Wirral’s Labour council leader Janette Williamson used the opportunity of Michael Gove’s visit to Birkenhead to ask him to discuss Wirral’s upcoming budget.
The MP was in Merseyside to address politicians and business leaders at the Convention of the North conference in Liverpool, telling them that the Government had to act to tackle inequalities in different parts of the country, and it was important to put political differences aside to make a more equal society.
He was invited to Wirral as part of his visit, to see the regeneration work being undertaken across Birkenhead by the Labour-led council.
As part of his visit, which took in regeneration sites across the town, he met with Cllr Williamson, and agreed to a meeting to discuss the issue of the huge cuts to this spring’s council budget, which will see £20 million needing to be slashed from public services.
Libraries, leisure centres and frontline services are all at risk due to a steady lack of funding since the Conservatives came to power, with £220 million taken from Wirral’s budget in the last decade.
Cllr Williamson said, “We were proud to welcome the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, to Wirral to see first-hand the pioneering regeneration work being done here.
“But I had to ask him how his levelling up agenda sits with a council budget that this year asks us to take £20 million from services in an area with some of the most deprived wards in the country. I am pleased to say that he has agreed to a meeting to discuss this issue.
“Because while funding for projects is very welcome, ring-fenced grants don’t keep libraries and leisure centres open. Only a fair and proper budget for Wirral would do that, and give us the opportunity to build on the brilliant regeneration work here.
“Over the last 10 years, we had £220 million taken away from the budget that we can spend on local services. Only when that is restored, can we really talk about levelling up.”