Decision on surplus cash

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

A PLAN for every councillor to decide how surplus money is allocated has been approved.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee currently decides how any “favourable outturns” are allocated at the end of the financial year.

A favourable outturn is money that has been budgeted for but not spent.

Finance chiefs are forecasting a net underspend of £4m this year as a result of “robust” management of budgets, “good house keeping”, holding posts vacant and benefits from temporary interest savings on the council’s borrowings.

The cabinet has proposed that money is put towards supporting future budgets, as previously reported.

But a motion at Thursday’s full council meeting means in future it will be up to full council to decide how the money is allocated.

That was despite calls from Mayor Stuart Drummond who said: “If it ain’t broke, then why fix it?”

The cabinet committee, chaired by Mayor Drummond, has used the current system for the past 10 years.

Labour councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher put forward the motion: “This council resolves to amend Section 4 of the council’s constitution and record within their annual budget and policy framework that any favourable outturn must be allocated to the council’s general fund.

“This will ensure that any further allocation of the said monies is subject to full council approval”.

It was signed by Coun Akers-Belcher and fellow Labour councillors Trisha Lawton, Allan Barclay, Peter Ingham and Marjorie James.

Mayor Drummond said: “We have been working with this system for 10 years.

“Thanks to excellent budget management from all of our officers we have had a favourable outturn and come in under budget.”

He added that people realise the importance of saving every penny possible.

Mayor Drummond added: “It is in the cabinet’s gift to decide where that goes and then it comes to council for approval.

“I don’t see the point of this motion.”