Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Contact: Patrick Sebastian 0151 691 8424
Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest/Party Whip
Members are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
Members are reminded that they should also declare, pursuant to paragraph 18 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, whether they are subject to a party whip in connection with any item(s) to be considered and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the whipping arrangement.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor M. Daniel.
Members were asked to consider whether they had any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or any other relevant interest in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
Members were reminded that they should also declare, pursuant to paragraph 18 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, whether they were subject to a party whip in connection with any item(s) to be considered and, if so, to declare it and state the nature of the whipping arrangement.
During the course of debate under Agenda Item 3 – Merseytravel, a number of Councillors questioned the Council solicitor regarding the requirement to declare any interest, they being in possession of a concessionary bus pass. It was noted that holding of such a pass was a personal interest, and would not debar Members from taking part in the discussion.
To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2015.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2015 be approved.
Order of Business
The Chair informed the Committee that he would take the Notice of Motion on the Proposal for a Fire Station on Green Belt Land in Saughall Massie as the next item of business, in view of the presence of members of the public specifically for this item.
At the meeting of the Council held on 6 July 2015 (minute 31 refers), the attached Notice of Motion proposed by Councillor Chris Blakeley and seconded by Councillor Bruce Berry was referred by the Mayor to this Committee for consideration.
In accordance with Standing Order 7 (6), Councillor Blakeley has been invited to attend the meeting in order for him to be given an opportunity to explain the Motion.
Members of the Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee considered a motion to Council (6 July 2015) as proposed by Councillor Chris Blakeley and secondedby Councillor Bruce Berry, that:
“Council acknowledges the overwhelming public opposition to the proposal by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service for a fire station on green belt land in Saughall Massie, as demonstrated by:
- The 200 people who attended a public meeting arranged by MFRS, and a further 270 who were unable to gain admission to the venue.
- The opposition of the Saughall Massie Village Area Conservation Society and the Wirral Society.
- The 970 people who have, so far, signed a petition against the proposal.
Council impresses upon Cabinet:
(1) To maintain protection of Wirral’s Green Belt, as set by agreed policies and stop inappropriate development.
(2) Not to gift, sell or lease the land concerned in Saughall Massie, because of the value it has for the community."
(3) To ask officers to continue to work co-operatively with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in identifying and facilitating a more suitable brown field site for operational purposes and to maintain the amenity of the local people.”
The Chair invited Councillor Blakeley to speak for up to a maximum of 10 minutes.
Councillor Blakeley thanked the Chairman for the opportunity to present the case in opposition to the siting of a new Fire Station on Green Belt land in Saughall Massie.
Councillor Blakeley presented a number of key points regarding local objection to the proposed site, that included:
The Committee heard that the motion submitted was not that of ‘objecting for the sake of objecting’ , with Saughall Massie residents in full admiration of, and supporting the work of Mersey Fire and Rescue Service. The objections put forward as part of the motion were as listed, i.e. sourcing of an alternative Brownfield site and not to gift or lease Green Belt land due to the value it has for the community thereby protecting the Green Belt in line with existing Council Policy.
The Committee noted that disposal of any Council owned land did not fall under its remit, and planning applications would be considered by the planning committee, when submitted.
During Councillor Blakeley’s address, reference was made to a number of 3rd party comments, and e-mail extracts, generating concern amongst Members regarding the sequence of events and site selection process.
A particular point arising from Councillor ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
The Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee received an oral update from Mr John Fogarty, Merseytravel Director of Resources and Section 151 Officer. Mr Fogarty, accompanied by Ms Tracy Gibson, informed Members that Merseytravel is the executive body that provides professional, strategic and operational transport advice to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to enable it to make informed decisions, also providing for the delivery of public transport across the City Region.
Mr Fogarty set out information on the Transport Levy, in the context of new governance arrangements for the Combined Authority. In conjunction with the oral presentation, the Committee also considered a written report of the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment that provided background information in relation to the Transport Levy, Minute No. 7 14 July 2015 refers.
Mr Fogarty explained that in terms of the Transport Levy, Merseytravel does not receive all the funds collected. A portion of the levy collected by the Combined Authority is retained to fund infrastructure projects, invest in public transport network assets, and manage debt. In terms of public transport delivery, Mr Fogarty informed that Merseytravel supported and administered the following from the levy:
Members were informed that the Mersey Tunnel assets belonged to the Combined Authority, and were purely administered by Merseytravel.
Members noted that in addition to the levy, a Department of Transport Grant was also paid to Merseytravel for the provision / support of Merseyrail (a portion of which is re-directed to Northern Rail service). Mr Fogarty informed that administration arrangements for this direct grant may be considered a form of public transportation ‘devolution’, which at present exists only in London and Merseyside.
Further information was provided to the committee on how the levy and grant funding had been reducing over the past 3 years, and that financial strategies had been amended accordingly. Linked to the reduced levy, utilising a combination of efficiency savings, value for money, procurement, management and back office savings Members were told that Merseytravel had continued to maintain service levels and meet performance targets. Mr Fogarty indicated that the challenges ahead would require new options to extend partnership working arrangements and reap economic benefits that would arise from increased patronage of bus services, i.e. reducing subsidies, which could in turn be used re-investing in public transport services. Members were told of the success of the ‘my ticket’ scheme and the financial modelling strategy supporting it – capped underwriting in the early stages, with service providers benefitting from increased income as a result of increased patronage in the future - Merseytravel would in turn benefit from the ability to improve services through the reallocation of subsidies.
Members questioned Mr Fogarty on a number of matters namely (summary response ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
At the meeting of the Council held on 6 July 2015 (minute 31 refers), the attached Notice of Motion proposed by Councillor Jeff Green and seconded by Councillor Leslie Rennie was referred by the Mayor to this Committee for consideration.
In accordance with Standing Order 7 (6), Councillor Green has been invited to attend the meeting in order for him to be given an opportunity to explain the Motion.
Members of the Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee considered a motion to Council (6 July 2015) as proposed by Councillor Jeff Green and seconded by Councillor Lesley Rennie, that:
“Council notes that:
(1) Latest information reports that Wirral has 7,400 total enterprises; an 11.1% improvement in the business base since 2011 and the number of total jobs in Wirral currently stands at 113,000 which is the highest figure for 8 years.
(2) Wirral currently has 3,118 Jobseekers Allowance claimants, a reduction of nearly 3,000 since April 2014. 530 of these Jobseekers are aged 18-24, a reduction of nearly 1,300 since April 2014; this is a reduction in rate of 5.2% which is nearly triple the national average.
Council expresses its relief that the British Electorate has returned a Conservative Government and given it a mandate to continue its support to businesses and the long term economic plan.
Council wishes to congratulate all those local Wirral entrepreneurs, workers and businesses who are contributing to the economic success of Wirral and the country as a whole.
Council therefore instructs the Chief Executive to write to the Chair of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and invites him to share his thoughts on what the Council can do to further support our local businesses in continuing the Government’s vision of more people with the security of a regular wage and the chance to get on.”
In the absence of the proposer and seconder, the item was introduced by Councillor S. Williams.
A Member commented on Wirral’s success in terms of Jobs and reduction in Jobseeker Allowance claims, and importance of partnership working.
A short discussion took place regarding the statistical element and political statement of the motion as presented.
Resolved: That the motion be noted.
To receive an update on Devolution. A report to be presented to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on 4th September will be made available to Members.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning provided an oral update on the subject of the devolution package and economic growth plans for the Liverpool City Region.
The Committee was informed that the first draft of the City Region’s devolution proposition went to Government on 4th September 2015 with a final devolution deal to be approved by January 2016. A copy of the report presented to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on 4th September will be made available to all Members of the Council in due course.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning told the Committee that a devolution measures would also give the authorities in Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley and St. Helens - as well as Halton in Cheshire - greater control over funding in areas such as transport, housing and planning. He informed that as announced in the Budget, the government was working on deals to extend the idea of the "Northern Powerhouse" to Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, and Leeds and West Yorkshire, in return for the creation of directly elected mayors.
Members noted that now the first draft proposal had been submitted more work was required on behalf of the region’s local authorities to ensure the flexibility and power to influence was embedded into any forthcoming discussions.
The Members were told that the objectives of the submission were to:
Members were mindful of the opportunities any deal could bring in terms of having more influence and control over mainstream Government money spent within the city region but currently decided in Westminster and Whitehall rather than in the city region. Examples of such budgets include:
The Committee expressed general concerns regarding the lack of detailed information publicly available on the subject of devolution, given that the proposal was the most important change to the administration of local government and funding in the region in the past 40 years.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning informed that the report submission papers and minutes of the recent meeting of the Combined Authority will be circulated to Members in the next week. He also informed that additional information on the progress of bid submissions will be fed back to constituent local authorities in the coming months.
Resolved: That the report be noted.
The Sustainability Liaison Officer and the Senior Manager, Asset Management presented the report of the Deputy Chief Executive that presented a summary of progress to implement the new climate change strategy for Wirral. It documented the activities of the Wirral Climate Group and introduced the first annual progress report and details the current action plan in support of the strategy.
Members were told of the important role played by Local authorities in the climate agenda, and how many including Wirral Council have a long-held commitment and track record of action. Wirral Council is a signatory to the Local Government Association’s (LGA) ‘Climate Local’ initiative (Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, 29 January 2013, Minute 63).
The report informed of the Wirral Climate Change Group - a forum set up by Wirral Council to help coordinate climate action and develop a new climate change strategy. The Committee noted that the group includes officers and councillors as well as representatives from various public bodies, community and voluntary interests and that since its establishment the Wirral Climate Change Group had met three times, and had received presentations on the following subjects:
· Carbon reduction at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
· ‘WARP-IT’ - Cheshire and Wirral NHS Partnership Trust use of an on-line portal to manage surplus materials and furniture across the organisation and beyond.
· The carbon reduction work of Magenta Living
· The carbon reduction and resilience work of Cheshire West and Chester Council
· Better Food Wirral
· The local climate impact profile for Wirral
· The Resilient Parks Project
Members were told of part of the Council’s five year plan, the proposals in this report support the following pledges covered in the plan:
· Providing an attractive local environment for Wirral residents
· Wirral residents live healthier lives
· Thriving small businesses
· Assets and buildings are fit for purpose for Wirral’s businesses
Discussion took place on a variety of issues impacting on specific localities across the borough and the difficulty in responding to immediate issues, adapting to change, and balancing the need to progress statutory duties. Members discussed recent local flooding as a prime example of the impact of weather patterns, partnership working with the environment agency, the statutory role of the local authority and the impact of planning decisions being overturned on appeal – in effect overruling local member knowledge on flood risk.
In addition to flood risk, Members further discussed actions being taken to reduce demand and make Wirral more energy efficient. The Committee was keen to ensure that all Members of the Council were made aware of the content of the report.
Resolved: That the annual progress report and climate strategy action plan be noted and endorsed and used as the basis for public reporting to meet commitments under Climate Local.
Scrutiny of the Council Plan and Delivery Arrangements
To receive an oral presentation.
The Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee received an oral update from the Head of Environment and Regulation that set the scene for the next stages of Wirral Council’s 2020 vision pledges which had that day been the basis of a partnership summit. Members were told that following its endorsement by partners, the Council’s 2020 Vision was now to be known as ‘The Wirral Plan: A 2020 Vision’.
The Head of Environment and Regulation informed Members that the ‘Wirral Plan: A 2020 Vision’ contained a series of priorities covering the 3 areas of People, Business and Environment summarised in 3 key statements:
Members were informed that the delivery plan timetable for the 2020 Vision was as follows:
The Head of Environment and Regulation appraised Members that phase one, initial scrutiny and phase two (the compilation of future work programmes) would be dealt with via the Policy and Performance Coordinating Committee. Initial comments and feedback was to be presented to the Coordinating Committee on 30 September. The Coordinating Committee would then be responsible for agreeing a consistent process for phase 1 scrutiny and considering prioritisation and areas of potential overlap between the other Policy and Performance Committees.
The Chair thanked the Head of Environment and Regulation for his report.
Resolved: That the report be noted.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning presented a report of the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment that set out Quarter 1 (April – June 2015) performance against delivery of the Regeneration and Environment Directorate Plan. Members noted that the Directorate Plan had been reported to the Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee on 23 March 2015.
A performance report attached as Appendix 1 to the main report set out progress against a suite of agreed key performance indicators.
The report informed that for each performance measure, a Red, Amber or Green (RAG) rating had been assigned, setting out a performance level against a target, and showed the direction of travel for each measure to illustrate whether performance was improving, deteriorating or sustained.
Of the 13 reportable indicators, 11 (84%) were rated Green, 1 (8%) was rated Amber and 1 (8%) was rated Red. For indicators rated Amber and Red, the responsible officer had indicated the corrective action being put in place to get performance back on track.
Members focussed their discussion on those indicators identified as either Red or Amber.
RED – As identified at previous meetings of the Committee it was noted that the road casualty, killed or seriously injured (KSI) data was one of the most difficult areas to address for many local authorities. At the time of the meeting the Council had not yet received an update of the most recent road casualty data from Merseyside Police. Members noted that based on the last year’s data, it was likely that the following actions would continue to be needed to address key KSI road casualty risk groups:
· Additional enforcement action (police)
· Additional PR/Marketing activity to make drivers, riders & pedestrians aware of road risk.
· Further verification of data supplied by police will be undertaken to ensure compliance with national reporting criteria.
A Member asked if it was possible to have comparison figures for other areas of the Merseyside region, Officers responded stating that all figures available would be circulated to the Committee when published by Merseyside Police.
AMBER – Members noted that delivery of the Docks Bridges Replacement Major Scheme was now up to contract award stage, and a legal agreement was currently being finalised with Peel Holdings, with a strong leader report due shortly.
A Member requested information regarding the work of the Strategic Housing Services Team regarding the implementation of selective licencing areas (as had commenced in July 2015). The Head of Regeneration and Planning stated that a briefing update on this subject would be circulated the Committee after the meeting.
Resolved: That the contents of the report be noted.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning presented a report of the Acting Section 151 Officer that set out the financial monitoring information for this Committee. The report provided a basis for Members to scrutinise budget performance for the Directorate. Financial information for the outturn 2014/15 which was reported to Cabinet on 13 July was included.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning reported that the main areas of budget to actual variations within the Regeneration and Environment had resulted in a total underspend of £3.3 million made up as follows:
· Increased income and reduced staffing in various areas – underspend £2.1 million
· Supporting People Programme (early delivery of savings and efficiencies) – underspend £1.0 million
· Additional grant support and match funding not utilised – underspend £0.5 million
· Floral Pavilion – overspend £300 thousand
Members questioned the figures relating to the Floral Pavilion overspend, noting work that was currently underway to reduce the subsidy and plans to address the matter retaining quality and looking at commercial opportunities where possible.
The Head of Regeneration and Planning further reported that the capital spend for the year on the accruals basis amounted to £16.6 million compared to the Revised Programme of figure of £20.9 million as reported in January (Month 10). Summarised the table below:
A Member requested information regarding the work of the Strategic Housing Services Team asking what was the current position on aids and adaptation cases and whether a backlog existed. The Head of Regeneration and Planning stated that an update on this subject would be circulated the Committee after the meeting.
Resolved: That the revenue underspend of £3.3 million for the Regeneration and Environment Directorate and the 2014/15 directorate capital outturn of £16.6 million be noted.
The Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee noted the report of the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment and the attached September Policy Inform Briefing Paper that included an overview of ongoing and recent national legislation, potential implications for the Council, and emerging policies.
The report and Policy Inform Briefing Paper outlined the key features of the Chancellor of Exchequers Budget Statement, announced on 8 July 2015. The Policy Inform briefing also alluded to any potential implications for Wirral Council, and elaborates on any legislation or policy updates that have been implemented, or developed since the last policy briefing in July.
The report further informed that the January Briefing Paper would focus on the local government finance settlement informing the annual determination of funding to local government.
Resolved: That the contents of the September 2015 Policy Briefing papers be noted.
To approve the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting held on 7 September 2015. (To Follow)
Councillor Steve Williams, Chair of the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel tabled the minutes of the meeting held on 7 September 2015.
Resolved – That
1) the recommendations of the Highways and Traffic Representation Panel as detailed in the minutes of the meeting held on 7 September 2015 be endorsed; and
2) the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation be recommended to take appropriate action in respect of the following:
i. Off–road segregated and unsegregated cycleway / footpath (s) and signalised crossing improvements along the A41 between Port Causeway and Croft Retail Park - that the proposals as detailed within the report be approved for implementation;
ii. Provision of a pedestrian refuge island adjacent to no.26 and no.28 Claremount Road, Liscard - that the proposals as detailed within the report be approved for implementation;
iii. Provision of a pedestrian refuge island to replace the existing traffic splitter island on Wallasey Village adjacent to its junction with Beechwood Avenue, Wallasey - that the proposals as detailed within the report be approved for implementation; and
iv. Provision of a signalised pedestrian crossing phase across the Wiend at its junction with Bromborough Road, Bebington - that the proposals as detailed within the report be approved for implementation.
The Policy and Performance Regeneration and Environment Committee noted the report of the Chair that updated members on the current position regarding the Committee’s work programme as agreed for the 2015/16 municipal year.
The report informed that at the Agenda Setting meeting for this Committee, a Task & Finish review on homelessness and the impact of removing housing benefit for under-21s was also agreed for inclusion on the Committee’s work programme. It was anticipated that the review will commence early in the new year and that an initial report be presented to the Committee its meeting scheduled in December.
The report further informed that at the previous Regeneration and Environment Policy & Performance Committee held on 14th July 2015, the Committee had been presented with a report on ‘Tourism’. At the meeting it was agreed that a Task & Finish Review to look at the promotion and marketing of Wirral tourism be added to the Committee’s work programme. It was anticipated that the review start with immediate effect.
The Chair informed that membership of the Promotion and Marketing of Wirral Tourism Task and Finish Working Group be as follows:
Councillor Jim Crabtree
Councillor Tracy Pilgrim
Councillor Jean Stapleton
Councillor Adam Sykes
Councillor Jerry Williams
1) the updated Regeneration and Environment Policy & Performance Committee work programme for 2015/16 as shown in the appendix to the report be approved; and
2) a Task and Finish Working Group be established to consider the promotion and marketing of Wirral tourism, comprising 5 members:
Councillor Jim Crabtree
Councillor Tracy Pilgrim
Councillor Jean Stapleton
Councillor Adam Sykes
Councillor Jerry Williams