A DECISION to close Wirral’s most iconic church has created a furious backlash from parishioners.

The Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury told shocked churchgoers after a service on Sunday that Ss Peter and Paul will close its doors for the last time on August 17.

Bishop Brian Noble admitted to them in his written statement: “Undoubtedly this is news you were hoping you would not hear,” adding: “I know from experience elsewhere in the Diocese just how painful you find this decision.”

Parishioners now fear the building - which was originally paid for entirely out of donations - could be sold off to developers eager to transform the hill-top site into luxury accommodation.

They are also angry about what they see as a complete U-turn by the Diocese after receiving a letter from the Vatican only last month that said the Bishop had “no current plans” to close the Atherton Street church.

The church is closing because the Diocese says it is too expensive to maintain and upkeep.

They insist the primary school of the same name on the site is safe.

The Globe tried to secure an interview with Bishop Noble through his official spokesman, the Rev John Joyce, but to no avail.

But Rev Joyce said in an email: “The decree of closure is about the closure of the building as a place of worship.

“What happens to it subsequently will be discussed with the local authority, who have an interest now as I understand it.

“There are no plans for demolition, and the Diocese confirms that the landmark of such a vantage point on the Wirral remains.

“The school as far as the Diocese is concerned remains 'safe' both as an institution, and on that site.

“I am not aware of any current interest in anyone redeveloping the building or offering any sort of money for it either to buy or leasehold.

But a council spokeswoman said: “The local authority does not have an interest in St Peter & Pauls. We met with the church and representatives of SOUL to offer advice and support.”

A spokesman for campaign group SOUL - Save Our Unique Landmark - told the Globe: “Parishioners have been treated with the utmost contempt.

“This was a done deal from the outset. It is a disgraceful decision.”

They are now appealing against the decision.