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Council to ask Wirral public how it should cut £100m from services
Wirral people are to be asked for their views as the council is forced into making £100m of spending cuts.
The move follows a shocking report which shows the authority is already facing a £17m overspend by the end of the financial year unless action is taken immediately.
And when the ruling cabinet met on Thursday, it was told the Government “austerity” spending squeeze means there will have to be a further £100m of cuts over the next three years.
Now a freeze on “non essential” spending has been brought in coupled with releasing £7m which had been set aside in the council’s reserves to help develop broadband computer use across Wirral.
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies told the Globe: “Finding ways of making £100m is a massive challenge for us, which is why we need to engage all our residents, communities, the voluntary sector, businesses and staff to find out what their priorities are.
“By doing this it will help shape our budget for the next three years when we set it in November. We have a responsibility to the public to ensure we get it right.
“Whatever cuts are made might not be what everyone wants, but they will have to be made nevertheless.”
Following a review by interim director of finance Peter Timmins, the authority’s budgetary position will be reported to cabinet on a monthly basis so problems are dealt with as soon as possible.
Councillor Davies added: “We need to get to grips with this overspend urgently.
“We’ve had poor budget management in the past and we need to make urgent cuts and will be supporting the spend freeze.
“We need honest debate on how we are going to do this.”
Mr Timmins' review recommended freezing “non-essential” council spending which would save around £9m. The £7m released from reserves was deemed no longer needed as broadband expansion is being pursued by the private sector.
Tory leader Cllr Jeff Green promised to support the ruling administration in making the necessary changes.
He said his group would be available to offer any knowledge to achieve the best results.
Councillor Green said: “It’s important the public are informed of the challenges the council faces and I’m pleased the administration is following our lead from two years ago and embarking on a public consultation.
“But my concern is that following the actions we took to downsize the council by allowing people to leave and cutting senior management by 25%, it’s worrying that the council is still in a position where it has to make these reductions.”
The public consultation will begin on Monday morning when the council's new chief executive, Graham Burgess, and Cllr Davies will be talking to shoppers in Birkenhead Asda.