WIRRAL Council has unveiled plans to stop its sponsorship of Tranmere Rovers, cut 350 jobs and raise council tax by 2% in a bid to balance its budget.
Cabinet members agreed a raft of money-saving measures and cuts to services to tackle a deficit of £39m this year.
Other reductions will take effect between 2014-16, as the council tries to cut £109m over the next three years.
Street lighting will be reduced, car parking charges standardised across the borough and there will be no council funding for events in Wirral.
The proposals – which would save £42m this year – will also see the closure of one of Wirral’s main day care centres for adults with learning and physical disabilities – in either Moreton, Heswall or Eastham Day Centre – and Sylvandale care home, in Bromborough.
The maintenance of grass verges and small parks will also be reduced, but council leader Phil Davies conceded another proposal to remove maintenance altogether went “too far”.
As well as job cuts all staff will be asked to take five days unpaid leave.
Furious campaigners packed into Wallasey Town Hall on Monday night to protest at the cuts – with one woman breaking down in tears as she told councillors it would be impossible to care for her daughter without the day centre she attends.
Unions warned they could not rule out strike action and said the cuts were a “brutal and savage attack on frontline services”.
The council has rejected a government grant to freeze council tax because it would mean finding an extra £1.3m in savings when the grant ends in 2015/6.
Cllr Davies said the “disgraceful” settlement Wirral received from the government had made cuts to services “unavoidable”.
He said the 350 posts to go were mainly “layers of management” and some were jobs that were already vacant.
He said: “We have listened to what people said and we will not be stopping the POPIN advice service for older people.
“We have rejected the budget option which would have removed the maintenance of some parks and bowling greens.”
He added: “I did not come into politics to make cuts to vital local services, however, I have a duty as council leader to both set a legal budget and to protect, as far as possible, those who I was elected to serve.”
Wirral Council has sponsored Tranmere Rovers since the 1989/90 season but Cllr Davies said it was “difficult to justify” the deal in the face of “unprecedented” cuts to council funding.
Although £135,000 for sponsoring the club is included the budget for 2013/4, it is not in spending projections for 2014-6.
The council also plans to spend £1m to create a “Youth Zone” next to Birkenhead Fire Station in partnership with the private sector.
Wirral Council’s youth service will be reduced and operated out of four main centres in Birkenhead, Wallasey, Eastham and West Kirby.
Four satellite youth centres – Charing Cross, Moreton, Fender and Bebington/New Ferry – will be retained until the Youth Zone opens.
Pensioners will continue to receive a discount on council tax bills and £300,000 will be spent on a project to address child poverty, led by Birkenhead MP Frank Field.
No libraries, children’s centres or One Stop Shops will close, but there will be “further integrating” of One Stop Shops into libraries.
A decision on the closure of Birkenhead Council Kennels has been deferred until the summer to give the Friends of Birkenhead Kennels time to submit alternative proposals.
Wirral Conservative group leader Cllr Jeff Green said: “I am disgusted that they have decided to go after some of the most vulnerable people in Wirral. When we led the council I remember coming under pressure from officers about the day centres. We always refused.”
Unison branch leader Joe Taylor said: “The public of Wirral is united in this. What really matters is the most vulnerable people in our society.”
A final decision on the budget will be made at full council on March 5.