Job losses and more service reductions form controversial cuts package for Wirral Council (From Wirral Globe)
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Job losses and more service reductions form controversial cuts package for Wirral Council
AROUND 100 local authority jobs are on the line as Wirral Council struggles desperately to tackle an ever-widening funding gap.
The gap for the coming financial year is £27.5m but the cumulative effect of a Government squeeze on Wirral Council finances has been a shortfall in grants of around £145m over four years.
Chief executive Graham Burgess said today: “The scale of the cuts is pretty huge. There will be some redundancies – probably under 100 – and most will be by voluntary moves or redeployment.”
And he warned that a shake-up of middle management could see the workforce trimmed down by around 200 over the next couple of years.
Mr Burgess added: “This is a better picture than last year when about 250 jobs were lost.
"Economies have been achieved and we are working together with the health authority and Cheshire West to create more savings.”
But he insisted: “There are tough times ahead – for our staff, councillors and most importantly, the people we serve.
“Councils across the country are facing major cuts in funding and the Government is continuing to reduce the amount of money councils are able to spend on services, especially in the north.”
The chief executive’s proposals – which will be studied by the authority’s cabinet and full council in December – are wide-ranging.
Proposed savings on family support measures (£2.2m) and £6.1m on adult social care, which do not involve closure of any day centres.
A further saving of £2m is planned on children’s centres by reducing front line staff, but with no closures.
Another £850,000 to be saved from parks and maintenance budget.
A further £100,000 will come from introducing car parking charges at Fort Perch Rock, Royden Park, Wirral Country Park, Arrowe Country Park and Eastham Country Park.
Removal of the over-70s' 7.75% council tax discount will save £1.1m.
And a review of New Brighton Floral Pavilion theatre will save £400,000 against the council’s subsidy of £830,000 - but it will not impact on service to the public, according to Mr Burgess.
He said: "This review will look at existing activities as well as exploring new income streams which may be generated in the future.
“It will explore whether there are alternative models for the Floral which will enable the theatre to operate more effectively in a commercial environment.
“It will also explore the greater use of new and online technologies in terms of marketing and ticket sales.”
There are plans to switch off further street lights to achieve energy saving.
A review of the most suitable locations is underway but it is a likely outcome is switching off alternative lights on a number of residential streets that are not cul-de-sacs.
A second round of the “What Really Matters” consultations was launched today to seek the comments and observations of residents, community groups and council staff.
The trade unions have also been consulted.
The consultations – lasting 12 weeks – will include road shops and events across the borough to provide as many people as possible with the chance to have their say on the proposals.
Mr Burgess said: “Our duty as public servants is to do all we can to use the limited resources we have left in the most effective way possible to continue to ensure the services that people rely on most remain available in some form.
He added: “The decisions are not going to be easy but there is around £5m worth of choice in terms of where the necessary savings can be found.”
On a lighter note Kevin Adderley, the council’s strategic director for regeneration and environment, told residents in a special message: “We have had, and are working towards, huge successes."
Projects such as the New Brighton development, the revitalisation of Birkenhead Park, the |International Trade Centre and the International Golf Resort, and particularly Wirral Waters, are significant on a national and global scale.
The first public road shows are as follows: - Monday, September 16: Moreton Cross, 10am – Noon; Sainsbury’s, Pensby Road 4pm-6pm.
Tuesday, September 17: Asda, Woodchurch , 10am-Noon Wednesday, September 18: Sainsbury’s, Market Street, Hoylake, 10am-Noon.
Saturday, September 21: Port Sunlight Festival from 10am.
Monday, September 23: Sainsbury’s, Market Street, Hoyake, 10am-Noon.
Tuesday, September 24: Leasowe Community Centre, from 10am; Asda, Bromborough, 10am-Noon.
The budget options can be accessed on the council website – www.wirral.gov.uk/whatreallymatters
Copies are also available at any council building or people can call 0151 606 2030 for a copy to be sent.
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