WIRRAL Council has unveiled sweeping cuts totalling £49m – hitting every aspect of its services.
The move is part of the authority’s attempt to deal with a massive budget deficit next year.
The options unveiled by chief executive Graham Burgess today include axing eight of the 16 childrens’ centres based at primary schools – unless schools take them over – and ending lollipop crossing patrols, unless schools pay for them.
He also warned there will be "several hundred" redundancies from the authority and this weekend around 3,000 staff will be sent letters saying their jobs are at risk.
Two out of three respite homes face closure, day care centres could go to save £2m and charges for social care like meals on wheels could go up.
Other options are increasing all car parking charges to the level paid in Birkenhead, bringing in charges for garden waste collection and ending the apprentice programme.
Street cleaning would be reduced under the options being put forward along with less street lighting and highways maintenance.
Parks and opens spaces including beaches would not be maintained unless friends groups take over their care.
The options were unveiled following a massive consultation process in which the public were asked to identify their priorities in council services.
Mr Burgess offered £10m more cuts than needed with further consultation to follow to allow the public and councillors to choose.
However, he accepted the choices are still unpalatable.
He said Wirral, like other councils, will "look very different" in a few years and warned this process would have to be repeated next year as the council must save £100m over the next three years.
But he insisted most of the cuts being proposed are "back office".
Mr Burgess said: "I am absolutely determined that this council will be on a sustainable financial footing for the future."
He said Wirral had not taken hard decisions and other councils were ahead of it in developing innovative money-saving measures and added: "We're having to run fast to catch up."
Hundreds of council workers packed Wallasey town hall last night jeering at the authority’s ruling cabinet as it prepared the way for the cuts announcement.
Mr Burgess will open negotiations with unions over changes to staff terms and conditions.
He told the meeting: “Let me make it clear, that the options will be in excess of those required to give a range of choices.”
He said the focus would be protecting frontline services to minimise the “impact on our most vulnerable”, but said reducing conditions of service for staff would help reduce redundancies.
Unison branch secretary Joe Taylor said the changes could see some of the council’s lowest paid workers losing thousands of pounds in pay or redundancy .