Council Questions and Answers January 2018

LpoolTH

As usual there were far more questions than answers at the Council meeting held last week.

Our only opportunity to question the Mayor is by putting down written questions to the Council meeting. Mayor Anderson is the only Leader of a democratic body in the UK who cannot be publicly challenged in a public forum. Our only other opportunity to partly question him is our ability to comment on the statement that he makes at the council meeting. Of course, if he has not mentioned an item that interests us we cannot comment on it!

I reprint here his answers in full. There si so much that I could have teased out of him if I had the right to ask supplementary questions as used to happen when the Lib Dems controlled the Council. I comment on his answers in red which highlights the further areas that I would have liked to follow up on.

Question 1

Would the Mayor please confirm that Mr Phil Halsall and Mr Ged Fitzgerald are council appointed directors of the Liverpool Arena Company. If this is the case would he inform the council why he considers this appropriate in the current legal circumstances? Do they receive any salary or expenses for these appointments?

Answer

Mr Halsall is not a director of Liverpool Arena and Convention Centre.

Ged Fitzgerald, as Chief Executive of the City Council, remains a member of the board.  Mr Fitzgerald last attended a meeting of the board on 22 March 2017. The Council’s Head of Investment, has been attending meetings in the capacity of alternate director, as appointed by this Council.

I confirm that there is no salary or expenses payable by the ACC Liverpool Group, or the city council, for Board Directors.

The questioner makes reference to the appropriateness of this in the current circumstances and I would remind him that the Chief Executive’s suspension is a neutral act, without prejudice.

The Mayor needs to bring back all items relating to the Governance of the Arena Company especially in light of the serious fire at the Car Park.

Question 2

Does the Mayor recall that at the last meeting he challenged Lib Dem councillors to meet him regarding the potential provision of social housing on the Harthill Road site? Does he further recall that we accepted this offer and will he provide details of when that meeting is likely to be convened?

Answer

Typical Lib Dems still don’t have any ideas, and when I agreed to meet I expected them to come forward with their thoughts.  I’m still waiting.

At the meeting we were asked if we would attend a meeting on this subject. I agreed that we would and I further said that we would be prepared to see social or any other type of housing on a small part of the site including Beechley House. We can have a meeting about this as a matter of urgency.

Question3

Given the hints made at the last council meeting by the Mayor that he would wish to see houses built by the Council’s new housing company built on Harthill Road and Sefton Park Meadowlands would he make urgent arrangements to meet councillors and residents from those areas to discuss his plans?

Answer

Typical Lib Dems still don’t have any ideas, and when I agreed to meet I expected them to come forward with their thoughts.  Plans for housing on Harthill so far have already been shown to local residents, at a consultation event held by Redrow inside Calder Kids, which desperately needs a new home.

On the Sefton Park Meadows I have made clear that I believe the site should be used as active Green Space to involve the local community, and have had interest from a local organisation to grow food and help people recovering from addictions.

Is Calder Kids a going concern? It has been removed from the Charity Register. Will he have discussion with the community about social housing?

Question 4

Would the Deputy Mayor please indicate:

  1. When the move by the Model Railway at Calderstones Park will take place given that the Planning Committee were informed in June that this would take place before Christmas?
  2. When the details of the move by Beechley Riding for the Disabled to Clark Gardens will take place given that the three-year licence to occupy from the Council to the RDA will run out in October?
  3. When the move to new premises for Calder Kids will take place?
  4. The expected costs to the Council’s Capital Programme of these three moves.

Answer

The Planning Committee’s decision to relocate the Miniature Railway is currently subject to a Judicial Review.  Therefore, the timescales of proposals to relocate these organisations cannot accurately be provided until the review is complete and the outcome of the review is known.  In addition, the final costs to the capital programme of any relocations cannot be provided until the outcome of the Judicial Review is known.

What are the indicative costings for the move of the 3 bodies? Has no work been done on this to check that all the proposals are likely to be financially viable? What will happen to the lease for the Riding for the Disabled which expires in October this year?

Question 4

Can the Mayor advise –

  1. How many staff have left the council since May 2010 subject to pay-offs and gagging (none-disclosure) orders?
  2. How many of these have been in the current financial year?
  3. How much has been paid in these pay-offs?
  4. Are any pay-offs with subsequent none-disclosure orders currently being processed within Liverpool Council?
  5. Given that the Leader of the Labour Party Mr Jeremy Corbyn has said that gagging orders are inappropriate for public bodies would he explain why this Council uses them and for what reasons?

Answer

Before I answer your questions, I think it’s useful that we take a little look back to when your Party was in control prior to May 2010.

The departures of three key officers spring to mind, those of Jason Harborow (£230,000), Sir David Henshaw (£340,000) and Phil Halsall (£500,000). The cost for these three Settlement Agreements alone was £1.07 million. Yes, that’s £1.07 million, for just three posts – between 2005 and 2010. I will also ask Officers to send you the actual full overall costs of all Settlement Agreements during your Groups previous Administration of 1998-2010, which will then make this figure even higher.

Now turning to your latest questions. Firstly, we don’t use what you call ‘gagging orders’, not only as this isn’t a term used in Employment Law but also because it is inaccurate.

Settlement Agreement would be the proper terminology to use and it is a matter of good legal practice that Settlement Agreements include confidentiality clauses. When council employees enter into Settlement Agreements with the City Council they do so on the basis of their own independent advice from their lawyer as to the content of the Agreement so that the terms of the Agreement are completely consensual. Nobody is “gagged”.

Responses to your questions are –

  1. 27 employees have left through Settlement Agreements from May 2010 to date.
  2. 4 employees during the current financial year (2017/18).
  3. A total of £ 1,192,648.98. This works out as an average of £44,172 per employee under my Administration.
  4. No
  5. The Cabinet and Full Council set the policies of the Council.

Are the reasons for the staff leaving really consensual? Normally they are dismissals and the gagging order is place so that they don’t spill the beans on things they have seen. Is he absolutely certain that there are currently no discussion between our legal staff and solicitors for a current employee which will involve a payoff and a ‘gagging clause?”

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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