Councillors met to discuss 3 areas of Future Council consultation (Youth and Play, Gitrell Court and West Kirby Marine Lake)

Councillors met to discuss 3 areas of Future Council consultation (Youth and Play, Gitrell Court and West Kirby Marine Lake)

Councillors met to discuss 3 areas of Future Council consultation (Youth and Play, Gitrell Court and West Kirby Marine Lake)

                                                    

Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee  Wirral Council  3rd November 2014   L to R Legal adviser who was missing, Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair), Clare Fish and Graham Hodkinson
Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee Wirral Council 3rd November 2014 L to R Legal adviser who was missing, Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair), Clare Fish and Graham Hodkinson

Last night showed something that we’ve been promised for some time which is pre-decision scrutiny (of a sort). Now the Future Council consultation is over, the first of three overview and scrutiny committees met yesterday evening to discuss the proposed budget cuts in their area of responsibility.

Prior to this there had been a behind closed doors set of meetings among councillors, which explained why the public meeting itself was rather short.

The rather late reports (which included a Powerpoint presentation on the consultation results) concentrated on the following proposed budget cuts:

Youth and Play Service £450,000 cut closing 4 youth centres, reducing provision at the “hubs” from five evening a week to four, Play Schemes funding ceased, grant to Wirral Play Council stopped, Civil Award Scheme stopped and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme stopped. If chosen this would end play schemes in Beechwood, Gautby Road (in Bidston) and Leasowe Adventure Playground in Wallasey. These three playschemes cost Wirral Council £190,000 a year but benefit about 600 children.

The Wirral Play Council (a charity on the Wirral) runs play schemes including an annual event at Birkenhead Park attended by 3,000 children, which was discussed at the Youth and Play Service Advisory Committee public meeting last week. People at that meeting were shown photos of the Mayor at this event in Birkenhead Park which I can’t show you because the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services Cllr Tony Smith and Wirral Council officers decided to try to negotiate a broadcast media blackout of that public meeting and had I tried to film it, Surjit Tour would’ve advised Cllr Tony Smith to adjourn that meeting.

The detail of the effects of each proposal had been previously discussed behind closed doors by councillors who then produced a scrutiny panel report.

The other possible budget cuts involved Girtell Court (a short break respite service for adults with disabilities of £385,000), a cut to the all age disability service of £600,000 (affecting Willow Tree (overnight short breaks for children with high-level learning and physical disabilities), Children with Disabilities Team, Transition Team and the Family