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

Council tax is to rise by 4.99% - including a 3% precept to help relieve a financial crisis in adult social care and children's services.

Labour leader Phil Davies presented his plans to slash £45m from spending and increase council tax to try and shore-up the authority's threadbare finances during a budget council meeting at Wallasey Town Hall, 

At the end of a three-hour debate councillors voted by 36 to 26, with one abstention, in favour of proposals.

The council's current cash crisis had been described by Cllr Davies as "the most challenging ever."

Also approved were amended plans to charge an extra 20p for parking at council-owned car parks and 50p to park at country parks for one hour, £1 for two hours or £2 all day.

Other initiatives include a £150,000 investment in the creation of a Wirral apprenticeship programme with starting salaries at the level of the Living Wage.

Over the next four years, the council aims to save £38m by renegotiating contracts, improving the way money is managed and invested, and getting the best possible value from every pound available.

Plans are also being progressed to increase how many new homes are built in the borough.

An alternative budget amendment by the Conservative group which included cutting the number of councillors from 66 to 44 was rejected.

Conservative group leader Jeff Green said: "I've been very disappointed with the Labour group's response to its own budget.

"The Labour party has made massive mistakes with car parking charges. Accept some responsibility and get rid of the rather silly newspaper and put out what the public want."

In response council leader Davies said: "We hear the same old message from the Conservatives.

"What I find depressing is the complete refusal by the party opposite to tackle their own government. Enough is enough.

"I'm proud of this Labour group and I’m proud of this Labour budget.

"This Labour administration has once again delivered on its promises to the people of Wirral - taking tough decisions in setting its budget, identifying innovative solutions and getting on with job of delivering our 20 pledges to create a better Wirral for all of our residents."

The leader of Wirral's Liberal Democrats, Cllr Phil Gilchrist said: "I remain critical of the council newspaper, sceptical over the golf resort and still determined to get a grip on costly consultants.

"I'm frustrated at what the Council will spend, that's the £266 million, is still not monitored enough by councillors.

"That said I've backed the increase to bring in more money for care of the elderly because I think that's justified".