Month: May 2018

Serco Paying Less Than Minimum Apprentice Wage In West Lancashire Council Owned Golf Course?

The current minimum national wage of £3.70 per hour applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. But a Serco Leisure vacancy for a “Front of House Apprentice” in Dalton, Skelmersdale (WN8), WN8 7RU, offers only £3.50 per hour.

How can WLBC, committed to lawful minimum wages, be endorsing this vacancy? The “Totaljobs” agency currently offers a “Vacancy for Front of House Apprentice” at Beacon Park Golf Course in West Lancashire. Fixed Term Contract – 12 months or less. £3.50 per hour. WLBC Apprentice rates are under 18 £4.20, 18-20 £5.90, 21-24 £7.38, and +25 £7.83. 

Serco Leisure is committed to providing a safe, warm, clean, friendly, fun environment for the local community at an affordable cost. Honesty, integrity and a positive, can do attitude are key to helping us deliver this mission and are values we expect from each individual.

Key purpose of role: The role is to lead the site team in the delivery an effective, safe and efficient operation, to deliver the agreed business plans, targets and objectives of Beacon Park. To promote the facility as an integral part of the Local community by promoting the appropriate use of the facility and delivering the agreed: • Golf Income • Food and Beverage Management
• Increase revenue through events • Provide levels of service that meet the specific needs of the local community and partners. The successful candidate will be expected to react rapidly and effectively to any operational or customer satisfaction issues which occur during the hours in which the facility is open to the public.

Main Duties: • Effectively manage the Golf Course, Café and Conferencing facilities. • To attract and maximise revenue through event bookings. • Lead, direct and motivate the team to ensure a quality service delivery. • Responsible for ordering, storage and roatation of food and beverages.
• Ensure approriate deployment of staff to meet the daily program. • Ensure compliance with Health & Safety Policies and Procedures and all other legislative requirements pertinent to the site e.g. • Site Operation Procedures • Normal Operating Procedure and the Emergency Action Plan  

Plan and monitor the use of staffing resources and ensure they operate in accordance with the Serco Leisure Integrated Management System (SLIMS) • Maintain required standards of cleanliness against the agreed self monitoring schedule, environment and safety by checking the facility and reporting of defects in accordance with SLIMS • Ensure compliance with corporate and statutory legislation e.g. • Substance Misuse Policy • Equal Opportunities • Data Protection Act • Child Protection Policy • Health & Safety at Work Act • Ensure levels of quality customer care meet the required levels of customer service as detailed in SLIMS • To work on a shift rota basis
• To ensure delivery of a viable programme whilst meeting the needs of the local community
• The delivery of the agreed Marketing Plan in order to maximize revenue opportunities
• In addition to the above perform other duties and responsibilities on an ad hoc basis, as directed by line management, commensurate with requirements of the position.

Experience: • Experience of managing a café or restaurant. • Experience of working with and/or implementing management systems. • Experience in ordering and working to budgets.
• Experience of organising events and functions. • Proven high standards of food hygiene.

Personal Attributes: • A team player with excellent communication and interpersonal skills at all levels • Maturity and Calmness under pressure • High personal integrity and motivation • An open, honest and outgoing personality • A proven leader • A commitment to ensure the success of the contract and the company

If interested, Please apply. Serco  is a FTSE 250 international service company which combines commercial know-how with a deep public service ethos. We improve services by managing people, processes, technology and assets more effectively. We advise policy makers, design innovative solutions, integrate systems and – most of all – deliver to the public. Serco supports governments, agencies and companies who seek a trusted partner with a solid track-record of providing assured service excellence. Our people offer operational, management and consulting expertise in the aerospace, defence, education, health, justice and immigration, local government, science, technology, transport and the commercial sectors. Contact: Mya Sambhi; • Reference: Totaljobs/48606 • Job ID: 79702979.

All of that for £3.50 per hour!

Is Serco In Breach Of Beacon Park Golf Course Contracts?

In the case of Rosie Cooper MP seen here at BPGC with Club Captain Tommy Jackson v Serco Leisure Operating Limited, some members of the Beacon Park Golf Course have questioned again where have their Skelmersdale councillors been while their course has been screwed for 23,375 loads of landfill fees known as royalties by private developers?

The confirmation from WLBC that they have served a ‘Breach of Condition Notice’ on the management at Beacon Park Golf Course, Serco, is so far not available to the public. It is not published by WLBC on “2011/0787/FUL Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course. | Beacon Park Golf And Country Club Beacon Lane Dalton”. Perhaps those responsible are feeling the heat of anger from those club members who watched in disbelief while the wagon loads of royalties arrived for private banking after this became this !

In April the Labour Group wrote, of Skelmersdale, that “Under the Tories’ spineless rule, West Lancashire was heading for real decline. The biggest Tory disaster, which Labour is working hard to sort out, has been its utter failure to deliver on the long-promised town centre. After being granted thousands and thousands of pounds of regeneration cash in the early 2000s, the Tories ended up selling the people of Skelmersdale (and West Lancashire) down the river through weak leadership and incompetent contracting; current Tory leader Cllr Westley has even admitted in the Council Chamber that he did not read the contract, but signed it anyway! It turned out that there was no break clause inserted, meaning the ’developer’ had 15 years to decide whether to build anything or not. Labour is picking up the pieces of a development which could and should have been delivered a decade ago, but which has been mired in legal complexity.

Meanwhile, the council’s sports centres and swimming pools were neglected, with no planning for the future. The well-used Skelmersdale sports centre was simply closed and left to rot, then burn down, despite turning an operating profit. And they call themselves the party of business! Similarly, the Tawd Valley Country Park, once the Jewel in the Crown of the new town was left to decline by the Tories, and became associated with anti-social behaviour.

On top of that, growing problems with flooding and road decay were greeted with a political shrug of the shoulders by a Tory administration too busy fighting each other and splitting into different factions and parties to bother with the concerns of West Lancashire residents.

It’s been an uphill struggle, but progress is being made on the town centre, and on sports facilities across the borough, including Skelmersdale. With great support from our MP Rosie Cooper, the council is keeping up its push for the long-awaited and much-needed rail spur into the centre of town. A masterplan has been developed for the revitalisation and long-term management of the Tawd Valley Country Park, and funding applications are being put together by council and community groups in partnership”. No mention of the Beacon Park Golf Course, of these scenes of desecration of its facilities .

In a “Corporate & Environmental Overview & Scrutiny Committee Members Update 2012/13 provided by Relevant Portfolio Holder Councillor D Sudworth and Mr John Nelson, it was noted that following reports to Cabinet (15th November 2011) and Council (14th December 2011) interim arrangements were put in place with West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust and the trust partners Serco Leisure Operating Limited to undertake temporary arrangement for the management of the golf course. Delegation was approved by Cabinet and Council for the Assistant Director Community Services, in consultation with the Leader and relevant portfolio holder, to enter into and conclude all arrangements for the long-term management arrangements for the golf course.

“The arrangements previously negotiated by DCT for the land drainage work with Oaklands leisure provided an opportunity to improve facilities, retain or increase future membership and increase income. Serco have now concluded their discussions with Oaklands Leisure and have been able to project a positive financial position in future years. However the initial years of the improvement works will require Serco to cover operating losses.

“Serco have proposed a surplus income share arrangement. They have not included any management fees in the cost of the operation and have agreed to absorb any losses incurred within the golf course arrangement during the contract period. The surplus income share is based on 1/3rds (thirds) distributed equally to West Lancashire Borough Council, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust and Serco Leisure Operating Limited”. [WLBC told me “With regard to your question relating to the prospects of future dividends from the development. This will not be evident until the completion of the re profiling and the operation of the new facilities”]

“The proposal includes investment into the golf course and facilities, reshaping of the landform to enhance existing golf holes and practice facilities and create a new 9 hole short course. Remodelled driving range outfield and target greens. Provision to enhance internal facilities in the golf club-house and entrance area. The work is to be phased in over two years 2013-15 and has an estimated investment/enhancement value for the golf course of approximately £500,000. [WLBC told me “With regards to the satisfactory completion of the development work at Beacon Country Park, as you are already aware, the Council has requested that Serco and their partners Oakland’s carry out additional profiling work. I am satisfied that the Council has assisted you with your enquiries on this subject and I now consider this matter closed”]. Far from it sunshine!

“The agreement for the management of the of the golf course will run concurrently with the existing leisure trust partnership agreement terminating on 31st March 2020”.

There’s an interesting word, “trust”. WLBC requested, trusted, Serco and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd, to carry out additional profiling work. Now, the request has become an order. Is Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd named on the order? Who can tell, until it is published and soon, we hope!

Grant Thornton Will Charge WLBC An Audit Fee Of £33,684

Grant Thornton  will charge WLBC £33,684 for its planned audit fee for 2018/19. The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act) provides the framework for local public audit. Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA) has been specified as an appointing person under the Act and the Local Authority (Appointing Person) Regulations 2015 and has the power to make auditor appointments for audits of opted- in local government bodies from 2018/19.

For opted- in bodies PSAA’s responsibilities include setting fees, appointing auditors and monitoring the quality of auditors’ work. Further information on PSAA and its responsibilities are available on the PSAA website.

From 2018/19 all grant work, including housing benefit certification, now falls outside the PSAA contract, as PSAA no longer has the power to make appointments for assurance on grant claims and returns. Any assurance engagements will therefore be subject to separate engagements agreed between the grant-paying body, the Council and ourselves and separate fees agreed with the Council.

Scale fee PSAA published the 2018/19 scale fees for opted-in bodies in March 2018, following a consultation process. Individual scale fees have been reduced by 23 percent from the fees applicable for 2017/18. Further details are set out on the PSAA website. The Council’s scale fee for 2018/19 has been set by PSAA at £33,684, paid in four equal instalments of £8,421.

PSAA prescribes that ‘scale fees are based on the expectation that audited bodies are able to provide the auditor with complete and materially accurate financial statements, with supporting working papers, within agreed timeframes’. The audit planning process for 2018/19, including the risk assessment, will continue as the year progresses and fees will be reviewed and updated as necessary as our work progresses.

Scope of the audit fee There are no changes to the overall work programme for audits of local government audited bodies for 2018/19. Under the provisions of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, the National Audit Office (NAO) is responsible for publishing the statutory Code of Audit Practice and guidance for auditors.

Additional work. The scale fee excludes any work requested by the Council that we may agree to undertake outside of our Code audit. Each additional piece of work will be separately agreed and a detailed project specification and fee agreed with the Council.

Progress And Fiasco Or “No Progress And Total Fiasco” At Beacon Park Golf Course?

If progress at the Beacon Park Golf Course is measured by the total amount of landfill dumped there then there has been much of it. Planning permission was awarded by the then Tory controlled WLBC on the basis of “give it all to Serco” who were involved in West Lancashire leisure facilities from as long ago as September 2004. In the now infamous letter from Serco Leisure to the then Acting Leisure Services Manager John Nelson, Serco sought and received “Authority To Proceed” with the management and operation of all but the Beacon Park Golf Course. That came later!

As the Chief Executive of Serco Group plc Rupert Soames wrote to Rosie Cooper on 24 December 2015 “We were contacted in November 2011 asking if we would take on the management of the course as the previous management company had served notice of their intention to quit as they were losing money on the course. Owing to our positive working relationship with West Lancashire Borough Council, the Trust and Serco agreed to take on the management of the course in order to keep it open and preserve its legacy for West Lancashire”.

Some legacy! Serco gave us what they claimed to be “inheritance of the current land re-profiling agreement”. Mr Soames wrote that “The current land re-profiling has been underway for far longer than originally planned and has indeed had an adverse effect on the users of Beacon Park”. Having written this on 24 December 2015 and here we are in late May 2018 you might wonder what Mr Soames will be thinking when he is told his company is now in receipt of a Breach of Condition Notice .

As we now learn, Rosie Cooper wants to meet with Serco Directors to get to the bottom of what really has gone on. It’s fairly simple. Excessive dumping over and above the maximum height means more than the allowed 23,375 HGV loads to deliver 187,000 cubic metres of landfill has “gone on” and the “royalties” have increased commensurate with the uncontrolled dumping.

Perhaps when, and if, Rosie Cooper does meet Serco Directors she might remind them of another statement from Mr Soames that “At the end of the second phase we plan to install a foot-golf course (subject to planning consent). Therefore there are a small number of low usage ancillary areas that have been lost [the driving range!]. However, they have all been to further develop the facility and add a wider range of facilities for the wider populous”. You couldn’t make it up!

What was applied for in 2011? “Partial remodelling of existing golf course and driving range and creation of new nine hole short course”. What do we have? Total devastation of the driving range, and a new nine hole heap of rubbish with no recognisable topsoil and exposed bricks and concrete, all without health and safety features. WLBC monitoring of this once famous course has been pitiful.

The arrogance of WLBC in relation to this matter of what is now revealed, that “The breach of condition notice relates particularly to the profiling of a part of the course, whereby the maximum height allowed under the original planning consent has been exceeded, with the quantity of infill which should have been added over the whole site has been concentrated in one area” is appalling. In July 2017 I asked WLBC under Freedom of Information Act 2000 “In respect of “The conditions for planning application 2011/0787/FUL that included “Phase 3 Formation of a 9Hole short course on 3.7ha of land located to the west of Beacon Lane and to the north of Elmers Green Lane. This will be formed by the importation of 65,000m³ of inert soil with mounds and ridges to a maximum of 168mAOD”. Will West Lancashire Borough Council a) confirm by independent professional assessment that the existing uncompleted 9Hole short course referred to does not exceed the permitted 168mAOD (average height) of all its mounds and ridges and b) will West Lancashire Borough Council disclose the latest expected date for the 9Hole short course completion and use by the public?”

The reply 15 August 2017 “Thank you for your email of 26th July 2017 in which you made the following request for information; a) confirm by independent professional assessment that the existing uncompleted 9Hole short course referred to does not exceed the permitted 168mAOD (average height) of all its mounds and ridges and b) will West Lancashire Borough Council disclose the latest expected date for the 9Hole short course completion and use by the public? In response, I can confirm that a survey of the site has confirmed that the mounds and ridges of the 9 hole short hole course does not exceed 168m AOD. Weather permitting, the plan is still to open in spring/summer 2018, but as it involves the grass growing and being appropriately treated and conditioned this could change. The Council will endeavour to keep everyone informed of any changes, should there be any. If you have any queries concerning the information provided, please do not hesitate to contact me. Yours sincerely, John Harrison DipEnvP, MRTPI. Director of Development and Regeneration. West Lancashire Borough Council.

Same day, 15 August 2017 I asked “Dear Harrison, John, Please publish the detailed site survey including the date undertaken and was the surveyor independent of WLBC or an employee of WLBC? Yours sincerely, Alan Lenton”.

21 August 2017 “Dear Mr Lenton, Thank you for your email of the 15th August. The survey was undertaken on behalf of the Council in June 2017 by Survey Operations, which is a local independent survey company. The Council does not propose to “publish” the survey drawing as there is no requirement to do so. I have however attached for your information a PDF copy of the survey drawing which details spot heights across the site . If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to Kim Webber, Chief Executive. Regards. John Harrison DipEnvP, MRTPI. Director of Development and Regeneration. West Lancashire Borough Council”.

21 August 2017 “Dear Harrison, John, Thank you for your reply and the attachment. Unfortunately your reference to the attachment as a “survey drawing which details spot heights across the site” is of little help to me or possibly any other West Lancashire resident who is interested in “real” heights the Planning Statement documents referred to. There has been no mention in the planning application that “spot heights” will form part of any report. By stating that “The Council does not propose to “publish” the survey drawing as there is no requirement to do so” demeans the requirement for transparency that WLBC has set itself. Please reconsider your response. Yours sincerely, Alan Lenton

22 September 2017 “Dear Harrison, John, Your response to my request for a sight of the survey drawing, that you then claim is not a council requirement, is frankly uncalled for. A spot height survey is not something residents like me can relate to in terms of massive landfill on a golf course. This course is a public asset, not one reserved to officers for responses such as yours. In the light of your refusal I ask for an internal review by the Chief Executive. Yours sincerely, Alan Lenton”.

17 October 2017 “Dear Mr Lenton. Thank you for your email dated 22 September 2017 in which you requested that I carry out an internal review of the Council’s response to your Freedom of Information request dated 15 August 2017. The Decision-On 15 August 2017 you asked the Council “to publish the detailed site survey including the date undertaken” and asked if the surveyor was independent of WLBC. In response to that request, Mr Harrison confirmed that the survey was carried out by an independent survey company in June 2017. He informed you that the Council does not propose to publish the survey as there is no requirement to do so, but to assist you he provided a copy of the survey to you. Outcome of my Review. I have now conducted a review of the Council’s decision and I can find no fault with this. Mr Harrison explained that although the Council did not intend to publish the survey, he would provide you with a copy of it, and did so, for your information. Next Steps. If you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications. Yours sincerely Kim Webber BSc (Hons) MSc Chief Executive West Lancashire Borough Council”.

As it now happens, the value of the “spot heights across the site survey” is irrelevant. What matters is that WLBC, under a legal liability not to mislead the public, has done so and has been found out. What will be the total loss Rosie Cooper refers to as she stated “I will continue to pursue this matter as there should be proper accountability by those who made these poor decisions which I believe led to a loss of revenue to WLBC and its council taxpayers from both the course and the proceeds from the amount of rubble and waste materials which have been dumped”. The FoI details can be found here  https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/information_about_the_new_9hole#incoming-1054496

The Serco Beacon Park Golf Course Scandal

The ongoing scandal of the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill by WLBC/Serco/Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd has come to a head as West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is pleased to report she has had confirmation from West Lancashire Borough Council that they have served a ‘Breach of Condition Notice’ on the management at Beacon Park Golf Course, Serco .

The breach of condition notice relates particularly to the profiling of a part of the course, whereby the maximum height allowed under the original planning consent has been exceeded for the old driving range , with the quantity of infill which should have been added over the whole site has been concentrated in one area . It is blindingly obvious that the heights created by landfill dumped there are excessive, as we have shown time and again. 

This notice is the latest in a long-running five year saga at the course since Serco took on the management of the facility but outsourced the work to Oaklands Leisure [Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd] which has caused local residents to complain that there was little scrutiny or oversight of the type or quantity of the materials being dumped at the course, nor the money being made by subcontractors.

MP Rosie has raised these issues with both WLBC and Serco Chiefs on many occasions previously, and most recently met with Council Deputy Directors of Leisure, and Housing & Inclusion. 

Rosie is well aware of this   and she has said “What has been going on with Beacon Park Golf Course over many years has been a disgrace and it is timely that action is at last being taken to rectify the situation but this doesn’t end the matter.

“I will continue to pursue this matter as there should be proper accountability by those who made these poor decisions which I believe led to a loss of revenue to WLBC and its council taxpayers from both the course and the proceeds from the amount of rubble and waste materials which have been dumped.

“Serco will now have six months to comply with the breach of condition notice and remove material from the area around the driving range and the foot golf area. I have asked to meet with Serco Directors to get to the bottom of what really has gone on”. 

Good luck with that Rosie, since when did Serco ever comply with the planning conditions and when did WLBC itself ever accept what this website published that proved landfill made huge profits from this once wonderful leisure facility? Where are the landfill royalties? In the deep pockets of profiteering privatised company directors!

WLBC should now hold a public inquiry into how so much control over this facility was given to Serco and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd, where the landfill fees are, and will Serco be allowed to continue the extended contract it was awarded. Three extra years? It is outrageous!

Extended Deadline To Order Bins, Great News For “Some” Residents?

It seems that following an overwhelming response, West Lancashire Borough Council has announced that the deadline to order bins has been extended until 16 July to give residents more time to request the wheeled bins they need to recycle their waste. Those residents that have already received their new bins can start using them from 4th June. This is “great news for residents” but not all residents will agree.

Residents who previously signed up to the garden waste service will receive the same number of brown bins, which will now be used for garden waste, free of charge if they sign up again for the same number, before the extended deadline. One green bin can then be used for paper and cardboard recycling.

For residents who don’t have gardens and never received a free green bin, which is now needed for paper and cardboard recycling, one will be available free of charge if requested before the extended deadline of 16th July; after which the normal charges for replacement bins will apply.

Whilst is it acknowledged that a number of years ago, residents were given an option to retain their blue box, the service provision is now changing so that the Council can work towards meeting its recycling target of 50% by 2020. Blue boxes  will only be retained and collected from premises that are unable to have a blue bin on site due to their design or if there are vehicle access issues to the location.

All other properties will receive a standard wheeled bin  collection service for each waste stream and therefore any residents who need a blue bin will need to order one at the normal charges.

The new bin system has been introduced to make it easier for residents and provide greater capacity for them to recycle as much as possible to help the Council reach its recycling target. It will also help contain the material better, keeping streets cleaner and helping to make collection rounds safer and more efficient.

Councillor Kevin Wilkie, portfolio holder for Street Scene said “This is great news for residents. If you have already placed an order for a bin you do not need to get in touch again as this will be processed as soon as possible and residents can continue to use their existing containers until the new bins are delivered”.

Deliveries of the new bins will continue into the summer and then the old spare green bins will be collected. Residents who had more than one green bin for garden waste do not need to contact the Council regarding the collection of their old bins but are asked where possible to leave them in an accessible place and they will be collected after the brown bins have been rolled out.

Historic Women Score Labour 16 Tory 6

Local Labour believes it is fitting that in 2018, the centenary of the first women winning the right to vote in the UK, the recent local elections have delivered historic victories for women councillors across the Borough.

After West Lancashire Labour took seats in Burscough and North Meols, and retained seats in Ormskirk and Skelmersdale with women candidates, the balance of the West Lancashire Labour Group is now almost fifty percent women to men. Of the thirty three seats on the council held by the ruling Labour Group, sixteen are now held by women. All five new Labour Councillors are women, which has led to a significant improvement in the gender balance of the council.

Deputy Leader of the council, Cllr Yvonne Gagen  believes “This is a fantastic result for all women across the borough of West Lancashire, as it brings a greater representative balance to the council. Each of our new councillors went through a rigorous selection process and were chosen by their local residents as outstanding candidates for their wards.

“They all went on to fight a determined campaign, just like the women who fought for our right to vote 100 years ago. The Labour Party is committed to gender equality in politics and we are immensely proud that West Lancashire is leading the way locally in achieving this”.

The new Labour Councillors elected on 3 May are: Burscough East Ward Cllr Sue Evans, Burscough West Ward Cllr Cynthia Dereli, Ormskirk Knowsley Ward Cllr Michelle Aldridge, North Meols Ward Cllr Kath Lockie, and Skelmersdale South Ward Cllr Vickie Cummins. 

By contrast the local Tory party has a mere 6 women and 13 men including their Wyre two-hatter, as oblivion beckons election by election.