THREE Merseyside day care centres threatened with closure were given a temporary reprieve.
At a meeting to set Wirral council’s budget hundreds of protesters turned up to oppose cuts which they said would see frontline services threatened.
At the meeting of the full council in Wallasey town hall last night, councillors had to decide on a raft of cuts which would also stop its sponsorship of Tranmere Rovers, cut 350 jobs and raise council tax by 2% to balance its budget.
Last month the Labour controlled cabinet put forward the money-saving measures and cuts to services to tackle a deficit of £39m this year.
The meeting was bad tempered at times and saw hecklers from the public gallery warned by the Mayor they could be thrown out. Much of the anger focused on the budget proposals which would see the closure of one of Wirral’s three main day care centres for adults with learning and physical disabilities in Moreton, Heswall or Eastham.
Tory councillor Jeff Green said: “I believe the council budget should not be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.”
The Tory and Lib Dem budget plans aimed to keep the centres open, and Lib Dem Stuart Kelly urged Labour to take that option, but the Labour proposal was voted through. To loud applause Cllr Anita Leech said Labour were "reluctantly having to impose Tory and Lib Dem cuts", while newly elected Philip Brightmore said the Labour budget was "making tough decisions while trying to protect frontline services".
In an impassioned speech, Cllr Tony Norbury said he supported the Labour budget because it was "the best option at the present time", while Tory Andrew Hodson accused Labour of "a slash and burn policy", and Cllr Chris Blakeley said Labour’s plan to close a care centre pitted communities against each other but added "the people of Moreton, Heswall and Eastham are united".
But council leader Phil Davies said: “No day care centre will close this evening – there will be a three-month consultation period. This will give every service user and their families a chance to put alternative proposals to us, and we will look at the business case of these before a decision is made.”