Anger over EU budget rise

COUNCILLORS have tabled a motion slamming a rise in the European Union’s budget at a time when councils across the country are facing severe budget cuts.

Despite opposition from MPs and MEPs, the Government recently agreed to a 2.9 per cent increase in the European Union (EU) budget, but the move has sparked anger from Labour councillors in Hartlepool.

Less than a fortnight after setting Hartlepool Borough Council’s budget for next year, which will see services reduced and 86 employees made redundant, councillors have tabled a motion criticising the rise at a time when the public sector in this country is facing severe cuts.

The EU’s annual budget is now set at £106bn.

The motion, which is being put to the full council at a meeting tomorrow, reads: “The council notes, with indignation, that while Hartlepool is facing a massive 25 per cent reduction in its financial settlement over the next two years, the UK’s contribution to the EU is set to increase by an incredible 60 per cent over two years.

“This council believes that the EU should be treated the same as the other tiers of Government and in these austere times should share responsibility, along with central and local government, for public spending reductions.

“Sharing the burden would result in less severe cuts for local authorities, and give more assistance to councils to protect front line services.”

The motion urges Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, Easington MP Grahame Morris and MPs across the Tees Valley not to support increases in the EU budget.

It has been signed by Labour councillors Chris Simmons, Marjorie James, Robbie Payne, Trish Lawton and Sarah Maness.

Mr Wright said: “I can fully understand the anger and I wait to hear whether the motion is approved.

“This decision was taken by the Prime Minister and the Government before Christmas, but if the motion is passed and the council want me to write to the minister on its behalf to outline their concerns, then I will.

“Given the current circumstances and the cuts we have seen in the public sector, we all need to be in this together and that includes reducing the EU budget.”

The full council is due to meet tomorrow at the civic centre, in Victoria Road, at 7pm.