Two Hartlepool services could benefit from £96,000 of unspent council cash

Keith Bayley of Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency.
Keith Bayley of Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency.

Two Hartlepool organisations that were hit when councillors axed a £110,000 community fund could be helped after the authority had more money left over then expected.

Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA) and Hartlepool Credit Union had to lay off staff and cut their hours when Hartlepool Borough Council scrapped its Community Pool as part of budget savings last year.

If we got some of this money, we would be able to reinstate our service that supported volunteers.

Keith Bayley, Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency

But both organisations could now get support from £96,000 of uncommitted council cash.

It emerged this week that the authority achieved £450,000 of uncommitted resources at the end of the last financial year.

That was £262,000 more than predicted as part of the council’s multi-year strategy to balance its finances in the face of continued government cuts.

And the council is in line to get an additional £146,000 from the sale of former council houses, bringing the total to £596,000.

The council will consider using £500,000 of the money towards paying back an interest-free loan taken out to purchase the former marina mall Jackson’s Landing.

That would leave £96,000 to potentially support HVDA, which helped over 200 groups and supported around 300 volunteers in the last year alone, and Hartlepool Credit Union, which offers savings and low-cost loans.

HVDA manager Keith Bayley has been invited to a meeting of the council’s Finance and Policy Committee on June 29 to present his business case.

Mr Bayley told the Mail: “If we got some of this money, we would be able to reinstate our service that supported volunteers.

“Now nobody is providing that service. It is not just good for the person who needs information about volunteering, it is about the work these volunteers do in the community.

“It could be helping disabled people, the elderly and housebound.

“Anything around £30,000 would make a difference.”

In 2012-13 and 2013-14 Moneywise Community Banking, the trading name of Hartlepool Credit Union, previously received £75,000 from the council towards its running costs and staff.

That was reduced to £35,000 last year forcing the credit union, based in Avenue Road, to reduce staff and opening hours.

Since the loss of the community pool it has had to consider cutting its hours even further and give notice to staff.

In a letter to the council asking for help, chairman Paul Burton said: “The impact of all this will mean that we may have to reduce our service back to how we originally ran before our growth and may have to cut current services that are both valued and needed by residents of Hartlepool.”

Mr Burton added: “We feel that with universal credit being rolled out in Hartlepool, there has never been a greater need for a credit union.”

Some of the £96,000 could also be used by the council to fund extra ­enforcement officers to ­address issues across the town.

The finance and policy committee will consider how to use the £596,000 funding when it receives an update on the Medium Term Financial Strategy of 2016-17 and 2017-18.