Six Conservative Councillors in Wallasey and Moreton have tonight (Wednesday) requisitioned a special meeting of Wirral Council, just 48 hours after the Leader of the Council assured councillors, and campaigners in the public gallery, that no decision on Girtrell Court would be made until assessments had been made on the needs of the users of the centre.
Yet, by today, the Town Hall had hardened its position, with the Cabinet Member writing in the local press that the last-remaining council run respite centre would close its doors by August.
Councillor Chris Blakeley said: “What an appalling and underhand way to treat some of our most vulnerable residents. In front of the public, the Cabinet Member, Cllr. Jones assured us that one to one assessments are still being carried out to assess what is best for the individuals and that a decision on the future of Girtrell Court would be made by her, and the Director, only after all that evidence had been assessed.
“Yet, 48 hours later, and with the public safely sent home, the Cabinet Member has found the time to write in the Local papers that the Centre would be closed by August. She didn’t say any of this on Monday night. In fact, I’m wondering if she even wrote this article – such is the difference between her speech on Monday and her article this week.”
Councillor Blakeley has now requested, under the Freedom of Information Act, clarification on the Globe article (see below) and, using the powers available to five or more councillors in the Constitution, has now requested a special meeting of all 66 councillors.
Councillor Blakeley adds: “Instead of hiding behind an article that she may, or may not, have written herself, I believe the Cabinet Member and the Leader of the Council owe it to the families, the users, staff and trade unions to give an explanation of this date for closure to their faces, and perhaps explain how they can decide the alternatives are better without knowing what those alternatives are, or even if they exist at all.”
The six councillors who have signed the order are: Chris Blakeley, Bruce Berry, Steve Williams (Moreton West & Saughall Massie) and Lesley Rennie, Paul Hayes and Leah Fraser (Wallasey).
In the meantime, the shock announcement has led to a furious backlash from residents and campaigners on the Save Girtrell Court Facebook page.
Councillor Blakeley’s FoI request can be found here:
From: “Blakeley, Chris (Councillor)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 16 March 2016 at 21:25:34 GMT
To: “Robinson, Eric” <email@example.com>
Subject: Freedom of Information Request
Dear Chief Executive
Please treat this email as a Freedom of Information Request.
I refer to the article published online today relating to the closure of Girtrell Court. http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14346757.Wirral_Council_care_chief_says_Girtrell_Court_respite_centre_will_close_in_August___and_here_she_explains_why___/
Please respond to the following questions:
1. When was this press statement drafted?
2. Which Councillors and Council Officers where involved in drafting the press statement?
3. Did Martin Liptrot have any part in the drafting of the press statement, and or in placing it?
4. Did the Leader of the Council give clearance to the press statement? If so when?
I look forward to the response.
Please confirm receipt of this email.
Cllr Chris Blakeley
Moreton West and Saughall Massie Ward
Wirral Borough Council