Hartlepool garden centre under threat in council review

Inspirations Garden Centre Tanfield Road, Hartlepool Picture by FRANK REID
Inspirations Garden Centre Tanfield Road, Hartlepool Picture by FRANK REID

The future of a council-run garden centre is in doubt as the authority carries out a review of all its trading activities.

Inspirations Garden Centre, in Tanfield Road, Hartlepool, is under review by Hartlepool Borough Council in the light of ongoing financial pressures.

Former Inspirations Coffee House

Former Inspirations Coffee House

The council says it is currently reviewing all of its trading activities ahead of a report to its finance committee.

A council spokesman said: “The council is currently carrying out a review of all trading activities, including Inspirations Garden Centre.

“Once the review is concluded, a report will go to a meeting of the Finance and Policy Committee, making recommendations for the future.

“At this stage, it is important to note that no decisions have been taken.”

It comes after the adjacent Inspirations Coffee House in the former Stranton Cemetery lodge closed at the end of March after failing to make a profit.

The coffee shop was a key part of the Inspirations Garden Centre development and the council’s strategy to generate more income in the face of Government funding cuts.

But including start up costs, it made a loss of more than £300,000 in three years.

In July, the Finance and Policy Committee decided to look for a new operator to run the cafe at Summerhill Country Park, which had been run in-house by the council for the last year.

But in that time it made an overall loss of £5,347, mainly due to staff costs.

The council will initially look for not-for-profit organisations or charities to be in place from next spring.

Should that not prove financially viable, the cafe will be put out to open tender.

The council says it is facing an overall £11m deficit in its budget over the next two financial years.