PLANS to cut the number of “designated” children’s centres in Wirral are to be scrutinised after opposition councillors claimed such a move could have a detrimental impact on what is deemed such a valuable service to many.

Wirral Council is looking to reduce the borough’s 16 centres to four “hubs”, along with another four retained for outreach provision.

Under the plans, the remaining sites will either be transferred to schools for nursery care or the council will be forced to ask other organisations to take them over.

Wirral’s ruling cabinet approved the plans in September, with a six-week consultation due to begin in April.

But opposition councillors believe such a huge reduction in service provision will “have a real and adverse impact” on those communities who have come to rely upon the valuable service, opting to use their “call-in” procedures to delay the cabinet decision.

It will now go before Wirral Council’s co-ordinating committee on Thursday for further debate.

The call-in, launched by Wallasey Conservative Cllr Paul Hayes and backed by a further 11 councillors, says: “A decision so crucial to the council’s provision of early years services should be subject to further member scrutiny.

“Mindful of the concerns raised over alleged deficiencies with the consultation on the closure of the Lyndale School, we require further details as to how future consultations to ‘progress’ the recommendations will take place and its format.”

A report to September’s cabinet meeting said the current position of sustaining 16 designated children’s centres that “all deliver the core purpose offer is not viable”.

The authority is looking to cut £2m from the service’s current total budget of £6m.

Council leader Phil Davies said it was a “sensible approach” and praised those who had taken part in the review.

He said: “I am really proud that, unlike other authorities, we will not be closing any of our children’s centres.”

Around 95 staff work in the centres but documents included in the report suggest a future staffing structure of 43 roles.

Under the proposals, the main children’s centres would be based at Seacombe, Pensby, Eastham and Brassey Gardens in Birkenhead.

Four outreach centres would be at New Brighton, West Kirby, New Ferry and St Cathcart Street in Birkenhead, while centres at Bebington and Greasby would either be designated as outreach centres or operated in partnership with nearby schools.

Centres at Ganneys Meadow in Woodchurch and Leasowe would become maintained nursery schools with what the council describes as “extended services”.

The remaining centres at Bromborough, Liscard, Claughton, Rock Ferry and Prenton have been designated for “partnership delivery” under the plans.

The plans would see the council retain the buildings.

Speaking in September, Cllr Davies said: “Hopefully we will have a new government next year and we can start to build these vital services back up.”

But the call-in adds: “Is the mothballing of buildings in the hope of a change in government conducive to a well thought through early years policy?

“Is the leader confident a different government would allow for the ‘building up’ of these services and what is the evidence of this? These are questions which should be further explored.”

Wirral Council’s co-ordinating committee will meet at Wallasey Town Hall on Thursday at 6pm.