Sep 17 2013 by Liam Murphy
MORE than 100 jobs are set to be axed and services cut back according to Wirral council chiefs who have unveiled the latest plans to reduce the authority’s budget by £27.5m.
A package of measures ranging from millions of pounds slashed from social care and reductions in parks maintenance are among those being recommended to deal with a budget deficit next year.
In addition more streetlights are likely to be switched off, many children’s centres will face cutbacks and parking charges will be introduced at key tourism sites.
Also back on the agenda is the plan to make schools pay for their own lollipop men and women, as well as pushing more costs on to them for providing education social welfare and the costs of early retirement of teachers.
Those aged over 70 could also be hit by the new cuts, with a proposal to remove the council tax benefit except for those living in council tax band A, B and C properties.
Council chief executive Graham Burgess said “less than 100” local authority jobs will be lost as a result of the direct services cuts to be introduced next year, 2014-15, but a massive restructuring of the council over the next two years will also see around another 100 jobs go.
The proposed cuts are also based on a council tax rise next year of just under 2%.
It follows a reduction last year of almost £50m in Wirral council’s budget and Mr Burgess said worse is yet to come with budget cuts of £35m a year still to be slashed from council spending in 2015-6 and 2016-17.
The council has now embarked on a 12-week consultation entitled ‘What Really Matters’ to seek comments from local residents, community groups and its staff before the budget is set by councillors in December.
Mr Burgess said: “We have more extremely tough decisions to make over the coming months."
Among the cuts options being presented as part of the council’s consultation is a halving of the £830,000 subsidy to the Floral Pavilion, closing Wirral’s CCTV monitoring room and passing its control to the police, switching off more street lights to save a further £85,000 a year, cutting back on gritters from 10 to nine and removing salt bins from the highways, and charging for car parking at Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton, Wirral Country Park, Royden Park, Arrowe and Eastham Country Parks.
Coastal defence maintenance would also be cut, and there will be a review of the way Williamson Art Gallery and Birkenhead Priory are run and managed.