SOME of Wirral's top attractions are set to be saved after a last-minute turnaround from the borough's council bosses.

At the end of 2020, Wirral Council began its consultation with residents on cuts which included closing Europa Pools, the Williamson Art Gallery and all four municipal golf courses.

The tough plans were published as the authority has to make up a £16.5m shortfall in its budget.

But on Wednesday, the Labour group presented an alternative budget which kept the Williamson Open, kept Europa's competition pool open while closing its fun pool and kept all four public golf courses open.

School crossing patrols, public toilets and the existing bin collection timetable were all protected at the Policy and Resources Committee meeting.

The new budget was narrowly passed after council leader Janette Williamson cast the deciding vote, breaking the 8-8 tie at the cross-party committee.

The budget will now go to full council on March 1 for approval.

Becky Thomas leads the Wirral-based Out of the Blue Orchestra which has performed at the Williamson.

She said: "We are over the moon to hear the gallery will remain open, not only for musicians but for the community, various art groups and families.

"There is a slight concern around the budget cut, but at least the council has recognised the importance of the gallery."

Wirral Council is seeking to save £90,000 from voluntary redundancies and reducing the Williamson's opening hours by one hour per week, but this is far less than the £212,000 the authority would have saved from closing it altogether.

Ms Thomas added: "The band would love to be involved in making the gallery more sustainable.

"We feel honoured to have been involved in the campaign to save the gallery, we are very passionate about it."

The picture was slightly less clear for Europa Pools, as the fun pool is set to go.

However, Mark Sopp, chair of Wirral Metro Swimming Club, said: "Keeping the training pool open is extremely welcome news.

"It is extremely sad to see the fun pool go. There's no way of getting away from it, there has been a little bit of neglect and underinvestment over recent years."

Mr Sopp thought more could be done to revive and expand Europa Pools in time, meaning that last night’s budget proposal was more of a victory than a defeat.

He added: "[Europa] feels as if it could thrive if investment could be put into the facility.

"We can look at different operating models in conjunction with investing in the cafe, which could see an increase in footfall.

"It's more important to keep part of it open for now. We can always work alongside the council in a working group to look at other ways of expanding the centre and get things reopened."

Closing the fun pool will save Wirral Council £250,000, again far less than the £640,000 that the full closure would have recouped.

A number of cost-cutting measures are replacing savings such as the closure of Europa in the budget proposal.

They include the council reducing its £400,000 subsidy to Birkenhead’s Hive Youth Centre to £300,000, with the remaining £100,000 to be made up by funding from local businesses.

There was also a £150,000 saving from "workforce efficiencies".

Asset sales, which will be specified at a later date, will generate £394,000 for the authority.

As well as staff and performers associated with Europa and the Williamson, those in charge of the borough’s municipal golf courses were also happy with last night’s budget proposal.

The council initially said it could save £273,000 from closing the courses, however due to contractual obligations related to The Open Championship Hoylake Municipal must remain open, meaning the figure was reduced to £180,000.

Brackenwood, The Warren and Arrowe Park were still up for closure.

However, Labour’s proposal scrapped the saving altogether, meaning the future of the golf courses is set to be protected in Wirral Council’s 2021/22 budget.

A statement put out by Brackenwood Golf Club on behalf of all four municipal clubs, said: "Thank you to Wirral Labour for your amended budget to go to full council in March that saves Wirral’s golf courses.

"A tight vote but passed with the casting vote from Cllr Williamson (leader of the council).

"We now need to see a longer term plan and investment to make golf sustainable for the future."

Geoff Roberts, secretary of The Warren Golf Club, said: "Club members and officials have actively campaigned for the last three years and gone to great lengths to secure the future of all four municipal courses.

"There remains some reservations as the decision must be passed by full council.

"But it seems that all Wirral participants and golfers from surrounding areas who no longer have access to pay and play municipal golf facilities can breathe a huge sigh of relief and look forward to future physical exercise and mental wellbeing on the beautiful Wirral Peninsula."