Wirral Council takes next step towards selling car parks, libraries, land, and buildings

Wirral Council has taken the next step towards selling off 23 car parks, libraries, land, and buildings it owns.

The local authority has given Lambert Smith Hampton £495,000 to help with selling off the assets over the next three years. This is on top of previous work by the contractor to support the council in disposing of things it owns.

It was decided to sell off the assets at a controversial meeting in July that saw places like the location of Clare Mount Specialist Sports College (pictured), the site of the former Bebington Town Hall, and Bromborough Civic Centre put up for sale. The council may sell off other assets in the future.

This is in order to pay back a £12m loan of emergency government funding received in 2021 in order to avoid declaring bankruptcy. Wirral’s council leader Paul Stuart said the sales were necessary in order to pay off the loan which is racking up £600,000 in interest every year and provide the council with much-needed funds.

At the meeting, the council also decided to sell off Oaklands Outdoor Centre, Seacombe Library, the Coronation Gardens Cafe, the Price Street car park, Tranmere’s Marine Technology Park, former council offices in Liscard, and properties on Seaview Road, Laird Street, and Manor Road.

It also decided to sell off land at Ditton Lane in Moreton, Bedford Place, and Old Clatterbridge Road in Bebington.

However, it was decided not to sell farmland in Meols because councillors felt it would contradict the council’s draft policy opposing development on Wirral countryside. Cllr Stuart previously said, “This sends a clear message to both the Local Plan inspectors and developers that Wirral’s green belt is not available for development.”

The council will also consider transferring Holborn Square to community groups because it is linked to the Tranmere Tunnels project. The site has one of the entrances to the tunnels which were built to house 6,000 people during World War II.

The sale of Bromborough Civic Centre, and its library, proved to be incredibly controversial. The library had been going through a process called community asset transfer that could have seen it reopen.

Initially taking place during a part of the meeting where the press and public were excluded from the meeting, Green and Liberal Democrat councillors went public criticising Labour and the Conservatives for pushing the sale through.

Liberal Democrat councillor Phil Gilchrist said it was “a backward step that will sour relations with the council for a long time ahead” while Cllr Jo Bird accused the council of misleading the public.

Labour council leader Paul Stuart said council officers made it “absolutely abundantly clear” the library should be sold, adding: “There’s no point in us employing staff with expertise and then ignoring the advice that we have got on the table.

“I appreciate we had two community groups that wanted to take it over but we have to weigh out the decisions that we make that affect everybody in all parts of Wirral, not just in individual wards.”

Conservative leader Jeff Green also criticised the Greens and Liberal Democrats pointing out that the sale of assets was a condition by the UK government to accept the funding. He said, “When it comes to the consequences of those decisions they want to say it’s nothing to do with us.”

Image: GOOGLE Clare Mount Specialist Sports College in Moreton

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