Parties clash over £15m budget gap

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Wallasey Town Hall, the seat of Wirral Council (C) Inniebear/CreativeCommons/Flickr’

Wirral Council’s huge budget deficit may have been caused by “mismanagement” of departments, according to one councillor.

The council has a £15m budget gap this year, and a predicted £100m deficit over the next three years.

Wirral’s Labour Council Leader Phil Davies denies the claims of Conservative councillor Les Rowlands, who told JMU Journalism: “It’s purely and simply not cuts from the Government; it’s mismanagement by Labour, by not monitoring the savings they wanted to achieve.

“When they took control, the budget was balanced, that’s a known fact… that’s not us saying that, that’s the financial department.

“From the moment they took over the council in May they set the budget for the year, and what they did in their budget was set certain savings in departments that they wanted to achieve and see.

“What they should have been doing the past five months is monitoring those departments, for example Social Services, and finding out why they were not making those savings.”

Leader of the Council Phil Davies is to pursue more funds from the Secretary of State Eric Pickles, and has called on the support of the other party leaders on the council to aid him in securing the extra cash.

Opposing Councillors Phil Davies (Labour) and Les Rowlands (Conservative)

Councillor Davies told JMU Journalism: “This idea I’ve seen in Tory newsletters going out in parts of the borough, that the overspend is due to mismanagement by who controls the council since May, and it is just completely false.

“We have two problems at the moment: one is the overspend which is projected at £15.3m,  but our biggest problem is the £100m shortfall that were looking at over the next three years, and the £100m I’m very clear is primarily due to Government cuts.”

In the council’s approach to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the case will be made that there are high levels of deprivation in the east of the borough.

Councillor Davies said: “If a third of the council’s budget is taken away from us we won’t be able to provide those vital services that people rely on for their quality of life.”

About David Williamson, JMU Journalism