Council staff going private

COUNCIL staff are doing private jobs such as cleaning guttering and fitting TV aerials as bosses look at ways to make money.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s public lighting section is now available to carry out works for the general public as part of plans to deal with stringent Government cuts.

The skilled team is responsible for looking after the town’s street lights and other electrical installations on the public highway.

But they are now branching out, with a roofing boss saying it will create more competition for businesses in the town.

Rob Daley, the council’s street lighting/highways co-ordinator, said: “In the current economic climate, the council is having to explore new ways of working and we are now extending our services to local residents.

“We have a highly-skilled and motivated team and are able to undertake a wide range of electrical installation work for the general public. This includes fitting TV aerials, outside security lights, internal and external plug sockets and electrical installations.”

The team also has a cherry picker, a high raising work platform, which is available for hire and comes complete with a trained operator.

It is said to be ideal for hard to reach jobs, such as cleaning out or repairing guttering, painting and loose tiles.

Roy O’Connor, who runs O’Connor Roofing, based in Tofts Road East, said: “This will make more competition in the town, but I think it’s fair enough.

“The budgets are so tight and jobs are being lost, so they have to look at a way of keeping people busy.

“It will keep people employed, which can only be a good thing.

“There are sure to be firms in the town that it has an impact on, but that’s business and we just have to try harder. There’s no point whinging about it.”

The move comes after the council’s ecology department opened itself up to private and public clients outside the authority.

The service is available for all ecological work outside the borough of Hartlepool and for any work within the borough which does not require planning permission.

One of the service’s specialisms is giving advice on protected species. Other areas of expertise include mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.

The council has also out-sourced some media relations work after the team was told to save £27,000 during the last budget process.