WIRRAL councillors have tonight voted in favour of the ruling Labour administration's budget.

They voted by 37 to 24, with one asbtention, in favour of a budget - approved unanimously by cabinet on February 10 - at the end of a three-hour meeting at Wallasey Town Hall.

Council tax is to be frozen and car parking charges slashed.

However, the authority will have to make £70m savings over next three years.

And there was no 11th-hour rescue for Lyndale School, a move which had been proposed by the opposition Tory group.

In his speech to councillors, council leader Cllr Phil Davies said the budget aimed to "protect local services, build strong communities and overcome the legacy of £17m overspend "by the previous Tory/LibDem administration."

He said during tonight's meeting: "Our budget is responsible, sustainable and delivers social justice. 

"I'm proud to commend it to council."

Among the measures are £7m investment in child and adult services; an additional £1.9m for schools affected by the Government axing Education Services Grant and £900,000 set aside to support the most vulnerable following the withdrawal of Local Welfare Assistance Fund.

There is also support for the local economy, with £800,000 for business investment grants to support new and growing businesses; discount on business rates for those signing up to be accredited Living Wage employers; reduced car parking charges to encourage local shopping in our towns and commercial centres.

The authority will also invest £1.175m on a range of measures to improve recycling performance and keep our streets clean.

They include free replacement recycling bins, reduced cost of replacement refuse bins and a free bin repair service and funding for community clean-ups.

Funding will also be invested in measures to tackle anti-social behaviour. The authority will invest £365,000 in a comprehensive range of programmes and schemes with the police, to help tackle problems of anti-social behaviour and £100,000 on additional CCTV, mobile recording and monitoring.

An additional ASBO enforcement and environmental health officers to be recruited and £100,000 spent on strengthening enforcement and education on unruly dogs and fouling.

Council tax has also been frozen for a second year.

Deputy leader of the council Ann McLachlan said the budget was 'progressive', designed to 'drive growth' and 'improve life' for Wirral residents.

She added: "It's a budget to be proud of. It's a response to the cuts of the Conservative / Lib Dem government."  

Wirral Conservative group leader Jeff Green said: "It's just like old times; we've had chief executives leave and Labour blaming everyone else for their problems.

"Not once, not once, have the Labour Party acknowledged its part in problems with the British economy.

"The whole problem lies with the Labour government."

During tonight's meeting, Wallasey Conservative councillor Paul Hayes made a plea for the Labour administration to re-think its plan to close Lyndale School.

He said: "The issue of Lyndale is not about money, it's about how we educate the most vulnerable children in our community.

"The council should continue to keep Lyndale open. Surely members will join me in the fight to keep it open."

His thoughts were echoed by Conservative leader Jeff Green, who called on the council leader to admit he had 'got it wrong' over the proposed closure.

Liberal Democrat leader Phil Gilchrist urged Labour to 'climb down gracefully' over the plan to shut Lyndale's doors for good.

In response, Cllr Phil Davies said there was no evidence to support keeping Lyndale open.

Councillors also voted by 57 votes to four, with one abstention, in favour of the appointment of Eric Robinson as the authority's new chief executive.

Conservative councillors Steve Williams, Paul Hayes and Leah Fraser - dubbed the 'Wallasey Mafia' by one onlooker - were against.