Wirral Council held an urgent meeting to discuss how to help residents through the cost of living crisis.
Wirral Council is looking to provide warm spaces in municipal buildings and leisure centers to protect people from the cold during the winter.
Cllr Williamson has asked council officers to review all buildings, including libraries and leisure centres, and work with the NHS, police and fire department to establish other spaces that could be used.
She said: “We are now looking at ways to fill the gaps as best we can, using all the resources we can to create a map and list of welcoming spaces where people can enter for free and enjoy a warm welcome and be connected to other supports if they need it.
The announcement came ahead of Wirral council holding an urgent committee meeting on August 31 to discuss how they will help support people through the cost of living crisis.
The committee meeting
The meeting was chaired by Janette Williamson, leader of the Wirral Council, and the leaders of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens attended.
Cllr Williamson said she called the meeting after failing to hear Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi over his letter highlighting residents’ hardship.
She said: ‘He hasn’t responded so far. I’d like to say I’m surprised, but given that this zombie government hasn’t acted across the country so far, it’s become clear that if we want to do something, we’ll have to do it ourselves.
She asked advisers to “put politics aside and step in when the government has failed to do so”.
At the meeting, a member of the public, Ruth Molyneux, said donations to food banks were decreasing as demand increased.
She said: “People are terrified and don’t know how they’re going to get out of this” and spoke of a single mother who worries about how she will be able to keep her autistic son “well fed and warm for Winter”.
Ms Molyneux called for the Bromborough Civic Center and Library to remain open as a caring centre, which Cllr Williamson said the council was considering as part of its plans.
Councilor Lesley Rennie, deputy leader of the Tories, criticized the council for the way it disseminated information saying Wirral needed to ‘come to terms’.
She said a resident tried to visit a council building only to find it was closed after being on the phone for 45 minutes. Cllr Rennie said: “Unless you’re computer savvy getting in touch with this advice is a nightmare at the moment.”
Tory leader Tom Anderson said the council should look more at what it can do than criticize the government, although he hopes the new prime minister will provide more support.
He echoed Cllr Rennie’s point and said Council should write to residents eligible for the Household Support Fund who are struggling to use technology. “There are 22,000 right now today who haven’t applied for this rebate because they’re not on direct debit. The deadline is today.
Cllr Pat Cleary, Leader of the Greens, however, welcomed the Council’s response but said investment funds needed to be brought forward.
He asks if the Board has looked at his reserves and if they could be released to provide support. Shaer Halewood, director of resources, said many reserves were reserved, but confirmed the council was considering whether they could be used.
The board voted on several amendments during the meeting. An amendment seeking to determine whether more than £600,000 of uncommitted Covid support funding passed unanimously while another, seeking to use public health funds, was defeated.
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