FOUR workers have officially been axed after the decision to close two council-run cafes.
The employees are being made redundant after Hartlepool Borough Council decided to close the Central Library cafe, in York Road, and the cafe at Christ Church Art Gallery as part of budget cuts.
There was initially six members of staff affected but two have found alternative employment within the council.
The decision was taken by the council’s finance and policy committee at a meeting chaired by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.
That was despite questions being raised by Labour councillor Robbie Payne over whether the council runs a “two-tier” system when it comes to making staff redundant.
Coun Payne expressed concern that while some senior officers were aware early on in the process of their redundancy dates, other officers had been waiting for some time to hear if their applications for voluntary redundancy were being approved.
But Dave Stubbs, the council’s chief executive, said that the council’s management team was always “scrupulously fair” with all staff that applied for voluntary redundancy.
Regarding the cafe workers, a committee report said formal consultations had been undertaken with the trade unions and the procedure followed the council’s reorganisation, redundancy and redeployment policy.
Andrew Atkin, the council’s assistant chief executive, said: “Six staff covering seven posts were affected.
“They have been through the formal consultation arrangements and through a recruitment process and two have found alternative employment.
“Therefore, there are four members of staff covering five posts that are subject to compulsory notice.”
The council’s finance and policy committee formally declared the staff redundant.
The two cafes closed on Saturday, December 21, as a result of budget pressures and instead, vending machines and areas for customers to sit will be provided at the two sites.
At an earlier meeting it had been decided that the Wingfield Castle Coffee Shop at Hartlepool Maritime Experience will continue to operate as normal.
But its long-term future is still in doubt as it will be included as part of a wider council feasibility study of the attraction to try and generate more income.
The council says, despite ploughing £23,000 into running the three coffee shops at the library, art gallery and Wingfield Castle, they all fail to make a profit and face increasing competition from private companies.