From street lighting to children’s centres, lollipop patrols to care homes, library opening hours to road sweeping, maintaining beaches and public parks, almost everything run by Wirral Council, it seems, will never be the same again.

The staggering extent of cuts to services can be revealed for the first time today.

The proposals could scarcely be more controversial and include switching off street lights at night, scrapping sponsorship of Tranmere Rovers, losing £2m from the “Supported People” service, ending the council’s apprenticeship scheme, reducing hours for pools and leisure centres plus major cutbacks in the Sure Start children’s programme.

While the news is grim for Wirral residents, it is even worse for the council’s workforce, 3,000 of whom will receive a letter tomorrow warning their job is at risk.

All managers on a salary of £28,000 and above received an identical letter last week.

The dismantling of services will see around 500 staff lose their jobs – and that figure could rocket to 900 if trades unions will not accept major changes to their members’ terms and conditions.

Those changes mean shell-shocked staff heading for the door would do so having seen what were once enhanced redundancy agreements slashed from the equivalent of 66 weeks’ pay to a figure that could be only half that sum.

And although compulsory severance is still being viewed as the option of last resort, chief executive Graham Burgess conceded: “It’s very hard to see how it can be avoided.”

Yet this is just the start. The current proposals amount to a spending reduction of £39m over the next 12 months.

But the target figure during the next three years is a massive £103m – one-third of the council’s present budget.

The unprecedented reductions have been triggered by Governement  "austerity measures" designed to reduce the nation's debt following the banking crisis of 2008.

The cuts going through at this time have been based upon responses generated by the council’s “What Really Matters” consultation exercise.

The public will be again invited to decide which options the council should adopt under a further, two-phase consultation process launched today.

That initial exercise will conclude mid-December and final decisions over where the axe should fall will be made, based upon the results, when the ruling cabinet meets on December 20. The second phase of consultation will then continue until January 31.

Mr Burgess told the Globe: “Council services must change – there is no other way of finding the massive amounts of money we need to save.

“The measures being proposed reflect what the Wirral public have told us.

“The options are based on the overriding principle that we should spend less on ourselves, taking savings first from our ‘back-office’ and so mitigating as much as possible the impact on services to residents, particularly our poorest and most vulnerable.

“There are real options for the public to decide and we will respond to their choices.

“This has been a huge exercise and has been the most transparent process Wirral has ever undertaken.

“I am personally determined to ensure Wirral goes forward on a sustainable financial footing.”

The proposed cuts are detailed in a 70-page document and include observations made by the public in the council's extensive consultation exercise, which received around 7,000 responses.

The options include:

*Increased income from parking – standardising charges across Wirral to bring them all in line with the Birkenhead tariff. All-day charges would be reduced to £2.50. Budget Savings: £281,000.

*Scrapping the Wirral Apprentice Programme or developing a scheme for the Liverpool City region. Savings: £500,000 or £420,000.

*Reconstruction of the regeneration, housing and planning department. Savings £338,900.

*Home insulation programme stopped or modified. Savings: £985,600 or £925,600.

*Reduction in Trading Standards by one fair trading officer and a senior trading standards officer. Savings: £71,000.

*Reduction in highway maintenance – the council would only complete maintenance where there is a direct safety issue. Savings: £588,000.

*Switching off street lighting either completely or part of the night “where it is safe to do so.” Savings: £265,000.

*Carry out a study aimed at reducing street cleaning in future years. Savings: £1m.

*Charge schools for crossing patrols to remove the cost from the council. Savings: £332,000.

*Halting maintenance on non-golf and football pitch areas and at 14 local parks, 32 green spaces and 44 green spaces in shopping areas. Friends groups would be approached to ensure parks were maintained through community management. Savings: £850,000.

*Budget reduction in the Supporting People service to around 5,500 Wirral People. Savings: £2m.

*Cut support offered to business through the Invest Wirral initiative. Savings: £352,000.

*Economies in the Community Patrol service – including a reduction in the dog fouling enforcement team. Savings: £362,000.

*Ceasing the sponsorship arrangement with Tranmere Rovers and calling on the club to seek commercial sponsorship elsewhere. Savings: £135,000.

*Scrapping the free garden waste service and introducing a charge of £35 a year to recover collection costs.

*Closure of pools and other measures at leisure centres. Savings; £429,000.

*Rationalisation of highway inspection arrangements and review of gulley cleansing. Savings: £106,000.

*Increase charges for community meals to bring Wirral in line with other councils. Savings: £200,000.

*Work with the NHS to cut the cost of nursing and residential care. Savings: £3.95m.

*Closure of two residential care homes and improving residential and respite care at the remaining one. Savings: £320,000.

“Complete transformation of day services; possible investment in some centres and closure of others. Savings: £2m.

*Review of transport policies for adults and children travelling to council facilities, schools and other services. Savings: £832,000.

*Reduction of the service providing family support and advice, including families affected by poverty and disadvantage. Savings £900,000.

*Transferring schools maintenance costs currently met by the council to the schools budget. Savings: £2.75m.

*A review of council management  which involves a total restructure and significant reduction in middle and senior management layers across the council.  Savings: £5.5m.

*Treasury management measures involving funding of “capital” works including road repairs, building investment and other works.  Savings: £1.7m.

*Centralising and significantly reducing funding spent on providing computers, printers and other IT equipment.  Savings: £300,000.

*Better use of buildings involving the closure of municipal buildings. Savings: £458,000.

*Transforming business support to ensure reduced costs and higher efficiency. Savings: £2.5m.

*Review of the voluntary, community and faith sector grants. Savings: £500,000.

*Development of supported housing arrangements for people with learning difficulties as an alternative to residential care. Savings: £300,000.

*Review provision of play schemes and integrate all youth clubs to four main hubs. Savings: £1.18m.

*Reduction in the number of satellite children’s centres and charge for “universal services.” Savings: £2.172m.

*Cut the budget for Youth Challenge services.  Savings: £400,000.

*Scrap the services providing help and advice for older people and investigate the use of voluntary help. Savings £350,000.

*Redesign and reduce the careers, education information, advice and guidance service e. Savings: £1m.

*Reduce the number of short breaks for children with disabilities. Savings: £300,000.

*Modifications to revenues and benefits. Saving: £11m.

*Merging of libraries and One Stop Shops; reduction of opening hours and the use of volunteers to run facilities. Savings: £629,000.

*Cut marketing budget by 50%. Savings: £282,000. 

The document may be read in full on the council website: