A BID by Liberal Democrats to reduce the number of Wirral councillors was defeated last night.

A meeting of the full council saw Labour and Conservative groups unite to throw out the plan.

Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Johnston said today: “I am amazed that the idea was blocked without any scrutiny.

“I was hoping the idea could be looked at closely along with other suggestions to improve the way the council works to make it more efficient, representative and provide value for money.”

Councillor Johnston continued: “Many people on the doorstep are asking us ‘do you really need 66 councillors if you are shrinking the services of council?’”

“I think this is a very valid question and councillors need to remember we are here to serve the public and shouldn't feel threatened by change.

“We are expecting the public and our staff to accept some painful changes and, therefore, need to carefully assess our role in public life.

"Reducing elections to once every two years and reducing councillors by 10% might be a good start.”

He said it was “ridiculous” that in every other part of the authority, reductions are taking place - except within the council chamber itself.

A recent online poll by the Globe asking if the council should be cut from 66 to 44 members saw more than 1,200 readers voting - and 93% said YES.

One school of thought argues that if a third of jobs and services are to be sacrificed then a third of the council (22 councillors) should be removed to save the local authority £300,000 a year.

Back in November when the idea was first raised, Labour council leader Phil Davies said: “My reaction is that we will look at this as a possible savings option alongside the other options we have been consulting on.

“There have been lots of suggestions and I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of consultations by making any announcement now. But the option of cutting the size of the council will be seriously considered alongside everything else.”

Tory group leader Cllr Jeff Green was against any such move: “My experience is that councillors work hard in the community speaking to local groups and helping to improve local neighbourhoods."