WIRRAL’S cabinet last night put forward a surprise move for a 3% cut in council tax.

It is just one of a series of measures unveiled in a budget plan by new council leader Cllr Jeff Green.

The move is designed to address a “crisis in confidence” in the authority and inject £4m into the local economy.

It will now need to be ratified at a meeting of the full council on Thursday, March 1.

Also included in the budget plan is further investment in children’s services, 20mph zones and town centres.

Other proposals include £1.2m investment package for Hoylake to ensure the town is ready for the Open Golf’s return in 2014, and £1.2m for New Brighton.

The proposed budget has been dismissed by Labour group leader Cllr Steve Foulkes as an election gimmick.

But Cllr Green said: “The budget presented here enables the next council to address a ‘crisis of confidence’ people have in this council.

“It’s designed to protect local people and serve residents of Wirral and is about rebuilding confidence.

“This is the public’s money being spent and we believe it should only be taken out of your pocket by you.”

After the meeting Cllr Foulkes, who was again invited to take his seat in cabinet but declined, said the budget plan was a gimmick.

He said: “The only reason they were able to set a budget is because of our stewardship over the last nine months.

“We inherited a system where they’d sacked, effectively, 1,200 people from the organisation and we’ve stabilised the budget to such a position that they were able to put forward a budget with very few initial job losses.

“My fear is that the way they have shifted money around and actually, if you like, used £3m for what anyone can see is an election bribe in a one-off chance to save a couple of their seats, is reckless and I think people will see through that.”

Ahead of the meeting Lib Dem leader Tom Harney had a proposed a £25 council tax rebate for every Wirral council tax payer. His plan was not discussed but will be put to a vote next week.