Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest
The members of the Cabinet are invited to consider whether they have a personal or prejudicial interest in connection with any of the items on this agenda and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.
All Cabinet Members who had been appointed as school governors declared a personal interest in Item No. 13 on the agenda – School Redundancy Costs by virtue of their appointments.
Councillor P Davies declared a personal interest in Item Nos. 14 on the agenda – Riverside Housing Association and Wirral Council’s Joint Challenge Fund (Minute No. refers) and 15 – Tender Report – Construction of 3G Synthetic Football Pitch at Woodchurch High School (Minute No. refers) by virtue of him being a Governor of both Woodlands Primary and Woodchurch High Schools.
Councillor B Kenny declared a personal interest in Item No. 14 on the agenda – Update Children and Young Peoples Department Capital Programme 2011/12 and Proposed Asset Disposal (Minute No. refers) by virtue of him being the Chairman of the Governors at Mersey Park Primary School
Councillor A McLachlan declared a personal interest in Item No. 9 on the agenda – Riverside Housing Association and Wirral Council’s Joint Challenge Fund (Minute No. refers) by virtue of her being a Board Member of the Beechwood and Ballantyne Community Housing Association.
Councillor C Meaden declared a personal interest in Item No. 14 on the agenda – Update Children and Young Peoples Department Capital Programme 2011/12 and Proposed Asset Disposal (Minute No. refers) by virtue of her being a Governor of Bedford Drive School.
Councillor H Smith declared a personal interest in Item No. 14 on the agenda – Update Children and Young Peoples Department Capital Programme 2011/12 and Proposed Asset Disposal (Minute No. refers) by virtue of him being an Local Authority Governor of Portland Primary School.
The minutes of the last meeting have been printed and published. Any matters called in will be reported at the meeting.
RECOMMENDATION: That the minutes be approved and adopted.
That the Minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 13 October 2011 be confirmed as a correct record.
The Cabinet is requested to reconsider its decision in relation to the Parks and Countryside Services Procurement Exercise (PACSPE), in the light of the outcome of the call-in of minute 117 (22 September 2011), considered by the Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 20 October 2011.
The draft minutes of the Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee are attached for Members consideration.
The Cabinet received the draft Minutes of the call-in meeting of Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 20 October 2011 and noted its recommendations as follows:
That this Committee notes the following:
· the Cabinet appeared to ignore, and did not even mention, the findings of the Office of Government Commerce Gateway Reviews that the Parks & Countryside Services Procurement Exercise (PACSPE) had been subjected to;
· no attempt was made to publically question officers from the Finance Department, the Legal Department and the Procurement Unit who were members of the PACSPE Project Board as to whether the ‘risk’ identified by District Audit, and made so much play of in the Cabinet resolution could or had been satisfactorily mitigated;
· no discussion was had by Cabinet Members of the risks of not awarding the contract.
· no mention or discussion took place regarding stakeholder management or the views of key stakeholders about the benefits of clear quality improvements that were built into the procurement exercise. In fact, other than the views of the Council Trades Unions, the results of consultation and the views of park users and user groups were not even mentioned by a single Cabinet Member at the meeting;
· no reference was made to the new post of Community Engagement Manager to work with Friends, stakeholders, user groups and local Area Forums or the new key performance indicators developed through PACSPE to reflect the change to a more customer and community focused service;
· insufficient account appeared to be taken of the reduction from costs of £8.1 million per year to £7.4 million per year already achieved by the PACSPE process with the potential to reduce costs by a further very large sum. Indeed, it is hard to understand how the Leader of the Council characterised the potential savings as marginal;
· no effort appeared to be made by Cabinet Members to discuss or evaluate the additional costs to Council Tax payers of purchasing what has been accepted as worn out equipment requiring immediate replacement at a very significant cost or the TUPE costs of bringing current contractor staff into the Council workforce and pension scheme, per annum, or over the 10 year period;
· no mention was made of the training and development programme for staff and volunteers or the three to six new apprentices to be created as part of PACSPE;
· no explanation was given at Cabinet regarding the opposition to a 10 year contract that would reduce annual costs by a significant amount]and improve the quality of our parks and countryside, other than the expressed need contained in the resolution to reduce spending by £85 million over three years;
· therefore we believe that the decision to refuse to award the PACSPE contract would see the ever decreasing quality of a service starved of investment by this administration which is already characterised by going for the quick fix instead of making the difficult but necessary strategic decisions in the interests of Wirral residents; and
· this Committee therefore, recommends that the PACSPE ... view the full minutes text for item 173.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance presented the projected budgets for 2012-15 following the agreement of the budget for 2011-12 at the Council meeting on 1 March 2011.
The report set out the background, assumptions that underpinned the projections, detail on grant negotiations, other legislative issues, balances, agreed savings and relevant risks. The Council’s Budget Projections from 2012 to 2015 were set out in an appendix to the report.
The Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance reported that the projections represented his assumptions of the most likely outcome from a wide range of available options.
On a Motion proposed by Councillor S Foulkes, seconded by Councillor P Davies and carried unanimously, it was
(1) the budget projections be regularly reviewed;
(2) the Cabinet notes, with dismay, that the projected budget gap is likely to rise by 2014/15 to nearly £47m as a result of likely changes in the Local Government Resource Review and the implications of new legislation;
(3) the Cabinet recognises that these are projections based on what is known or anticipated at the moment on a pro rata basis between authorities, and could perhaps be even worse than anticipated when the direct impact on Wirral is calculated; and
(4) the Cabinet expresses its grave concern that potential cuts at this level will be extremely damaging to Wirral’s services and to the people of Wirral at a time when the country’s economy is facing a slide into depression and poorer areas will once more be those which are hit the hardest.
The Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance reported that a decision was required on the provision for inflation to be included in the budget for 2012-13.
The Government had indicated that the provision being made for public service pay awards for 2012-13 would be £250 per annum for those employees earning less than £21,000 per annum and nothing for those employees earning above £21,000. The estimated cost to the Council of this provision was £1m.
The Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance set out the options which could be considered for price inflation:
(a) Zero – Following reductions in Government grants the financial position of the Authority is such that any provision for inflation will only result in additional reductions in service provision and employment. Chief Officers would be required to contain expenditure within the existing budget. For the reasons stated, this was the recommendation for 2012-13.
(b) Government long term inflation assumption of 2% - This was the assumption used to date in the budget projections and would cost £4.2m.
(c) Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 5.2% - This would cost £10.9m.
(d) Retail Price Index (RPI) of 5.6% - This would cost £11.8m.
The Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance reported that income from fees and charges had traditionally been increased by 3% per annum, except where the Cabinet had agreed a variation. This increase equated to £1m.
There were a number of current issues in relation to income from fees and charges:
(a) Following issues raised in the Social Services Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) report relating to the agreement and application of fees and charges, Internal Audit is reviewing all fees and charges.
(b) A review of fees and charges income is being undertaken across Merseyside.
(c) A number of income budgets are proving difficult to sustain in the current economic climate.
Therefore, the Cabinet was recommended to agree to a full review of fees and charges being undertaken in 2012, to take account of the outcome of the reviews outlined above.
On a Motion proposed by Councillor S Foulkes, seconded by Councillor P Davies and carried unanimously, it was
(1) provision be made for pay awards in line with the Government recommendation;
(2) no provision be made for price inflation;
(3) income budgets be increased by 3%;
(4) a full review of all fees and charges be undertaken in 2012; and
(5) the Cabinet asks Chief Officers to contain any price inflation costs within their existing budgets, as it notes that the long term Government assumption of inflation costs is set at 2% which is the amount contained within the projected budget, and that this will equate to a savings of £4.2m at a time when the Council is facing serious financial pressures.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance presented a review of Treasury Management activities during the second quarter of 2011/12 and confirmed compliance with treasury limits and prudential indicators. The report had been prepared in accordance with the revised CIPFA Treasury Management Code and the revised Prudential Code.
(1) the Treasury Management Performance Monitoring Report be noted; and
(2) the Treasury Management Strategy be revised to allow the continued use of the Natwest Bank, for short term liquidity requirements (overnight and weekends) and business continuity arrangements, despite it no longer meeting the Council’s minimum credit criteria.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance set out performance of the Council’s Corporate Plan 2011-14 for July to September 2011, and provided members with an overview of performance, resource and risk monitoring.
The report also provided requested amendments to Corporate Plan projects and indicators for Cabinet approval.
The Deputy Director of Finance, David Taylor-Smith was in attendance at the meeting and made a presentation on Performance against the Corporate Plan. He provided a corporate overview and covered in great detail sickness absence and customer feedback.
Councillor Steve Foulkes informed that he had found the format of the presentation quite refreshing and easy to understand. It was a reasonable shot at how the Council was operating He had been informed that this was the work of Carol Sharatt, Office Manager, Corporate Planning Engagement and Communication Performance Management. He also congratulated Mr Smith on the delivery of the presentation.
(1) the Cabinet note the contents of this report and and the presentation and requested that appropriate action be taken to address the issues raised;
(2) the Cabinet approve the changes to the timescales for delivering the Corporate Plan projects and indicators identified within this report; and
(3) a note be sent to Ms Sharratt, on behalf of the Cabinet, thanking her for her work on the presentation which had been much appreciated.
A report by the Director of Finance sought the authority of the Cabinet to amend the agreement reached with PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who were undertaking a review of major contracts to support the delivery of savings.
That Cabinet agrees to amend the terms of the agreement reached with PwC so that they are rewarded for their work on the basis of a fixed fee element of £50,000 (by way of credits to be written off) and a 15% contingent fee (also by way of credits to be written off) based on the savings they identify, and subject to the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management being satisfied with the detailed contractual terms.
A report by the Acting Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning informed the Cabinet that in 2005 the Council had agreed to the sale of sites within the Beechwood and Woodchurch estates to Riverside Housing Association (now known as Riverside) and to Lowry Properties Ltd for housing development. As part of the development agreement Lowry Properties agreed to pay overage on the sale of each property on these sites into a Challenge Fund account, to be set up in the joint names of Riverside Housing Association and Wirral Council.
The Agreement stated that the Challenge Fund resources should be administered by Riverside Housing Association (now known as Riverside) in accordance with its rules, and in consultation with the Council, and should be used for the benefit of the residents of the Beechwood and Woodchurch estates. In November 2010 payments were received into the Challenge Fund and mechanisms now needed to be agreed to enable the Fund’s resources of £250,000 to be distributed. Appended to the report were draft terms of reference for the Challenge Fund Working Group.
Assets, liability and obligations of the Riverside Housing Association Ltd, being party to the original agreement, were transferred to Riverside Group Limited (Riverside) (Company Number 4091048).
RESOLVED: That the Cabinet agrees
(1) to the setting up of a Joint Working Group with Riverside to oversee the distribution of the Challenge Fund in accordance with the requirements of the Legal Agreement dated 19th May 2005;
(2) that the Council’s membership of this Joint Working Group should comprise the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety; the Acting Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning, or deputy; and the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management; or deputy;
(3) the draft terms of reference for the Working Group, including that the Council representatives on the Challenge Fund working group be the Council authorised signatories for the release of money from the Fund;
(4) the draft eligibility criteria for the use of the Challenge Fund;
(5) to the request from Riverside for council officers to work in partnership with the Association to administer the Fund and that the £5,000 that could support this function is not drawn down, but left in the Fund for the benefit of the communities of Beechwood and Woodchurch; and
(6) that officers should work with the Beechwood and Ballantyne Neighbourhood Management programme, the Beechwood Community Association and the Woodchurch Partnership to identify proposals for the use of the Fund.
A report by the Acting Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning sought the Cabinet’s approval to an amendment of the Council’s 2011/12 Private Sector Housing and Regeneration Assistance Policy (referred to as “the Assistance Policy”). The Policy had been agreed by the Cabinet on 13 October 2011. (Minute No. 164 refers) This Assistance Policy was provided using statutory powers. The approved amendment would be implemented with immediate effect.
The amendment was to the grant award conditions of the Cosy Homes Insulation Programme (section 5.3 of the Assistance Policy). The change would allow the Council to meet the cost of customer financial contributions in situations where the maximum loft or wall area under the current Conditions was exceeded which would enable more effective marketing of the Programme.
That the Cabinet agrees to amend the Private Sector Housing and Regeneration Assistance Policy in order that Cosy Homes Insulation grants can be offered free-of-charge to all technically suitable owner occupied and private rented households and that it is implemented with immediate effect.
A report by the Acting Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning advised Members of the outcome of the recent tendering exercise and evaluation process carried out in respect of commissioning a review of Homelessness Services in Wirral, which the Cabinet had approved on 23rd June 2011 (Minute No. 46 refers) and sought Members’ approval to appoint GLHS Ltd to carry out this review on behalf of Wirral Council.
The review was required to meet the Council’s statutory duties under the Homelessness Act 2002, which included developing and publishing a new Homeless Strategy informed by a comprehensive review of all forms of homelessness in the Wirral area, assist in meeting one of the Council’s Corporate Priorities to significantly ‘prevent and alleviate homelessness’ and assist in meeting key targets in the Housing Strategic Plan (approved by the Cabinet on 23 June 2011 (Minute No. 45 refers)), to commission a complete review of homeless services and provision in Wirral and developing and implementing a new Homeless Strategy.
The report contained an Exempt Appendix which provided details of all tenders and their respective price submissions and evaluation scores achieved against the tender scoring matrix. The inclusion of the names of the contractors, save for the successful contractor, was considered commercially sensitive and therefore considered exempt information under Part 1, Paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended). (Minute No. 189 refers)
RESOLVED: That the Cabinet
(1) notes the outcome of the recent tendering exercise and evaluation process carried out in respect of commissioning a consultant to assist the Council undertake a review of Homeless services in Wirral;
(2) approves the appointment of GLHS Ltd to assist the Council carry out the requisite homeless services review, required in connection with developing and implementing a new Homeless Strategy; and
(3) agrees to the Acting Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning, in consultation with the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management (or officers duly authorised by them) to complete any legal documents necessary to give effect to paragraph 2.1 (b) above.
A report by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance detailed changes at the four One Stop Shops sited within Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offices on Wirral. These sites would now see visitors on an appointment basis only which fell into line with the DWP methodology of seeing customers at these sites.
Councillor Jean Stapleton, Cabinet Member for Community and Customer Engagement informed that initially she had been concerned about these changes but now considered that, in the longer term, it may be a better use of resources but it would need to be monitored.
On a Motion moved by Councillor Stapleton and seconded by Councillor Foulkes and agreed unanimously it was
(1) Members note the change to service delivery at these four sites;
(2) the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance be requested to report back on the long term proposals for each site as part of the programme of Library and One Stop Shop co-location; and
(3) in the meantime, the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance be requested to actively monitor the change in service, particularly on the Liscard site, because of the high volume of customers affected and report back to the Cabinet
A report by the Acting Director of Children’s Services summarised the current position regarding school redundancy costs and the reasons for an increased budget pressure. The report recommended that schools contributed 25% of the costs of redundancies from their delegated budget from April 2012 and that a new school redeployment policy be implemented.
The Acting Director, at the Cabinet’s request, also outlined the position in respect of staff redundancy costs at Academies.
RESOLVED: That the Cabinet
(1) agrees that any school affected by redundancy from 1 April 2012 be charged a contributing sum amounting to 25% of the total redundancy costs incurred (from 1 April 2012) in respect of that school; and
(2) subject to consultation with the professional associations and trade unions, authorises the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management to implement a revised voluntary school redeployment policy as soon as practicably possible.
A report by the Acting Director of Children’s Services served to update the Cabinet on the CYPD capital programme for 2011/12 and identified projects for approval from previously unallocated funding. The report also detailed CYPD properties which were no longer in operational use and set out proposals for their disposal.
Councillor Anne McLachlan, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services & Lifelong Learning raised concerns about the unforeseen work to be carried out at Academies and the impact of this on the Council. The Acting Director reported on the situation at Birkenhead Girls where the scheme of works was problematic and informed that he was currently in discussion with the contractors and the School. It was hoped that savings could be made with the scheme that still had 14 months to run. There were challenges ahead but he would monitor the situation carefully and report back to the Cabinet if it was necessary.
(1) the additional schemes within the capital programme for 2011/12 be approved and that allocations to previously approved schemes be amended as set out in the report;
(2) individual schemes be the subject of scheme and estimate reports, where applicable; and
(3) the disposal of properties be progressed as outlined in the report.
A report by the Acting Director of Children’s Services advised the Cabinet of the outcome of the tender process for the project to construct a synthetic football pitch and changing facilities at Woodchurch High School. The report sought ratification from Members of the acceptance of the reduced scheme and accepted the lowest tender submitted on a bill of adjustments by Blakedown Sports & Play. The report also sought approval for this scheme to be available for school use after the school’s transfer to Academy status as per a lease agreement between the Academy and the Council, with the pitch remaining in the ownership of the Council.
(1) the lowest tender submitted by Blakedown Sports & Play, to construct the pitch as detailed in the report, be accepted in the sum of £504,757.00;
(2) the 3G pitch upon completion remains in Local Authority ownership and be operated by the school as per a lease agreement following the schools’ transfer to Academy Status. The proposed terms of the lease agreement are as follows: 20 year lease at a peppercorn rent with the school/Academy taking responsibility for all overheads i.e. repairs, maintenance, utilities, supplies, insurance, costs and maintenance of equipment;
(3) Director of Law, HR and Asset Management be authorised to execute an appropriate construction contract with Blakedown Sports & Play in due course, subject to them developing a satisfactory Health & Safety Plan; and
(4) the approved scheme be the reduced scheme as set out at paragraph 4.6 of the report, to build the pitch only, funded by CYPD and delegated school funding.
A report by the Director of Technical Services informed the Cabinet of the successful applications for grant funding to undertake property-level flood resilience works following an extreme storm event in August 2011 and land drainage culvert investigations.
Councillor Harry Smith, Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Transport Services congratulated the Officers on their work which had benefited twenty houses.
That the contents of the report be noted and the acceptance of the Environment Agency (EA) grants be approved.
Exempt Information - Exclusion of the Press and Public
The following items contain exempt information.
RECOMMENDATION: That, under section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by the relevant paragraphs of Part I of Schedule 12A (as amended) to that Act. The Public Interest test has been applied and favours exclusion.
That, under section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by the relevant paragraphs of Part I of Schedule 12A (as amended) to that Act. The Public Interest test has been applied and favours exclusion.
Application for Financial Assistance
This report is exempt under paragraph 3 as it contains commercially sensitive information
That the recommendations set out in the report be agreed.
· Appendix to agenda item 11
Appointment of Consultant – Review of Homeless Service in Wirral
Exempt by virtue of paragraph 3 as it contains commercially sensitive information
The Cabinet noted the detail of the exempt appendix that set out tender evaluations in respect of the 15 consultants who had tendered for the contract for Homeless Services in Wirral. (Minute No. 181 refers).