OXTON FIELDS: Popular space in Wirral will become ‘unusable’
A popular open space in Wirral will become “unusable” unless the council drops its money-saving plans according to a local councilor.
Cllr Stuart Kelly was “astonished” to see Oxton Fields, a green space between Holm Lane, Woodchurch Road, and Storeton Road, on Wirral Council’s list of 45 sites where it proposes to stop cutting grass and removing litter.
The plan is set to save the council £100,000 and goes towards the money the council must cut from its budget to address a projected £16.5m shortfall for the upcoming financial year.
Other plans for this year’s budget include closing Europa Pools and moving to three-weekly bin collections.
Slating Wirral Council’s plans on grass cutting, Cllr Kelly, a member for Oxton, said: “I was astonished to discover Oxton Fields was on the list to remain unmaintained.
“It is a large area used frequently by local people to walk their dogs, it is used by kids to kick a ball, it is a well used green space.
“I dread to think what the Fields would look like after a few months of grass growth. If maintenance and grass cutting ends it will become an ugly jungle, unusable by the community.”
The Lib Dem councilor was also annoyed at the time the authority chose to reveal the 45 sites where savings will be made.
He added: “24 hours after the consultation closed the council released the list of sites it proposed ceasing grass cutting and maintenance [at], how can people comment on proposals with no information of the impact?
“I think it’s appalling giving people half the facts before you are asked to make a decision.
“The budget option commentary suggested that ‘sites have been identified where reduced maintenance would have the least impact on the local area’.
“This is not true of Oxton Fields – losing this space would be a massive impact for Oxton residents.”
Cllr Janette Williamson, leader of Wirral Council, responded to Cllr Kelly’s claims.
The Labour councillor said: “Thousands of people have taken part in the budget consultation despite the difficulties this year due to us being in the midst of a global pandemic.
“The budget options which we consulted on were put forward by cross-party council committees, including the Liberal Democrats, overseeing all the services involved.
She added: “No decisions have been made at this stage – we have asked for people’s views to help us make the best decisions we can.
“The council is now governed in a way which means all parties are involved in decision-making and every councillor will now be given the chance to play their role in helping to set a budget which is legal, balanced and the best we can achieve for the people we all represent.
“If it was just up to me then this council would not be looking at any of the cuts being put forward in this consultation but the council’s financial situation is to a very great extent out of our hands.”
The final decision on Wirral Council’s budget will be made at a full council meeting on March 1.
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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