ANGRY residents and workers launched a demonstration against Hartlepool Borough Council’s decision not to provide financial support to a community network.
The Hartlepool Community Network, which is part of the Hartlepool Voluntary development Association (HVDA), applied to the council for a three-month extension to its funding which totalled £15,000.
The proposal was turned down by the council and was rejected for a second time after the HVDA asked bosses to reconsider.
The community network liaises closely with residents and specialist groups in the town and helps people get involved with decision making.
It also works with the Hartlepool Partnership and the council’s Neighbourhood Action Plan forums.
Due to the cuts and the lack of funding, two workers from the Hartlepool Community Network will lose their jobs at the end of this month.
Residents, who demonstrated outside Hartlepool Civic Centre yesterday, said the network is a vital tool for people in the town and must remain in operation.
Evelyn Leck, a resident representative for the town centre area of Hartlepool, said: “People trust the HVDA and their role is very important.
“They are there for everyone in Hartlepool and they give people a chance to make decisions.
“For the council to decide against providing financial support is a blow, it feels like a smack in the face.”
Tracey Herrington, community network co-ordinator, who is one of the workers losing their job, said: “We are the critical friend of the community.
“How are going to meet the needs of the community now?”
But, Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said there are a number of reasons why the decision was made.
He told the Mail: “The work that the network does will be absorbed by the council officers so the contact with the residents and the community will not be lost.
“I asked for reassurances that the money would be a means to an end, but nobody could give me any firm assurances of how the service will look in the future.
“With the way the financial situation is at the minute, we can’t afford to fund things only for a few months.
“It is terribly sad that people end up losing their jobs.”
Despite the council’s promise that the service will remain, demonstrators said it is important that an independent body is in control.
Jean Kennedy, 72, a former councillor and resident representative who lives in the Stranton area of Hartlepool, said: “We definitely need a service like this in the town, but it isn’t the same if it’s ran by the council. It needs to be run by an independent body.
“What’s £15,000 in the whole scheme of things to help a service like this?
“A service which helps the people in our town.”