WIRRAL'S Conservative group leader has hit out at the decision to hold next month's mayor-making ceremony at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton.
Councillor Jeff Green said the decision to move permanently from Wallasey Town Hall as part of council cost-saving measures was an 'ill-conceived' break with tradition.
Former Labour group chief councillor Steve Foulkes will be installed as the borough's civic leader during the ceremony on June 1.
Councillor Green said: "This is still a formal meeting of the council and there has been no discussion or consultation over this matter instead the Labour administration have taken a unilateral decision to move this ceremony and communicated this decision via the chief executive.
"I know I am not alone in viewing this as a distasteful and ill-conceived move.
"Annual council is an important, solemn civic event which should be held in the Civic Hall.
"It is not a party and it is certainly not the pantomime that's accompanying these arrangements."
"Yet again we see the breathtaking hypocrisy of the Labour Party.
"On one hand they bleat they have no money and so are switching off streetlights, not filling school crossing patrol vacancies and consulting over the closure of Lyndale School.
"Yet they can spend Wirral taxpayers' cash on plush new carpets and 'Downton Abbey' staircases upgrading Wallasey Town Hall.
"But when they want to party, it's off to the Floral Pavilion at taxpayers' expense.
Labour leader of the council Phil Davies told the Globe: "The reality is that the Floral Pavilion is a nice venue and holding mayor making there will make for a more enjoyable experience. I don't really see the move as a big issue.
"There is no legal requirement to hold the ceremony at the town hall.
"I won't take any lessons from Jeff about the budget savings he has mentioned, particularly when we are faced with cuts brought about as the result of his Government's cuts.
"This is a national problem, so it's a bit rich of him to start pointing the finger at my administration.
"On the Lyndale School, he's talking about consultation. No decision has been made yet, it's the subject of a 12-week consultation that is very rigorous.
"He also mentions the new carpet for the town hall, which replaced one that had been in the building for 40 years.
"We had complaints about the state of the carpet from parties who had used the venue, so it had to be replaced.
"He also mentions the 'Downton Abbey' staircase in the town hall. The absolute hypocrisy of the tory position here is that Cllr Green was in power when funding was approved for the staircase.
"I think Cllr Green's time would be better spent helping me fight these cuts, rather than by making cheap political comments."
The council’s chief executive, Graham Burgess, said: "For some time we have been looking at ways to improve the mayor-making ceremony at no additional cost to the council tax payer.
"The Floral Pavilion is being proposed for all future mayor making ceremonies, not just this one, as it is a much more suitable venue.
“The Wirral mayor-making ceremony is much lower key than those held in other areas.
“The ceremony is a Monday night and no bookings had been taken for the room that will be used.
“The Floral Pavilion is owned by the council and therefore we anticipate there will be no additional costs to the council as a result of changing the venue.”