Council to spend more than £2m improving Wirral to get ‘basics right’

Wirral Council will spend more than £2m over the next year to “tackle the things that people complain to us about the most.”

Councillors at a policy and resources committee have unanimously agreed to create a £1m project fund for the next financial year from April 2024 as well as add an additional £246,000 that would be generated from closing Wallasey Town Hall until 2025. According to a report, this will be spent on “specific improvement activities that will have a visible impact across the Borough.”

The local authority said it can afford to spend the money between April 2024 and March 2025 due to reduced inflation and a much smaller gap in its budget compared to previous years.

An additional £1m will also be spent in the local authority’s capital budget on new infrastructure which will see a greater investment in new litter bins, parks and green spaces improved, and better drain clearing machinery. The local authority will also see additional investment in road maintenance of £547,000 following the cancellation of HS2 between Birmingham and Manchester.

£148,000 will be borrowed to help fund the increase which tops up £300,000 previously set aside to fund improvements. £4.5m will also be invested by the council in its health department’s spend as it seeks to use up some of its public health reserves.

Cllr Phil Gilchrist, who has previously raised issues about rusting litter bins, said, “It will help us turn one corner and it will help us get the basics right as I have always seen it. I have to say without that diligence, people would have continued to point out what they see as decay and decline in the borough.”

He urged the council to “drive on with that and see early results,” adding, “If we can get it off the ground quickly and we can tackle the things that people complain to us about the most and the way they see the place, I think we’ll be on a better road.”

Conservative leader Jeff Green said, “I like the fact it’s talking about universal services so that all the people from across Wirral should be able to see those visible improvements we’re talking about and see where their Council Tax is actually going and they can see that we as their representatives are responding to some of the things we all get every day in terms of the services people want improving.”

Green Party co-leader Jo Bird also praised the funding, adding, “There could be new investment in our environment. New green jobs and services could be created by, for example, clearing flytipping from alleyways and installing renewable energy to reduce bills and carbon emissions.”

Concerns were raised by Wirral’s Green Party co-leader Pat Cleary about the oversight of the fund as the Finance Sub-Committee, which does not meet publicly, will monitor it. This was voted down by the other parties but Wirral Council’s Labour leader Paul Stuart assured councillors an update on what the fund will be spent on would be made public in March.

Image: A rusted litter bin. Credit: Phil Gilchrist

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