Agenda item


To receive the written reports of the Leader and Cabinet Members and receive questions and answers on any of those reports in accordance with Standing Orders 10(2)(a) and 11.


Also attached is the Strategic Director of Transformation and Resources’ Scrutiny Annual Report 2014/15.


The Leader of the Council presented his summary report upon matters relevant to his portfolio. He responded to a question from Councillor Green and made a number of comments including –


·  With regard to the suspension from the national Labour Party of two Members of his group, he had nothing to add to the comments of the Head of Legal and Member Services.

·  The Labour Party on Wirral had had a resounding victory at the local elections with 79,000 votes as opposed to 40,000 votes for the Conservatives. With the largest majority on the Council for many years they now had a clear mandate to deliver their 5 year plan for Wirral. The Conservatives should reflect on what had happened in Wirral West, with the last remaining Conservative MP on Merseyside having been removed from office.


Questions were then invited for Councillor Ann McLachlan on her Governance, Commissioning and Improvement Portfolio Report and responses to a question from Councillor Rob Gregson included the following comments:


·  The Council had received a number of awards recently including the Municipal Journal Trading Standards and Environmental Health Team Award and the Council’s Senior Risk and Insurance Officer receiving the ‘Professional of the Year’ Award from the Association of Local Authority Risk Managers.

·  These, the LGC ‘Most Improved Council of the Year’ Award and being shortlisted in a number of other award categories demonstrated that the Council was going from strength to strength and was indeed now a normal council.


Questions were then invited for Councillor George Davies on the Neighbourhoods, Housing and Engagement Portfolio Report and his responses to questions from Councillors Phil Gilchrist, Pat Cleary and Andrew Hodson included the following comments:


·  The Government had recently revised the approach to internal space and accessibility standards through the Building Regulations and local planning policies, with effect from 1 October 2015. The emerging Core Strategy Local Plan for Wirral already made provision for the future flexibility and accessibility of new housing in internal and external design through various policies. From October 2015 the new housing standards for England and the policy that surrounded them would govern the design and supply of accessible and adaptable homes. Where possible however, as part of any partnership working with Registered Providers or private developers partners such as Keepmoat the Council had tried to maximise standards above mandatory requirements regarding accessibility and design quality subject to individual site appraisals regarding viability.

·  He would ensure that with regard to the City Region Collective Energy Switch Scheme an ethical and green component were put into the equation.


Questions were invited for Councillor Adrian Jones on the Support Services Portfolio Report and his responses to questions from Councillors Adam Sykes, Dave Mitchell, Brian Kenny and Matthew Patrick included the following comments:


·  He suggested that Councillor Sykes put his question in writing so that he could provide a detailed written response.

·  In respect of the Coroner Service, lengthy consultation had taken place between the two services on Wirral and in Liverpool and he believed that the new service was not inferior but now a better service than before. Wirral residents could have an inquest in Birkenhead Town Hall if they requested and he congratulated the Legal Services sections in both Authorities for the smooth transition to a unified service.

·  With regard to Members’ access to IT services in isolation from their own home he explained the reason for this but informed the Council that IT services were working on the issue.

·  The revised disciplinary procedures had been dealt with properly in consultation with the recognised staff organisations and were in accordance with ACAS standards. Parental leave was now, under recent legislation, possible for both parents to share.


The Leader of the Council informed the meeting that Councillor Bernie Mooney had sadly had a family bereavement and was not present. If there were any questions to be posed on her report they could be submitted in writing.


The Mayor asked that the condolences of the Council be conveyed to Councillor Mooney.


Questions were then invited for Councillor Chris Jones on the Adult Social Care and Public Health Portfolio report. No questions were posed.


Moving onto the Leisure, Sport and Culture Portfolio report, questions were then invited for Councillor Chris Meaden. Her responses to questions from Councillors Geoffrey Watt, Alan Brighouse and Paul Doughty, included the following comments:


·  She would look into the situation at Landican Crematorium where there were apparently delays in the arranging of funerals and respond in writing.

·  She was hopeful that by the end of July proposals for the future management of the Williamson Art Gallery would emerge.

·  She congratulated the England Women’s Football Team on their success in achieving third place at the World Cup in Canada and suggested that the Mayor should invite Birkenhead born Jodie Taylor to the Mayor’s parlour.


Questions were then invited for Councillor Pat Hackett on his Economy Portfolio report. His responses to questions from Councillors Lesley Rennie, Dave Mitchell, Christine Spriggs and Pat Cleary included the following comments:


·  He would seek to ensure that future reports were not so brief.

·  As Chair of the Mersey Dee Alliance he was very keen to ensure improvements to the Wrexham – Bidston Railway line were undertaken, including more frequent and earlier services and also new stations along the line. It was hoped to elect Lord Barry Jones as President of the MDA.

·  With regard to Birkenhead Town Centre Master Plan, Neptune Developments had a good track record in consulting with the public on their previous projects, including the New Brighton development and in Liverpool City Centre. Consultation would start as soon as the Plans were announced.


Questions were then invited for Councillor Stuart Whittingham on his Highways and Transport Portfolio report. His responses to questions from Councillors Jean Stapleton, Joe Walsh and Janette Williamson included the following comments:


·  The contractor for the LED street lighting scheme was due on site in the next few weeks.

·  BAM Nuttall had been awarded a contract extension for highway services and the Council’s use of the new Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) contract and procurement tools had been recognised nationally.

·  He acknowledged the appreciation of residents in the vicinity of Lever Causeway who had expressed their delight at the speed of the resurfacing work undertaken by BAM Nuttall, particularly with the crew working in hot conditions last week.


Questions were then invited for Councillor Tony Smith on his Children and Family Services Portfolio report. In response to a question from Councillor Wendy Clements his comments included:


·  A report on Children’s Centres would be considered at a Cabinet meeting at the end of July. Some discussions had been held with the Birkenhead MP but not in great detail.


Councillor Jeff Green then proceeded to ask a question with regard to the Scrutiny Annual Report and in particular on the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme.


At this point Councillor Phil Davies declared a personal and prejudicial interest by virtue of him being a trustee of the Wirral Foodbank and left the meeting whilst this issue was discussed.


Councillor Janette Williamson responded and also informed the Council that the scrutiny review had been undertaken by a cross party panel of Members.


Resolved –


(1)  That each of the Cabinet Portfolio Summary reports be noted.


(2)  That the Scrutiny Annual Report of the Strategic Director of Transformation and Resources be noted.


At this point the Mayor welcomed the new Chief Executive, Eric Robinson, to his first ordinary meeting of the Council.

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