Hartlepool ward budgets hailed a success

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A SCHEME to give councillors their own ward budgets has been hailed a success with dozens of projects receiving funding.

The Hartlepool Borough Council scheme, which sees all 33 councillors given £5,500 to distribute, aims to address specific resident and ward issues.

It was introduced to replace the former minor works budget and Mayor Stuart Drummond believes it has been a “success”.

So far, £107,432 out of the total budget of £181,500 has been allocated for about 65 projects and money not awarded this year can be rolled over into the next financial year.

The money has been spent on a variety of schemes including work to community buildings, environmental and horticultural schemes, training programmes and traffic-related projects.

Mayor Drummond discussed the scheme at his regeneration and neighbourhoods portfolio meeting.

Some members have chosen specific schemes while there has also been examples of collaborative working including the Easington Road roundabout scheme, which saw councillors from De Bruce and Hart wards working together to improve the general appearance of the area.

There was also a community transport project to help fund the running of a community bus through the Rural West, Jesmond, Victoria and Headland and Harbour wards after public transport routes were withdrawn.

Plus a town-wide environmental apprenticeship scheme which helped create 15 apprenticeships within the council’s environmental teams.

Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The allocations on the whole has been welcome and beneficial to the councillors.”

Mrs Ogden added: “As mayor this was something you fought for a long time.”

Mayor Drummond said: “Looking at the number of projects through it shows it has been a success.

“This is money that many of those groups or organisations would not have got.”

Next year the ward budget would be reduced from £5,500 to £5,000.

Labour councillor Kevin Cranney, who was also at the meeting, said: “It has been an excellent scheme.

“It has been excellent for engaging with local residents.”

All funding is approved by senior council officers.