Hart ward councillors want to use unspent money to create new apprenticeships

Hart ward councillor Paul Beck at the Clavering Skatepark
Hart ward councillor Paul Beck at the Clavering Skatepark

WARD councillors have welcomed proposals to reallocate unspent money to help benefit residents and hope to see it used to create new apprenticeships.

It comes after Putting Hartlepool First councillor David Riddle, who represents the Hart Ward, called for council chiefs to divide £10,500 of unused funding to the benefit of residents.

Each councillor in Hartlepool is given a ward budget of around £5,000 to spend on worthy causes but former independent councillor Keith Fisher, who lost the Hart ward seat to Coun Riddle, hadn’t spent any of his allocation in the last two financial years.

That led Coun Riddle to call for the £10,500 to be equally divided between himself and Hart ward colleagues, Paul Beck and Jean Robinson, of Labour.

Coun Riddle had initially proposed a motion with the aim of it being discussed by full council but it is now set to go to the finance and policy committee in June.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher has supported the principle that Hart residents should not be disadvantaged from the benefits of the ward member budgets not used by a former councillor.

Now Coun Beck and Coun Robinson have welcomed Coun Akers-Belcher’s support in principle to re-allocate the unspent money and they want to see the money used to create two new apprentice posts.

Coun Beck said: “It’s excellent for the Hart Ward residents to receive this support from the council to ensure that they are not disadvantaged as a result of the previous underspends in the Hart ward member budgets.”

Both Coun Beck and Coun Robinson have told the Mail they would like to see the money used to benefit the ward as a whole and will therefore be suggesting to the council’s finance and policy committee that the money could be used to fund a further two environmental apprenticeships.

They say this would help to address concerns expressed about litter and the need to maintain a “cleaner, greener environment”, while it would also create two employment opportunities.

Coun Robinson added: “It is imperative that we respond to the needs of our residents and I sincerely hope that the council’s finance and policy committee will support the initiative, which will complement the ongoing work to tackle and prevent environmental crime.”

Coun Riddle said his proposal would “ensure fairness, balance and equality” to Hart residents.

Mr Fisher told the Mail the money was not his but ‘belonged to the people of Hart’ and he stressed he’d earmarked it for a potential judicial review if the decision was ever taken to place a potential gypsy and traveller site in the ward again.