THERE will be a chance to quiz the leader of Wirral Council on a range of possible options to help balance its budget during an online Q&A later this week.

Cllr Janette Williamson will allow people to find out more about how the authority is setting its budget this year during two online sessions on Thursday (January 14, see the links at end of the article).

The authority needs to save around £40million next year, but has asked for permission from Government to borrow around £23.5m to help offset Covid-19 costs.

This leaves £16.5m that the Council will have to find to offset its general increased costs in 2021/22.

In December, Wirral's policy and resources committee agreed to consult the public on options for savings and generating extra income being put forward.

Among the possible options are changes to bins collections, car parking charges and maintenance of parks and open spaces amongst many others. Major reductions in council "back office" functions are also being proposed.

There could also be a five per cent rise in Council Tax.

No decisions have been made yet about which options will be taken forward.

You can have your say on the options at

Urging the public to take part in Thursday's Q&A Council leader Janette Williamson said this afternoon: "If it was just up to me we would not be looking at most of the cuts being put forward in this consultation but the council’s financial situation is to a very great extent out of our hands.

"These options have been put forward by the council committees overseeing all the services involved, with all parties taking part.

"The new committee system has called on all political parties to step up to the plate.

"But while there is no disguising the fact that this year’s budget is going to be incredibly difficult I can guarantee to everyone who takes part in this consultation that your opinions matter to us.

"This Q&A is part of the wider consultation on the budget setting process and I would urge the people of Wirral to use every chance they can to find out more and have their say on the options before any final decisions are made."

The online Q&A will take place Thursday at 3.15-3.45pm via Microsoft Teams at this link

A separate Q&A for young people will also take place on Thursday at 4-4.30pm, again via Microsoft Teams at this link:

The budget situation faced by the council is largely a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has prevented the authority from implementing the savings agreed by councillors last March.

The Government has provided financial aid during the pandemic, but this has not covered all of the financial impact of continuing to provide services and support residents and businesses over the last nine months.

The survey is open until next Friday, January 22.

Wirral's Liberal Democrat leader Phil Gilchrist said: "As I see it councillors will have to carry on searching for ways of avoiding the most damaging savings.

"The prospect of doing this looks bleak at the moment.

"Councils are doing so much work on the ground to support communities during the epidemic.

"To cap it all the Government have put the ball back in our court, expecting us to increase Council Tax.

"They  also expect Councils to raise extra Council Tax to support adult care. We are between a rock and a hard place".