

What’s in the nomination papers for the 96 candidates in the 2018 Wirral Council elections?

                                    

Holy Cross primary school Bidston polling station Bidston St James 4th May 2017 resized
Holy Cross primary school Bidston polling station Bidston St James 4th May 2017 resized

I’ll declare at the start that myself as author, along with my wife live in Bidston & St James ward and we will both receive a vote in this election. We’re also both accredited election observers for the period of this election.
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What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

What are 6 powers the new Liverpool City Region Mayor will have?

                                    

Mayor Joe Anderson Chair at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017
Mayor Joe Anderson (Chair) at a meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

As there is some interest in what a Metro Mayor (or Liverpool City Region Mayor) will do I thought, despite the fact that everyone registered to vote will have received a booklet (or should shortly receive one) I’d answer some questions.

There are however some errors in the booklet I’d like to point out here. The booklet also omits that the Mayor will end up being paid £77,500 a year (a decision made last Friday by Cllr Phil Davies, Mayor Joe Anderson and others).

In the booklet it states the City Region Mayor “will not be responsible for … setting Council Tax.”

(Another decision made on Friday was to hire a temporary Comms/Engagement person for 3-6 months).

First, I’d better describe the current arrangements. The executive arm of the Combined Authority (Merseytravel) levies each of the district councils (based on population) in addition to money it receives from other sources (such as Mersey Tunnel tolls).

The model on which the Combined Authority will work in future is based on the London model. As it states in this briefing note for MPs “Elected mayors will be able to raise a precept on constituent authorities’ council tax bills”.

I presume (if the Mayor decides to go down this route) it’ll be an extra line on everyone’s council tax bill like the lines for police (decided by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Police and Crime Panel) and fire (decided by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority) at the moment.

So yes, the Combined Authority (although this will almost certainly go up next year) for example this year has a budget of £139.371 million of capital spending and £255.5 million of revenue. (Predictions are of a underspend in the revenue budget at year-end of £81.2 million (I feel obliged to point out that Labour councillors repeatedly state they’re not given enough money)).

The bit where there’s an answer to the question about whether the Liverpool City Region Mayor will made decisions over my local council/ the services they provide? is in my opinion also wrong. I’ve already written a detailed blog post about What are the new powers of the Metro Mayor to decide on planning applications?.

However, for a taste of one of the matters the new Mayor will be doing (chairing Liverpool City Region Combined Authority public meetings) you can watch my video below of the 15 minute meeting (there are about one of these a month).

So that’s 3-4 hours a year of work (probably more if the meetings are longer).

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Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 21st April 2017

Unlike in London, where there are 25 elected London Assembly Members to scrutinise the Mayor this won’t happen in the Liverpool City Region.

There will still be a Scrutiny Committee, but it’ll be made up of councillors nominated by the district councils as before. At the moment there are 14 councillors on that Committee (12 Labour, 1 Lib Dem and 1 Green).

On the opposition front, out of the last three Scrutiny Committee meetings in public, the Lib Dem councillor has sent her apologies for two of them, the Conservative councillor (from Wirral) resigned years ago and no-one else was appointed instead and the sole Green councillor (Liverpool would normally under proportionality rules nominate all Labour councillors but Liverpool decided they wanted at least some opposition) has been to the last three meetings. He’s also the Green Party candidate in the election.

There will be some decisions made solely* by the newly elected Mayor which I will summarise below:

a) matters devolved from the Homes and Communities Agency around land and infrastructure such as housing, regeneration, infrastructure, powers about burial grounds and consecrated land, powers in relation to statutory undertakers,

b) deciding on grants to the local councils in the LCR region,

c) reviewing the local transport plan (at least every five years),

d*) planning applications (of “potential strategic importance”)

*interestingly decisions on these planning applications will also require the consent of the member of the Combined Authority for the area the application for planning permission was made,

e) matters relating to the spatial development strategy and

f) matters to do with Mayoral development areas.

Originally I know the plan had been was for the Combined Authority to combine Merseyside-wide authorities such as the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority to give two examples (similar to old Merseyside County Council).

Even when just talked about, these sorts of proposed changes caused so much resistance from certain existing Labour councillors (who angrily and vocally were against any such changes) that as far as I can tell such plans at the present time were dropped by the negotiating team and the government.

Polling day for over a million people in the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority area (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral) is on 4th May 2017 (although postal voters may receive their ballot paper before this date).

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What did Bernard Halley tell Wirral councillors about a 7,000+ petition against the closure of Girtrell Court?

What did Bernard Halley tell Wirral councillors about a 7,000+ petition against the closure of Girtrell Court?

What did Bernard Halley tell Wirral councillors about a 7,000+ petition against the closure of Girtrell Court?

                                

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Council (Wirral Council) 11th July 2016 Agenda item 4B (Petitions) Petition of over 7,000 requesting Council halt closure of Girtrell Court

Council (Wirral Council) 11th July 2016 Agenda item 4B Petitions Bernard Halley (right) speaks to a petition against the closure of Girtrell Court
Council (Wirral Council) 11th July 2016 Agenda item 4B Petitions Bernard Halley (right) speaks to a petition against the closure of Girtrell Court

As you can hear in the video above, Bernard Halley had five minutes to address Wirral Council’s councillors on the subject of his petition requesting that the closure of Girtrell Court be halted.

“….” refers to parts which are unclear due to his distance from the microphone and background noise. DASS stands for the Department of Adult Social Services.


Benard Halley said, “Thank you Mr. Mayor. I would like to take this opportunity to address the issues in this petition.

The petition that we refer to is on on change.org and it is about the closure of Girtrell Court.

The current statistics which have been very carefully balloted are 4,778 Wirral postcode signatures, 2,211 UK wide signatures and a 101 worldwide signatures, so it’s getting quite a bit of notoriety.

I would say at this stage that I have absolutely no political affiliation whatsoever, so I’m not grinding any of the traditional axes in this room.

In fact, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want, I don’t relish being regarded as a troublemaker, I would much rather support DASS in all their endeavours but this is an issue of principle that has to be followed through.

You are closing a service which whilst not perfect, enjoys the full confidence of parents and carers against their clearly expressed wishes.

Confidence that is held in Girtrell Court is vital when you ask us to entrust our loved ones to a third party.

Your process so far as carers are concerned have been flawed from the start. You decide an end product closure and then work backwards to find a solution that fits.

We find no evidence whatsoever that users called for change. We have objectively polled Girtrell Court users using an open question poll document and their data contradicts the …. . I challenge the Council to make full disclosure of their case to the scrutiny committee for independent evaluation.

Mr Phil Davies has repeatedly used the phrase, “equal or better”. That begs the question who decides what is equal or better? Surely it should be the users of the service?

Well Mr Davies you are a long way from equal to or better at the moment.

You have a potential building and a potential service provider. You do not have a service specification and terms of the contract which is absolutely vital for carers. We want to know that this is not a flash in the pan. There is no comparable staffing ratio data. There is no confirmation that users will have equal to time allocation, there is no information on the range or extent of user activities necessary to equal Girtrell or is this new service going to be just a baby sitting service?

In short you do not have or are far from the complete package which will enable anyone to evaluate equal or better.

Recent correspondence and press releases including emails from your Chief Executive claim that the closure decision has been made in partnership with carers. This is categorically untrue.

None of the carers have agreed to the closure of Girtrell Court.

Carers, including myself have often argued on the comparative virtues of three properties and provider combinations but with the sole motivation of ensuring any alternatives that originated was the best out of the limited choice available.

This was not and is not an agreement or approval for Girtrell Court closure.

The property chosen has some virtues but and this is a big but, the …. is on three floors and even with a lift there are concerns over evacuation capability in the event of a fire.

I am told that one of the principal reasons for closing Maplehome was an identical concern over evacuation capability.

Please do not use this as a Tory versus Labour slanging match which has characterised every debate on Girtrell.

Both propositions have occurred under the remit of DASS, so why is what was unacceptable then suddenly acceptable now?

I come to timescales. We were told at the start that the end of March was unachievable. My position cited the end of September as a possible appropriate date.

Now work on the property is unlikely to be completed by the end of November at best and only then can the Care Quality Commission’s approval be sought. So even with a fair wind, it might be the end of December it seems optimistic.

This ill-managed project has caused worry, distress and concern not only to service users, but to their carers. Many of whom are much older than I, have greater burdens to carry and who do not need Wirral Borough Council subjecting them to 9 months or more of added stress.

We come back to the starting point, you should have and could have used this financial year to plan and a design for a replacement service, while allowing users the confidence that Girtrell will continue seamlessly until an equal to or better than service can be constructed.

Instead, you reverse engineered a flawed solution which does this Council and its officers no credit whatsoever.

The petition has attracted over 7,000 signatures.

If you should ignore this level of public support moreover to do so by muscling your own councillors using a three line whip to stifle those points of view with compassion and conscience is a travesty of democracy for which this Administration should be truly ashamed.

(loud applause and cheers from the public gallery)

The bare minimum for the hard pressed carers should be afforded is consultation on the full package solution as I identified earlier.

If I may read a portion of the petition because it is pertinent, “Our demand is simple, retain the excellent Girtrell Court and its professional caring staff until the Council has researched carer and cared for needs, analysed, researched, costed and fully consulted on the suitability of any replacement offering.”

Solution before dissolution! Thank you for your time.

(loud applause and cheers from the public gallery)”


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What did the Mayor of Wirral put in his letter to councillors asking them to behave better?

What did the Mayor of Wirral put in his letter to councillors asking them to behave better?

What did the Mayor of Wirral put in his letter to councillors asking them to behave better?

                                          

BeeQuiet and Beehave from Stoppit and Tidy Up
BeeQuiet and Beehave from Stoppit and Tidy Up

When I was younger there was a cartoon called Stoppit and Tidy Up (yes I realise I’m showing my age) narrated by the late Terry Wogan.

In it were two characters called BeeQuiet and BeeHave (hence the picture above).

Prior to last night’s Council meeting, a copy of a letter from the Mayor was put on all 66 councillors’ desks, then orders from above meant the copies were gathered back in again, only to be handed out again later.

At the actual meeting itself Labour councillors voted to reduce the scrutiny function at Wirral Council and reduce the number of scrutiny committees from four to three. This was opposed by the Green councillor, Lib Dem councillors and Conservative councillors.

However the letter from the Mayor to councillors is a "BeeQuiet and BeeHave" letter.

There were also speeches from each of the three party leaders about the EU Referendum.

Video of the first part of the Council meeting is included below the letter, I will add the second part once it has uploaded.

letter from Mayor of Wirral Cllr Pat Hackett to councillors on Wirral Council 27th June 2016 Page 1 of 2
letter from Mayor of Wirral Cllr Pat Hackett to councillors on Wirral Council 27th June 2016 Page 1 of 2
letter from Mayor of Wirral Cllr Pat Hackett to councillors on Wirral Council 27th June 2016 Page 2 of 2
letter from Mayor of Wirral Cllr Pat Hackett to councillors on Wirral Council 27th June 2016 Page 2 of 2

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Council (Wirral Council) 27th June 2016 EU Referendum and changes to scrutiny Part 1 of 2

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Council (Wirral Council) 27th June 2016 changes to scrutiny Part 2 of 2

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