Wirral Council’s Cabinet agrees to consultation on £2.498 million of cuts
There were hundreds of people at last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
In fact there were so many people present that the venue for the Cabinet Meeting that evening was moved from Committee Room 3 (maximum 46 people) at Wallasey Town Hall to the Civic Hall (maximum 370 people). However those maximum numbers are reduced further by about twenty if you bear in mind the ten councillors on the Cabinet plus senior management that support the Cabinet at its meetings.
Before the meeting started at 6.15pm there was a large protest outside Wallasey Town Hall.
As it was dark, at that time of the evening my photos of the protest haven’t come out very well. You should however be able to see the flags and some of the protest slogans in the pictures below (although I apologise that some are unreadable). The trade unions were protesting about the potential loss of jobs, there were those who use the Council’s services that are under threat there too.
A number of other major developments are ongoing, including:
Negotiations are ongoing with Neptune Developments for the sale of three sites at Europa Boulevard to provide a replacement swimming pool and fitness suite, Budget Hotel, Food court and Fast Food Drive-through. Allied to this as Phase 2 will be the grant of an intermediate lease of
Birkenhead Market to Neptune to safeguard its continued operation, with a view to the eventual grant of a restructured lease to facilitate the development of a smaller market which will, in turn, release land for the reconfiguration of The Grange.
The proposal to establish the Isle of Mann University ICT Faculty in Birkenhead is still being worked on. This will utilise the Conway Building and Municipal Building in Cleveland Street. Proposed Heads of Term have been prepared in anticipation of confirmation from the University that funding is in place.
In other words, Wirral Council plan to grant Neptune an intermediate lease of Birkenhead Market, then "develop" a smaller market so that some (or all) of where Birkenhead Market is at present can be sold to become part of the Pyramids and Grange Shopping Centre.
Will will the promised consultation with the public over Neptune’s plans for Birkenhead Town Centre happen?
Meanwhile across the road from Birkenhead Market, Wirral Council look set to lease the Conway Building to what’s down in the report as the "Isle of Man University", but is more likely to be the Isle of Man College at the University of Chester.
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Wirral’s Cabinet expected to start consultation on 4% Council Tax rise and £2.4 million of cuts
Wirral Council’s Cabinet will meet next Thursday evening to discuss further cuts to Wirral Council’s budget for the 2016/17 year. Councillors are expected to agree to a public consultation on £2.5 million of budget options as well as a 4% council tax increase. Cabinet is also expected to agree to a staff consultation on budget options such as reducing the pay rise from 2% to 1%.
The consultation will run from the 18th December 2015 and finishes on the 29th January 2016. At the end of the consultation Cabinet will propose a budget to be voted on at a meeting of all Wirral’s councillors.
Community Safety (£367,000) – litter enforcement was recently outsourced to Kingdom Security and this proposal would see the same happen to dog fouling enforcement, Wirral Council hope to increase income to the community safety service from landlords and schools.
Discretionary Housing Payments & Advice (£406,000) – this proposal would see Wirral Council only covering rent shortfalls to people in hardship to the amount they receive from the government, it would also see the end of Wirral Council providing welfare benefits advice.
Girtrell Court service re-provision (£155,000) – Girtrell Court provides short breaks for carers of adults with physical and learning disabilities, this proposal would see that service provided by the private sector instead of directly by Wirral Council.
Highways Maintenance and Road Safety (£320,000) – This proposal means Wirral Council would only use the money it receives for highways maintenance, only 100 out of 300 grit bins would be filled and school crossing patrols would be reviewed.
Leisure Centres and Golf Courses (£641,000) – Discounts and free access would be removed, such as free access for long serving Council staff, foster carers and families, free swimming for those under 18 in the school holidays and free swimming for the over 65s between 9am and noon.
Libraries Re-provision (£203,000) – Transferring up to 12 of Wirral’s libraries into "community ownership" (run by volunteers rather than paid staff).
Parks Community Partnership Working (£108,000) – Increasing the role of community organisations and volunteers in parks maintenance and looking to increase parks income.
Charging for the Pest Control Service (£30,000) – Charging landlords, business and residents who can afford to pay for dealing with rats.
Charging for the Garden Waste Service (£196,000) – Increasing the brown bin charge from £35 a year to £40 a year (but with a £5 discount if paid online).
So to summarise the proposed cuts (along with a 4% council tax increase) are to dog fouling, community safety, covering rent shortfalls for those in financial hardship, axing the welfare right service, the short breaks for carers service, highways maintenance, grit bins, school crossing patrols, free swimming for children, free swimming for pensioners, free leisure access for some Council staff, transferring many of Wirral’s libraries to be run by volunteers, having more volunteers involved in parks maintenance, charging for dealing with rats and increasing the brown bin charge by £5.
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