The cost of LGA Conference ‘Call in’? More than £2,800 of YOUR money!

Strange goings on in the Tory Group?

‘Call in ‘ is a term used when a decision made, for instance under ‘delegated powers’, gets opposition among some councillors.  A few days ago ‘Paul from Wallasey’ used our comments feature to ask how much the particular ‘Call in’ of 24th June cost.  We asked for a break-down of the costs of officers’ time as a rough guide and we can now reveal that it is measured at more than £2,800 .   That is the price of our officers’ time that could have been spent on other far more productive work.

So just what was that ‘Call in’ meeting all about?  It was allegedly a protest at the cost of Wirral being represented, as it has been every year in living memory, at the most important event in the municipal calendar – the Local Government Association (LGA) Annual Conference.

But in fact it seems the Tory Group got itself into a right state of confusion with its one hand not knowing know what its other hand was doing.   First their representatives on the committee that approves such things approved their Leader’s attendance request; then a different bunch of Tories (with Wallasey Tory Councillors leading the charge) decided the opposite and put the Council-tax payers to the cost of a special ‘CAll-in’ meeting.   Here are the facts:

  • It was known, a year ago, that this year’s LGA Conference would take place.  (It is after all an annual event.)
  • Could anybody seriously doubt that the Conservatives’ dilatory expression of “professed” concern could have been raised long, long, before it was – had their Leader’s, or anybody else’s, attendance been troubling them?  After all didn’t they have a year?

 

  • The Conservative Leader’s attendance request was approved only after the “Members Training Steering Group” (MTSG), to which the requests were first put, approved it.  It would be most unusual for a recommendation of the MTSG to be rejected unless there were divided views within it.  It is an all-party group precisely to avoid conflict on party-political grounds.  Its decision was unanimous.

 

  • The two Tories on the MTSG had a perfect opportunity to object – had their political Group a sustainable reason to do so.  But they didn’t object; they (very sensibly) approved it.  It therefore had all-party support.

 

  • On 10th June the MTSG “requests” to attend this conference were approved.  The Conservative Leader only subsequently withdrew his “request”.  The cost is non-refundable.  So he didn’t go – but that gesture didn’t save a penny.

 

  • Not so long ago (when the Tory-led coalition was borrowing circa £9 million under a loan that Wirral residents’ children will be paying back for a quarter of a century, to fund 1,100 redundancies) didn’t their Tory Leader of the Council not attend with no similarly expressed qualms about the cost?

 

  • SIGOMA (Special Interest Group of Metropolitan Authorities) calculates that Wirral has been far worse hit than other councils by the Tory-led government’s withdrawal of £109 million from our income.

 

  • It’s perhaps ironical that so many Wallasey Tories seem to have led this charge given that not one of them was able to turn up at the Wallasey Youth Panel a week earlier – which despite their absence was well attended by six Labour Councillors, a fact not lost on the young people who packed the hall.

 

  • Can it be that (some) Wirral Tory Councillors suddenly became nervous because, if they attended the LGA conference, they would be obliged to applaud the far worse “austerity” their government is inflicting on Wirral than on other areas?  In other words would it be unreasonable to ask whether they merely clothed timidity as virtue as a propaganda contrivance?  Yet another one that back-fired?

 

  • It is the Council-tax payers of Wirral who are obliged to stump up for the costly administration of the Tory requisitioned “Call in” meeting of the Policy and Performance Co-ordinating Committee, and any further costs that flow from it.

 

  • And how much did the Tory inspired “Call in” cost?  The staff time diverted to it came to £2,804 pounds.
  • Should the Tories who put their names to the totally unnecessary, last minute, ”Call in’ now stump up and pay the £2,804 themselves?

 

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Comments

  1. Paul from Wallasey says:

    On the night of the ‘Call in’, one of the ‘questions’ asked by Cllr Leah Fraser to the Leader of the Council, Cllr Phil Davies, was would he offer to pay for his place at the conference as a gesture of good will.
    As you state in this article I would also like to know if the local Tory party signatories (many of whom never even turned up) to this call in will offer to pay the £2,804 cost of it? After all it would be a ‘nice gesture of good will’. Pigs might fly. ‘Nice gesture’ but is ‘good will’ something associated with the Tory party?

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