Council pleased with study

A STUDY that ranked a council among the best performing local authorities when it comes to reducing the impact of budget cuts on disabled people has been welcomed.

Hartlepool Borough Council was ranked eighth out of 152 councils in England that responded to a new study by think tank Demos.

The aim of the national study, which was funded by disability charity Scope, was to see what impact budget cuts were having on people with disabilities.

Councillor Ged Hall, portfolio holder for adult services and public health, has welcomed the findings of the study.

The Labour councillor is co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board, which is made up of councillors, officers and representatives from organisations across Hartlepool.

The board meets regularly and holds informal themed sessions covering hate crime, health, jobs and employment.

Coun Hall said: “From my point of view, this is very pleasing.

“As co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board, we have tried to raise awareness of the issues around disability and try to get as many people involved.

“It is great for Hartlepool that we have been recognised for the way we provide for vulnerable people.

“That is one of the major services that the council provides.

“I always call it the hidden service, because it is not something that you think about unless you need it.”

Hartlepool was ranked alongside Peterborough, Rochdale and Islington in the top 10 councils that have had the least impact on front line services.

Last year Hartlepool Borough Council slashed about £5.6m from its budget and over the next three years the overall budget will be slashed by a third.

Campaigners say those authorities that have performed well have reduced the impact by involving people in the decision-making process and promoted community-based support.

Coun Hall said that the council’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which covers health and social care issues, allows the local authority to keep tabs on the services in town to make sure it meets the need.

He added: “The phrase ‘No decision about me without me’ is an appropriate phrase for people with disabilities, and in Hartlepool we encourage people to contribute.”

Upcoming meetings of the Learning Disability Partnership Board will be held at the Centre for Independent Living (CIL) at Havelock Day Centre, off Mainsforth Terrace, and will focus on hate crime and health.

For more information, people are encouraged to call the CIL on (01429) 851371 or visit www.hartlepool.gov.uk/cil