Hartlepool councillors set to discuss latest multi-million pound budget cuts

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

SENIOR Hartlepool councillors will meet tomorrow to discuss the latest round of budget cuts as the local authority looks to make millions of pounds of savings.

Hartlepool Borough Council was facing a gross budget deficit of £8.5m for the 2014-15 financial year, but finance chiefs have reduced that to £4.594m without any impact on services through using one-off factors including uncommitted resources, public health funding and ICT savings.

But that still leaves £4.5m of permanent cuts that need to be made from the chief executive’s department, regeneration and neighbourhoods and child and adult services department.

The round of talks begins tomorrow with a meeting of the finance and policy committee at 9.30am at the Civic Centre, which will discuss plans to make £457,000 of savings from the chief executive’s department and £575,000 from the regeneration and neighbourhoods department.

Proposals include deleting vacant posts and not filling temporary posts, potentially leasing the Bryan Hanson House building and reducing overheads.

By 2016-17, the council will need to make permanent budget cuts of around £16.2m, which is less than the original forecast of £19.4m, as a result of one-off resources used to support the budget.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be followed by meetings of the regeneration services committee on Thursday, August 29 at 9.30am, the neighbourhood services committee on Monday, September 2 at 9.30am, the children’s services committee on Tuesday, September 3 at 4pm and the adult services committee on Monday, September 9 at 10am at the Civic Centre.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, who said each committee will consider a series of proposals specific to their budget areas, added: “I would invite people to come along and listen to the committee’s discussions, and there will also be opportunities for them to speak.”

Feedback will then be presented to a meeting of the finance and policy committee on September 19 before a detailed set of budget proposals goes before the same committee on November 29 and full council early in 2014.