HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds have been pledged to the devastated New Ferry community after the council pledged to “not turn its back” on the town.

The funding for one of Wirral’s poorest communities was announced at the council’s cabinet budget meeting on Monday at Wallasey Town Hall.

The Local Democracy Service has already reported on several aspects of the budget for 2019/20 – including the purchase of the Vue cinema site and market in Birkenhead, a council tax rise of 2.99% plus additional reduction scheme for low-income households, and a new £2m facility for people with additional needs.

Other important aspects of the budget include libraries across the borough receiving £626,000 and buildings such as the 65 The Village building in Bebington being refurbished to the tune of £175,000.

Here are six other things we learnt at Monday’s budget meeting:

1. It’s good news for New Ferry

One key aspect announced today was an extra £200,000 being pledged to New Ferry – one of the “Labour stamps” Cllr Davies said the authority had put on the plans.

He said he was “delighted” with the cash injection, which follows £300,000 already invested in the town, adding: “The plan has been submitted to government in conjunction with businesses and residents, who have told us they have struggled to get back on their feet since the tragedy. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the Tory Secretary of State just doesn’t want to listen and continues to ignore our calls for financial support. He may be prepared to turn his back on New Ferry, but we certainly are not.

“As a Labour council, we have always said we will do all that we can to support the town – including using some of our financial reserves – and want to see it thrive once more.”

2. No compulsory redundancies and less unpaid leave

The council has also announced it will not be making any compulsory redundancies for its staff, and the amount of unpaid leave they need to take will actually reduce over the coming year – from four days to three.

He added: “We know our staff are our most valuable resource. It is our workforce who have worked tirelessly to keep providing the services Wirral residents rely on every day. We understand the pressure they are under, we are immensely grateful for their efforts and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”

3. The cuts have been HUGE

Cllr Davies said it felt like “groundhog day” as the council faced a ninth year of government cuts, and that “40%” – £200m – of the budget had been cut in that time.

The latest saving for this year amounts to £45m, and he added: “We continue to deal with a very challenging financial situation. “[£200m] is a huge amount of money to take out of the budget and still maintain good quality services.

“Although the Chancellor did put one-off funding in his autumn statement for adult social care, I believe we have a crisis in social care in this country. Demand is increasing, but the budget is not keeping pace.”

4. Everyone’s going to miss Phil

Having announced he would step down in May after seven years as leader and 28 as a councillor, there was widespread praise for the Birkenhead and Tranmere member Cllr Davies as he announced his final budget.

Cllr Stuart Whittingham said it had been a “rocky road” since 2012, but that “to get us to where we are now is a lot down to your leadership”.

Cllr Chris Jones said the leader had “allowed us to think differently”, while Cllr Phillip Brightmore said other authorities who had services cut and struggled will have “wished they had you”.

5. School funding has been cut by over £2m

Cllr Bernie Mooney announced at the meeting that “criminal” government cuts to children’s services meant there was a deficit of over £2m in this year’s dedicated schools grant.

She added: “I’m proud of schools here on Wirral and the work schools do under testing circumstances.

“They continue to go beyond what’s required of them in support of our children helping them to reach aspirations.

“[But the cuts are] unbelievable. It’s about time we started challenging the government a little more on this.”

She proposed a motion calling upon central government to stop cutting the schools grant, and to “start funding services in Wirral appropriately”, which was approved by cabinet members on Monday.

6. Wirral’s Labour group want a General Election

This final point may not come as much of a surprise given the national party’s stance on the issue, but Cllr Davies did call for a poll “soon”, in the hope of installing a “more enlightened government with a fairer view to funding”, who “really does believe in public services”.

Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Phil Gilchrist said the council “needs to get its own house in order”, adding: “There are questions to be answered. People see the Labour council buying shops and cinemas. They are anxious about the fate of their money.”