UPDATED: Wirral Council U-turn over spending £20,000 on new Birkenhead office

Cllr Stuart Kelly outside Birkenhead Fire Station.

Cllr Stuart Kelly outside Birkenhead Fire Station.

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A U-TURN over spending £20,000 on leasing an office in Birkenhead less than two miles from the town hall has been welcomed by members of the opposition.

Wirral Council came under fire for its decision to approve the two-year lease at Birkenhead fire station at a time when 500 jobs are to be axed in a bid to save £57m.

The £10,000-a-year lease would have allowed the authority's Birkenhead constituency committee to have a permanent base and will act as a location for future meetings.

A report published on the authority's website admitted that "no other options have been considered" as the council required the property for "operational purposes".

But Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly found this unacceptable and opted to use his “call-in” procedures to delay the decision and force further debate on the issue.

After receiving cross-party support from six other councillors, the decision was due to be looked at by a scrutiny committee but Wirral Council today announced it would not be approving the lease after all and will instead review other suitable council-owned premises.

In an email received by those involved in the call-in, it states: “This supersedes the original decision in that no lease is to be taken in respect of an office at the Birkenhead fire station as outlined in the report and instead a review is to be undertaken of other suitable council owned premises for the location of the constituency team.

“Discussions are ongoing with the chief executive and the lead signatory, who has been invited to withdraw the call-in, in view of it having been negated by the revised decision that has now been taken.”

Cllr Kelly said: "I am delighted that the cabinet member has performed the U-turn and that the matter is going to be given some proper scrutiny and that other options are going to be looked at.

"The question has to be raised as to why that wasn't his first thought when the report was first put in front of him. The question also has to be raised about the decision making process.

"These are questions we will have to raise again in the future."

Cllr Kelly added: "I just have to convince them to keep Lyndale open now, cut the grass and keep the street lights on."

Green Party councillor Pat Cleary – one of those to sign the call-in – said: “I am pleased the cabinet has seen sense and I look forward to the outcome of the review which I trust will find a way to utilise existing council assets.”

Chief Executive Graham Burgess said: "We have received representations from a number of councillors regarding occupying office space in Birkenhead Fire Station so the cabinet member has decided not to proceed and we are reviewing alternatives.

“We are always keen to ensure that we get value for money when looking at office space.”

Comments (24)

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3:26pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Common sense prevails at a Wirral Council. Wow, never thought I would here myself say that!
Common sense prevails at a Wirral Council. Wow, never thought I would here myself say that! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 11

3:27pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

PS, she who must be obeyed will not be a happy bunny today. Watch out those walking the corridors of Wallasey Town Hall!
PS, she who must be obeyed will not be a happy bunny today. Watch out those walking the corridors of Wallasey Town Hall! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 9

3:38pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Llamedos 1 says...

Is this the start of people power over the idiots in the clown hall that are wasting vast amounts of our hard earned council tax........time will tell. Pressure from the general public must continue to bring our so called representative into line
Is this the start of people power over the idiots in the clown hall that are wasting vast amounts of our hard earned council tax........time will tell. Pressure from the general public must continue to bring our so called representative into line Llamedos 1
  • Score: 11

3:38pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Cheesy Peas says...

She Who Must Be Obeyed can go take a running jump.

It's not her money, it's ours.

And don't forget, without Cllr Kelly spotting this and alerting the public, they would have carried on regardless, just like they always, always do in the deluded, but at least newly-decorated office suites Brighton Street.

Hope this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.
She Who Must Be Obeyed can go take a running jump. It's not her money, it's ours. And don't forget, without Cllr Kelly spotting this and alerting the public, they would have carried on regardless, just like they always, always do in the deluded, but at least newly-decorated office suites Brighton Street. Hope this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings. Cheesy Peas
  • Score: 6

3:47pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Cheesy Peas wrote:
She Who Must Be Obeyed can go take a running jump.

It's not her money, it's ours.

And don't forget, without Cllr Kelly spotting this and alerting the public, they would have carried on regardless, just like they always, always do in the deluded, but at least newly-decorated office suites Brighton Street.

Hope this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.
I agree Cheesy but experience tells me that when things go wrong for her then there are two options. One is stay clear. The second is make sure you laugh at any of her jokes! Ha ha.

Regards Joe.
[quote][p][bold]Cheesy Peas[/bold] wrote: She Who Must Be Obeyed can go take a running jump. It's not her money, it's ours. And don't forget, without Cllr Kelly spotting this and alerting the public, they would have carried on regardless, just like they always, always do in the deluded, but at least newly-decorated office suites Brighton Street. Hope this doesn't hurt anyone's feelings.[/p][/quote]I agree Cheesy but experience tells me that when things go wrong for her then there are two options. One is stay clear. The second is make sure you laugh at any of her jokes! Ha ha. Regards Joe. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 5

4:16pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Cheesy Peas says...

Never had the displeasure, but I know one or two people who have.
Never had the displeasure, but I know one or two people who have. Cheesy Peas
  • Score: 7

5:04pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Growl Tiger says...

How on earth could they even consider expanding accommodation whilst threatening staff reductions – less staff = more space. Not that I want staff to lose jobs it’s just that their equation at the time didn’t make sense.

There is an interesting news item on the WBC web-site – do you all know that Wirral is Ready, Now?

Ready for what you may ask – The Golf? No, wrong, Wirral is ready for the automotive industry and renewable industries. According to our Leader “This campaign will see Wirral at the FOREfront (no golf pun intended there) of investment decisions across the globe within the automotive and renewable markets”. It also says that Wirral is particularly interested in hosting research and development projects. To be fair the link to the awful website does not actually mention fracking, but we know this lot would sell their grandmother’s Zimmer frame for a free ticket to Dancing on Thin Ice so one wonders if research and development is a euphemism for fracking. Hopefully it does not, but it’s just another thing for us Wirral tax payers to be Ready Now!
How on earth could they even consider expanding accommodation whilst threatening staff reductions – less staff = more space. Not that I want staff to lose jobs it’s just that their equation at the time didn’t make sense. There is an interesting news item on the WBC web-site – do you all know that Wirral is Ready, Now? Ready for what you may ask – The Golf? No, wrong, Wirral is ready for the automotive industry and renewable industries. According to our Leader “This campaign will see Wirral at the FOREfront (no golf pun intended there) of investment decisions across the globe within the automotive and renewable markets”. It also says that Wirral is particularly interested in hosting research and development projects. To be fair the link to the awful website does not actually mention fracking, but we know this lot would sell their grandmother’s Zimmer frame for a free ticket to Dancing on Thin Ice so one wonders if research and development is a euphemism for fracking. Hopefully it does not, but it’s just another thing for us Wirral tax payers to be Ready Now! Growl Tiger
  • Score: 8

5:33pm Fri 20 Jun 14

It's all gone to pot says...

Well done to Stuart Kelly and others on having the cheek to bring it up and changing their minds,shame on the councillors sitting on the fence taking the money and agreeing on any silly idea that comes along.
Well done to Stuart Kelly and others on having the cheek to bring it up and changing their minds,shame on the councillors sitting on the fence taking the money and agreeing on any silly idea that comes along. It's all gone to pot
  • Score: 8

7:00pm Fri 20 Jun 14

David Scott says...

A further issue is, of course, the cost of staffing these 'constituency committees'. I've yet to work out what the net gain is for the council tax payers of Wirral.
A further issue is, of course, the cost of staffing these 'constituency committees'. I've yet to work out what the net gain is for the council tax payers of Wirral. David Scott
  • Score: 4

7:43pm Fri 20 Jun 14

hobroW says...

Is Mr Kelly and his Gang of Five being irresponsible in the terms expressed by f Cllr Davies last council meeting?
Is Mr Kelly and his Gang of Five being irresponsible in the terms expressed by f Cllr Davies last council meeting? hobroW
  • Score: 3

10:44pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Caroline Cornflake says...

What I can't understand is why the Fire Authority proposed to charge Wirral Council (us tax payers) to use a property which was funded out of our taxes and the upkeep of which we also pay. Perhaps Mr Burgess can inform us why he and his highly paid senior officers did not pick this point up. We used to finance the Fire Authority from within our Council Tax but now we pay a separate precept so why on earth should we pay to access Fire Authority premises to conduct legitimate business on behalf of the citizens of Wirral? How many more instances are there of Wirral Council paying other pseudo government organisation for that which we tax payers have already been charged? Perhaps the new Green councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere might like to look into this kind of double charging which in my view is probably rampant within wirral.
What I can't understand is why the Fire Authority proposed to charge Wirral Council (us tax payers) to use a property which was funded out of our taxes and the upkeep of which we also pay. Perhaps Mr Burgess can inform us why he and his highly paid senior officers did not pick this point up. We used to finance the Fire Authority from within our Council Tax but now we pay a separate precept so why on earth should we pay to access Fire Authority premises to conduct legitimate business on behalf of the citizens of Wirral? How many more instances are there of Wirral Council paying other pseudo government organisation for that which we tax payers have already been charged? Perhaps the new Green councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere might like to look into this kind of double charging which in my view is probably rampant within wirral. Caroline Cornflake
  • Score: 8

11:06pm Fri 20 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

David Scott wrote:
A further issue is, of course, the cost of staffing these 'constituency committees'. I've yet to work out what the net gain is for the council tax payers of Wirral.
Good point David.

Pretty much nothing to be honest.

Just another hair brained scheme that was introduced by the Head of Public Engagement to try to kid us that we are important and bring listened to.

In reality it means neither of those things but at the same time builds a little bit more empire!

The Managers that these so called Constituency Committees wouldn't know Community Engagement if it bit them on the bottom! But what they all have in common is allegiance to certain a Senior Manager!
[quote][p][bold]David Scott[/bold] wrote: A further issue is, of course, the cost of staffing these 'constituency committees'. I've yet to work out what the net gain is for the council tax payers of Wirral.[/p][/quote]Good point David. Pretty much nothing to be honest. Just another hair brained scheme that was introduced by the Head of Public Engagement to try to kid us that we are important and bring listened to. In reality it means neither of those things but at the same time builds a little bit more empire! The Managers that these so called Constituency Committees wouldn't know Community Engagement if it bit them on the bottom! But what they all have in common is allegiance to certain a Senior Manager! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 7

6:01am Sat 21 Jun 14

Wirralpleb says...

Caroline Cornflake.
Can't understand is why the Fire Authority proposed to charge Wirral Council (us tax payers) to use a property which was funded out of our taxes and the upkeep

.(This is down to the Fire Station being bought with PFI ,Private Finance Initiative).
I am so relieved there has has been a re-think on not to do this.
Wait a minute haven't they just done the same in not pursuing amalgamating back room services with Cheshire West Council,and cost Wirral and Cheshire taxpayers £370,000.Ahh that's value for money?.
Caroline Cornflake. Can't understand is why the Fire Authority proposed to charge Wirral Council (us tax payers) to use a property which was funded out of our taxes and the upkeep .(This is down to the Fire Station being bought with PFI ,Private Finance Initiative). I am so relieved there has has been a re-think on not to do this. Wait a minute haven't they just done the same in not pursuing amalgamating back room services with Cheshire West Council,and cost Wirral and Cheshire taxpayers £370,000.Ahh that's value for money?. Wirralpleb
  • Score: 5

8:00am Sat 21 Jun 14

Hugo1008 says...

Perhaps somebody from Council would care to explain why W B C needs more premises especially at a time when they are supposedly reducing the number of staff, this on top of the number of staff that have already moved on , who now occupy the empty chairs from those who have gone in the last few years.
It still seems that those senior management who now make the decisions have not got a clue about what they have at present nor what they cost, take the Cheshire lines building, last time I saw in that building. Acres of empty space plus all the chairs, desks, cabinets, drawers, cupboards, computers, printers, even the carpet tiles, all gone, but to where, and at what cost,? Any body out there know.
Perhaps somebody from Council would care to explain why W B C needs more premises especially at a time when they are supposedly reducing the number of staff, this on top of the number of staff that have already moved on , who now occupy the empty chairs from those who have gone in the last few years. It still seems that those senior management who now make the decisions have not got a clue about what they have at present nor what they cost, take the Cheshire lines building, last time I saw in that building. Acres of empty space plus all the chairs, desks, cabinets, drawers, cupboards, computers, printers, even the carpet tiles, all gone, but to where, and at what cost,? Any body out there know. Hugo1008
  • Score: 9

9:10am Sat 21 Jun 14

It's all gone to pot says...

So happy over the 20,000 saved over the latest the fiasco, Please Assistant Chief Executive Officer David Armstrong stand down over the embarrassment you caused, especially after he defended the idea, then bang here we go again, I look in WBC job vacancies and see they are looking for a Leisure operations manager for West Kirkby concourse 40000 salary, haven't they just rid of managers in leisure.Then to rub more salt into the already angry wound I read they also need a Chief Info Officer,62,000 salary who needs to be an IT expert,where these the findings of Tony Glew the IT expert they hired at a cost of 16,000 a month or a daily rate of 800 pounds, then the killer punch happens on the vacancy list they are looking for volunteers for the library service to help out with IT issues.So this got me thinking are there any retired experts in business who would volunteer to become WBC Chief Executive so that Graham Burgess and Cronies can go back to where they came from.Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.
So happy over the 20,000 saved over the latest the fiasco, Please Assistant Chief Executive Officer David Armstrong stand down over the embarrassment you caused, especially after he defended the idea, then bang here we go again, I look in WBC job vacancies and see they are looking for a Leisure operations manager for West Kirkby concourse 40000 salary, haven't they just rid of managers in leisure.Then to rub more salt into the already angry wound I read they also need a Chief Info Officer,62,000 salary who needs to be an IT expert,where these the findings of Tony Glew the IT expert they hired at a cost of 16,000 a month or a daily rate of 800 pounds, then the killer punch happens on the vacancy list they are looking for volunteers for the library service to help out with IT issues.So this got me thinking are there any retired experts in business who would volunteer to become WBC Chief Executive so that Graham Burgess and Cronies can go back to where they came from.Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. It's all gone to pot
  • Score: 10

10:46am Sat 21 Jun 14

Caroline Cornflake says...

Too many silos and not enough common sense, joined up thinking, or real leadership by our highly paid council executives. In my view what we really need is visible accountability in the form of published outcome requirements of the senior leadership of Wirral Council. These targets should be strategic and operational and be measured quantatively and qualatively just like senior management outside of the public sector. At least the councillors put themselves up for election every four years, but there are little or no sanctions available to tax payers to rectify the poor decision making of senior management.

Perhaps we need a non-politically sponsored elected Mayor - the last thing either the political elite or the senior managers want. A bit like turkeys voting for Christmas :)

Some time ago Wirral Council promised to be open and transparent - Dream On.
Too many silos and not enough common sense, joined up thinking, or real leadership by our highly paid council executives. In my view what we really need is visible accountability in the form of published outcome requirements of the senior leadership of Wirral Council. These targets should be strategic and operational and be measured quantatively and qualatively just like senior management outside of the public sector. At least the councillors put themselves up for election every four years, but there are little or no sanctions available to tax payers to rectify the poor decision making of senior management. Perhaps we need a non-politically sponsored elected Mayor - the last thing either the political elite or the senior managers want. A bit like turkeys voting for Christmas :) Some time ago Wirral Council promised to be open and transparent - Dream On. Caroline Cornflake
  • Score: 8

11:03am Sat 21 Jun 14

Cheesy Peas says...

Wirral Council is as open and transparent as an oil slick, and causes just about the same amount of mess.
Wirral Council is as open and transparent as an oil slick, and causes just about the same amount of mess. Cheesy Peas
  • Score: 7

4:42pm Sat 21 Jun 14

Caroline Cornflake says...

Hugo1008 wrote:
Perhaps somebody from Council would care to explain why W B C needs more premises especially at a time when they are supposedly reducing the number of staff, this on top of the number of staff that have already moved on , who now occupy the empty chairs from those who have gone in the last few years.
It still seems that those senior management who now make the decisions have not got a clue about what they have at present nor what they cost, take the Cheshire lines building, last time I saw in that building. Acres of empty space plus all the chairs, desks, cabinets, drawers, cupboards, computers, printers, even the carpet tiles, all gone, but to where, and at what cost,? Any body out there know.
Quote, "Leisure operations manager for West Kirkby concourse £40,000 salary"

Comment, Visit the Wirral Council website and read the whole job description: http://www.wirral.go
v.uk/jobs/jobdetail.
asp?VacancyID=6359&O
ther=
Which indicates that this is the top operational management job in Leisure Services and finishes with "The post holder will also take client responsibility for any future alternative service delivery models that may be considered and ensure effective leadership of contract/client relationships". This is town hall speak for the potential outsourcing of much of Leisure Services something which Mr Burgess has been advocating, indeed actively promoting, since he arrived in Wirral.

Quote, "a Chief Info Officer, £62,000 salary who needs to be an IT expert"

Chief Information Officer is what the council calls its top IT person. This post requires an exceptional IT Manager who will have what many believe is the most difficult task of any IT manager in the UK. However, if she or he is not of outstanding ability and the job is not elevated to Director level they are unlikely to bring about the huge changes that are required.
[quote][p][bold]Hugo1008[/bold] wrote: Perhaps somebody from Council would care to explain why W B C needs more premises especially at a time when they are supposedly reducing the number of staff, this on top of the number of staff that have already moved on , who now occupy the empty chairs from those who have gone in the last few years. It still seems that those senior management who now make the decisions have not got a clue about what they have at present nor what they cost, take the Cheshire lines building, last time I saw in that building. Acres of empty space plus all the chairs, desks, cabinets, drawers, cupboards, computers, printers, even the carpet tiles, all gone, but to where, and at what cost,? Any body out there know.[/p][/quote]Quote, "Leisure operations manager for West Kirkby concourse £40,000 salary" Comment, Visit the Wirral Council website and read the whole job description: http://www.wirral.go v.uk/jobs/jobdetail. asp?VacancyID=6359&O ther= Which indicates that this is the top operational management job in Leisure Services and finishes with "The post holder will also take client responsibility for any future alternative service delivery models that may be considered and ensure effective leadership of contract/client relationships". This is town hall speak for the potential outsourcing of much of Leisure Services something which Mr Burgess has been advocating, indeed actively promoting, since he arrived in Wirral. Quote, "a Chief Info Officer, £62,000 salary who needs to be an IT expert" Chief Information Officer is what the council calls its top IT person. This post requires an exceptional IT Manager who will have what many believe is the most difficult task of any IT manager in the UK. However, if she or he is not of outstanding ability and the job is not elevated to Director level they are unlikely to bring about the huge changes that are required. Caroline Cornflake
  • Score: 7

6:47pm Sun 22 Jun 14

bigfoot says...

He'll hath no fury like a woman scorned-this could turn Uggly!
He'll hath no fury like a woman scorned-this could turn Uggly! bigfoot
  • Score: 2

6:47pm Sun 22 Jun 14

bigfoot says...

He'll hath no fury like a woman scorned-this could turn Uggly!
He'll hath no fury like a woman scorned-this could turn Uggly! bigfoot
  • Score: 3

10:30pm Sun 22 Jun 14

spamfiend says...

Mr Burgess states at the end he is interested i value for money - Superb. When do you leave???
Mr Burgess states at the end he is interested i value for money - Superb. When do you leave??? spamfiend
  • Score: 11

12:21pm Tue 24 Jun 14

YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE says...

YET JUST 1 OF A LONG LIST OF WASTE BY THE LABOUR COUNCIL, SPENDING OUR MONEY , ONLY NEED TO FIND ANOTHER £55M OF WASTE, SHOULDN'T BE HARD THOUGH KNOWING THIS LABOUR COINCIL.NO DOUBT IT'S THE COALITION'S FAULT THOUGH , LABOUR WON'T ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING.
YET JUST 1 OF A LONG LIST OF WASTE BY THE LABOUR COUNCIL, SPENDING OUR MONEY , ONLY NEED TO FIND ANOTHER £55M OF WASTE, SHOULDN'T BE HARD THOUGH KNOWING THIS LABOUR COINCIL.NO DOUBT IT'S THE COALITION'S FAULT THOUGH , LABOUR WON'T ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYTHING. YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE
  • Score: 5

11:03am Fri 27 Jun 14

rover600 says...

Joeblogg85 wrote:
Common sense prevails at a Wirral Council. Wow, never thought I would here myself say that!
It prevails only because one of their own actually had the guts to stand up and do what is right for the area for a change, I say bring on more of this, perhaps at least one Councillor 'learned' from the support shown to the Greens & UKIP, lets hope a few others do too. I'd like to see and hear of the action that (should be) taken against the fool who was just going to do this had he/she not been caught out.
[quote][p][bold]Joeblogg85[/bold] wrote: Common sense prevails at a Wirral Council. Wow, never thought I would here myself say that![/p][/quote]It prevails only because one of their own actually had the guts to stand up and do what is right for the area for a change, I say bring on more of this, perhaps at least one Councillor 'learned' from the support shown to the Greens & UKIP, lets hope a few others do too. I'd like to see and hear of the action that (should be) taken against the fool who was just going to do this had he/she not been caught out. rover600
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Fri 27 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

rover600 wrote:
Joeblogg85 wrote:
Common sense prevails at a Wirral Council. Wow, never thought I would here myself say that!
It prevails only because one of their own actually had the guts to stand up and do what is right for the area for a change, I say bring on more of this, perhaps at least one Councillor 'learned' from the support shown to the Greens & UKIP, lets hope a few others do too. I'd like to see and hear of the action that (should be) taken against the fool who was just going to do this had he/she not been caught out.
It's clear who was trying to push this through. This is the responsibility of the Head of Engagement. Armstrong may have been the fall guy but the decision to move their would have been signed off by Degg.
[quote][p][bold]rover600[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joeblogg85[/bold] wrote: Common sense prevails at a Wirral Council. Wow, never thought I would here myself say that![/p][/quote]It prevails only because one of their own actually had the guts to stand up and do what is right for the area for a change, I say bring on more of this, perhaps at least one Councillor 'learned' from the support shown to the Greens & UKIP, lets hope a few others do too. I'd like to see and hear of the action that (should be) taken against the fool who was just going to do this had he/she not been caught out.[/p][/quote]It's clear who was trying to push this through. This is the responsibility of the Head of Engagement. Armstrong may have been the fall guy but the decision to move their would have been signed off by Degg. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 0

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