TRAMS are back on the agenda in Merseyside – but this time in Wirral.
Transport authority Merseytravel is investigating whether to create a tram system around the proposed £4.5bn Wirral Waters skyscraper scheme for Birkenhead’s docklands.
The authority voted to instruct consultants to look into the costs of the scheme, which would also involve taking over Wirral council’s heritage tramway in Birkenhead.
Wirral council is currently trying to offload the heritage tramway and wanted bids to take it over by next week.
But councillors on Merseytravel said they did not have enough information to sanction a bid, because the tramway requires a subsidy of £250,000-a-year.
Councillors were reluctant to commit to bidding for the tramway without an update report into the costs. Developers Peel have agreed to pay 50% of the cost of a study to investigate the costs.
Merseytravel will vote again on the tram scheme for Wirral once a full breakdown of the costs of the scheme is known.
In February last year Merseytravel pulled out of similar negotiations to take over the tramway, because Wirral council wanted to sell the Pacific Road theatre as part of the deal.
The council removed the arts centre from the deal, bringing Merseytravel back to the table.
But councillors were still concerned about the potential costs.
Labour’s Cllr Joe Hanson, who represents Liverpool on Merseytravel, said: “Merseytravel wants to do what it can to support Wirral Waters and Wirral council, but there are a number of issues here.
“The costs of £250,000 a year put us in a terrible position.”
Wirral representative Cllr Chris Blakeley said that the authority needed to take a leap of faith.
“Wirral Waters is a scheme that will bring jobs to the region and we should do all we can to support it.”