Saturday, 25 April 2015

Sefton’s £4,500 a year “pay for no work” deal with Labour's Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson comes under attack


 The deal in which Liverpool Labour boss Joe Anderson was paid £4,500 a year by a Sefton school for doing no work came under attack from Lib Dem councillors at Thursday’s meeting of Sefton Council.

When the school, Chesterfield High School in Crosby, ended the arrangement, Mayor Joe Anderson took the case to an Employment Tribunal.  When he lost there he appealed and lost again, with the decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal being widely reported last week:



At the Council meeting in Southport Town Hall, Birkdale Lib Dem councillor Simon Shaw led calls for an Inquiry into ‘all aspects of Sefton Council’s involvement in this matter’.  However Bootle Labour council leader Peter Dowd turned down the request in what is expected to be his final appearance before being elected MP for Bootle in two week’s time.

In calling for the Inquiry Cllr Shaw quoted directly from the words of Judge Serota who blasted the deal in his written Appeal judgement.

“When you have a judge saying that Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson was ‘party to a misuse of public funds’ and that ‘this arrangement may strike members of the public as constituting a misapplication of public monies’ then it seems to me that there needs be a thorough Inquiry into Sefton Council's involvement in this matter,” said Cllr Shaw.

“For Sefton Council’s Labour leader to pass the buck by saying that ‘the matters as affecting Sefton Council were dealt with in accordance with the appropriate legislation by officers’ is simply unacceptable.”

Lib Dem councillors Iain Brodie Browne and Haydn Preece also asked questions about the deal which the judge had condemned as ‘a reverse form of a zero hours contract, whereby the school was bound to make payment of salary but the Claimant (Mayor Anderson) was not bound to provide any services.’  However they also received dismissive replies from Councillor Dowd.

 

Details of the questions and answers given at the Sefton Council meeting are available at: http://modgov.sefton.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/b20999/Supplementary%20Agenda%2023rd-Apr-2015%2018.30%20Council.pdf?T=9

The full judgement from the Employment Appeals Tribunal is available at: http://www.employmentcasesupdate.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed26506

Good to welcome John Pigott to the Southport campaign trail

In a General Election it always good to welcome outside helpers. Last night I had the pleasure of being out in the rain with a team led by Stephen Hesketh when along came John Pigott, past Chair of ALC, to add to our numbers.

All political parties target seats nowadays. The Labour Party are sending out emails directing Southport supporters to go to their 'local battle ground' Ribble South, one of their top 100 target seats.

From their point of view that makes sense. The bookies make Labour 100 to 1 outsiders in Southport and the Ashcroft poll puts them in a humiliating fourth place.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sefton Labour Leader blocksLib Dem bid for Inquiry into Sefton's conduct over Mayor Anderson

 Question submitted by Councillor Shaw to the Leader of the Council (Councillor P Dowd)

As the Leader is no doubt aware, judgement was handed down last week by the Employment Appeals Tribunal in the case of Mayor Joe Anderson v Chesterfield High School.  Chesterfield High School was, until recently, a school maintained by Sefton Council.

In view of the serious public disquiet over this issue, and having regard to Judge Serota's judgement at the EAT that the Claimant (Mayor Joe Anderson) was "party to a misuse of public funds" and that "this arrangement may strike members of the public as constituting a misapplication of public monies", would the Leader of the Council agree that an Inquiry should be conducted into all aspects of Sefton Council's involvement in this matter?”
Response: The matters as affecting Sefton Council were dealt with in accordance with the appropriate legislation by officers.

Labour Leader questioned about Sefton Council's financial arrangements with Labour Mayor Anderson

Some people wonder why Radicals, progressives and those whose politics are generally considered as being on the Left want nothing to do with the Labour Party. The events surrounding  Labour Mayor Joe Anderson receiving what the judge at an Industrial Tribunal described as 'a reverse form of zero hours contract, whereby the Respondent was bound to make to make payment of salary but the Claimant (Labour Mayor Joe Anderson) was not bound to provide any services.
 
The disgraceful saga that saw Liverpool Labour Mayor -who worked in a Sefton MBC school - take his employers to an Industrial Tribunal  came up at last night's Sefton Council meeting. The response of the Labour Leadership I have copied below. The tribal loyalty, the sense of the entitlement and the contempt for accountability are the hallmarks for a certain sort of Labour politicians. They sound like the MP's who kept repeating that their expenses claims were within the rules and applied no common sense or moral code. The deal done by Sefton was effectively done in secret. I can find no record of it being reported to the Council or open to scrutiny. When I asked in a written question which elected councillors knew about the deal there was no answer! This process began before the school was an academy .

The Judge at the Tribunal concluded :

It seems to me as though the Claimant (Labour Mayor Joe Anderson) has simply not given sufficient attention as to how the arrangement he made with Sefton and so continued with the Respondent might look to outsiders. The Claimant was entitled to receive almost £80,000 per annum from Liverpool for his role as elected Mayor, yet also procured a payment (£4,500 plus pension) from public funds for which he provided, and was not expected to provide, any service. It was, more likely, considered to be a reverse form for a zero hours contract, whereby the Respondent was bound to make payment of salary but the Claimant was not bound to provide any services. It is certainly fairly arguable that this arrangement may strike members of the public as constituting a misapplication of public monies. I asked Mr Morgan (Anderson's lawyer) on several occasions what benefits there might be that accrued to the Respondent for the payments and for preserving the Claimant's post for an indeterminate period. The only answer that I received was that it gave "kudos" to the school to be associated with the Mayor of Liverpool. The full report can be found here
 
QUESTIONS RAISED BY MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL

1. Question submitted by Councillor Brodie-Browne to the Leader of the Council (Councillor P Dowd)
“(a) Will the Leader inform the Council who it was who authorised/signed off the deal between Sefton MBC and Liverpool Elected Mayor Joe Anderson in respect of his pay and pension as notional 'Mentor' at Chesterfield High School and also inform the Council which Sefton MBC elected councillors were informed of this arrangement both before or after the deal?

Response:

There was no arrangement between Sefton MBC and Mayor Joe Anderson. Chesterfield High School was an academy and therefore any arrangement was agreed by the school.

(b) What has the Leader done to have this money repaid to the Council for what the Judge in a recent Appeal Tribunal described as a "reverse zero hours contract"

Response:

The Council did not fund the arrangement with Mayor Anderson and therefore there is no money to be repaid

(c) What was the total cost to Sefton MBC of this deal, including pension?”

Response:

There was no cost to Sefton MBC of the school’s arrangement with Mayor Anderson



Is Cllr Dowd dancing on a pin here? Clearly Anderson was paid £4,500 a year plus pension  for doing nothing. Certainly during this period the school became an Academy and was forced to make redundancies but someone funded the agreement that Sefton made-an agreement that was for an indefinite period. Para 22 of the Industrial Tribunal report clearly states: Sefton had agreed to fund some of the cost from the supply teacher budget and again at para 19..... Sefton  is currently covering the cost of the (Joe Anderson) secondment .

You may consider that these replies are  not open and transparent.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Pugh backs plan for Public Sector Pay rises



 

John Pugh, having helped scupper Tory plans to introduce lower pay in the NW, backs a plan to ensure public sector pay rises. ‘This is the minimum that is acceptable’ Pugh told Southport electors.

 

Workers across the public sector have made enough sacrifices. You have done your bit to help get the country back on track.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats believe it is time to end the era of pay restraint.

Under our plans, we will give all public sector workers – from teachers and nurses to social workers and police officers – pay rises that at least keep pace with the cost of living every year.

No more pay freezes or below inflation pay rises. We can do this because with the Liberal Democrats, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

For two years pay in the public sector will, at the very least, keep pace with prices. After that, we will make sure it rises above inflation – giving millions of workers a real terms pay rise for the first time in years.

If you are a public sector worker worried Tory cuts threaten your job, or Labour’s refusal to deal with the deficit means another year of pay cuts, then only a vote for the Lib Dems will guarantee you a fair pay deal.

Where the Tories’ first priority is to give the rich a massive tax cut, the Liberal Democrats want to see the people who deliver our public services rewarded after five years of austerity.

 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Pugh on the Tories Regional pay plot

Pugh Warns Tory Regional Pay Plot Will Hit North West Teachers and Nurses



John Pugh, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Southport, warns teachers and nurses in the North West will be paid nearly £1,200-a-year less under Conservatives plans to introduce local public sector pay rates if governing alone.
John Pugh led the Lib Dems in blocking Conservative attempts to smash uniform national pay rates for state workers – and would do it again.
 
Dozens of Conservative MPs and candidates want salaries of public sectors workers in the North West cut in a bid to make them fall in line with local private sector pay.
 
Pugh, who is defending the seat of Southport, strongly believes that there is no way teachers in the North West are worth less than teachers in other areas of the country. Public sector workers deliver top class services in the North West and do not deserve to be paid less just because they live here.
 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pugh adoption meeting video



Photography by Fred Weavers

I wrote recently about John Pugh's adoption meeting. Well now I can bring you the video highlights courtesy of Pughtube

In these extract John talks aabout what Lib Dems stand for, the alternatives and drawing on an old Liberal Party poster that is stuck up on his office wall he outlined the Liberal way

More information can be found on the Pugh4Southport website

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Pugh's five Green promises

John Pugh speaking at his adoption meeting this evening
Southport's John Pugh has backed the Lib Dem plan for five new Green Laws.

The five green laws are:
  1. A Nature Bill: key measures include legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, extending the Right to Roam and establishing new marine and coastal reserves.
  2. A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill: key measures include building on the Green Deal with a national programme to raise the energy efficiency standards for all Britain’s households.  We will legislate to boost renewable and district heating programmes and heat saving standards.
  3. A Zero Waste Britain Bill: key measures include establishing a “Stern Report” on resource use, with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end biodegradable landfill.
  4. A Zero Carbon Britain Bill: key measures include introducing a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, expanding the powers of the Green Investment Bank and banning electricity generated from unabated coal.
  5. A Green Transport Bill: key measures include establishing a full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Good advice from David Steel -belatedly getting in touch with the grass roots



BBC news are reporting former leader (who is seldom consulted by Clegg) as handing out some rather good advice. He asserts that the party should be listened to after the election and that there is no appetite for another coalition and that ' the party needs to recharge its values'

I agree with him both about the mood of the party and the need to recharge our values.. In an earlier interview on Radio 4 Steel hand branded this coalition as 'unnatural'

Alan Beith reviewed the latest book on Steel in the Autumn 2014 edition of the Liberal History Journal  and wrote about Steel's 'detachment from the grassroots workers of the party he led'. Beith goes on 'It was someone who was much more ready than the current generation of Liberal Democrat leadership to define himself as 'centre left' established so little rapport with those in the Party who defined themselves in the same way.'

You can say that again, but frankly better late than never and maybe this new empathy comes from experiencing being shut out and the fact that he shares the values and judgements of the party's activists. He will be a powerful voice in rebutting the attempts to rubbish supply and confidence arrangements.

Another Scots, Nigel Lindsay in the excellent book Unlocking Liberalism reminds us that we should be on the side of the governed not the government. In that he is echoing Jo Grimond in an essay the Young Liberal published during Steel's leadership.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The aftermath of Sefton's budget

Over the past few days there have been some interesting responses for the debate about Sefton's Budget. In Southport it is generally held to have been a disaster.

One particularly perverse piece of spin has been put about, namely that because we managed to shame Labour into accepting a minor amendment to improve the cold weather provision for rough sleepers we should have supported the entire budget. Pause for a moment of thought. Consider if the Government had proposed legislation to, say, have an immigration policy the practical impact of which was to say if you were white you come to Britain and if you Black you would be barred. ( Any resemblance to the Labour Party's Commonwealth Immigration Act is not accidental) If that legislation went on to allow the Government to disregard International Law and invade sovereign states killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people and leading to the destabilising of a fragile region and further if that Bill allowed the government to intercept and reading the correspondence of free citizens I would vote against it even if it introduced the separation of Sefton into two boroughs.

Now I fully appreciate that the Leader of the council does not for one minute believe the nonsense that an opposition party should vote for his budget just because they agree with section 9, sub section 14, point (iii). It is put about to encourage the more gullible and ill informed of his followers. I was much taken with a posting on a Labour website that identified one of the real problems facing the Opposition namely that the :  '......insular righteousness is nearer the behaviour of a cult than a party of government. It is not enough to believe we are right because we are Labour'.

Other contributions have been more thoughtful. Back a bit we were faced with other cuts to the Botanic. I tried very hard in cabinet and outside to establish a workers' cooperative to take over those functions. Sadly there was no support from other parties (the Council was in no overall control) and the staff took redundancy. I still think that was the employee owned business was the preferable option.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Sefton's Budget 'kick in the teeth' for Southport

Last night's Sefton budget was real kick in the teeth for Southport. Despite demonstrating how the money could be found to maintain the visitor infrastructure in Southport the Bootle dominated Labour cabinet blocked our reasonable amendments.  Relatively small sums were needed to safeguard the Botanic Gardens and to maintain the excellent partnership between the volunteers and the essential professional gardeners. But Labour would have none of it they would rather line the own pockets and maintain their mega allowances. We identified that the proposed 'cull of senior officers' (which has been a long time coming) had yielded enough to plug this gap and wasn't be spent on anything else. It was a disgrace and confirm that the Labour Party neither understand or care about the plight of the Southport economy.

I would like to put on record my thanks to our budget team for all their preparation. The persuasive skill of Cllr Daniel Lewis need to deployed more fully.
He holds the record for having got a budget amendment through. Congratulations. Dan's amendment was to take forward a previous Lib Dem initiative for rough sleepers. Reader may recall that residents alerted us to the fact that the emergency cold weather provision for rough sleepers was only available in Liverpool. This is not a fat lot of use to those needing the service in our town especially as there was no assistance in getting to the provision which is situated in a church hall outside the City Centre. Our initiative led to the establishment of a provision in Southport run by a local charity. We have now found extra funding to expand the operation of that service.

I think we can claim two victories because we flushed out a second concession over the pot of money created by the underspend. There was a significant underspend in last years budget and we wanted to be clear that that money would be available as a capital grants for those struggling to set up Community Libraries. This is another example when instead of working in partnership  with volunteer local groups the Labour Party would rather shut down the service.

There was a mighty contrast between our team effort and the Labour party who gagged all their councillors only allowing the Leader to speak. Welcome though those victories were the truth is that on the main item -preserving the infrastructure of our town’s visitor economy-we were blocked by an intransient Labour party who could not care less about the economic success of our town. So petty and vindictive was their approach that even where we clearly identified funding to bridge the gap for the Botanic and The Atkinson they refused to budge.

We really have to consider whether Sefton is an acceptable vehicle for local government in our town. Back when the Boundary Commission last looked at the plight of Southport they issued what in effect was a ‘yellow card’ warning to Sefton. Since then, especially under Bootle domination, things have become intolerable. I think 'video evidence' will confirm that last night Sefton deserves another Yellow Card . We need to go back to the Boundary commission. Sefton is not fit for purpose.

On a brighter note did any of you, apart from our resident train buff, notice an announcement that was slipped out last night about the electrification of the Southport line to Manchester? Tony R is in search more details. This is real triumph. At last, it appears, that the economic case for upgrading that wretched line has been accepted. As soon as we get more details I shall circulate them.

Minimum wage boost welcomed

WELCOME ANNOUNCEMENT THAT NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE WILL RISE 3%


The independent body which advises the Government on the National Minimum Wage is to recommend that it be increased by 3%. The above-inflation rise would take the adult rate from £6.50 to 6.70 an hour, the biggest rise since 2008. Business Secretary Vince Cable said the Low Pay Commission's recommendations had always been accepted by politicians. If approved, the increase would apply from October. The Low Pay Commission's recommendations to the Government for the 2015 rates are as follows: · Adult rate - £6.70 · 18-20 rate - £5.30 · 16-17 rate - £3.87 · Apprenticeship rate - £2.80

Local Lib Dems have been campaigning for an increase in  the National Minimum Wage. We have emphasised that the Government must take into account the concerns of the local tourism sector and small businesses. Making it easier for people to get by has been a massive issue over the last few years. We are delighted that, if agreed, this boost would represent an annual pay rise of £416 for a full time worker on the minimum wage.

In a town like Southport where many of the jobs in retails, hospitality and care are low paid this is of real significance.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Labour Leader gets his facts wrong again on Sefton Local Plan

In a far from impressive performance at the last Full Council held in Bootle Town Hall the council leader rounded on concerned-and very well informed- residents and accused them of peddling myths. It was not his finest hour. The local plan has been controversial throughout Sefton and very late changes have justly upset folks. Here in Southport and plot of land designated for industry all of a sudden became a large housing estate.
 
In Birkdale our chief concern has been with neighbouring West Lancs proposal to build significant numbers of houses hard on the boundary -well away from centres of population within that borough- making it inevitable that those new resident will access facilities in Birkdale where the new homes bonus and the increase Council Tax will not be collected. I specifically challenged the Leader on school places. In his summing up- captured on video- he dismissed such concerns asserting that there were school places. Brandishing a piece of paper he said he had the figures and that Farnborough Rd Junior School had 26 empty places .
 
The facts are these:
 
Year 3 - 118
Year 4 - 123
Year 5 - 113
Year 6 - 119

This is a total of 473. The school's standard number  per year is 120 ie 480 in the four years.
As they are 3 OVER number in Y4, they actually have 10 spaces in school.

They are over number in Y4 as Sefton admissions have asked us to take children into that year group who have siblings that can be placed in other years in school.
e.g A Y5 place is available, but the Y4 sibling cannot get in. As the family would probably win an appeal, the school has permitted them to start. Each of these cases has gone through In Year fair Access panel.
 
Of those ten places the overwhelming majority, seven, are in the same year.
 
This is a very small example but it does illustrate why there is a scepticism about the Leader's assertions