Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Council are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest, in connection with any matter to be debated or determined at this meeting and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.
The Members of the Council were invited to consider whether they had any disclosable pecuniary and/or any other relevant interests in connection with any matters to be determined at this meeting and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of such interest.
Councillor L Rennie declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 7 ‘Leader’s, Executive Members and Chairs’ Reports’ in respect of the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Housing and Engagement’s report by virtue of her membership of the Merseyside Fire Support Network.
Responding to questions from some Members, the Head of Legal and Member Services advised Members that with regard to the matter within the budget options minute on Council Tax discount for the over 70s this was not a disclosable pecuniary interest and they could vote on this matter.
To receive the Mayor's announcements and any apologies for absence.
The Mayor referred to the sad news of the recent death of Peter Alexander Wilson, JP, former Conservative Councillor for Heswall Ward 1978-86.
The Council stood in silence, as a mark of respect.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Ian Lewis.
The Mayor announced that Christopher Johnston, HM Coroner for Wirral, would be officially retiring on 31 December, 2013 and expressed his thanks on behalf of the Council for his 25 years of service to the Wirral.
The Mayor read out a letter of thanks he had received from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China following his recent visit to Wirral.
To receive petitions submitted in accordance with Standing Order 21.
In accordance with Standing Order 21, the Mayor received petitions submitted by –
Councillor Chris Meaden on behalf of 2000 signatories from the Birkenhead and Wirral Ladies Bowling League regarding the maintenance of bowling greens.
Councillor Moira McLaughlin on behalf of 38 signatories from residents of Alexandra Drive, Rock Ferry, requesting a resident in their road brings their property up to the required standard.
Councillor Stuart Whittingham on behalf of 410 signatories on the Woodchurch Estate requesting various improvements to the road network on the Woodchurch Estate.
Councillor Mike Sullivan on behalf of 30 signatories objecting to the proposed construction of houses on land to the rear of 1 – 4 Mill Road, Thingwall.
Councillor Alan Brighouse, one on behalf of 124 signatories objecting to the transfer of the cost of school crossing patrols to schools and another on behalf of 139 signatories objecting to the cutting of street lighting in Woodchurch Road.
Councillor Mike Hornby on behalf of 68 signatories from Dawpool School objecting to the transfer of the cost of school crossing patrols to schools.
Resolved – That the petitions be noted and referred to the appropriate Chief Officer in accordance with Standing Order 34.
To deal with questions from members of the public, in accordance with Appendix 1 to Standing Orders.
No questions had been received from members of the public.
To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meetings of the Council held on 14 October, 12 November and 2 December, 2013.
The minutes of the Council meetings held on 14 October, 12 November and 2 December, 2013 had been circulated to Members and, it was –
Resolved – That the minutes be approved and adopted as a correct record.
To consider any recommendations of the Leader, Cabinet, Cabinet Member and Committees which require the approval of the Council. The relevant minutes or reports are attached or will be circulated; copies of the related reports can be provided for Council members on request.
A. Cabinet – 10 December, 2013
Minute on Budget Options
Minute on Council Tax Base
(These minutes will be provided in a supplement to the Council summons)
B. Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel on Members’ Allowances [Attached to the original Council Summons]
The Council is required to consider the recommendations of the Panel.
C. Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee – 26 November, 2013 [Attached to the original Council Summons]
Minute on Revisions to the Council’s Constitution and schedule 2 relating to these proposed revisions are attached.
In accordance with Standing Order 5(2), four matters were submitted for approval by the Council (see minutes 56 to 59 post).
Prior to consideration of these matters Councillor Blakeley raised the matter of an email which had been sent to all Councillors from the Head of Legal and Member Services regarding the requirements of Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as this notice was only usually sent prior to Budget Council.
In response the Head of Legal and Member Services stated that Section 106 did have a wider application other than at Budget Council and it was appropriate at this time for Members to have been advised of its requirements.
Councillor Gilchrist asked that further information on the matter be provided in writing and suggested that Members should contact the Local Government Association to see what they were advising.
The Leader of the Council then suggested that to enable consideration of the recently circulated Conservative amendments, the meeting should be adjourned for 15 minutes.
The Mayor adjourned the meeting at 6.30pm for 15 minutes
The meeting resumed at 6.45pm
The first matter requiring approval related to budget options following feedback on the budget consultation and the recommendations from minute 115, Cabinet of 10 December, 2013.
It was moved by Councillor Phil Davies and seconded by Councillor Ann McLachlan –
That the recommendations contained within Cabinet minute 115 of 10 December, 2013 be approved.
It was moved as an amendment by Councillor Gilchrist and seconded by Councillor Brighouse, that –
“Add to end of paragraph 1 with the following exceptions -
“Council believes that:
a) The cost of living remains a key factor for Wirral’s people and that the Council tax remains a substantial sum for them.
b) Freezing the Council Tax for the financial year 2014/15 needs more detailed consideration once the ‘settlement’ grant levels and value of the Government’s offer of freeze grant are known. It would be unreasonable to turn the grant down yet again if it can be taken.
Council believes that the following proposals should be abandoned:
1. The suggested saving in Street Lighting (£85k) is not acceptable since the opportunity to invest in more efficient lighting and control systems has not yet been seized.
2. It is unreasonable to shift the cost of School Crossing Patrols (£415k) to the schools own budgets which are there for education, not for the Council to take.
Council recognises the assurances given to the Policy and Performance Committees about the ability to achieve the savings. However, in the case of the Children’s Centres, wishes further detailed information to be given on the programme of services so that Members can be clear that the continuing needs are met.
Council endorses the desire for fair funding expressed in Clause 3. However, Council believes that Wirral’s case is not strengthened by comparisons with North Dorset, a small district Council with a budget of around £8m, where spending on all services is less than the financial support given to Wirral’s sport and leisure centres.
Council asks Cabinet when drawing up the capital programme for 2014/15 for consideration in February to ensure resources are made available to invest in:
Delete paragraph 2(b)(ii) and insert:
2(b)(ii) The final payment using the statutory calculation (at a capped salary level) will be multiplied by 1.2 to a maximum of 36 weeks. Council recognises that the effects of this will need to be properly taken into account in the preparation of future budgets.”
Before the amendment was debated, Councillor Green suggested that Standing Order 12 (10) be suspended in order that two amendments could be debated together with a vote on each at the end of the two debates.
Resolved – That Standing Order 12 (10) be suspended for the duration of this item. ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
COUNCIL TAX BASE INFORMATION
The second matter requiring approval related to the Council Tax Base and the recommendations of minute 117 of Cabinet, 10 December, 2013.
It was moved by Councillor Phil Davies and seconded by Councillor Ann McLachlan –
That the recommendations contained within Cabinet minute 117 of 10 December, 2013 be approved.
It was moved as an amendment by Councillor Green and seconded by Councillor Rennie, that –
“Delete paragraph 4 of part (2) of the recommendation and replace with:
That the current Pensioner Household discount be maintained at 7.76% for those households where all residents are aged 70 or over.”
The amendment was put and lost (21:42) (One abstention).
The motion was put and carried (42:21) (One abstention).
Resolved (42:21) (One abstention) - That the recommendations contained within Cabinet minute 117 of 10 December, 2013 be approved.
REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL ON MEMBERS' ALLOWANCES
The third matter requiring approval related to the report of the Independent Panel on Members’ Allowances and its recommendations from its meeting on 7 October, 2013.
On a motion by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor Ann McLachlan, it was –
Resolved (unanimously) - That the recommendations contained within the Independent Panel on Members’ Allowances report from its meeting on 7 October, 2013, be approved.
REVISIONS TO THE COUNCIL'S CONSTITUTION
The fourth matter requiring approval related to revisions to the Council’s Constitution and part two (Schedule 2) of the recommendations of minute 8 of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee of 26 November, 2013.
The Leader of the Council stated that he was mindful of the concerns expressed in amendments which had been circulated by both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Groups and he was happy for these matters to be looked at again. A draft questionnaire was currently being prepared to survey all Members and it was likely that a special meeting of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee would need to meet in the New Year to approve the contents of the survey before it was circulated to all Members.
On amendments moved by Councillors Gilchrist and Fraser, seconded respectively by Councillors Harney and Blakeley, it was –
Resolved (unanimously) –
Council considers that it is not in a position to accept the amendments suggested in Schedule 2.
The schedule of items set out on pages 45-49 of the Summons fails to clarify the concerns raised at the meeting of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee held on 26 November.
Given the confusion and conflicting opinions expressed and evident at that meeting, Council believes that the matter be deferred. In order to restore confidence in the process, all Members should have full opportunity to see and consider the changes set out more clearly. There has to be ample time for further study and potential agreement.
To aid this consideration, the various issues shall be set out on these suggested lines:
(i) The original wording, with the full paragraph;
(ii) The wording that is the subject of suggested change;
(iii) The revised wording in context;
(iv) A reasoned argument setting out the background and comment explaining the proposed change.
Individual Members should be invited to comment by a date to be agreed so that their views on the issues can be considered at the next meeting of the Committee on 5February 2014.
That the date for consulting with Members on potential changes to the Constitution as indicated in the report from the Cabinet Member for Governance is moved from 18 December 2013 to 7 January 2014 to commence 13 January 2014 and end 24 January 2014 to give Members more time to input any suggestions in revising the Constitution.
To receive the written reports of the Leader, Cabinet Members and Chairs of the Policy and Performance Committees and receive questions and answers on any of those reports in accordance with Standing Orders 10(2)(a) and 11.
The Leader of the Council presented his summary report upon matters relevant to his portfolio. He responded to questions from Councillor Green, Glasman, Stapleton, Johnston and Blakeley and made a number of comments including –
· He would need to take legal advice on the matter raised by Councillor Green as he was not in a position to comment on unsubstantiated rumours and he would write to Councillor Green with a response.
(Subsequent to the meeting the Leader had responded to this question in writing, this response had been circulated to all Members and was appended to these minutes).
· The Leader joined in congratulating staff of the Merseyside Pension Fund for their Local Government Chronicle Best Environmentally Sustainable Investment Award. It was the latest in a long line of awards won by the MPF. He thanked Councillor Glasman for the excellent way in which she was steering the Pensions Committee.
· He concurred that the SIGOMA figures were shocking and did illustrate the disparity in the effect of cuts in different parts of the country. He quoted the instance of Birmingham City Council having to save £840m between 2010 and 2018.
· He stated that the scrutiny review, which reported in April, 2013 had made 18 recommendations in respect of welfare reforms. The Cabinet had received the report in June and agreed with the recommendations. The Scrutiny Committee had asked for a further report and this would be provided in Spring 2014. He praised Councillors Gilchrist and Lewis for their work on how to assist those affected by the “bedroom tax” and a further meeting would be taking place later in the week at which it was hoped to agree an action plan. It was important that scrutiny recommendations were tracked and to make sure that the Council did not lose sight of the recommendations in the review.
· He commented that it was good practice in local government to lend to other Councils, at preferential interest rates and that Wirral was not alone in doing this. Wirral had made money from these arrangements and had been complimented in the Municipal Journal.
Resolved – That the report of Councillor Phil Davies be noted.
Questions were then invited for Councillor Chris Jones on her report. No questions were posed, and it was then –
Resolved – That the report of Councillor Chris Jones be noted.
Questions were then invited for Councillor Adrian Jones on his report and he responded to questions from Councillors Brightmore, Leech, Williamson and Norbury. A question from Councillor Watts was ruled out of order by the Mayor as it did not relate to the contents of Councillor Jones’ report. His responses included the following comments:
· He referred to item 4 of his summary report, ‘Human Resources and Organisational Development Update’ and asked that the Council note a correction in that, ‘The Council…. reducing its workforce by nearly 25% in the past year’, should read, ‘…. by nearly 25% in the past three years’.
· He stated that, in 2010, Labour had voted ... view the full minutes text for item 60.
The following matters, determined by the Cabinet, are drawn to the Council’s attention in accordance with the Constitution (copies of the related reports can be provided for Council members on request).
A. Cabinet – 10 October, 2013
Minute 67 – Financial Monitoring 2013/14 (Month 4)
Minute 68 – Financial Monitoring 2013/14 (Month 5)
B. Cabinet – 7 November, 2013
Minute 85 – Financial Monitoring 2013/14 (Month 6)
On a motion by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor McLachlan, it was –
Resolved – That minutes 67 and 68 (Cabinet – 10 October 2013) – Financial Monitoring 2013/2014, and minute 85 (Cabinet – 7 November 2013) – Financial Monitoring 2013/2014 be noted.
To consider Members’ general questions to the Mayor, Cabinet Member or Committee Chair in accordance with Standing Orders 10 (2)(b) and 11.
In accordance with Standing Order 10 (2)(b), notice had been given of a question from Councillor Stuart Kelly to the Leader of the Council in respect of Collective Energy Switching.
Councillor Phil Davies responded accordingly.
MATTERS REFERRED FROM POLICY AND PERFORMANCE COMMITTEES
To consider and determine any references from the Policy and Performance Committees.
No matters had been referred from Policy and Performance Committees.
Notices of motion submitted in accordance with Standing Order 7(1), are attached. They are listed in the order received, and the full text of each motion is attached. The Mayor, having considered each motion, in accordance with Standing Order 7(4) has decided that they will be dealt with as follows:
(i). Wirral Council Improvement Board (To be debated)
(ii). Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control (Mayor to refer to the Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee)
(iii). Wirral Labour’s Cost Of Living Rises (To be debated)
Notices of Motion submitted in accordance with Standing Order 7(1) were reported to the Council. The Mayor, having considered each Motion, in accordance with Standing Order 7(4) had decided that the Motions would be dealt with as follows –
(i) Wirral Council Improvement Board - to be debated
(ii) Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control – to be referred to the Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee
(iii) Wirral Labour’s Cost Of Living Rises - to be debated
Resolved – That the Notice of Motion, ‘Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control, be referred to the Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee.
MOTION - WIRRAL COUNCIL IMPROVEMENT BOARD
Proposed by Councillor Ann McLachlan
Seconded by Councillor Phil Davies
(1) Council welcomes the decision by the Improvement Board at its meeting held on 29th November, that Wirral has now reached a position where we can manage our own improvement process.
(2) We are proud of what has been the quickest improvement of any Council in the country. However we recognise that there is still a great deal left to do and we are not complacent.
(3) We remain committed to working with all Councillors, staff, partners and residents to continue our Improvement Journey towards becoming the outstanding Council we aspire to be.
(4) Council would want to thank all employees of the Authority who have contributed to the enormous amount of work involved in addressing the priority areas set by the Board and who are now diligently working to continue our progress towards a transformed Authority. Further, that all elected Members will continue to be fully engaged via the Policy and Performance Committees and future Visioning events.
(5) Council would like to record our thanks to Joyce Redfearn, Chair of the Improvement Board and other Members of the Board for the hard work, commitment and support that they have provided over the past twenty months.
An amendment which had been circulated in advance of the meeting was submitted in accordance with Standing Order 12(1) and (9), as follows:
Proposed by Councillor Phil Gilchrist
Seconded by Councillor Pat Williams
“Delete paragraph (2) and replace with:
We note the improvements that have been achieved. However, we recognise that there is still a great deal left to do and we are not complacent. The Improvement Board remained of the view that ‘there is still significant risk going forward’ (para 198) and that their Chair was clear that the Council…must now maintain this momentum and focus on making continued improvements.”.
In particular, paragraph 166 of the Report stated that “embedding the culture is vitally important” and that the Board felt “There is still a residual sense that some members are unwilling to embrace change.”
Delete from paragraph 4:
‘Further, that all elected Members will continue to be fully engaged via the Policy and Performance Committees and future Visioning events.’
Insert new paragraph (5):
It is important that Members, regardless of their status, experience or party, are enabled to influence decisions and develop policy in a way that works to the benefit of the people of Wirral. This must include timely access to information, the distribution of supporting papers in good time and structures that ensure sufficient opportunity for discussion and debate.
Renumber original para (5) as para (6).”
It was then agreed that Standing Order 9 be suspended and only the movers and seconders of the first motion be invited to speak prior to the remaining business being disposed of by being formally moved and seconded and put to the vote.
The Mayor then requested the movers of the motion and amendment to speak to their proposals ... view the full minutes text for item 65.
MOTION - WIRRAL LABOUR'S COST OF LIVING RISES
Proposed by Councillor Jeff Green
Seconded by Councillor Adam Sykes
Council notes that this Labour administration has presided over a series of astronomical cost of living increases including:
1. the raising of Council Tax and the rejection of £1.3 million of Government money to freeze Council Tax;
2. a 900% increase in charges for car parking in parts of the Borough with the standardisation of hourly tariffs and the abolition of the Free after 3pm scheme;
3. the introduction of a Brown Bin Tax;
4. an inflation busting 33% increase in the charge of the ERIC service
Council further notes that in total these Labour approved, locally determined measures have resulted in a whacking 624% increase in the cost of living for Wirral residents since 2011-2012.
Council is therefore shocked that Wirral’s Labour Councillors will again be rejecting Government money to freeze Council Tax in 2014 -2015.
Council calls on Labour Councillors to accept responsibility for their decisions, change direction and put the reduction of the cost of living for hard pressed Wirral residents at the centre of their plans.
Having applied the guillotine in accordance with Standing Order 9 the Council did not debate this matter.
The motion was put and lost (21:37) (One abstention).
To receive nominations, in accordance with Standing Order 25(6), in respect of any proposed changes in the membership of the Cabinet and committees, and to approve nominations for appointments to outside organisations.
Resolved – That the appointment of Mr Damian Cunningham as the Roman Catholic Diocesan representative (as from 1 January, 2014) on the Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee, be noted.