Budget cuts D-day for vital Hartlepool services

IMPACT: Keith Bayley, manager of the Hartlepool Volunteer Development Agency.
IMPACT: Keith Bayley, manager of the Hartlepool Volunteer Development Agency.

A FINAL decision is set to be made on the financial fate of vital services in Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Finance and Policy Committee approved budget cuts for voluntary community sector groups in the town worth £120,000 at a meeting on November 24.

But a final decision on the cuts – which could potentially force some services to crumble – will be made at a meeting of the Full Council at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, tonight.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “This proposal was approved as part of the package of budget cuts at Finance and Policy Committee on November 24.

“A final decision will not be made however until the meeting of the Full Council on December 18.”

The funding axe was suggested as a council bid to balance its books after the Government shrunk its budget by 40 per cent, forcing it to find savings of £7.4m for the financial year 2015/16.

But the news comes as a major blow to town organisations which support hundreds of people who rely on the services.

Keith Bayley, manager at Hartlepool Voluntary Development Association (HVDA) which supports VCS groups throughout the town, said: “This needs to be given more consideration because of the impact that is going to be caused on these services.”

Grants of between £4,000 and £10,000 from the Community Pool budget were handed out to nine town groups in the 2014/15.

The Hartlepool services which received money in the 2014/15 pot of cash were Hartlepool PATCH which received £10,000, and The People’s Centre, in Raby Road, which also received £10,000.

Others were Making a Difference which got £10,000, Hart Gables which was rewarded £9,950.04, the Salaam Community Centre which got £9,888, Hartlepool Mind with £8,719, West View Project which received £6,195, Hartlepool Foodbank which was granted £5,518.46 and Epilepsy Outlook which got £4,729.50.

At a subsequent council meeting in May, councillors also approved an additional one-off contribution of £21,143 to the Community Pool programme, out of which Hartlepool Foodbank received a further £2,111, Age UK Teesside received £9,032, and Hartlepool Access Group received £10,000 for its Shopmobility scheme.