COUNCIL plans to close libraries, leisure centres, museums and Pacific Road arts centre - along with scrapping funding to a score of community centres and village halls - have sparked fury across the borough.

The Globe has been inundated with letters, emails and phone calls of protest about the closures, which could begin as early as March.

Wirral Council’s Labour and Liberal Democrat “cabinet” committee last Thursday voted to send the controversial plans out to consultation for six weeks - even though that includes the Christmas and New Year holiday.

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That means “interested parties” have until just January 15 to register their objections to what Wirral West Labour MP Stephen Hesford described last week as the “wholesale slaughter” of public services in a stinging letter to Cllr Steve Foulkes, the Labour leader of the council.

The plan - which follows a “strategic asset review” of council buildings - is to close fourteen of Wirral’s 24 libraries, with only the axed Birkenhead and Wallasey Central libraries being given new homes in proposed but as yet unbuilt multi-purpose complexes in those towns.

Woodchurch Leisure Centre, Guinea Gap Recreation Centre and Grange Road West Sports Centre will also be axed.

The council says the closures would save £4.5m a year in maintenance and staffing costs. It wants to build “better but fewer” facilities - costing £20m - to replace some of the closed buildings.

On Friday, Mr Hesford led a delegation of all four Wirral Labour MPs in a meeting with Cllr Foulkes and senior council officers.

Beforehand, he wrote to Cllr Foulkes angrily objecting to the widespread closure plans, saying that what started out as a council review of buildings had turned into “little short of an act of corporate manslaughter”.

Libraries facing closure and no replacement are those in Hoylake, Pensby, Upton, Irby, Bromborough, Higher Bebington, New Ferry, Seacombe, Wallasey Village, Prenton, Ridgeway and Beechwood.

Mr Hesford is now calling on Globe readers and members of the public to show their support for libraries by signing up - for free - to become members.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have signed up to join an online “Save Wirral Services” group on the social networking website, Facebook.

And other sites set up to support the future of the Pacific Road art venue and oppose the library and leisure centre closures are also gathering momentum.

At the “cabinet” meeting last Thursday evening, attended by over 100 protestors, Cllr Foulkes said he had “sleepless nights” since news of the proposed closures had been revealed.

But he added: “I’d recommend that people read the report and not the press’s interpretation of it. The consultation will begin and I will take on board every comment that is made.”

Twenty council properties including the former Birkenhead town hall in Hamilton Square, Leasowe Recreation Centre and a string of council-funded community centres and village halls across the borough face being transferred to “community management” under the plan - where staff and funding are withdrawn to be replaced with volunteers and fundraisers.

The council has admitted that the drastic changes “will have significant implications for staff affected”, and that many of the buildings - like Birkenhead Library - face being mothballed and in some cases demolished.

After last Thursday’s meeting, Conservative party leader Jeff Green, who along with other protestors was barred from speaking, told the Globe: “If this is how the consultation is going to run, it’s started tonight where the leader of the largest party on the council wasn’t even allowed to speak at a cabinet meeting.

“These people are in a bubble. They are talking to each other but very definitely not to the paying public.”