Hundreds of protesters demonstrate against Wirral council cuts
HUNDREDS of protestors gathered at a Wallasey town hall demanding councillors think again over controversial plans to cut jobs and services.
The public gallery of the Wirral council chamber was so packed other protestors had to listen to the debate from the civic hall within the building.
Unison branch secretary Joe Taylor said many council workers feared losing their jobs, adding: “The options outlined are drastic and cut away the heart of communities and services in Wirral.”
He said the unions were trying to present “viable options” to councillors in a bid to change their minds.
The authority has outlined £49m of cuts and is consulting the public over a range of proposals as it seeks to save £39m next year.
At the meeting Ross Quinn, of Wirral United Against Cuts, presented a petition of almost 8,000 names and called on councillors to defy the government and refuse to implement the cuts.
Cheered on from the public gallery, he told councillors: “You have an alternative.
“Let’s send them a message. If they attack, we are going to fight back.”
Labour council leader Phil Davies thanked Mr Quinn for his “passionate” speech and insisted his group was opposed to the government’s austerity programme, but said: “I do not believe the way forward is to refuse to set a legal budget. What would happen is commissioners will be sent in and it will be done before us.
“I believe the really responsible thing to do is to try as far as we can to protect jobs, frontline services and the most vulnerable.”
Cllr Davies’ proposal to add Mr Quinn’s comments to the council’s ongoing consultation, What Really Matters, was supported by Lib Dem leader Tom Harney and Tory leader Jeff Green, who also praised the council leader for “standing up to the dangerous suggestion that we do not set a legal budget”.
The meeting also heard from Phil Simpson of the Friends of Birkenhead Kennels, who presented a 7,644 signature petition opposing proposals to close the kennels to save £100,000.
It could see Wirral joining forces with other areas to provide a cross-Merseyside service. Owners would have to travel to Halewood to collect their pets.
Mr Simpson said: “The proposal would result in a one-off saving. We believe we could help the council meet this target without the need to withdraw the service from Wirral.”