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GLOBE ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Councillor on verge of quitting Wirral Labour group
A COUNCILLOR is on the verge of quitting Wirral Labour group, the Globe can reveal.
Seacombe Cllr Denis Knowles is expected to resign the party whip at next Monday evening's full council meeting.
It is not yet known whether he will then remain as an independent councillor, controversially join another party, or step down and spark a by-election.
Several sources contacted by the Globe say Cllr Knowles has been increasingly concerned about the direction of the Wirral Labour group, which rules the council in alliance with the Liberal Democrats.
That alliance has been under tremendous pressure of late due to public uproar over what has proved to be a contentious "strategic asset review" (SAR).
The SAR resulted in the council deciding to close a theatre, two museums - including the former Birkenhead Town Hall in Hamilton Square - leisure centres, village halls and community centres.
Most controversially, the ruling Lib/Lab cabinet also decided to close 11 of Wirral's 24 libraries - although that programme of closures is currently on hold while a local inquiry into the decision is carried out at the behest of Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
The Globe has learned that Cllr Knowles is also unhappy at having been replaced on the board of Merseytravel when council leader Steve Foulkes recently rearranged Wirral's political representatives on various Merseyside-wide public bodies.
His replacement was his Labour colleague for Leasowe ward, Cllr Ron Abbey.
Wirral Council is "hung" with no party with a large enough majority to have overall control.
Its current make up is Conservatives the largest group with 24 seats, Labour 21, Liberal Democrats 20, and one independent.
Cllr Knowles holds a majority of 920 in Seacombe ward, where his fellow ward councillors are John Salter and Adrian Jones, the latter of whom completed his year as Mayor of Wirral on Monday.
When contacted by the Globe, Cllr Knowles - who sits on various committees including planning and licensing - said he was unable to comment at this time "even though I would very much like to".
Deputy Labour group leader Phil Davies also declined to comment.