ConDems cave in over Labour’s free swimming policy

Thursday 26th August 2010. 

With Wirral’s remaining Liberal councillors (devastated after losing 25% of their seats in May) now meekly propping up a Tory-led administration it looked as though the national ‘ConDem’ policy of ending free swimming would be rubber stamped. 

But a massive public outcry put huge pressure on the ConDems not to end Labour’s free swimming initiative.  Added to this an on-line petition, initiated by Liscard’s Cllr Darren Dodd, obliged the Tory-led council to concede that Labour had been right all along in providing this facility for pensioners and school children.     

Liscard's Labour Councillor Darren Dodd organised the petition to save free swimming on Wirral

But the threats to many other Wirral services will continue under this Tory/Liberal collaboration.  (Go to:  http://seacombelabour.org/because-seacombe-matters-/2010/08/16 )   

Cllr Steve Foulkes, Leader of the Labour Group on Wirral Council, tonight branded as a hypocrite Cllr Jeff Green, the Leader of the Tory-LibDem coalition running Wirral Council.   

The Labour Leader commented:      

 
 
 

Labour leader Cllr Steve Foulkes denounces ConDem 'hypocrisy' following failure to consult

“Cllr Green admitted, at a Scrutiny Committee, that no public consultation whatever had taken place over the Cabinet’s decision to cut £3.9m from the Council’s budget in the current year.”     

 The Labour Group had ‘called in’  this decision for further consideration.  Labour’s ‘call in’  would have referred  back to Cabinet the budget cuts to schools and to the Working Neighbourhood Fund, which has been used to create over 100 apprenticeships, and would have required the Cabinet to carry out meaningful consultation about these cuts with residents and key stakeholders such as small businesses, unemployed people and headteachers and governors.     

Labour’s proposal was opposed by Tory and Liberal members on the Council Excellence Committee who voted to endorse the original Cabinet decision.     

Speaking after the Committee meeting, Cllr Foulkes stated: “I am amazed at the utter hypocrisy of Cllr Green. One minute he is trumpeting his coalition’s desire to engage in public consultation around the future of Council services, yet he admitted at tonight’s call-in meeting that no consultation had taken place over £3.9m of saving and that the recommendations had been written by a small group of senior Council officers. I am also appalled at the actions of the Liberal Democrats who agreed our budget for 2010/11 in March of this year, but are now slavishly following their Tory partners’ decision to make damaging cuts to front-line services such as education and help for the unemployed and small businesses. They should be ashamed of themselves.”     

See also:  http://seacombelabour.org/because-seacombe-matters-/2010/07/28/  and  http://birkenheadandtranmerewlp.org.uk/ 

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Wirral’s ConDem Collaboration backtracks on free swimming

22nd August 2010    

 

Liscard Labour Cllr Darren Dodd: “Today’s announcement that swimming will remain free for children and pensioners is fantastic news and will be welcomed by the thousands of people who regularly take advantage of the scheme."

 Wirral’s Tory led Council (propped up with the collaboration of the Liberals who have now cuddled up to the Tories after losing five Wirral Council seats tothem in May’s elections) now seems set to retreat ignominiously in the face of the peninsula-wide campaign, led by Liscard’s newest Councillor – Labour’s Darren Dodd.     

Previously the ‘ConDem’ Wirral Cabinet agreed only to keep Labour’s free swimming scheme until September, after which it looked as though pensioners and children would only be able to swim if they stumped up.  We cannot be sure until the Cabinet meeting on 26th August, but it now looks as though the Council will be forced to back down, blushing with shame,  following Darren’s highly successful campaign, including his on-line petition.