Decision details

Leisure and Libraries Consultation Outcomes

Decision Maker: Tourism, Communities, Culture & Leisure Committee

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


This report provides Committee with the outcomes of public consultation exercises undertaken in relation to the development of new models of service delivery, in respect of Leisure and Library Services.


The consultation outcomes will contribute to the five thematic priorities within the Wirral Plan 2021-26 that focus on improving outcomes for whole population groups.


On 28 February 2022, Budget Council agreed a balanced budget for the 2022/23 financial year. The budget was predicated on assumptions that there would be cessation of services within the Neighbourhoods Directorate to generate savings and allow for the balanced budget to be achievable. Public consultations on affected service changes and closures prior to the final decision by the Committee on what decisions to then take in the expenditure of their budget provision in exercise of their functions, were also agreed as follows:


· The Closure of the Fun (Leisure) Pool at Europa Pools and the development of a fitness facility


· The Closure of Woodchurch Leisure Centre


· The Closure (for a 12-month period) of Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre for redevelopment


· The closure of Brackenwood (18 Hole), Hoylake (18 hole), Wallasey Beach and Kings Parade (pitch n putt) golf courses


The public consultation exercise was opened on the Councils Have Your Say platform between 31st January 2022, and 27th March 2022. A separate consultation exercise was undertaken on the Council’s proposals for a new operating model for Library Services, including a number of library closures.


This consultation ran for 8 weeks from 21 February to 18 April 2022. This decision affects all wards. This matter is key decision as the saving is greater than £500,000 and the service changes involved are significant in terms of their effect upon communities living and working within the borough.



Resolved - that


(1)  the outcomes of all public consultation exercises for Leisure & Library Services as contained in the “Have Your Say” consultation reports at Appendix 1-4 (Leisure) and Appendix 8 (Libraries) be considered.


(2)  the implementation of Option 3, as amended and agreed by Council be approved as the new core operating model for Wirral’s Library Service with a detailed implementation plan to be presented back to a future meeting of this Committee in September 2022


(3)  the permanent closure of the leisure pool at Europa Pools, with alternative provision and pool-based activities for children and young people within the main competition pool (and other sites where permissible) be approved.


(4)  the retention of the alternative fitness offer within the space previously occupied by the leisure pool at Europa Pools be approved.


(5)  the permanent closure of Woodchurch Leisure Centre be approved.


(6)  the permanent closure of Brackenwood and Hoylake Golf courses, and the closure of Kings Parade and Wallasey Beach pitch n putt golf courses be approved.


(7) the reinstatement of the tennis offer, and development of community offer at the Wirral Tennis & Sports Centre (WTSC) subject to the implementation of a new model for tennis at the site, established through a partnership agreement with the Lawn Tennis Association as contained in Appendix 5, and with the development proposal submitted by Alliance Leisure in Appendix 6 that will continue to achieve the agreed budget savings for 2022/23 be approved.



Reasons for the decision:

The Council must legally set a balanced budget as per the Local Government Act 2003. The legislation leaves discretion to the Council about the allowances to be made and action to be taken, however the CIPFA external assurance report commissioned by Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities gave clear direction that the Council must reduce its costs associated with leisure and cultural activities.


The associated savings identified within the scope of this report and approved by Budget Council on 28 February 2022, have contributed to the setting of a 2022/23 balanced budget and must not be reversed.


The Committee is accountable for ensuring that the committee budgets remain within the relevant envelope and will take collective responsibility via the Policy and Resources Committee, to ensure that the whole Council budget always remains in balance, by agreeing mitigating actions to bring the budget back in line, should a deficit be forecast.


The Council is currently subject to an External Assurance Review including oversight by an independent panel on scrutiny of its Finance and Governance. Failure to implement the identified and approved savings or to recommend a reversal of the approved savings, would constitute a loss of confidence in the Council’s ability to follow through on its budgetary and financial commitments, which in turn would result in Central Government intervention.

Alternative options considered:

A range of options as detailed in the appendices to the report have been the subject of public consultation in relation to the development of new models of service delivery in respect of Leisure and Library Services. Beyond those options consulted upon a further option would be to do nothing.


This option would not deliver the savings set out in the 2022/23 budget and would require the Council to seek alternative sources for savings, which have yet to be identified. No alternative savings would be identified in the timeframe available and would therefore result in an overspend of the 2022/23 budget and inevitably result in Government intervention as a result of the Council’s inability to manage its finances effectively.

Publication date: 20/06/2022

Date of decision: 16/06/2022

Decided at meeting: 16/06/2022 - Tourism, Communities, Culture & Leisure Committee

Effective from: 24/06/2022

Accompanying Documents: