Wirral council tax frozen after 'game-changer' Government ruling

Council leader Phil Davies

Council leader Phil Davies

First published in News
Last updated
Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Editor

Wirral's council tax is to be frozen this year.

The local authority's ruling cabinet met this evening and heard a last-minute ruling by the Government meant it should now be possible to hold the tax at its present levels, and that the freeze also could be extended to cover 2015-16.

A 2% hike had been anticipated until the town hall was told a £1.3m Government top-up grant would be built into into its base budget and would be available for the next two years.

"This was a game-changer," said Labour council leader Cllr Phil Davies.

"We refused the grant last year as it would only have meant having to cut services further next year to fill the gap."

Councillor Davies sounded a note of caution, however, saying he is now waiting to learn the level of precepts to be added in for police and fire services.

The top-up still left a shortfall of £700,000 if the tax was to be frozen, but lower than expected levies from the waste disposal authority and Merseytravel provided sufficient savings to fill the gap.

An unexpected raft of spending was also announced.

A major house-building programme is to be launched to "kick-start" more than 100 new affordable homes in areas which lost out when the Government housing renewal programme was cut.

Some £2m of capital wil be used to upgrade three leisure centre - Europa Pools, Guinea Gap and West Kirby Concourse.

Around £400,000 will be made available to tackle fly-tipping and boost efforts to prosecute culprits. Monthly cleaning of alley ways will be reinstated.

The council will also provide "bridging funding" to ensure the under-threat Williamson Art Gallery and Museuem continues to operate while the action group set up to consider new ways of running it is given more time to complete its business plan.

And schools will be told they will not lose their lollipop crossing patrols if they decide not to agree to a council scheme asking them to pay for the service themselves.

Pensioners over the age of 70 whose homes are in A-to-D council tax bands will continue to receive a 5% discount.

Councillor Davies said: "By the end of 2016, the Government will have slashed our funding by 50 per cent, and we still need to find £44m savings over the next two years, so we are not out of the woods yet.

"But my focus has always been to ensure the council's finances are back on a sound footing, at the same time as doing all we can to protect the vulnerable and maintain our drive to improve our economy and reduce inequalities.

"I am proud that our budget is a step towards those ambitions."

The acceptance of the tax freeze top-up grant was only made last Wednesday when  Government notified the local authority of its budget rules for this year.

The council leader told the Globe: "The guidance arrived desperately late, normally we would know by December.

"What happens after 2016 is a bit vague, but at a time when the borough's householders are facing increasing financial pressure from so many quarters, I am glad we are not going to impose an additional burden on them by increasing council tax."

Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly said: "Because only 26 out of 92 schools have agreed to use their education funding to pay for crossing patrols, Labour have instructed officers to continue discussions with schools.

"But they have also given a guarantee that no funding will be removed where agreement cannot be reached.

“This clumsy compromise is ridiculous - why would any schools choose to pay in these circumstances?”

“Labour's policy is in tatters.

"We have argued all along school budgets should be used for educating our children, not paying for road safety.

"That is the council’s responsibility. And it’s clear that most governing bodies agree with us.”

“It is time to recognise reality. I call on Cllr Davies to withdraw this ill-considered plan once and for all instead of limping on with this strange proposal."

The cabinet voted unanimously in favour of the budget, which will now go to a meeting of the full council for approval on February 25.

Comments (10)

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9:09pm Wed 12 Feb 14

JimmyMercury says...

Nothing to do with a general election next year then? Been saying this for two years. 2014 will be the year they suddenly find lots of money down the back of the sofa. What a surprise, Not!
Nothing to do with a general election next year then? Been saying this for two years. 2014 will be the year they suddenly find lots of money down the back of the sofa. What a surprise, Not! JimmyMercury
  • Score: 11

10:35pm Wed 12 Feb 14

mlhifi says...

We should actually get a reduction this year because, despite the government providing funds to Wirral Council to freeze the tax last year, they didn't. So. we're owed a decrease and THAT needs to be frozen!
We should actually get a reduction this year because, despite the government providing funds to Wirral Council to freeze the tax last year, they didn't. So. we're owed a decrease and THAT needs to be frozen! mlhifi
  • Score: 10

5:46am Thu 13 Feb 14

mickey1more says...

Councillor Davies has had his wrist slapped and told to sort out the mess by this Labour run council.

He is still going on about shortfalls and Police budgets etc,etc. Why does he not look into all the expenses that the Labour Councillors rack up year after year.
Any chance of shutting down the subsidised bars in the Town Halls and saving some money there Phil? Aye ,I bet the isn't !
As for the Alley ways being cleaned, I have to laugh, my house has one behind me and I haven't seen any council workers clean it up in the last 15 years,it's been the local residents who have cleaned them because of fly tippers.So how Davies can say that starting to clean them up is going to get people thinking he is doing a great job is beyond me.
But I am happy that it's frozen for two years and quite rightly so. Central Government has stepped in and basically told all these councillors to get their house in order!
Councillor Davies has had his wrist slapped and told to sort out the mess by this Labour run council. He is still going on about shortfalls and Police budgets etc,etc. Why does he not look into all the expenses that the Labour Councillors rack up year after year. Any chance of shutting down the subsidised bars in the Town Halls and saving some money there Phil? Aye ,I bet the isn't ! As for the Alley ways being cleaned, I have to laugh, my house has one behind me and I haven't seen any council workers clean it up in the last 15 years,it's been the local residents who have cleaned them because of fly tippers.So how Davies can say that starting to clean them up is going to get people thinking he is doing a great job is beyond me. But I am happy that it's frozen for two years and quite rightly so. Central Government has stepped in and basically told all these councillors to get their house in order! mickey1more
  • Score: 7

1:42pm Thu 13 Feb 14

rover600 says...

Perhaps the council can buy out Merseytravel's interest in the Mersey tunnels given the millions these 'thieves' take from the tolls to divert into their other interests, millions, absolutely millions, more than enough to reduce the debts, reduce council taxes and run the tunnels!
If Liverpool council object they could have a tunnel each and compete with each other or split the inbound outbound incomes on both tunnels.

On the subject of the tunnels I lodged a formal complaint with the OFT yesterday I'd urge every reader to do the same. We are being ripped off by our Council and we are being more than ripped off by Merseytravel. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask, this lot have no shame!
Perhaps the council can buy out Merseytravel's interest in the Mersey tunnels given the millions these 'thieves' take from the tolls to divert into their other interests, millions, absolutely millions, more than enough to reduce the debts, reduce council taxes and run the tunnels! If Liverpool council object they could have a tunnel each and compete with each other or split the inbound outbound incomes on both tunnels. On the subject of the tunnels I lodged a formal complaint with the OFT yesterday I'd urge every reader to do the same. We are being ripped off by our Council and we are being more than ripped off by Merseytravel. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask, this lot have no shame! rover600
  • Score: 5

4:05pm Thu 13 Feb 14

WirralAl says...

SMELLS LIKE ELECTION TIME. THEY HAVE LIED TO US FOR YEARS!!!"

Let us hope that this year people see sense.

I hope people finally have noticed that the they are only called the Labour party and it does not mean they help or support workers. They are only in it for what they can get out of it. Bungs and Glory for the boys. They have well forgotten historical loyalties so should the electorate!!!

Time to vote for ANY alternatives.
SMELLS LIKE ELECTION TIME. THEY HAVE LIED TO US FOR YEARS!!!" Let us hope that this year people see sense. I hope people finally have noticed that the they are only called the Labour party and it does not mean they help or support workers. They are only in it for what they can get out of it. Bungs and Glory for the boys. They have well forgotten historical loyalties so should the electorate!!! Time to vote for ANY alternatives. WirralAl
  • Score: 8

10:13pm Fri 14 Feb 14

benny07 says...

does that mean wbc labour ,will stop persicuting & prosicuting THE SICK ,DISABLED & GEN ,UNEMPLOYED,BECAUSE THEY CANT AFFORD TO PAY THERE COUNCIL TAX,DUE TO THE TORY/LIB GOVERMENT WELFARE REFORMS ,? OR IS IT BUSINESS AS USUAL,& CONTINUE OBTAINING MONEY BY DECEPTION,& TAKING THE FOOD OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF THE MOST VUNERABLE ON THE WIRRAL,,?? WELL OF COURSE IF ITS,ELECTIONS OR NOT ,THIS LABOUR COUNCIL DOES,NT GIVE A MONKEYS ,ABOUT ANYONE BUT THEMSELVES,,IE,THERE GOING TO BUILD A NEW SMALL MARKET ON PRICE ST CAR PARK,& GET THIS !! THERE GOING TO DEMOLISH THE OLD MARKET & MAKE THAT ,A CAR PARK ,,YOU CUD,NT MAKE IT UP ,BRAIN DEAD LABOUR COUNSIL BUILDING A NEW MARKET ALONG SIDE A RESIDENTIAL AREA,,THAT MEANS TAKIN A MARKET OUT OFF A SHOPPING AREA !!! LIKE I SAID YOU CUD,NT MAKE IT UP ,!!! WHO IS GOING TO MAKE ALL THE MONEY OUT OF THIS WHITE ELEPHANT,,FRAUD SQUAD NEED TO WATCH THIS ONE,!!!!AGAIN!!!
does that mean wbc labour ,will stop persicuting & prosicuting THE SICK ,DISABLED & GEN ,UNEMPLOYED,BECAUSE THEY CANT AFFORD TO PAY THERE COUNCIL TAX,DUE TO THE TORY/LIB GOVERMENT WELFARE REFORMS ,? OR IS IT BUSINESS AS USUAL,& CONTINUE OBTAINING MONEY BY DECEPTION,& TAKING THE FOOD OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF THE MOST VUNERABLE ON THE WIRRAL,,?? WELL OF COURSE IF ITS,ELECTIONS OR NOT ,THIS LABOUR COUNCIL DOES,NT GIVE A MONKEYS ,ABOUT ANYONE BUT THEMSELVES,,IE,THERE GOING TO BUILD A NEW SMALL MARKET ON PRICE ST CAR PARK,& GET THIS !! THERE GOING TO DEMOLISH THE OLD MARKET & MAKE THAT ,A CAR PARK ,,YOU CUD,NT MAKE IT UP ,BRAIN DEAD LABOUR COUNSIL BUILDING A NEW MARKET ALONG SIDE A RESIDENTIAL AREA,,THAT MEANS TAKIN A MARKET OUT OFF A SHOPPING AREA !!! LIKE I SAID YOU CUD,NT MAKE IT UP ,!!! WHO IS GOING TO MAKE ALL THE MONEY OUT OF THIS WHITE ELEPHANT,,FRAUD SQUAD NEED TO WATCH THIS ONE,!!!!AGAIN!!! benny07
  • Score: 0

7:38pm Sat 15 Feb 14

Positive thinker says...

Benny07

You sound a lot like Jadde who use to post comments,have you
changed your name?
Benny07 You sound a lot like Jadde who use to post comments,have you changed your name? Positive thinker
  • Score: -1

9:30pm Sat 15 Feb 14

benny07 says...

positive thinker you sound like a weirdo,,,,this blog is about the issues,that effect peoples lives,stick with the programme,or get off the blog,.
positive thinker you sound like a weirdo,,,,this blog is about the issues,that effect peoples lives,stick with the programme,or get off the blog,. benny07
  • Score: -2

3:38pm Mon 17 Feb 14

Hugo1008 says...

Best thing to remember is the recent redundancies and closures have nothing to do with National Government Instruction or directives,
They have all been local decisions, along with all the highly paid executive pay off and enhanced pensions for useless Directors and Senior Managers who quite clearly demonstrated they were not up to the job.
Just as the totally controlled Labour Party Cabinet have proved they are not fit for purpose, with all the Scandal, Disgrace, Misinformation, and Maladministration on a grand scale for over 10 years.
Remember that in May, if they have been in office for many many years, You certainly do not Need them, with a snout in the trough of plenty.
Best thing to remember is the recent redundancies and closures have nothing to do with National Government Instruction or directives, They have all been local decisions, along with all the highly paid executive pay off and enhanced pensions for useless Directors and Senior Managers who quite clearly demonstrated they were not up to the job. Just as the totally controlled Labour Party Cabinet have proved they are not fit for purpose, with all the Scandal, Disgrace, Misinformation, and Maladministration on a grand scale for over 10 years. Remember that in May, if they have been in office for many many years, You certainly do not Need them, with a snout in the trough of plenty. Hugo1008
  • Score: 2

5:04pm Wed 19 Feb 14

johnhardaker says...

Is it May this year when there is a local election & could that have helped councillor Davies decision so that the Labour sheep think what a lovely council we have not increasing the council tax I think so.
Or could it be they have found the £65miiion of reserves or the £35million loaned out to other majority Labour councils or by evicting the Fernbank Farm there's another £5million & they insist they have no money yet they have 16 solicitors plus head of legal Surjit Tour yet they employ an outside firm of solicitors to fight the Fernbank farm case, this council is a joke.
I suggest readers go to the wirralleaks website & Wirral in it together plus John Brace's website & you will see first hand what goes on in the Clown hall in Brighton street
Is it May this year when there is a local election & could that have helped councillor Davies decision so that the Labour sheep think what a lovely council we have not increasing the council tax I think so. Or could it be they have found the £65miiion of reserves or the £35million loaned out to other majority Labour councils or by evicting the Fernbank Farm there's another £5million & they insist they have no money yet they have 16 solicitors plus head of legal Surjit Tour yet they employ an outside firm of solicitors to fight the Fernbank farm case, this council is a joke. I suggest readers go to the wirralleaks website & Wirral in it together plus John Brace's website & you will see first hand what goes on in the Clown hall in Brighton street johnhardaker
  • Score: 0

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