THE 96 men, women and children who lost their lives at Hillsborough are to be awarded posthumous Freedom of Wirral after councillors unanimously approved the move this morning.

The riverside gardens overlooking the Mersey at Wallasey Town Hall will also be dedicated by Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Ann McLachlan on behalf of the people of Wirral as a permanent memorial to the 96, during the ceremony on September 15.

As well as commemorating those who died, the gardens will also serve as a lasting tribute to the courage, dignity and tenacity of the families and their campaign for justice for their loved ones.

Addressing cabinet colleagues during this morning's meeting of the authority's Labour cabinet, leader Phil Davies said it was a 'fitting tribute'.

He added: "It's right that we are going to award the freedom of the borough to the 96 who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy.

"I think it's fitting that we need to be aware of the huge amount of effort that their familiies search for truth and justice has been recognised".

Created with the support of The Hillsborough Family Support Group the gardens will be a place of remembrance and reflection.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of The Hillsborough Family Support Group said ahead of today's meeting: "It is so important that the 96 and the lessons of that terrible day are never forgotten.

"The freedom of the borough and the memorial garden will provide a lasting reminder for generations to come.”

Twelve of those who died were from Wirral and Ellesmere Port.

They were Peter Burkett, Raymond Chapman, Anthony Kelly, James Delaney, Christopher Edwards, Arthur Horrocks, Kevin Traynor, Chris Traynor, James Hennessy, Graham Roberts, Dave Thomas and Thomas "Steve" Fox.

Cllr Davies said: "These gardens will be dedicated to the memory of the 96 men, women and children, who went to a football match and never came home.

"They will also honour all those whose lives were changed forever almost 30 years ago, and salute the heroic struggle for truth, justice and accountability that continues to this day."