Amendments to Wirral Council’s budget proposals will see coastal public toilets in West Kirby and Hoylake remain open, the retention of all school crossing patrols and an assurance that Hoylake Golf Course will not be sold off for housing if it closes.
Wirral Council needs to save £27 million in the next year and is battling to stave off intervention from the government after criticism of the way it manages its finances.
An independent review by the Charted Institute of Public Finance and Accounting concluded the council’s culture is one which “avoids making tough decisions”, with savings plans that “do not represent a clear well thought through plan to address the financial challenges”.
Under a series of proposals agreed at a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday night, community groups will be given more time to come up with proposals to take over the running of 11 branch libraries that are under threat of closure, including Hoylake.
Councillors asked that all proposals submitted during the consultation period for Hoylake and Brackenwood golf courses be fully explored, including options for increasing fees, alternative provision of golf, outdoor activities, allotments and environmental projects.
There was an assurance from all parties that the golf courses would not be sold for housing, and would remain as green spaces with community access, even if they cease to operate as golf courses.
The changes were put forward by Council Leader Janette Williamson.
Addressing the meeting, Cllr Williamson said: “We have been told by the government that we need to develop a ‘more realistic’ asset disposal strategy, and that we have too many libraries, leisure centres and golf clubs. If we don’t cut these, then commissioners will come in and do if for us.
“At the same time, we speak to our residents and they make very clear that they value these services and wish for as many as possible to remain, so we have spent the time since these drastic cuts were announced trying to find ways to do more with less.”
Cllr Tony Jones, who spoke in favour of not closing public conveniences, including those in West Kirby and Hoylake, said: “Public conveniences offer a vital service, particularly to families, older people and those with disabilities, and I am delighted that the threatened closures will no longer take place.”
However, public toilets in Meols and outside West Kirby Concourse will close permanently.
Proposals affecting our area which are set to go ahead will see an increase in the green waste collection charge and the ending of maintenance of open spaces in many parks, except those with play areas, football pitches and bowling greens.
The final decision on the budget will be made at a meeting on Monday 28 February.