Respite centre protest outside Wallasey town hall earlier today
A respite care home under threat of closure has been given a stay of execution.
Girtrell Court’s future remained in the balance as a £28m budget cuts package came before Wirral Council’s ruling cabinet on Monday.
Dozens of protestors packed inside the meeting at Wallasey town hall and many expected to hear that the centre was to close its doors.
But councillors agreed no final decision will be made on the home’s future until an ongoing consultation with families, staff and those who use Girtrell Court has ended.
Unison branch secretary Paddy Cleary was among those demonstrating against closure: “We want the council to prove to us that the alternative options they have come up for those who rely on Girtrell Court are suitable,” he said.
“This is a Labour-led authority that has vowed to look after vulnerable people – closing Girtrell Court is not doing that.
“Make no bones about it, this is just an attempt to save money.
“But they need to realise that trying to do it this way is extremely unfair to some of the most vulnerable people in Wirral.”
Councillors voted unanimously to approve a raft of measures which included increasing council tax by almost 4%.
A recommendation that £203,000 of savings should be made from Wirral’s library service was withdrawn for a full review over the next 12 months.
Around £80m will be invested into adult care services with a similar amount for children’s facilities.
There are also plans to improve the borough roads, tackle anti-social behaviour and revamp leisure and recreational facilities.
Council staff will have to take four days’ unpaid leave for a further five years although enhanced payments for those working weekends and evenings survived.
Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said: “The sad truth is the Government’s austerity agenda is making it increasingly impossible for local government to operate these days.
“The Government has made it crystal clear – they don’t see it as their job to fund local services.
“The Conservatives are telling us they want to create an ‘Us and Them’ nation.
“If there is any doubt about that intention, simply look at the recent decision to gift the £300m transitional fund to some of the wealthiest councils like Surrey and Oxfordshire, while Wirral and Liverpool got nothing.
“This was a callous and politically motivated move.
“When the only Metropolitan councils to receive any funds are Solihull and Trafford – the only two Tory Metropolitan councils in the whole of Britain – you can see what message the Government is sending to Wirral and other Northern cities – ‘Don’t call us; You’re on your own.’”
Councillor Davies said he would welcome alternative options to keeping Girtrell Court open.
The decisions will now go before a meeting of the full council on March 3.