Hartlepool Council team to move out of community office to cut costs

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A COUNCIL is looking to relocate its neighbourhood management service from a community office into its main headquarters in a bid to reduce running costs.

Hartlepool Borough Council is proposing to move staff from 173 York Road into the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road, after the decision by Cleveland Police to pull funding and staff from the building.

Police chiefs argued last November’s decision to relocate officers into Hartlepool Police’s Avenue Road headquarters was the best use of resources, but the York Road running costs had been shared between the council and police which led the local authority needing to find other tenants to move in.

That has not been possible and the council is now proposing to move its neighbourhood management staff into the Civic Centre alongside the community regeneration and development team and give up the lease for the building.

Since the neighbourhood police team relocated, two anti-social behaviour officers, a victim services officer, two neighbourhood development officers, the south and central neighbourhood manager and two administration officers were left in York Road.

Senior officers have warned the relocation will mean a “reduced service” in terms of accessibility so a review of the neighbourhood management strategy will be carried out. Councillors on the neighbourhood services committee are set to meet next week to discuss the proposals.

The 2013-14 budget for running 173 York Road is £32,000 and finance chiefs say the loss of Cleveland Police funding has resulted in a loss to the council’s central property budget of £14,000.

Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said in a report said: “A number of options have been considered to cover the shortfall in finances in relation to the running costs of York Road unfortunately they have proved unsuccessful.

“The council’s aim is to maximise its assets and rationalise property to reduce running costs.”

The report added York Road has been recognised nationally and locally as a “highly successful and effective mechanism” for engaging with communities.

Councillors on the committee are asked to endorse the officer recommendation to re-locate the service at next week’s meeting.

The committee meets Monday, January 20, at 9.30am at the Civic Centre.