Leader's Closing Remarks
Councillor Phil Davies informed that it was his and Councillor Bernie Mooney’s last Cabinet meeting so he wished to make some closing remarks before the press and public were excluded from the meeting. Councillor Davies thanked all of his Cabinet colleagues and told them that together they had been a fantastic team, as had other Cabinet Members before them who had served under his leadership, over the last seven years.
Councillor Phil Davies mentioned some of the recent milestones e.g. The Wirral Plan and the Twenty Pledges and confirmed that he was absolutely confident that the Cabinet would deliver on them by 2020.
Councillor Davies made reference to Councillor Janette Williamson and the work she had led on which had put the Council on a secure financial footing. He reported that in 2012 there had been an overspend of £12m so he was glad that the Council had moved forward from that situation.
Councillor Davies reported that the turnaround in Children’s Services had been nothing short of stunning and paid tribute to Councillor Bernie Mooney and the Corporate Director for Children’s Services, Paul Boyce for the leadership they had given to this Service and informed that he felt confident that when Ofsted had carried out their re-inspection the Service overall judgement of inadequate would change for the better.
Councillor Phil Davies reported that the Council had been left with no alternative other than to think outside of the box because of the Government’s funding cuts and the Wirral Growth Company was probably the best example of this as the Council now had a new model of working. The Council could not go on as it had been doing because it had not been maximising its opportunities to regenerate the borough. The Growth Company was now in place and there was the prospect of not just bringing jobs and investment into the borough and helping local businesses and local people but returning a revenue to the Council, to replace lost funding. This was brilliant and it would leave a legacy for future generations.
Councillor Phil Davies reported on the work around Highways that Councillor Stuart Whittingham had led and informed that the Council was now in a much better place.
Councillor Phil Davies paid tribute to Councillor Chris Jones and the Director for (Adult) Care and Health, Graham Hodkinson and made reference to the challenges in respect of Adult Social Care and the country’s Social Care crisis. He informed that the Council now provided good quality services for older people, people with learning disabilities and so on. This was a success story.
Councillor Phil Davies paid tribute to Councillor Anita Leech who had joined the Cabinet half way through the year with some challenges around the Environment Portfolio and done a fantastic job and there were some wonderful initiatives which she was leading on. He looked forward to them coming to fruition.
Councillor Phil Davies also paid tribute to Councillor Paul Stuart who had led on the Law and Order Portfolio which was a key priority for the residents of Wirral. He drew attention to the work Councillor Stuart had carried out around the Community Safety Hub which was a brand leader and was being replicated by other local authorities up and down the land. This was something that the Council could be rightly proud of.
Councillor Phil Davies wished Councillor George Davies all the best in his forthcoming year as Deputy Mayor. He also thanked him for the work that he had carried out on Housing. Councillor Phil Davies drew attention to some of the big challenges that were ahead on the Local Plan. He also drew attention to examples, in his own ward, of really good quality new housing that was being built. The Council was providing affordable housing for Wirral residents in many parts of the borough and that was down to the work that Councillor George Davies had led on and Councillor Phil Davies thanked him for this.
Councillor Phil Davies also paid tribute to Councillor Phil Brightmore who had been unable to attend this meeting due to illness. Councillor Brightmore had led on a big piece of transformational work around the Leisure Services Portfolio. Some of the initiatives had already come to fruition.
Councillor Phil Davies told the Cabinet that it had a lot to be proud of but he could not finish his comments without saying thank you to the Chief Executive, Eric Robinson and the Senior Leadership Team for helping and supporting Cabinet Members because they would not have been able to achieve what they had done without their input. Councillor Davies also thanked the staff who had, day in day out, carried out a fantastic job in leading the borough.
Councillor Phil Davies then went on to personally thank:
· the Acting Corporate Director for Strategies and Partnerships, Fiona Johnstone who was attending her last Cabinet meeting before retiring. Councillor Davies paid tribute to Fiona for the fantastic work she had undertaken on behalf of Wirral, in her previous role of Director of Public Health and latterly in leading a lot of big corporate initiatives that had been developed, including ‘Wirral Together’ which was a really exciting model of working with residents and partners. Fiona had made sure that everyone was signed up to this model and consequently, it was going from strength to strength. On behalf of Cabinet members, Fiona was wished a happy retirement.
· Lyndzay Roberts for her efforts and support to the Cabinet and the leadership. Councillor Davies saw her as a vital cog in the operation.
· Barbara Turner who ran the Labour Group Office. Councillor Davies informed that Barbara was an absolute star and that he would not have been able to do his job without her keeping his diary up to date and ensuring that he was organised, had the reports he needed and was reminded of deadlines. Councillor Davies thanked Barbara for all of the support she had given him, the other Cabinet Members and Members of the Labour Group over many years. Councillor Davies informed that Barbara had worked for the Council for thirty years and deserved lots of plaudits and thanks.
Councillor Davies told Councillor Bernie Mooney that he was sorry to see her go, as she had done a fantastic job but they would have more time to catch up with each other in future. He informed that he would really miss the Council and the people he had worked with. Councillor Davies wished everyone (Members and officers) and the Council itself all the very best for the future. Councillor Davies believed that Wirral’s best days were ahead of it. It had some fantastic opportunities. The Borough of Culture had put Wirral on the map and Wirral could rapidly become one of, if not the most outstanding local authority in the Liverpool City Region and possibly the country.