19 Jun 2014

Parking, Rodney Street

Parking is a persistent source of angst on Rodney Street. Below is the
council's position relating to this. I will be taking this up with the
police myself in the near future.

Dear Councillor Cleary,

Thank you for your email of 18 June regarding parking in Rodney Street,

As mentioned in your email, Rodney Street and Helena Street are subject
to a "prohibition of motor vehicles; except for access" traffic
regulation order (TRO).

This type of TRO cannot be enforced by the Council's Civil Enforcement
Officers, but falls under the enforcement remit of Merseyside Police.
The issue of enforcement of this TRO has been raised with the Police in
the past and I will raise it with our Police liaison officer again.

I can advise you that the Council has been approached by residents and
Ward Members previously regarding parking in the road requesting that a
resident parking scheme be implemented in the road. However, it was
clear that there was insufficient support from residents to cover the
cost of implementation and ongoing administration of the scheme which is
the current Council policy for new resident parking schemes.

Unfortunately, there is no other action available to me to deal with the
concerns residents have raised about parking in the road.

Should you have any further comments or questions regarding this, please
contact me as below.

Yours sincerely,

Traffic Network Manager (Traffic and Transportation)

Regeneration and Environment Directorate

Wirral Council

13 Jun 2014

Chairs all round for Wirral Labour

Just a few weeks into the new council year and the ruling Labour group is wasting no time showing its true colours.

Labour is exercising its majority position to assume 100% control in chairing all the committees that regulate and scrutinise council activity. Previously, these had been shared out with the other parties (Tory and Lib Dems), something that the independent improvement board had recommended.

In total there are eleven committees. Some deal with practical issues such as licensing and planning. Otheres scrutinise council policy and performance.

Labour’s rational? The opposition parties have been so rubbish at scrutiny they don’t deserve any position of responsibility.

A quick read through the comments in the relevant WirralGlobe article will give you some idea of what members of the public think about that explanation. In short, not very much. Then again, Labour’s leadership don’t seem overly bothered about what people on Merseyside might think based on Ed Milliband’s recent clanger.

A confident executive would be more than happy to open itself up to scrutiny. As things now stand, the Labour-run council is scrutinising itself and can ignore any opposition criticism irrespective of how pertinent and sensible it may be.

Of course there might be another reason why the Labour party would want to chair all council committees. Typically, committee chairs receive an allowance £4,584. Across all eleven committees, allowances amount to £45,391 annually.

1 Jun 2014

Why is Wirral Council persecuting victims of the Bedroom Tax?

In the recent local election campaign, a prominent feature of my opponent's literature was his party's opposition to the bedroom tax and Labour's commitment to abolish it if it wins the next general election.

All well and good but not much use to anyone already hit by the bedroom tax or currently facing eviction.

But, given the above, you would at least expect that a Labour-run council would do everything it legally can to assist victims of the bedroom tax and look sympathetically upon those entering appeals.

Liverpool Council, for example, adopted an early position against actively contesting bedroom tax appeals by not sending a presenting officer to tribunals.

Across the Mersey, however, things are very different.

Take the case outlined yesterday in the SPeye blog. A disabled social housing tenant from Birkenhead clearly won her appeal against the bedroom tax on the straightforward grounds that two of her so-called "bedrooms" are below 50 square feet. One of these rooms is only 36.5 square feet.

Rooms below 50 square feet cannot be classified as bedrooms. In the private sector it is illegal to rent out such a room as a bedroom.

So, that should be that. The tenant is exempt from bedroom tax and due a refund for monies already paid.

But not in Wirral where the council has written to this tenant and is seeking permission to appeal this judgement. In other words, Wirral MBC does not accept that a room of 36.5 square feet should not be classified as a bedroom.

Apart from the moral issues involved, there are also important financial issues. How much is it costing to contest these appeals? Why is Wirral doing so when it is clearly the remit of the Department for Work and Pensions?

And, is Wirral exposing itself to judicial review by classifying social housing property rooms under 50 square feet as bedrooms when it is illegal to do so in the private sector?

How Labour councillors in Wirral justify their authority's stance is up to them but their response to date has been lame to say the least. I take very seriously the impact the bedroom tax and wider welfare changes are having on the community I represent and will do everything I can to support those affected. I welcome all advice in this respect.

In particular, the Green Party continues to give strong support to the Wirral Campaign Against the Bedroom Tax and supports its drive to secure 1,000 appeals against the bedroom tax.

Anyone in Wirral seeking advice about the bedroom tax should ring 07956 458 331 or contact me directly.