Margaret Greenwood MP has spoken out in Parliament about the scale of cuts by central government to local authorities and the impact it is having on the funding of key services in Wirral.
The Wirral West MP raised the devastating implications of central government cuts to Wirral Council, and the proposals to close Woodchurch Leisure Centre and libraries in Greasby, Irby, Hoylake, Pensby and Woodchurch.
Central government funding to Wirral Council has dropped by around 85% between 2010 and 2020. Income from other sources such as business rates has compensated to a degree, but the overall revenue of the council was still 25% lower in 2020 than it was in 2010.
The proposals to close the leisure centre and libraries are among those that have been put forward by Wirral Council as it seeks to bridge a gap of up to £27 million in its budget for next year.
Speaking in Business Questions in Parliament, where MPs get the chance to raise issues that they believe the government should set aside time for MPs to debate, Margaret Greenwood called on the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, to provide time for MPs to debate the impact of central government cuts on the provision of libraries and leisure centres.
Speaking after her intervention in Parliament, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “Woodchurch Leisure Centre and the libraries in Greasby, Irby, Hoylake, Pensby and Woodchurch are vitally important to the quality of life and wellbeing of thousands of people in Wirral West, including many living in areas of deprivation.
“Central government has made huge cuts to Wirral Council in recent years. It is time the government took a long hard look at what this means in practice for people in our communities.
“It is no good the government talking of ‘levelling up’ when their cuts lead to services closing down.
“People have been in touch with me to explain just how important the pool at Woodchurch Leisure Centre is for them.
“Learning to swim is part of the national curriculum and the pool is a vital resource for young children in Woodchurch and the surrounding area.
“Swimming is a great way to have fun, exercise and develop physical strength. It can also help people to relax and address mental health issues, and it has a role to play in helping to tackle the obesity crisis that we have in the UK where around one in four adults and one in five children aged 10 to 11 are affected.
Car ownership on the Woodchurch is much lower than elsewhere in Wirral, so people really do need these facilities on their doorstep.
“If ‘levelling up’ is to mean anything, it must mean ensuring public services are available for people.
“Public libraries are crucial too, not only as places where people can borrow books and enjoy reading, but as places where children can do homework after school and where people who don’t have access to the internet at home can go to search and apply for jobs.
“Libraries are vibrant community hubs, connecting young families as they introduce their children to reading and providing a welcome social space for people who live alone. They have a key role to play in tackling social isolation.
“As long as the government continues to impose devastating cuts, public services will be at risk and our communities will suffer.
“The government must provide the funding that local councils need to be able to deliver the services that people rely on.”