THE decision to spend £20,000 on leasing an office in Birkenhead has been called into question by opposition councillors.

Less than 24 hours after launching a bid to halt the decision to lease an office at Birkenhead fire station - less than two miles from the town hall - Senior Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly told the Globe he is delighted the move now be sent to scrutiny.

The council came under fire for approving the two year lease, less than 24 hours after it was announced it was to axe 500 jobs in a bid to save £57m by 2017.

Wirral needs to save around £27m this year alone but council chiefs approved the £10,000-a-year-lease, claiming it will allow the authority's Birkenhead constituency committee to have a permanent base.

The office will also act as a location for future meetings but opposition members believe the council has not looked for alternative council-owned sites.

A report published on the authority's website admits that "no other options have been considered" as the council requires the property for "operational purposes".

Cllr Kelly, ward member for Oxton, opted to use his "call-in" procedure to delay the decision and force further debate on the issue.

After receiving cross-party support from six other councillors - fellow Lib Dem members Phil Gilchrist, Chris Carubia, Alan Brighouse and Dave Mitchell, as well as Conservative leader Jeff Green and Green Party councillor Pat Cleary - the decision will now be looked at by a scrutiny committee.

"I am pleased to achieve cross party signatures to this call in request," said Cllr Kelly.

"The report considered by Cabinet member Cllr Adrian Jones makes clear that alternative options weren't considered before making the decision to spend this money."

Assistant chief executive David Armstrong last week defended the decision, saying office space at Birkenhead town hall is not readily available.

He said: "Birkenhead Community Fire Station was identified as a central, accessible location for the constituency office.

"Current national policy encourages public bodies to co-locate and this is one of a number of arrangements with fire, police and health."

Cllr Kelly added: "I believe that there must be spare space somewhere in the Councils considerable estate in Birkenhead that could accommodate the Constituency based team.

"I hear that HMRC has recently vacated space in the Conway Building, but Central Library, The Williamson and even Cheshire Lines could also possibly be used.

"I am calling on staff, who are best placed to know about the availability of free desks in Birkenhead, to contact me anonymously if necessary and let me know this will help save this money from being wasted."