11 Dec 2018

Door opens to NHS privatisation in Wirral

Below is the speech I gave at last night's full council meeting on the new Integrated Commissioning Hub for Wirral.  I've written about this previously, particularly in terms of the threat it poses to privatisation of health services locally.

Although some 13 Labour councillors agreed with me that this agreement should be referred back to the relevant cabinet committee and several more abstained, a combination of the remaining Labour councillors with Conservative and Lib Dem support, voted the deal through.

This clearly demonstrates the extent of the split in the Labour group on this issue.

You can watch the debate via the council's web stream. My contribution starts at 1.45.23

Two months ago, along with Cllr Sullivan, I warned council that creating an accountable care organisation in Wirral was opening the door to privatisation of health services in Wirral.


If council, as I believe many Labour councillors wanted to, had accepted our advice, we could have paused, avoided the call-in, and spent the past two months addressing the serious flaws in these arrangements.

Instead, as the Lib Dem amendment refers, we are told time is short and we need to press on regardless of the long term implications.

I don't believe that's good enough for the people we represent.

And there was ample evidence in the call-in debate to support my concerns.

In particular, Yvonne Nolan's evidence was extremely clear that:

•    this model paves the way for privatisation

•    joint working between council social care and the NHS was entirely possible without pooled funding

•    that, given these concerns and the financial risks to the council, she would have advised caution

To me, that is a polite way of saying "you are making a big mistake here"

Another witness, Dr Derek Timmins went further saying the signing of this agreement "will lead to increasing privatisation of our nhs and more cuts in services"

This all fits in to the wider agenda of privatisation by stealth – creating single organisations with pooled budgets and weak democratic oversight that are ripe private interests to colonise.

In the face of these warnings, the bland reassurance from the cabinet member that this will not lead to privatisation lacks credibility.

In the circumstances and given the limited powers of council to act tonight, the only responsible course of action is to reject the amendment, refer the entire decision back to the cabinet committee and urge them, in the strongest possible terms, to think again.

5 Dec 2018

Climate Emergency

At this Monday's council meeting I am asking Wirral Council to declare a "climate emergency". Here is a copy of my motion:


Council notes the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report ‘Global warming of 1.5°’ published on 8 October 2018, in particular:

that human activities are estimated to have already caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels;

that if we continue at the current rate, we are likely to surpass the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C as early as 2030;

that, at the current level of commitments, the world is on course for at least 3°C of warming with irreversible and catastrophic consequences for humans and the natural world.

Council believes that:

the impacts of global temperature rise above 1.5°C, are so severe that governments at all levels must work together and make this their top priority.

as well as large-scale improvements in health and wellbeing around the world, bold climate action can deliver economic benefits in terms of new jobs, economic savings and market opportunities.

Therefore, Council requests that the Leader and Cabinet relevant Overview & Scrutiny Committee establish an Overview and Scrutiny Committee working group, with a remit to

(i)   Seek advice from experts to develop a robust carbon budget and set a challenging target date for carbon neutrality in Wirral;

(ii) Consider systematically the climate change impact of each area of the Council’s activities;

(iii) Make recommendations and set an ambitious timescale for reducing these impacts;

(iv) Report to full Council with the actions the Council needs to take to address this emergency.

In addition, Council further requests that the Leader & Cabinet:

-   require all report risk assessments should include Carbon Emission Appraisals, including presenting alternative approaches which reduce emissions wherever possible.

 -  task a director level officer should be tasked with responsibility for reducing as rapidly as possible, the carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities.

 - that the leader writes to inform the Prime Minister that Wirral has declared a climate emergency.