Forums to discuss planned budget cuts

COUNCIL proposals to deal with unprecedented cuts in its Government grant will be put under the microscope in a series of meetings.

Hartlepool Borough Council faces cuts in 2012-13 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 identified for 2012-13, with more than £5.3m expected to be achieved through the council’s business transformation efficiency programme, 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 few weeks and will make comments to the council’s cabinet before the end of the year.

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

The first round of scrutiny meetings will all take place in Civic Centre in Victoria Road and the dates and times are:

l Children’s services scrutiny forum 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.

Following which the scrutiny co-ordinating committee will meet on Friday, December 2, at 2pm in the council chamber, when it will formalise the scrutiny forums’ comments for submission to the cabinet.

Members of the public are very welcome to attend any of the above meetings.

Councillor Marjorie James, chairman of the scrutiny co-ordinating committee, said: “The Government is looking for headline figures of savings. Our job locally is to secure savings without leaving vulnerable residents without access to much-needed services.

“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 detailed above.”