Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Shirley Hudspeth
Apologies for Absence
To record any apologies for absence received.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor C Blakeley.
Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest Relevant Authorities (Disposable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012, Including Party Whip Declarations
Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any disclosable pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda no later than when the item is reached.
Members are reminded that they should also declare whether they are subject to a party whip in connection with any item(s) to be considered at this meeting and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the whipping arrangement.
Councillor Anderson declared a personal interest by virtue of being a Director of Overton Community Centre that ran a nursery and by virtue of being a signatory to the called-in decision.
Councillors Berry and Fraser declared a personal interest by virtue of them being signatories to the called-in decision.
It was noted that no Member of the Committee was subject to the Party Whip.
As the Call-in meeting held on 12 November 2014 was adjourned and it was not possible to reconvene it until 12 February 2015, the attached Briefing Note has been provided, at the request of the Chair, as a reminder of the proceedings of the Call-in so far.
The Chair announced that this was now the second time this meeting had been reconvened following the last adjournment on 12 November, 2014 and despite rigorous attempts to find a date when the witnesses and Members were available this was the earliest date that had been possible.
She thanked all those Members in attendance who had to be the same Members as had started hearing the call-in, some of whom had had to re-arrange their diaries.
A briefing note had been circulated with the agenda to act as an aide memoire due to the considerable time which had elapsed since the last meeting.
Councillor Fraser then raised the point that she and her colleagues, Councillors Berry and Blakeley had not received an agenda at all for this meeting, and Councillor Elderton had only received his on Tuesday 9 February. She suggested that the meeting should be postponed until a later date. Other Members confirmed that they had received their papers almost two weeks ago.
The Head of Legal and Member Services outlined the process for the electronic publication of agendas which would normally also generate an email alert. Paper copies of agendas were also provided in the courier delivery on a Friday, the delivery of these agendas was made on 30 January. He could not offer any explanation as to why these agendas were not received, the process that was normally followed had been followed.
Councillor Fraser cited examples of other Committees which had adjourned and suggested that because of such a time gap since the last meeting this Committee should adjourn to enable Members to consider the briefing note which formed part of the agenda. She also suggested that the Head of Legal and Member Services should investigate as to why some members had not received their agendas.
The Chair suggested that the Committee could adjourn for two hours.
Councillor Fraser suggested that it would be unacceptable for members of the public to have to wait two hours for the Committee to reconvene and moved,
“That the Committee adjourn for half an hour”.
Having been seconded by Councillor Sullivan, this motion was put to the vote and agreed unanimously.
Resolved – That the Committee adjourn for half an hour.
A report by the Strategic Director – Transformation and Resources is attached.
The meeting resumed at 6.45pm.
The Chair informed the Committee that one of the witnesses, Lynn Loughran was unable to attend. She then invited Cathlyn Hughes, Head of Leasowe Early Years and Adult Learning and Steve Vasey, Children and Family Services Manager, Wirral Autistic Society to make their opening statements again.
Evidence from Call-in witnesses
Steve Vasey - Children and Family Services Manager, Wirral Autistic Society
Steve Vasey stated that he was representing the Wirral Link Forum and read out a statement. He welcomed the sentiments expressed in the review document and understood the austerity measures imposed by central Government had led to the need for savings. He expressed concern that the review process had not involved the voluntary, community and faith sectors and hoped that the proposed six week consultation process would remedy this. There was a need to focus on those families most in need of help with more outreach work being developed.
Cathlyn Hughes, Head of Leasowe Early Years and Adult Learning
Cathlyn Hughes stated that she understood the need to make budget cuts but that these needed to be made whilst protecting the most vulnerable in the community. There had been a lack of consultation and clarity about the review. There was a need to use models of best practice such as the outstanding leadership at Leasowe. The proposals would decimate the service leaving Moreton bereft of children’s services.
The Committee then asked Cathlyn Hughes and Steve Vasey some questions and their responses included the following comments:
· How the consultation took place was the reason for the call-in.
· A review was needed as to how money was spent but in times of austerity there was a need to hang on to those ‘little gems’ the Authority had rather than ignore them.
· What had taken place leading up to the review was not consultation, but the consultation that was now to take place would only be on a limited number of recommendations from a document that was limited in scope.
· Steve Vasey stated that he was the only person from the community sector involved in any pre-consultation.
· Of the 107 World Café events which took place, there were none explicitly in the Moreton area. Cathlyn Hughes was aware of one such event in Wallasey at which families from across Wallasey were invited but the families were not aware of what they were being asked about.
· She stated that having been at Leasowe for the last three years she had felt very included in the first year but that in the last 14 months or so she had felt totally excluded even though she had expert knowledge herself.
· There was a lack of leadership from the Local Authority.
· The current staffing structure meant that too much of the budget was taken out of the Children’s Centres and there was little evidence that gateway referral provided value for money.
· There was a need to allocate proportional to need with more staff in Birkenhead and Leasowe.
· There needed to be ... view the full minutes text for item 40.