Council-run Inspirations Garden Centre faces axe as part of £2.7million cuts

Inspirations Garden Centre Tanfield Road, Hartlepool Picture by FRANK REID
Inspirations Garden Centre Tanfield Road, Hartlepool Picture by FRANK REID

A council-run garden centre looks set to close as part of a further package of cuts totalling £2.7million.

The Mail reported in September how the Inspirations Garden Centre, in Tanfield Road, Hartlepool, was under review by Hartlepool Borough Council in the light of ongoing financial pressures.

InspIrations Coffe House

InspIrations Coffe House

Members of the council’s Finance and Policy Committee supported its closure to pave the way for the site to be redeveloped.

A council spokesman said: “It is proposed that Inspirations Garden Centre is closed as despite officers’ best efforts to address the financial performance of this facility it continues to operate at a loss. It has also not been possible to secure an alternative provider to run the café.

“Closure of the garden centre will enable the council to market this site for redevelopment, including the Cemetery Lodge and Car Park.

“Seeking an alternative use for the site will benefit the council financially and the wider community.

“A further report on the development opportunities will be brought to a future meeting.”

It follows the closure of the Inspirations Coffee Shop within the former Stranton Cemetery at the end of March after failing to make a profit.

The coffee house, which cost £280,000 to launch, made a loss of £30,000 in its first year, a £22,000 loss in 2015-15, and £25,000 last year.

Despite efforts to increase profitability, it was projected to lose £15,000 or at best break even for the last financial year.

No intended date has been given for the closure of the garden centre.

The planned closure of Inspirations Garden Centre was included as part of departmental savings proposals totalling £2,713,000 for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

New corporate savings for the years 2018-19 and 2019-20 of £679,000 were also supported by the finance committee.

Over the last few months council committees have been considering where additional savings £2.3m can be found from their of 2018-19 and 2019-20 budgets without harming frontline services.

A report of the council’s Corporate Management Team stated: “The additional savings considered by individual Policy Committees will enable a balanced budget to be set for 2018/19 and reduce the current forecast 2019/20 deficit to £1.363m”.

All councillors will be asked to give their final approval to the proposals at the next Full Council meeting on Thursday, December 14.