Pensioners Lunch Clubs

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Wirral Council has announced that grants for pensioner lunch clubs in the Borough are to be scrapped from April. 

The move, which has taken place without full consultation, will affect around 200 pensioners, leaving many of them alone at home.  

The Council has said the £72,000 saved will then be reinvested in tackling pensioner isolation. 

Among the lunch clubs affected are Moreton, Leasowe, New Brighton Community Centre and Vale Park.  The clubs, which take place throughout the week are held in local community centres and often run by volunteers. 

The Council’s grants help towards the cost of transport for the pensioners and the costs of the meals. 

Councillor Bruce Berry (Conservative, Moreton West & Saughall Massie) said: “This decision has been sneaked out without virtually any consultation among the groups affected and there is now less than six weeks to find alternative funds or face closure. 

“Not one of the community groups affected by this policy has been asked to serve on the panel that reviewed the spending and the Council has failed to communicate with all the clubs affected.” 

“The effect of this policy will have the opposite result to the one the Town Hall claims – instead of freeing up £72,000 to spend on pensioners, the existing 200 or more isolated, vulnerable and often lonely individuals will be left sitting in their own homes. That’s not tackling isolation – it’s creating it.”

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You can read what the Wirral Globe says HERE

Notes:

In the latest review of Wirral Council’s ‘2020 Pledges’, the Town Has has stated ‘Ensuring the most vulnerable among us are safe, and feel safe, is perhaps our most important responsibility.’

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Conserative Councillors call ‘foul’ over Town Hall pledge on Girtrell Court

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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.

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Councillor Blakeley’s FoI request can be found here:

From: “Blakeley, Chris (Councillor)” <chrisblakeley@wirral.gov.uk>
Date: 16 March 2016 at 21:25:34 GMT
To: “Robinson, Eric” <ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk>
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.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Chris Blakeley
Moreton West and Saughall Massie Ward
Wirral Borough Council

MYSTERY PERSON GAGS GIRTRELL COURT CAMPAIGNERS 

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.”

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  1. 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.

NOW THERE ARE ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT TO SAVE GIRTRELL COURT

We are now only a matter of days (4) away from Wirral’s Cabinet making a decision on the future of Girtrell Court, a decision that could have a devastating impact on carers and loved ones, if that decision is to close this much loved and much needed facility.

We have discovered that the Council has commissioned, at a cost of almost £14,000.00 a company called Penderells to, as the Director of Adult Social Services says assist up to 60 families onto Direct Payments. The Director tells us he has a statutory obligation to do this, our question has to be why has he chosen now to go down this route? We believe this is nothing more than a cynical attempt to support the Council in its proposal. It seems the Council can find money for anything, other than to save Girtrell Court!

We can also tell you that following the Councils public consultation the 189 comments made on the proposal to close Girtrell Court have now been published. Those comments can be accessed by clicking HERE   Apart from a couple of comments in support of closure (and we know some of the independent sector with vacancies commented) about 99% of comments oppose closure.

The online petition which can be accessed by clicking HERE  closes today Thursday 18th February and if you have not signed it we would urge you to do so and encourage your friends to do the same. Even if you have signed a paper petition please take a couple of minutes to sign this one as well. Every signature counts.

You can also check out some of the recent activity on the Save Girtrell Court Facebook page with postings from carers and many comments which are all supportive of the Friends group in opposing closure. www.Facebook.com/Savegirtrellcourt

Up to now the campaign has been powerful, however It’s extremely important, particularly in these last few days to keep the pressure on the Council and ensure that they are left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling. So make sure you get your message to the elected members that are listed at the end of this email, keep repeating the message. You may also want to include the Councils Chief Executive, Eric Robinson in that message and his email is ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

Finally in this email a reminder that Wirral Unison are holding a lobby outside Wallasey Town Hall at 9am on Monday 22nd February prior to the Cabinet meeting, which is open to the public at 10am. We will be there, and we hope to see as many of you there as well, this may be our last chance to convince the Cabinet that closing Girtrell Court is plain and simply wrong

Cabinet Members
phildavies@wirral.gov.uk, georgedavies@wirral.gov.uk, pathackett@wirral.gov.uk, adrianjones@wirral.gov.uk, christinejones@wirral.gov.uk, @wirral.gov.uk, chrismeaden@wirral.gov.uk, berniemooney@wirral.gov.uk, tonysmith@wirral.gov.uk, stuartwhittingham@wirral.gov.uk

Back Benchers
ronabbey@wirral.gov.uk, philipbrightmore@wirral.gov.uk, matthewdaniel@wirral.gov.uk, janwilliamson@wirral.gov.uk, angeladavies@wirral.gov.uk, billdavies@wirral.gov.uk, pauldoughty@wirral.gov.uk, stevefoulkes@wirral.gov.uk, robgregson@wirral.gov.uk, treenajohnson@wirral.gov.uk, briankenny@wirral.gov.uk, anitaleech@wirral.gov.uk, moiramclaughlin@wirral.gov.uk, christinamuspratt@wirral.gov.uk, steveniblock@wirral.gov.uk, tonynorbury@wirral.gov.uk, matthewpatrick@wirral.gov.uk, denisereally@wirral.gov.uk, deniseroberts@wirral.gov.uk, johnsalter@wirral.gov.uk, waltersmith@wirral.gov.uk, christinespriggs@wirral.gov.uk, jeanstapleton@wirral.gov.uk, mikesullivan@wirral.gov.uk, joewalsh@wirral.gov.uk, irenewilliams@wirral.gov.uk, jerrywilliams@wirral.gov.uk, louisereecejones@wirral.gov.uk, jimcrabtree@wirral.gov.uk

MPs
Angela Eagle, Wallasey. eaglea@parliament.uk
Margaret Greenwood, Wirral West. margaret.greenwood.mp@parliament.uk
Alison McGovern, Wirral South. alison.mcgovern.mp@parliament.uk
The RT Hon Frank Field, Birkenhead. fieldf@parliament.uk

Wirral Conservatives – Delivering a Budget for the People of Wirral

Earlier this evening I was proud to be at Wallasey Town Hall to hear Cllr Jeff Green, Conservative Leader of the Council deliver a budget that protects jobs, Cuts Council Tax by 3% and extends the discount scheme to households who are aged 70 (previously 75), puts money into Children’s Services, protects and increases funding to Wirral Sure Start Centres (Sure start is safe with Tories) Apprentices, job creation, dog fouling team and reverses Labours cuts to Adult Social Services and puts in a further £3 million.     You can Read the full Conservative Budget proposal by clicking HERE     Great work team, showing that Conservative Led Councils  really care about the people they are elected to serve and delivering the best value for money services.

 

Sure Start, Safe with Conservatives

Last April just before the elections, I (and many other Conservative Councillors) were being asked whether Sure Start was safe if we were elected, of course we said.

But why were people asking?   Well that’s simple.    Labour used smear and fear tactics, distributing letters such as this one saying that Sure Start wasn’t safe.  You’ll see the person behind the letter (in the small print on the left)  is one of the Labour Councillor’s for Leasowe.

So, what’s happened?  Labour-led Liverpool is looking to close four Sure Start centres.  Conservative-led Wirral is not, and at tonight’s budget Cabinet meeting  Wirral’s Cabinet enhanced the Sure Start service with a huge £732,000 investment for the next 12 months.       More on Wirral’s budget tomorrow