WIRRAL Council has said it needs extra funding to maintain one of the country's most historic parks.

When it opened in 1847, Birkenhead was the world's first public park established at public expense.

The creation of celebrated Victorian garden designer Sir Joseph Paxton, it is considered an outstanding example of his work, being influential in the design of public parks nationally and internationally including Central Park in New York.

An £11.5m investment programme was recently agreed for the park, with £7.4m coming from a Heritage Lottery grant.

But the council has said it needs extra money to be able to maintain the park when the work there has been completed.

The plan includes restoration of the lakes, new planting and refurbishing some of buildings. Formal gardens, exhibition spaces, teaching areas and a café will be created at the new pavilion.

Last month, the council admitted the new £1m glass pavilion, planned for the park, had to undergo a last-minute redesign after architects realised it would overheat.

The level of glazing on the building, which will be Birkenhead Park's focal piece, has had to be reduced to prevent it turning into a greenhouse, and zinc panels will now be used instead.

Robert Lee, chairman of the Friends of Birkenhead Park, said: "Many people are anxious that work starts as soon as possible. There has been a degree of slippage in the schedule which does not seem to have been recovered."

A report to the Birkenhead Park Advisory Committee at Wirral Council said there remain issues about future preservation.

The report said the design of the Grand Entrance Lodge is ahead of schedule and surveys are under way.

But it added: "The principal concern in respect of this package is funding and alternative sources are being investigated."

So far the authority has an offer of £25,000 from English Heritage. A spokeswoman for Wirral Council said: "Detailed surveys and designs are well under way and construction work will start on site in the coming months.

"The restoration and future management of the park will however, require ongoing investment and Wirral MBC continues to seek additional funding from sources such as English Heritage."