£600k budget savings

COUNCILLORS have rubber-stamped proposals to slash £600,000 from a council’s budget – but key services such as noise and pest control have been safeguarded.

The cuts relate to Hartlepool Borough Council’s regeneration and planning division which has been restructured in a bid to make savings.

But front-line services such as the out of hours noise and pest control teams have not been affected in this round of cuts.

Instead officers have made savings worth £614,000 after a “back-office” restructure.

Part of that has been achieved by cutting £95,000 from the housing services budget, which officers say will result in some redundancies.

But the bulk of the savings, around £450,000, is coming from job cuts to the economic development, regeneration, planning service and building regulation teams.

The cuts will result in the loss of one manager’s post, job cuts in economic development and two posts axed at the Enterprise Centre.

A report to councillors said: “It is proposed economic development will undertake a restructure that will entail some reduction in posts and some reduction in hours for one post.”

Planning policy is to be merged with planning services with the loss of one job and there will also be one job cut in building control.

Meanwhile, £50,000 has already been saved after the assistant director (community safety and protection) post was deleted.

It comes as the local authority needs to cut £15m from its £90m budget over the next three years.

Senior councillors on the cabinet committee met at the Civic Centre yesterday to agree the proposals put forward by officers.

Dave Stubbs, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “Public protection is not being touched.

“We have looked at everything when considering this and we think we can find the savings without affecting the front-line services.”

Labour councillor Ged Hall said he was pleased those front-line services were being “preserved”

Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “Every time we talk about the budget we talk about the scale of the cuts.

“It is inevitable that people will lose their jobs and there will be services affected and that is not something that we take lightly.

“But to come up with solutions like this that protect as many services as we can then our hats should go off to everybody involved.”

The council needs to make cuts of £14.7m from its £90m budget by March 2014.

Mayor Drummond added: “We have always said that if we can bring forward savings then that is what we would endeavour to do – to implement these savings ahead of next year’s budget process.”