Council looks to release Civic Lottery Funding for Hartlepool events programme

The then Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor Paul Beck with the Mayoress and wife Mary with actor Adam Thomas after they switched on the Christmas lights last year.
The then Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor Paul Beck with the Mayoress and wife Mary with actor Adam Thomas after they switched on the Christmas lights last year.

Council bosses are looking to use money from its £412,000 Civic Lottery Fund to help deliver its cultural events programme for the next five years.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s finance and policy committee is to decide whether to endorse the plan to release the funds for events in the area which could be ‘at risk’ if more money is not found.

Christmas lights switch on last year.

Christmas lights switch on last year.

The move would also see the gradual reduction in ward-member budget top-ups until they stop in 2021.

Historically the council has held the Civic Lottery Fund capital in trust and only utilised the interest, as previously use was restricted by the Secretary of State.

However this has since changed and now council chiefs want to use the fund to contribute towards staff costs and the delivery of the events programme over the next five years.

In previous years the interest was used to “top-up” the existing ward member budgets by £500 per member, but it is proposed to utilise the capital for the events programme.

Denise Ogden.

Denise Ogden.

As the focus of the Civic Lottery Fund gradually shifts, it will provide ward member budget top-ups of £300 in 2019/20 and £200 in 2020/21, after which no more will take place.

A council report claims the current events budget is ‘insufficient’ and events are dependent upon external grants which can not be relied upon for the next five years.

The report by Denise Ogden, council director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The council has recognised that for Hartlepool to continue to grow in terms of its visitor attractions, there is a need to invest in the current events programme as part of its regeneration ambition.

“It is commonly understood that well organised cultural events create economic benefits and attract visitors, which stimulates the growth of tourism and other businesses in the local area.

The Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor Paul Beck with actor Adam Thomas before they switched on the Christmas lights last year.

The Mayor of Hartlepool Councillor Paul Beck with actor Adam Thomas before they switched on the Christmas lights last year.

“The social benefits of cultural events are less visible, but they are just as important.

“Events attract visitors and visitors spend money, which boosts the local economy both on and off the event site.

“Not identifying additional funding required to deliver the service would put at risk the delivery of the cultural services and events programme over the next five years.”

The council categorizes events into three sections, the most prevalent of those being large scale events organised by its cultural events team such as the Fireworks and the Christmas Light Switch On.

The second type of events, are community-based events aimed at promoting resident involvement and cohesion, which are supported by the council.

In addition to this there are events that are operated by external bodies and individuals that the council may or may not have an involvement, like the Wintertide Festival.

Along with the organising and funding of events, council bosses said the development of a marketing strategy and action plan and additional staff resource is essential.

The report also states over the next five years there will be some changes required to existing staff responsibilities.

It is recommended the finance and policy committee approve the plans at its meeting at 10am on Monday, October 29, at the Civic Centre.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service