In a shock move, Monday’s vote on the future of Girtrell Court has been thrown into doubt after the Town Hall’s ‘Head of Legal Services’, Surjit Tour, invoked a clause in the Council’s Constitution to close down debate.
A formal ‘Notice of Motion’ had been submitted within the established legal timescales by Councillors Chris Blakeley and Bruce Berry (reproduced below).
Calling for a rethink on the closure plan, both councillors also requested that the future of Wirral Council’s last remaining respite centre to be decided in public.
Having been listed in the agenda for Monday’s council meeting as ‘to be debated’ (see this link: http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=123&MId=5138), the Head of Legal Services has now mounted a last-ditch attempt to prevent the debate.
Councillor Blakeley said: “This attempt to stop debate in public wouldn’t be out of place in some tin pot dictatorship.
“In spite of the promises to be ‘open and transparent’, we are once again seeing how the closure of Girtrell Court is now so toxic for the Town Hall they don’t even want it debated.
“Ten days ago, the Head of Legal Services accepted our notice for debate as legal, accurate and within agreed timescales, under the Constitution.
“Yet, here we are, on the eve of a vote, and suddenly we are told that it can’t be debated.”
In an email on Friday to Councillor Blakeley, Mr Tour said he had ‘received a query’ as to whether the debate should go ahead.
Councillor Blakeley added: “Who is the unnamed mystery person who has queried this debate and who appears to have so much influence that the debate can be stopped? We must be told.
“Instead of scratching around the bowels of the Council for a way out of this mess, the Town Hall should accept they have got it wrong, misjudged public opinion and stop the closure. That would be fair to the families and would be supported by councillors, the staff and trade unions.
“On Monday at Council I will be calling for Standing Order 17 to be waived to force a vote on this very important matter.”
- GIRTRELL COURT (to be debated)
Proposed by Cllr Chris Blakeley
Seconded by Cllr Bruce Berry
Council notes that the Leader of the Council has previously stated that he wants his Administration to be open, transparent and fair with the people of Wirral. Council welcomes this approach.
Council therefore believes that the future of Girtrell Court must be decided in public and not under delegation to the portfolio holder, in conjunction with the Director of Adult Social Services.
Council further believes that the families of those using Girtrell Court, the staff, trade unions and residents and users must be given every opportunity to influence the future of Girtrell Court through a clear and transparent decision making process.