Tories “cancelled Christmas” after a Wirral park loses its grotto
A WIRRAL park has been left without its traditional Christmas grotto because of council staff cuts.
Father Christmas is a popular and regular visitor to the purpose- built grotto in Wallasey’s Central Park for the last 15 years.
But, since the park’s dedicated ranger retired early and was not replaced when the authority shed more than 1,100 staff earlier this year, the Yuletide attraction has gone.
Mrs Diane Ledder, chair of the Central Park Partnership, said the loss of the park ranger “had an impact in all sorts of things”.
She said: “For the first time in at least 15 years, there is no Father Christmas grotto.
“Our ranger took early retirement and was not replaced, and there was no-one to build the grotto. He used to spend up to a week building it, using materials supplied by other rangers across the borough, and it was reckoned to be one of the best – and best- value – grottos. Visitors would come from Liverpool to visit it in the Walled Garden, which is itself a popular attraction in the park.”
Local councillors John Salter and Adrian Jones have started a petition calling on the council to improve the facilities in the park, and Cllr Jones placed the blame squarely on the former LibDem/Tory leadership who oversaw the council’s job cuts.
He said: “When they cut the council’s workforce by well over 1,100 people, we lost Central Park’s ranger, who had always organised the grotto with a volunteer Santa for the kids at Christmas.
“The job cuts were supposed to be made without affecting ‘front- line services’.”
His Labour colleague, John Salter, said the Conservatives had effectively “cancelled Christmas by doing this”.
Cllr Salter said: “It would only cost a couple of pounds, which is even more important at a time like this when people are short of cash.”
He said: “There was no thought about the impact of letting all these people go. It’s very sad to have lost something like that.”
But Tory leader Cllr Jeff Green said, if his party had remained in control of the council, they “would have made sure there was a grotto”.
He said: “It’s an outrageous oversight by this administration in not planning ahead.
“This failure has come home to roost for Cllr Jones, who is in the cabinet and could have put this forward to the community forum earlier in the year. But he has not thought about it until it was too late, and is seeking to blame others.”