Wirral council’s Labour leadership has saved school crossing patrols, bin collections and the borough’s most prized leisure assets.
At tonight’s full council meeting, Labour council leader Janette Williamson put forward a revised budget that received the support of the full council.
Among the key measures brought forward by the Labour administration and backed by opposition groups are plans to continue funding the Williamson Art Gallery and the council’s Europa swimming pools. All municipal golf courses will also be spared from closure or sale.
Cllr Williamson said the budget was one that “serves our communities on every level”.
She added: “Every penny we spend is a reflection of where our priorities lie and what our values are.
“In December we were told we must make £10m of budget cuts. This was heartbreaking, as the budget we had passed in March 2020 was fully costed, with deliverable savings, no closure of services and no compulsory redundancies.
“So we did what we do best. We asked our communities what they wanted, and we listened to the results. Then we tried to find ways to make that happen.
“The messages from our budget consultation were clear: people value our wonderful amenities and they want us to protect them for the future.
“That meant protecting our much loved and vital amenities and first class leisure services. That meant saving our amazing school crossing patrols, which keep our children safe. That meant working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier, more ethical and inclusive borough.
“We’ve listened, we’ve understood, and we’ve acted. And I believe the Labour budget we have worked so hard to create paints a bright picture of the future here in Wirral, for now and for the future.”
Key Labour pledges endorsed by the council focused on:
The Williamson Art Gallery
Home to the most passionate, knowledgeable and committed workforce. It’s the main hub of arts and culture here on the Wirral, loved by local and international artists and makers alike. It is a vital community resource, cherished by visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It’s the jewel in our crown and we are hugely proud to keep it open for future generations.
Europa Swimming pool and fun pool.
A cherished and much used resource, where our children learn to swim. The budget will keep the competitive pool open and look to open the fun pool as and when public health and government guidance permits
Wirral’s four municipal golf courses.
Loved by many, they are the envy of many local councils. They are integral to residents’ physical and mental wellbeing.
School crossing patrols
This budget will keep our school crossing patrols, who are at the heart of their communities, and help our children’s safety. This is vital as our children start to go back to school in larger numbers.
We will keep our public conveniences open.
They will be important as people to get out and about and enjoy our beautiful green spaces once restrictions lift.
We will not move to three weekly bin collections and will see an increase to any waste charges. We must support our residents in their recycling and discourage fly-tipping in the Borough, a truly selfish and heinous act on the part of some residents
We will ensure that our Climate Emergency budget of £100k is maintained as we go forward with our ambitious green agenda.
Youth services provide a vital lifeline to our young people, particularly in times where their mental health has suffered as a result of Covid. We recognise the fantastic work that the Hive does and wish to support them to the tune of £300k. In addition, there will be a further £200k for wider youth services across Wirral, making a real difference in the lives of young people across the borough.
Real Living Wage for care workers
We will continue to pay the Real Living Wage to our care workers, who have played such a vital role during Covid, caring for our loved ones. We were one of the first councils to implement the RLW. Those care workers deserve more than a clap once a week.
A commitment to not make compulsory redundancies
We will oppose all compulsory redundancies. Our workforce has been decimated since the austerity programme of 2010. They have continued to serve their borough despite this, and are determined offer support, advice and services to our residents throughout a national pandemic and beyond. They will be at the forefront of a new and brighter recovery strategy going forward, and we thank them for that.
Social care services
We will continue to support our vulnerable adults and children through our vital social care services
Community Wealth Building
We will build wealth from the grassroots up. Our ambitious Community Wealth Building strategy has already seen social value benefits in our procurement worth nearly £22m. We are delivering on local employment, local procurement and supporting our young people and care workers into paid work. If you want to do business with Wirral, you must be ethical and community focused
A community bank
We have ambitious plans for a community bank in partnership with two other councils. One which will tackle financial exclusion and support our small and medium sized businesses coming out of Covid