CHANGES in the way Wirral's leisure centres, libraries, parks and the Floral Pavilion are run could be on the way after a council review of its services.
When it meets on March 27, the ruling cabinet will be asked to approve the development of a 'business case', looking at a redesign of leisure and culture services.
A report to be considered during the meeting proposes three possible options for future delivery of the services.
- A redesigned set of in-house, council services
- The creation of a council-owned community interest company to deliver the services
- The creation of a charitable trust to deliver the services
Options ruled out include creating a commercial company to run the services and 'outsourcing' or 'privatisation' of services.
If approved, a 'full business case', exploring the three remaining options will be drawn up, before a final decision is made on how services will be provided in the future.
Deputy council leader Cllr Ann McLachlan, cabinet member for transformation, leisure and culture, said: "We know how important these services are to local people.
"Having a library, a leisure centre and fantastic museums and theatres on your doorstep is one of things which make Wirral such a great place to live.
"As councils up and down the country are forced into making blunt cuts to these vital community facilities, as they battle to cope with ever-increasing funding reductions, I'm delighted we are taking such a different, imaginative approach in Wirral.
"We have brought in national experts to review what we do, and how we do it, and help us come up with new ideas to deliver these services in a better, more modern way – for less money.
"We're determined to make sure Wirral residents are able to access leisure, culture and library services of the highest possible quality and the work which has been done so far is a big step forward.
"The outcome of this work is going to provide Wirral residents with an outstanding set of services to enjoy.
"Leisure, libraries, culture and arts are incredibly important – they are one of our key pledges.
"Despite the continuing financial challenges we face, through the work we are doing I am entirely confident we can find ways to improve our services while making them financially sustainable for the long term".
In response, Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly said: "Last month the cabinet refused to include its leisure facilities within its capital spending programme.
"Urgently needed repairs to the fabric of sports centres at Beechwood and the tennis centre were put on hold along with work required to maintain museum status for The Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Oxton.
"If the cabinet are really ruling out outsourcing, privatisation or closure of any libraries, sports facilities or museums they should revisit their capital spending decisions to ensure that leisure facilities receive their fair share of improvement spending.
"I am particularly concerned that they are putting at risk the existence of the Williamson as a properly accredited museum".