Council to look at bringing in car parking charges for councillors at Hartlepool Civic Centre
Council bosses are to discuss implementing car parking charges for councillors at the Civic Centre and removing ward member budgets as part of a financial review.
The moves come as part of review of civic expenditure by Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs in a bid to reduce the planned use of reserves.
Currently there are 23 councillors registered to park in the underground car park at the Civic Centre, with 12 bays allocated for members and no charge in place.
Council bosses are considering implementing an annual charge of £116 for each of the 23 registered members to cover the estimated £2,664 car parking income for the bays.
The review could also see the gradual removal of ward member budgets over the next year, which are used by councillors to fund a variety of projects in their areas.
These include works to community buildings, environmental schemes, highway and traffic schemes and community events.
The funds to be shared across ward member budgets for 2019/2020 has already been reduced to £66,000 after the council agreed to remove Civic Lottery funding allocated each year to the budget.
The plans laid out will involved ending ward member budgets from 2020/21 in order to allow members to honour commitments for 2019/20.
If members determine to remove ward member budgets the £66,000 annual revenue could be used to support one off prudential borrowing of £1.5million to contribute towards the council’s overall capital programme.
A joint report from council chief solicitor Hayley Martin and director of regeneration and neighbourhoods Denise Ogden states the new funding from both schemes would help boost the council budget.
It said: “Based on the existing annual staff parking charge the income foregone for the 12 allocated bays is £2,664.
“To recover this amount from the 23 members registered the annual charge would be £116.
“There is wide variation in the pattern of spending across ward member budgets and it has been an area which has been consistently underspent overall.
“Members may wish to consider further enhancing the council’s strategic capital planning approach by ending ward member budgets from 2020/21 onwards and utilising the funding to prudentially borrow.
“Contributing towards the council’s overall capital programme will enhance the progress and delivery of the council’s ambitions for the town as reflected in the council plan.”
Since 2012/13 funding of £938,453 has been approved and committed to projects across the town from the ward member budgets, and as of January this year £34,957 was carried forward unspent.
In 2017 councillors previously agreed to reduce ward member budgets to enable the lifeguard service to be protected and at the same time a Neighbourhood Improvement Capital Programme was created to fund improvement schemes within wards.
A decision will be made on whether to implement the recommendations at the finance and policy committee meeting at the Civic Centre on Monday from 10am.
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service