Budget meetings

A SERIES of budget meetings are set to get under way this week as council chiefs look to balance the books for the next financial year.

For 2012-13 Hartlepool Borough Council faces further grants cuts which mean that the total grant reduction in the first two years of the Coalition Government will be 25 per cent.

As a result, savings of £6.7m have to be made for next year.

More than £5.3m is expected to be achieved through the council’s Business Transformation efficiency programme – which aims to streamline services – leaving almost £1.4m to be found from other initiatives.

The council’s scrutiny forums will be considering the initial budget proposals over the next couple of weeks before feeding back to the cabinet committee.

Members of the public are urged to attend any of the meetings.

Labour councillor Marjorie James, chair of the scrutiny co-ordinating committee, said: “We need the input from residents to ensure that any service reductions are managed in a way that has least impact on those receiving services.

“I would urge any resident who feels that they can contribute to these debates to attend any of the meetings.”

Cabinet members will use the scrutiny comments to help finalise its budget proposals, which will then be examined again by the scrutiny forums prior to final consideration by the cabinet and full council in February.

The first round of scrutiny meetings will be held in the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, on the following dates:

l Children’s services scrutiny forum is due to meet on Tuesday, November 1 at 4.30pm in the Council Chamber;

l Regeneration and planning services scrutiny forum on Thursday, November 3 at 3pm in Committee Room B;

l Adult and community services scrutiny forum on Tuesday, November 8 at 2pm in Committee Room B,

l Neighbourhood services scrutiny forum on Wednesday, November 9 at 4.30pm in Committee Room B.