Wirral MBC’s leader announced he is to stand down a day before staff were warned of “significant financial challenges” and invited to express an interest in leaving the council.
An email sent yesterday by Wirral chief executive Eric Robinson, leaked to the Liverpool Echo and shared with LGC, says the council’s budget is “under huge pressure” and therefore staff could opt for “voluntary severance or early retirement”.
Announcing on Wednesday his intention to leave the council at the local election in May next year, Phil Davis (Lab) did not provide a specific reason for his decision but in a letter to colleagues stressed the financial challenges faced by the council.
LGC was told in September that local party members were seeking to de-select Cllr Davies, who has been council leader for six years, amid claims Labour group members were being harassed by activists.
Wirral has said it is facing a budget shortfall of £45m in 2019-20 following cuts of £200m since 2010.
In the email to staff, Mr Robinson said the council was making “excellent progress” towards producing a balanced budget for next year, adding a “series of proposals” for consultation would be published shortly.
“We are still looking at other ways to raise income or make savings and, to help achieve them, we are inviting expressions of interest from staff to leave the council on voluntary severance or early retirement,” he said.
A Wirral spokesperson said the move was to reduce the likelihood of enforced job losses.
They added: “Opening the window for staff to apply for voluntary severance is a standard measure we take to help minimise any risk of compulsory redundancies – something which our cabinet want to avoid at all costs,” the spokesperson said, adding that the trade unions remain “supportive of this approach”.