UPDATED: Cuts in services and claims of Government unfairness as Wirral Council reveals its budget

Wirral Globe: Council leader Phil Davies said proposals have been made against a backdrop of 'draconian' central government cuts. Council leader Phil Davies said proposals have been made against a backdrop of 'draconian' central government cuts.

WITH the whistles of trade union protestors outside the town hall ringing in his ears, Wirral Council's leader tonight presented his budget for the coming financial year.

It is a mixed bag of measures and includes some areas of growth, but its principal aim is to reduce overall spending by £27.5m.

Wirral's budget is based on an unconfirmed assumption the borough's council tax will increase by 2% from next April.

Labour leader of the council, Cllr Phil Davies, explained to his cabinet that he is waiting to be told precise details of the financial settlement from Government before setting any tax rises.

Conservative opposition group leader Cllr Jeff Green said Labour is "piling on the misery" for council tax-payers and should have "pulled out all the stops" to prevent another increase.

Councillor Davies said the proposals have been made against a backdrop of "draconian" central government cuts.

He warned standards in some services will need to be reduced - and the council must become a smaller organisation.

"However, we remain determined to protect our most vulnerable residents and have ensured the majority of savings come from improving our back-office processes and the way the council is managed and governed," he said.

Tonight's package included £17.3m of savings generated by "completely remodelling" the way the authority operates.

A major part of the shake-up will be merging back-office services with neighbouring authority Cheshire West and Chester Council, cutting costs by more than £7m.

This could result in around 50 redundancies at management level.

Terms and conditions governing severance packages are to change. - one of the reasons trade unionists were protesting at the door.

They are also far from happy about cuts to public services provided by their members, or reducing the number of full-time union officials on the council payroll,  realising £100,000 of savings.

People aged 70 and over will see their council tax discount reduced from 7.5% to 5%, and the discount will now only apply to homes in band ranges A-to-D.

Also included in the budget were some ominous-sounding statements about "reducing the financial burden" to taxpayers of New Brighton's recently revamped Floral Pavilion Theatre.

And the future the borough's principal public cultural centre, the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, seems far from certain as volunteers will be asked to take over.

But there was some good news amid the gloom.

A range of measures valued at £7.6m will be made over the next three years designed to support pensioners, young people with learning disabilities and special guardians.

Around £1m will be spent over the next two years on improving early intervention for vulnerable adults, particularly older people.

After thousands objected through petiitons and the council's "What Really Matters" consultation to the introduction of car parking charges at Wirral country parks, the idea has been scrapped.

A major reduction of maintenance of bowling greens, parks, public gardens and beaches will not now go ahead, allowing their up-keep by the council to continue.

And there will be no more black-outs on major roads; only every alternate street light will be turned off instead of the present total shutdown.

Summing up, Cllr  Davies said: "By the end of 2016, the Tory-led Government will have cut Wirral Council's funding by more than 50 per cent.

"It has done this in a way which is blatantly unfair to deprived areas of the north: Wirral has lost £109m - or £152 per person - compared to just £2 per person in wealthy North Dorset.

"The blatant unfairness of this is something I will continue to campaign against. Wirral needs a fair deal."

Councillor Green was unimpressed: "Under Phil Davies, Wirral households have seen the cost of living go up by £295 in the last year through council tax rises and other 'stealth' increases.

"Now, as usual, Labour are preparing to hit local people in the pocket with yet another tax hike.

"Setting a budget is all about making informed choices.

"We know there must be reductions to meet the massive national deficit, but Wirral Labour group has yet again decided to supplement its income through a tax rise.

"The whole show tonight was yet another exercise in Wirral Council spin."

Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly condemned cabinet members after they indicated   they were prepared to pull out of funding school crossing patrols.

Councillor Kelly said: "This cut was well hidden under the headline of ‘working in co-operation with schools.’

"But there is nothing co-operative about making school budgets pay for school crossing patrols.

"It takes cash out of educating children to provide a highways service, and potentially means some patrols may be lost."

Labour's budget resolution was passed unanimously and will now go forward to full council next Monday for final approval.

Comments (17)

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9:55pm Tue 10 Dec 13

Joeblogg85 says...

Hey Councillor Green, you are pointing the finger now but you had your chance to change the spin machine and blew it. When you was involved in the first consultation, you was all over it yet now you slag it off. You're all the bloody same!
Hey Councillor Green, you are pointing the finger now but you had your chance to change the spin machine and blew it. When you was involved in the first consultation, you was all over it yet now you slag it off. You're all the bloody same! Joeblogg85

10:05pm Tue 10 Dec 13

JimmyMercury says...

Yes Mr Green, what would your party cut? Tell it anyway you like, but central Government is treating some areas fairer than others and we all know why!
Yes Mr Green, what would your party cut? Tell it anyway you like, but central Government is treating some areas fairer than others and we all know why! JimmyMercury

10:13am Wed 11 Dec 13

bigfoot says...

Cuts don't heal,the only cuts that would work is firstly number of Councillors, claims on their salary,sorry 'expenses' and jollies.Then think about cutting what services are left,which won't be many. In case Councillors,you aren't familiar with the word 'services' that's what we pay council tax for.
Cuts don't heal,the only cuts that would work is firstly number of Councillors, claims on their salary,sorry 'expenses' and jollies.Then think about cutting what services are left,which won't be many. In case Councillors,you aren't familiar with the word 'services' that's what we pay council tax for. bigfoot

10:37am Wed 11 Dec 13

JohnON says...

I can't help contrasting the regular articles about cuts to services and the article in which the Council praise the work force for the "Spirit of the Blitz" during the flood clear-up.

One group of people who just got on with what needed to be done.

Another group sitting round on endless committees, making "Action Plans" and generally being full of their own self importance with their management speak, while nothing actually happens.

I know who I'd rather see my money go to!
I can't help contrasting the regular articles about cuts to services and the article in which the Council praise the work force for the "Spirit of the Blitz" during the flood clear-up. One group of people who just got on with what needed to be done. Another group sitting round on endless committees, making "Action Plans" and generally being full of their own self importance with their management speak, while nothing actually happens. I know who I'd rather see my money go to! JohnON

10:58am Wed 11 Dec 13

Hon says...

Maybe of some note that they are cutting the redundancy packages for staff. So looks like compulsary reduandancies are on the way!!.

Probably also good to look at this is their last budget before voting commences and the vote next year lets whoever it is in power for 4 years so dont get too excited as I'm sure those things that are not being implimented will be next year as I am almost certain people will vote Labour on Wirral.
Maybe of some note that they are cutting the redundancy packages for staff. So looks like compulsary reduandancies are on the way!!. Probably also good to look at this is their last budget before voting commences and the vote next year lets whoever it is in power for 4 years so dont get too excited as I'm sure those things that are not being implimented will be next year as I am almost certain people will vote Labour on Wirral. Hon

11:24am Wed 11 Dec 13

WirralAl says...

Whilst I agree that the Government appear to be targeting some councils and from what we are informed somewhat unfairly if it is a North/South divide.

This council has thrown SO much of OUR money in the bin (brown bins literately) in total miss-management, over generous severance payments, reports after reports, hundreds of mobile phone bills, Colas, DASS, and Cheshire lines. Even a slimy inside job of £42,000 !

Both main parties have been in power and still let money flow out the council coffers. Labour being the worst offenders.

If the Government took a real look at this council it would be a laughing stock. I am sure that the country is full of dodgy councils and dodgy Councillors all wasting money and acting like public money is to pay for expenses and stupid schemes. It has already a proven fact that many of the main MP's have had their hands in the till.

If the Government did not reduce the contribution would the council still be wasting money hand over fist?

Would this council actually of looked what it has been wasting money on for years?

The cut backs in public services especially to those in desperate need is terrible and a sad state of affairs.

We still have 66 Councillors all claiming expenses and bleeding us all.

Many people have lost jobs.

Now many managers will lose their jobs but I am sure will get a generous redundancy package.

Still not one person has been charged with any corruption or sacked for miss-management.

I will accept the increase in Council tax to help maintain public services.

The Councillors need to take a real hard look at themselves and the role that they play. A reduction in numbers is possible and cost effective.

This Council needs to take a hard look at it's self and how it can help small businesses survive and prosper and stop chasing the Peel rainbow which is all they see as the future for Wirral. At present they have no idea what to do to make Wirral prosper.(And no we don't want more golf courses)

It's simple make it a nice clean, and safe place to live and promote what we have to offer as a tourist destination. Look at New Brighton on a sunny day. Wirral has so much to offer but does so little to bring visitors.
Whilst I agree that the Government appear to be targeting some councils and from what we are informed somewhat unfairly if it is a North/South divide. This council has thrown SO much of OUR money in the bin (brown bins literately) in total miss-management, over generous severance payments, reports after reports, hundreds of mobile phone bills, Colas, DASS, and Cheshire lines. Even a slimy inside job of £42,000 ! Both main parties have been in power and still let money flow out the council coffers. Labour being the worst offenders. If the Government took a real look at this council it would be a laughing stock. I am sure that the country is full of dodgy councils and dodgy Councillors all wasting money and acting like public money is to pay for expenses and stupid schemes. It has already a proven fact that many of the main MP's have had their hands in the till. If the Government did not reduce the contribution would the council still be wasting money hand over fist? Would this council actually of looked what it has been wasting money on for years? The cut backs in public services especially to those in desperate need is terrible and a sad state of affairs. We still have 66 Councillors all claiming expenses and bleeding us all. Many people have lost jobs. Now many managers will lose their jobs but I am sure will get a generous redundancy package. Still not one person has been charged with any corruption or sacked for miss-management. I will accept the increase in Council tax to help maintain public services. The Councillors need to take a real hard look at themselves and the role that they play. A reduction in numbers is possible and cost effective. This Council needs to take a hard look at it's self and how it can help small businesses survive and prosper and stop chasing the Peel rainbow which is all they see as the future for Wirral. At present they have no idea what to do to make Wirral prosper.(And no we don't want more golf courses) It's simple make it a nice clean, and safe place to live and promote what we have to offer as a tourist destination. Look at New Brighton on a sunny day. Wirral has so much to offer but does so little to bring visitors. WirralAl

1:05pm Wed 11 Dec 13

hildebrand says...

I think Marine Point is one thing Wirral has done to attract visitors, which has worked pretty well
I think Marine Point is one thing Wirral has done to attract visitors, which has worked pretty well hildebrand

2:56pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Hugo1008 says...

Come on know who in their right mind would place anything of value into the hands of a well established non democratic shambles called Wirral Borough Council.
All the major decisions are made by less than a dozen Councillors, most of whom have been in office during the years that created the shambles we are in at the moment.
Nothing to do with Instruction or diktats from a National Coalition Government all the waste of manpower and equipment, resources, facilities etc, has bee due to the extremely poor management and even worse Governance by what can only be described as non existent capable elected Councilors. And That applies to all the Party Political Characters without exception, Please do not ever re-elect them again, we need better that what we had had for the last 10 years or more..
Come on know who in their right mind would place anything of value into the hands of a well established non democratic shambles called Wirral Borough Council. All the major decisions are made by less than a dozen Councillors, most of whom have been in office during the years that created the shambles we are in at the moment. Nothing to do with Instruction or diktats from a National Coalition Government all the waste of manpower and equipment, resources, facilities etc, has bee due to the extremely poor management and even worse Governance by what can only be described as non existent capable elected Councilors. And That applies to all the Party Political Characters without exception, Please do not ever re-elect them again, we need better that what we had had for the last 10 years or more.. Hugo1008

3:37pm Wed 11 Dec 13

kevin casey says...

why o why do we have 66 paided councillors to make decisions ! why do we need to employ mr mega bucks burgess to over see the shambles we have had to endure for at least ten years!! a catalogue of bad management and money wasting ideas staff mobile phones . new fancy fire escape in the town hall not to mention the rest of the money they are going to spend on futher work next year all hush hush at present? were is it going to end !! come on people lets vote them out and put people in the job that actually care about wirral residents !!!!!
why o why do we have 66 paided councillors to make decisions ! why do we need to employ mr mega bucks burgess to over see the shambles we have had to endure for at least ten years!! a catalogue of bad management and money wasting ideas staff mobile phones . new fancy fire escape in the town hall not to mention the rest of the money they are going to spend on futher work next year all hush hush at present? were is it going to end !! come on people lets vote them out and put people in the job that actually care about wirral residents !!!!! kevin casey

6:45pm Wed 11 Dec 13

hobroW says...

"This Council needs to take a hard look at it's self and how it can help small businesses survive and prosper and stop chasing the Peel rainbow"

Thank you WirralAl. It is not just the reports that cost money. Specifically in the case of small businesses the figures of wastage to fraud and gross incompetence are somewhere between £3-£4m but we will have to wait for the "chilled2 ISUS/ Working Neighbourhoods report being released to gain an admission of loss from the Council. At present all we know is of £120,000 examined of grants to small businesses under BIG all £120,000 found its way to claimants debarred by the BIG rules - oh and fees were paid to advisers in these 6 cases of £9,000 for promoting the wrong companies.

WBC is the architect of its own problems
"This Council needs to take a hard look at it's self and how it can help small businesses survive and prosper and stop chasing the Peel rainbow" Thank you WirralAl. It is not just the reports that cost money. Specifically in the case of small businesses the figures of wastage to fraud and gross incompetence are somewhere between £3-£4m but we will have to wait for the "chilled2 ISUS/ Working Neighbourhoods report being released to gain an admission of loss from the Council. At present all we know is of £120,000 examined of grants to small businesses under BIG all £120,000 found its way to claimants debarred by the BIG rules - oh and fees were paid to advisers in these 6 cases of £9,000 for promoting the wrong companies. WBC is the architect of its own problems hobroW

9:11am Thu 12 Dec 13

WirralAl says...

hobroW wrote:
"This Council needs to take a hard look at it's self and how it can help small businesses survive and prosper and stop chasing the Peel rainbow"

Thank you WirralAl. It is not just the reports that cost money. Specifically in the case of small businesses the figures of wastage to fraud and gross incompetence are somewhere between £3-£4m but we will have to wait for the "chilled2 ISUS/ Working Neighbourhoods report being released to gain an admission of loss from the Council. At present all we know is of £120,000 examined of grants to small businesses under BIG all £120,000 found its way to claimants debarred by the BIG rules - oh and fees were paid to advisers in these 6 cases of £9,000 for promoting the wrong companies.

WBC is the architect of its own problems
Thanks for letting me know its even worse. With all the other failures I had forgotten about that. About 6 months ago they where still fact checking or is that still trying to bury it.

How much did Asif get???

As you say WBC is the architect of its own problems WE just have to pay for it!
[quote][p][bold]hobroW[/bold] wrote: "This Council needs to take a hard look at it's self and how it can help small businesses survive and prosper and stop chasing the Peel rainbow" Thank you WirralAl. It is not just the reports that cost money. Specifically in the case of small businesses the figures of wastage to fraud and gross incompetence are somewhere between £3-£4m but we will have to wait for the "chilled2 ISUS/ Working Neighbourhoods report being released to gain an admission of loss from the Council. At present all we know is of £120,000 examined of grants to small businesses under BIG all £120,000 found its way to claimants debarred by the BIG rules - oh and fees were paid to advisers in these 6 cases of £9,000 for promoting the wrong companies. WBC is the architect of its own problems[/p][/quote]Thanks for letting me know its even worse. With all the other failures I had forgotten about that. About 6 months ago they where still fact checking or is that still trying to bury it. How much did Asif get??? As you say WBC is the architect of its own problems WE just have to pay for it! WirralAl

10:01am Thu 12 Dec 13

JohnON says...

JimmyMercury wrote:
Yes Mr Green, what would your party cut? Tell it anyway you like, but central Government is treating some areas fairer than others and we all know why!
I don't recall the council offering to pay some back when we were in receipt of above-average subsidies per head. Snatch it like a baby when it's being handed out. Squeal like a pig when it's being taken back.
[quote][p][bold]JimmyMercury[/bold] wrote: Yes Mr Green, what would your party cut? Tell it anyway you like, but central Government is treating some areas fairer than others and we all know why![/p][/quote]I don't recall the council offering to pay some back when we were in receipt of above-average subsidies per head. Snatch it like a baby when it's being handed out. Squeal like a pig when it's being taken back. JohnON

12:28pm Thu 12 Dec 13

RL 1952 says...

Why do we still allow vital financial resources to be squandered on 66 councillors, some may say it is democracy but it is over-egged with 66 who do virtually nothing.
Interesting an additional£1m is to be spent protecting vulnerable adults sadly it will be the same so called professionals spending who mismanaged the controversy highlighted Martin Morton that still has not seen positive action against those involved and still Martin is awaiting proper closure.

And so we will see more incompetence from a leadership that truly lacks focus on what the people of Wirral want.
Why do we still allow vital financial resources to be squandered on 66 councillors, some may say it is democracy but it is over-egged with 66 who do virtually nothing. Interesting an additional£1m is to be spent protecting vulnerable adults sadly it will be the same so called professionals spending who mismanaged the controversy highlighted Martin Morton that still has not seen positive action against those involved and still Martin is awaiting proper closure. And so we will see more incompetence from a leadership that truly lacks focus on what the people of Wirral want. RL 1952

12:28pm Thu 12 Dec 13

Hugo1008 says...

Wirral Borough Council, various individuals will give you a variety of excuses as to what is happening and what is going to happen in the act of reducing services and facilities etc, right across the Borough, and they will always blame the National Coalition Governments.

Nowhere is there any evidence or report of Instructions, Orders, or Directives from the Government on how where or who these cuts must come about or effect, These decisions are taken and implemented by a small number of elected Councilors who all belong to the same Political Party Cabinet, always without any reference or recognition from any other Representatives or interested Organisation Groups.
Now that in no way or fashion can that be called Democracy, that is quite simply Dictatorship.

The very same Dictatorship consists of the Councillors who have been in power for the best part of 20 Years, Certainly in the last ten years they are the same people who have led this Council into a period of deep Disgrace, Mis Management, Scandal upon Scandal, Mal Administration, Secret Manipulation behind closed doors, Disgraceful Treatment, cover up and waste of huge amounts of Resources and Finance, plus attempts to White Wash and cover up on an epic scale.

If you have re-elected any Councilor who has been in office for the last ten years then you only have yourself to blame, Regardless of Politics we on Wirral have suffered the worst Managed and Governed local government for over a decade, and it will not get any better until we have a Clean, Honest, Reliable and Trustworthy set of elected Councillors with the sole intention of safeguarding and supporting the interests of the Electorate and Population of Wirral, first and foremost.

Remember that when you next get a chance to vote, and use your vote to achieve an improvement, not just more of the same.
Wirral Borough Council, various individuals will give you a variety of excuses as to what is happening and what is going to happen in the act of reducing services and facilities etc, right across the Borough, and they will always blame the National Coalition Governments. Nowhere is there any evidence or report of Instructions, Orders, or Directives from the Government on how where or who these cuts must come about or effect, These decisions are taken and implemented by a small number of elected Councilors who all belong to the same Political Party Cabinet, always without any reference or recognition from any other Representatives or interested Organisation Groups. Now that in no way or fashion can that be called Democracy, that is quite simply Dictatorship. The very same Dictatorship consists of the Councillors who have been in power for the best part of 20 Years, Certainly in the last ten years they are the same people who have led this Council into a period of deep Disgrace, Mis Management, Scandal upon Scandal, Mal Administration, Secret Manipulation behind closed doors, Disgraceful Treatment, cover up and waste of huge amounts of Resources and Finance, plus attempts to White Wash and cover up on an epic scale. If you have re-elected any Councilor who has been in office for the last ten years then you only have yourself to blame, Regardless of Politics we on Wirral have suffered the worst Managed and Governed local government for over a decade, and it will not get any better until we have a Clean, Honest, Reliable and Trustworthy set of elected Councillors with the sole intention of safeguarding and supporting the interests of the Electorate and Population of Wirral, first and foremost. Remember that when you next get a chance to vote, and use your vote to achieve an improvement, not just more of the same. Hugo1008

2:25pm Thu 12 Dec 13

hobroW says...

Wirralal the BIG fund report was fact-checked for 4 months, until early July 2013 when editors were gathered to the Town Hall to receive copies. I imagine they were warned "not to compromise future criminal cases" and no press release was made on the WBC website.
Even though I and Mr Griffiths were the whistleblowers we heard it from a journalist and then demanded our copy of the report which really by whistleblowing rules should have come to ourselves firstly and freely. They clearly did not want to incorporate what would have been my exploding of the apologia contained therein, in the Council's right to reply. You may find what a farrago of untruth that apologia was at nigelhobro@wordpress
.com.

At the full council meeting in July 2013, and I imagine that was the trigger to end the "fact-checking", I surprised Cllr Davies into allowing me to make the executive Summary public {you can see this in an amusing clip of a video by J Brace of the meeting}. The WBC was nagged by myself to include a report costing at least £25,000 of public money on their website. They attached it without fanfare to the bottom of the minutes of the Council Meeting. We never found out what fact-checking was involved .

The ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods is still under wraps for a criminal investigation which has not even a crime number as yet. Mr andrew Walker representing erdf will report in mid-january as to his findings so we will have to wait till the New Year.
Wirralal the BIG fund report was fact-checked for 4 months, until early July 2013 when editors were gathered to the Town Hall to receive copies. I imagine they were warned "not to compromise future criminal cases" and no press release was made on the WBC website. Even though I and Mr Griffiths were the whistleblowers we heard it from a journalist and then demanded our copy of the report which really by whistleblowing rules should have come to ourselves firstly and freely. They clearly did not want to incorporate what would have been my exploding of the apologia contained therein, in the Council's right to reply. You may find what a farrago of untruth that apologia was at nigelhobro@wordpress .com. At the full council meeting in July 2013, and I imagine that was the trigger to end the "fact-checking", I surprised Cllr Davies into allowing me to make the executive Summary public {you can see this in an amusing clip of a video by J Brace of the meeting}. The WBC was nagged by myself to include a report costing at least £25,000 of public money on their website. They attached it without fanfare to the bottom of the minutes of the Council Meeting. We never found out what fact-checking was involved . The ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods is still under wraps for a criminal investigation which has not even a crime number as yet. Mr andrew Walker representing erdf will report in mid-january as to his findings so we will have to wait till the New Year. hobroW

7:57pm Thu 12 Dec 13

Llamedos 1 says...

I thougt I had read somewhere that national government had frozen council tax increases for 2014, anyone enlightem me on that one?
I thougt I had read somewhere that national government had frozen council tax increases for 2014, anyone enlightem me on that one? Llamedos 1

8:37am Fri 13 Dec 13

Wirral_Man says...

Couple of points:

Mr Davies makes it sound like the council budget has gone down by 50% when it's the central government grant that has gone down. The council is also funded by council tax which they need to collect themselves........oo
ps how large is the pile of uncollected tax??????

Obviously the Labour group will currently be blaming the Tories but didn't the previous Labour leader (the esteemed Foukes!) try and close the leisure centres under a Labour government - WMBC doing great things with your cash!
Couple of points: Mr Davies makes it sound like the council budget has gone down by 50% when it's the central government grant that has gone down. The council is also funded by council tax which they need to collect themselves........oo ps how large is the pile of uncollected tax?????? Obviously the Labour group will currently be blaming the Tories but didn't the previous Labour leader (the esteemed Foukes!) try and close the leisure centres under a Labour government - WMBC doing great things with your cash! Wirral_Man

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