Council takes out £20,000 lease on Birkenhead constituency office despite needing to save £57m

Wirral Globe: Birkenhead Fire Station. Birkenhead Fire Station.

WIRRAL Council has come under fire yet again for its spending habits, less than 24 hours after announced it was to axe 500 jobs.

The authority’s chief executive Graham Burgess warned staff yesterday that they may face compulsory redundancies as it tries to save £57m by 2017.

But despite needing to save £27m this year alone, council chiefs have approved spending £20,000 on leasing an office in Birkenhead for two years - less than two miles from the town hall.

The £10,000-a-year lease, for an office at Birkenhead fire station, will allow the authority’s Birkenhead constituency committee to have a “permanent” office and will act as the location for future meetings.

Opting to lease an office, rather than use an existing council building has sparked anger from opposition councillors.

The other three committees – Wallasey, Wirral South and Wirral West – are all currently based in council-owned buildings.

In a report published on the council’s website, it states: “As the council requires the property for operational purposes no other options have been considered.”

Wallasey Conservative councillor Leah Fraser, who yesterday criticised the council for spending close to £20,000 on redecorating toilets in Wallasey Town Hall, said: “What is it with these people? They just don’t get it. They have put staff under threat of redundancy, they are trying to close the Lyndale School and have spent £17,000 on posh toilets.

“Now they want to lease a building for the exclusive use of councillors and senior managers to use?”

Cllr Fraser added: “It beggars belief, especially when, by their own admission they haven’t even investigated using council owned buildings, not even Birkenhead Town Hall or the numerous other buildings tax payers own, if they’re not fit for operational purposes why is money being thrown at them year in year out.”

Assistant chief executive David Armstrong defended the decision, saying office space at Birkenhead Town Hall is not readily available.

He said: “Birkenhead Community Fire Station was identified as a central, accessible location for the constituency office.

“It is adjacent to partners from fire and ambulance services and has excellent transport links. It also includes use of a number of community rooms.

“Office accommodation at Birkenhead Town Hall is now full with staff re-located from Acre Lane in Bromborough which in turn will be vacated for disposal.

“Current national policy encourages public bodies to co-locate and this is one of a number of arrangements with fire, police and health.”

Opposition councillors have until June 17 to “call-in” the decision.

Comments (21)

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2:37pm Fri 13 Jun 14

johnhardaker says...

No wonder they call it the clown hall, these officers & councillors do not care about the poor ratepayers they just squander money like confetti with total disregard as to where it comes from. If they had bothered to collect the £35 million toxic debt & had not invested £7million in icelanddic banks of which we are not likely to see any return,spending millions on consultants who normal answer is No case to answer,paying disgraced officers over a million pounds &£840.000.00 on a fancy fire escape,£17kon new toilets,as well as £700kplus on councillors allowances the list is endless as we all know.
Then have the gaul to make 500 staff redundant it beggars beleif.
The sooner they realise that the council is a business & is run by professionals the sooner they will get out the the mess they are in.
No wonder they call it the clown hall, these officers & councillors do not care about the poor ratepayers they just squander money like confetti with total disregard as to where it comes from. If they had bothered to collect the £35 million toxic debt & had not invested £7million in icelanddic banks of which we are not likely to see any return,spending millions on consultants who normal answer is No case to answer,paying disgraced officers over a million pounds &£840.000.00 on a fancy fire escape,£17kon new toilets,as well as £700kplus on councillors allowances the list is endless as we all know. Then have the gaul to make 500 staff redundant it beggars beleif. The sooner they realise that the council is a business & is run by professionals the sooner they will get out the the mess they are in. johnhardaker
  • Score: 13

2:37pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Cheesy Peas says...

Does Armstrong genuinely not believe there is ANY space available either at Birkenhead Town Hall or the leased Cheshire Lines building?

Would he like me to show him the admittedly difficult task of how to push a few spare desks together?

Our local authority doesn't see a community with problems to be addressed. They just see a bunch of mugs there for the taking.

The empire building continues apace, and sod the rest of us.
Does Armstrong genuinely not believe there is ANY space available either at Birkenhead Town Hall or the leased Cheshire Lines building? Would he like me to show him the admittedly difficult task of how to push a few spare desks together? Our local authority doesn't see a community with problems to be addressed. They just see a bunch of mugs there for the taking. The empire building continues apace, and sod the rest of us. Cheesy Peas
  • Score: 17

2:45pm Fri 13 Jun 14

JohnON says...

From an earlier article:
"Councillor Davies said the Labour group had increased its majority to ten seats following the recent elections and he felt his group had a mandate to run the council."

Give them enough rope....
From an earlier article: "Councillor Davies said the Labour group had increased its majority to ten seats following the recent elections and he felt his group had a mandate to run the council." Give them enough rope.... JohnON
  • Score: 5

3:11pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Llamedos 1 says...

When oh when will these blithering idiots learn......its looking very much like never. If the apathetic electorate wont get rid of them it will be up to the likes of Fidel and Che.....roll on the revolution.
When oh when will these blithering idiots learn......its looking very much like never. If the apathetic electorate wont get rid of them it will be up to the likes of Fidel and Che.....roll on the revolution. Llamedos 1
  • Score: 5

3:17pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

Did they sack all the accountants in the last reshuffle because absolutely nothing this Council does makes any financial sense?
Did they sack all the accountants in the last reshuffle because absolutely nothing this Council does makes any financial sense? Growl Tiger
  • Score: 12

3:20pm Fri 13 Jun 14

PaulCa says...

David Armstrong becomes less convincing by the day and by each hideously misconceived media statement.

I sense a man writhing uncomfortably and struggling with what's left of his shot to pieces conscience. You know what to do. Blow the whistle. Blow it long. Blow it hard.

To think that the current CEO was drafted in to rescue the fortunes of the basket case. Little did we know that once the scurrilous deed of making the top job permanent was boxed off, and the LGA "Improvement" board were paid in 30 pieces and gone waaaaay over the horizon, it was back to the dark old days of blame, spin, PR, double-dealing, and a feeding frenzy at the trough of plenty the likes of which has not been seen since 2002/3, when the staff were granted a 3% pay rise (sounds good by today's standards)... but compare that to the 66 bloated troughers at the time (I don't count Pat Cleary these days)

...bog standard councillors allowances (no pun intended executive toilet fans); up 16%
...leader of the opposition: up 24%
...council leader (now being courted and feted as Mayor): up 36%

Challenge their greed these days and they will come together as one in a rare show of unity - including the oft-publicly-grandst
anding Leah Fraser.

We are all being TAKEN FOR A RIDE.
David Armstrong becomes less convincing by the day and by each hideously misconceived media statement. I sense a man writhing uncomfortably and struggling with what's left of his shot to pieces conscience. You know what to do. Blow the whistle. Blow it long. Blow it hard. To think that the current CEO was drafted in to rescue the fortunes of the basket case. Little did we know that once the scurrilous deed of making the top job permanent was boxed off, and the LGA "Improvement" board were paid in 30 pieces and gone waaaaay over the horizon, it was back to the dark old days of blame, spin, PR, double-dealing, and a feeding frenzy at the trough of plenty the likes of which has not been seen since 2002/3, when the staff were granted a 3% pay rise (sounds good by today's standards)... but compare that to the 66 bloated troughers at the time (I don't count Pat Cleary these days) ...bog standard councillors allowances (no pun intended executive toilet fans); up 16% ...leader of the opposition: up 24% ...council leader (now being courted and feted as Mayor): up 36% Challenge their greed these days and they will come together as one in a rare show of unity - including the oft-publicly-grandst anding Leah Fraser. We are all being TAKEN FOR A RIDE. PaulCa
  • Score: 18

4:15pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Ha ha ha ha, sorry but sometimes you just have to laugh don't you. This comes hot on the heels of 500 job losses. You couldn't write it.

Cheesy is right in that the person responsible for this experiment in Asset Based Community Development work (ABCD) is definitely empire building with impunity.

I believe that these Constituency Committees will be an abject failure as all the Constituency Managers do not have a Community Engagement qualification or experience between the lot of them and were all hand picked for their collective loyalty to you know who.

As soon as the Improvement Board give the Council the glowing reference of getting its act together and is disbanded we get this. This council truly is a basket case led by people in senior management who don't give two hoots about anything but themselves.
Ha ha ha ha, sorry but sometimes you just have to laugh don't you. This comes hot on the heels of 500 job losses. You couldn't write it. Cheesy is right in that the person responsible for this experiment in Asset Based Community Development work (ABCD) is definitely empire building with impunity. I believe that these Constituency Committees will be an abject failure as all the Constituency Managers do not have a Community Engagement qualification or experience between the lot of them and were all hand picked for their collective loyalty to you know who. As soon as the Improvement Board give the Council the glowing reference of getting its act together and is disbanded we get this. This council truly is a basket case led by people in senior management who don't give two hoots about anything but themselves. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 13

4:42pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

No disrespect to David Armstrong but he wouldn't have had any say in this decision. It would have gone on around him. She who must be obeyed would have been pushing for this move to come off.
No disrespect to David Armstrong but he wouldn't have had any say in this decision. It would have gone on around him. She who must be obeyed would have been pushing for this move to come off. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 3

7:12pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

David Armstrong is now taking the lead in many of these announcements - why is that when we have a full time permanent CEO (aka Mr Burgess) who has a newly furbished office suite , staircases, en suites, new top of the range BMW. Could it be that the CEO is contemplating some kind of severence and Mr Armstrong is being primed to take up the reins?
David Armstrong is now taking the lead in many of these announcements - why is that when we have a full time permanent CEO (aka Mr Burgess) who has a newly furbished office suite , staircases, en suites, new top of the range BMW. Could it be that the CEO is contemplating some kind of severence and Mr Armstrong is being primed to take up the reins? Growl Tiger
  • Score: 6

7:55pm Fri 13 Jun 14

BlueHue says...

Disgusting decisions from a Council who are trying to cut special needs transport, cut their statements by 20%, close a key much needed special needs school and are now binning front line staff.... whilst spending a fortune on decorating, carpets and leasing offices.

The same hideous people who appointed Steve Foulkes as Mayor. This Peninsula is a disgrace because of these elected officials. I am ashamed of the vast majority of you. For the sake of our borough, our children, the workers you seek to make jobless.... speak up! Speak for us. That is why you are there, to speak FOR us. So do it. Bring up in chambers that this is a disgrace. Shame those responsible for putting through these decisions, name them so that we NEVER elect them again.
Disgusting decisions from a Council who are trying to cut special needs transport, cut their statements by 20%, close a key much needed special needs school and are now binning front line staff.... whilst spending a fortune on decorating, carpets and leasing offices. The same hideous people who appointed Steve Foulkes as Mayor. This Peninsula is a disgrace because of these elected officials. I am ashamed of the vast majority of you. For the sake of our borough, our children, the workers you seek to make jobless.... speak up! Speak for us. That is why you are there, to speak FOR us. So do it. Bring up in chambers that this is a disgrace. Shame those responsible for putting through these decisions, name them so that we NEVER elect them again. BlueHue
  • Score: 13

8:14pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Thepleb says...

Cheshire lines,Hamilton building,Birkenhead park pavilion,Conway building,Lauries centre they could even use the office that was the emergency cctv control room that they closed down in Cheshire lines anyone of these options would be free but no they crave shiny new things while all around them falls into disrepair, disgrace once again it just never ends.
Cheshire lines,Hamilton building,Birkenhead park pavilion,Conway building,Lauries centre they could even use the office that was the emergency cctv control room that they closed down in Cheshire lines anyone of these options would be free but no they crave shiny new things while all around them falls into disrepair, disgrace once again it just never ends. Thepleb
  • Score: 15

8:19pm Fri 13 Jun 14

keen gardener says...

Am patiently awaiting an "UPDATE" ...is it £10K or £20K? May take the weekend for those whom are in control of information such as this ie MBC (PR Dept) or Wirral Globe (£'s)? PS From day one I have said that Mr B (CE who has a BMW...and now has a refurbished urinal + carpeted staircase) is a leopard ie 'one who never changes its spots'...the whole Wirral fiasco is a "fix".
Am patiently awaiting an "UPDATE" ...is it £10K or £20K? May take the weekend for those whom are in control of information such as this ie MBC (PR Dept) or Wirral Globe (£'s)? PS From day one I have said that Mr B (CE who has a BMW...and now has a refurbished urinal + carpeted staircase) is a leopard ie 'one who never changes its spots'...the whole Wirral fiasco is a "fix". keen gardener
  • Score: 5

10:29pm Fri 13 Jun 14

reliant22 says...

What with all that going on and getting away with it at the Town Hall. then the millionaire leader of the Labour Party is seen insulting the people of Merseyside ( for which he has since issued an apology,) by proudly showing off a copy of the Sun Newspaper. Where has he been? apart from counting his millions of £?

Please see sense voters and do the right thing in 2015.
Dictators we can do without thank you.
What with all that going on and getting away with it at the Town Hall. then the millionaire leader of the Labour Party is seen insulting the people of Merseyside ( for which he has since issued an apology,) by proudly showing off a copy of the Sun Newspaper. Where has he been? apart from counting his millions of £? Please see sense voters and do the right thing in 2015. Dictators we can do without thank you. reliant22
  • Score: 4

5:19am Sat 14 Jun 14

jay744 says...

Unlike other Labour controlled authorities Wirral are implementing the wicked bedroom tax.

Our Tory-lite Wirral Labour group have also required those receiving Jobseekers Allowance to pay 20 percent of their council tax. And it matters not that central government have not increased job seekers allowance to cover this extra cost.

So how dare these out of touch Tory-lite Labour Councillors waste such a huge sum on yet more office space?

Here's an idea. The council own Cole Street School. That is currently empty. Move in there.
Unlike other Labour controlled authorities Wirral are implementing the wicked bedroom tax. Our Tory-lite Wirral Labour group have also required those receiving Jobseekers Allowance to pay 20 percent of their council tax. And it matters not that central government have not increased job seekers allowance to cover this extra cost. So how dare these out of touch Tory-lite Labour Councillors waste such a huge sum on yet more office space? Here's an idea. The council own Cole Street School. That is currently empty. Move in there. jay744
  • Score: 9

11:22am Sat 14 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

jay744 wrote:
Unlike other Labour controlled authorities Wirral are implementing the wicked bedroom tax.

Our Tory-lite Wirral Labour group have also required those receiving Jobseekers Allowance to pay 20 percent of their council tax. And it matters not that central government have not increased job seekers allowance to cover this extra cost.

So how dare these out of touch Tory-lite Labour Councillors waste such a huge sum on yet more office space?

Here's an idea. The council own Cole Street School. That is currently empty. Move in there.
Jay,

Excellent well thought out and to the point contribution.

Regards

Joe.
[quote][p][bold]jay744[/bold] wrote: Unlike other Labour controlled authorities Wirral are implementing the wicked bedroom tax. Our Tory-lite Wirral Labour group have also required those receiving Jobseekers Allowance to pay 20 percent of their council tax. And it matters not that central government have not increased job seekers allowance to cover this extra cost. So how dare these out of touch Tory-lite Labour Councillors waste such a huge sum on yet more office space? Here's an idea. The council own Cole Street School. That is currently empty. Move in there.[/p][/quote]Jay, Excellent well thought out and to the point contribution. Regards Joe. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 6

11:31am Sat 14 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Given the Council needs to save all this money how can these so called Constituency Committees be safe?

It's just a load of box ticking isn't it. It seems that this department is bomb proof. Why is that?

For some reason, all the council seem to want to do these days is put on these Mickey Mouse consultations, then ignore the results.

Now they are trialling something called Asset Based Community Development! (ABCD). Go ahead and google it. It basically means that the council develop local people to volunteer to deliver services in their own area and these committees are there to facilitate it. Work that one out.

Yes, you got it. The council want you to deliver local services for free! Good stuff isn't it. Whilst the person leading this nonsense earns best part of £100k per year and the committee managers close to £50k.

Someone's kidding the public. This must be one of the worst led councils in the country.
Given the Council needs to save all this money how can these so called Constituency Committees be safe? It's just a load of box ticking isn't it. It seems that this department is bomb proof. Why is that? For some reason, all the council seem to want to do these days is put on these Mickey Mouse consultations, then ignore the results. Now they are trialling something called Asset Based Community Development! (ABCD). Go ahead and google it. It basically means that the council develop local people to volunteer to deliver services in their own area and these committees are there to facilitate it. Work that one out. Yes, you got it. The council want you to deliver local services for free! Good stuff isn't it. Whilst the person leading this nonsense earns best part of £100k per year and the committee managers close to £50k. Someone's kidding the public. This must be one of the worst led councils in the country. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 9

8:03pm Sat 14 Jun 14

uncatom says...

Why cant they keep it in house ? I am sure TRFC have something to offer, maybe the school on their newly acquired land on Leasowe Rd.
Why cant they keep it in house ? I am sure TRFC have something to offer, maybe the school on their newly acquired land on Leasowe Rd. uncatom
  • Score: 3

4:37am Sun 15 Jun 14

Wirralpleb says...

Interesting one even for Wirral Council to rent offices in Birkenhead Community Fire Station which is being built under the PFI (Private Finance Initiative) This is a practice that has gone on nationally for many many years supported by both Labour and Tory governments and is like you and I not being able to afford to buy something and borrowing the money from WONGA.
The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to PFI , you and I are unable to find out any arrangements between the PFI owner and Wirral Council.
Smacks of typical WBC "dodginess"
Interesting one even for Wirral Council to rent offices in Birkenhead Community Fire Station which is being built under the PFI (Private Finance Initiative) This is a practice that has gone on nationally for many many years supported by both Labour and Tory governments and is like you and I not being able to afford to buy something and borrowing the money from WONGA. The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to PFI , you and I are unable to find out any arrangements between the PFI owner and Wirral Council. Smacks of typical WBC "dodginess" Wirralpleb
  • Score: 8

12:36pm Mon 16 Jun 14

rover600 says...

keen gardener wrote:
Am patiently awaiting an "UPDATE" ...is it £10K or £20K? May take the weekend for those whom are in control of information such as this ie MBC (PR Dept) or Wirral Globe (£'s)? PS From day one I have said that Mr B (CE who has a BMW...and now has a refurbished urinal + carpeted staircase) is a leopard ie 'one who never changes its spots'...the whole Wirral fiasco is a "fix".
Apparently a £20k two year lease so equals 10k per annum - what a waste, what a joke, what a laughing stock... All I'd add is I voted for none of the incumbent shower for this was atypical behaviour before the local elections and a leopard does not change its spots... The whole of the Wirral had its chance recently to send this shameful shower a message at the last election but chose not to, that in turn by these arrogant individuals is then interpreted as an endorsement to 'carry on as normal'....
[quote][p][bold]keen gardener[/bold] wrote: Am patiently awaiting an "UPDATE" ...is it £10K or £20K? May take the weekend for those whom are in control of information such as this ie MBC (PR Dept) or Wirral Globe (£'s)? PS From day one I have said that Mr B (CE who has a BMW...and now has a refurbished urinal + carpeted staircase) is a leopard ie 'one who never changes its spots'...the whole Wirral fiasco is a "fix".[/p][/quote]Apparently a £20k two year lease so equals 10k per annum - what a waste, what a joke, what a laughing stock... All I'd add is I voted for none of the incumbent shower for this was atypical behaviour before the local elections and a leopard does not change its spots... The whole of the Wirral had its chance recently to send this shameful shower a message at the last election but chose not to, that in turn by these arrogant individuals is then interpreted as an endorsement to 'carry on as normal'.... rover600
  • Score: 1

9:10pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Hugo1008 says...

If the Wirral Council decisions where not so tragic it would be laughable that they need more space, there are half a dozen Council Owned buildings that have loads of empty space, all that is needed is a bit of a clean up and maybe some minor redecoration.
There is room galore in Birkenhead Town Hall, Central Library, and any number of Locations like half empty swimming pool and community centers
within a three mile radius Birkenhead Town Center.

There again why not just reduce the Party Political effect on WBC and save us huge amounts of money for generations.
We should have elected Councillors who actually consider the local Tax and Rate Payers instead of the Party Political parasites who infest the system.
If the Wirral Council decisions where not so tragic it would be laughable that they need more space, there are half a dozen Council Owned buildings that have loads of empty space, all that is needed is a bit of a clean up and maybe some minor redecoration. There is room galore in Birkenhead Town Hall, Central Library, and any number of Locations like half empty swimming pool and community centers within a three mile radius Birkenhead Town Center. There again why not just reduce the Party Political effect on WBC and save us huge amounts of money for generations. We should have elected Councillors who actually consider the local Tax and Rate Payers instead of the Party Political parasites who infest the system. Hugo1008
  • Score: 3

7:43pm Wed 18 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

All the weighty reports produced for Cabinet for Future Wirral talk about the need to SAVE money. So why has the Council stated it's not looked at any other options?

If you was running your own business you wouldn't spend this money would you? Shambles!
All the weighty reports produced for Cabinet for Future Wirral talk about the need to SAVE money. So why has the Council stated it's not looked at any other options? If you was running your own business you wouldn't spend this money would you? Shambles! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 2

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