Hartlepool Council’s unspent cash to go on apprenticeships, war tribute and a greenhouse

David Riddle
David Riddle

COUNCILLORS have decided how unspent council money will be used to help benefit residents.

Previously unallocated funding will be used to create environmental apprenticeship posts, a stained glass window tribute to commemorate those who have lost their lives in war and towards a new greenhouse to help dementia patients.

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 in May, 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.

There was also £8,300 of unused ward member budget money from the Seaton ward to be reallocated after members of the finance and policy committee, chaired by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, backed plans at a recent meeting.

At a full council meeting, councillors then approved the proposal to allocate the unused ward member budgets for the Hart Ward of £10,500 and the Seaton Ward of £8,300 for use by the current ward councillors for these areas to “support projects which meet the existing criteria for using ward member budgets”.

Coun Riddle asked full council whether it was still the plan to split the money between the current ward councillors, which was confirmed by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Councillors in the Hart Ward have decided how that funding will be used.

Coun Akers-Belcher confirmed that Coun Beck and Coun Robinson wanted to use their allocation towards creating new apprentice posts within the ward.

Coun Riddle then stood up and confirmed he planned to use his allocation towards a greenhouse at Hartfields Retirement Village to help people with dementia, while he would also use some funding towards a stained glass window in tribute to fallen war heroes.

Coun Riddle said: “This money has been put to good use by members in the council chamber.”

Mr Fisher has previously 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.