£2,000 spend on advert blasted

A COUNCILLOR has criticised the amount of money paid by a council on advertising costs for a proposed regeneration scheme.

Conservative councillor Ray Wells hit out after regeneration bosses spent £2,000 on an advert in a national trade magazine for “initial expressions” from developers to transform three council-owned sites at Seaton Carew in a bid to attract new investment.

Coun Wells raised his concerns at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s contract scrutiny committee after members were told the cost of the advert.

The expressions of interest, which have not been made public, outline how developers would plan to help regenerate the area with a mix of commercial and residential developments.

Coun Wells said that in his opinion a press release would have sufficed and saved the local authority advertising costs.

Speaking to the Mail, he said: “I just feel that at times of economic hardship, we as a local authority should be spending our money much more carefully.”

In response, officers told him that the cabinet committee, led by Mayor Stuart Drummond, had agreed the process and the idea was that national companies would be attracted as well as local ones.

A council spokesman said: “There are three council-owned sites in Seaton Carew that could be brought forward for development. Land at the junction of Coronation Drive/Warrior Drive, land in Elizabeth Way and the old fairground site.

“This is potentially a multi-million pound scheme that could unlock finance for the wider regeneration of Seaton Carew and we were keen to spread the net as widely as possible in seeking expressions of interest from private sector developers.

“That is why we placed an advert in Estates Gazette, a respected national trade journal.

“We subsequently received seven responses and these are currently being evaluated.

“Any decisions that are taken in the future on this issue will be a matter for the council’s cabinet.”