Hartlepool Labour councillors get support for funding fight from shadow minister after virtual meeting

Hartlepool Labour councillors held a virtual meeting with a senior Westminster figure to discuss the need for greater council funding.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 1:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 3:23 pm
Labour councillors Brenda Harrison, Jonathan Brash, Amy Prince, Tom Feeney and Pamela Hargreaves took part in a Zoom call with Shadow Local Government minister Steve Reed MP.

A number of councillors took part a Zoom meeting with MP Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government, to talk about government funding amid council tax hikes and fears of cuts to local services.

A meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council full council earlier this month approved a core council tax rise of 1.9%, along with a 3% increase in the adult social care precept, for the 2022-23 financial year.

Councillors from across political parties in Hartlepool said they felt "sick" when they started to consider cuts they will have to make to balance the budget.

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Hartlepool Borough Council is looking at how to balance the budget amid funding deficits.

Cllr Brenda Harrison Labour group leader on the council, said: “I would like to thank Mr Reed for meeting with us and for discussing the serious issues facing Hartlepool.

"It was very clear that he recognises how unfairly Hartlepool is being treated and the damage that Conservative cuts are doing to our town and its people.

“We are grateful for his support.”

The council currently faces a cumulative deficit of £11.435million for the years 2022/23 to 2024/25, reduced to £7.5million after the council tax increase.

Labour say council tax is now equivalent to 9% of the average salary in Hartlepool, compared to only 2% in more affluent areas like Kensington in London.

Cllr Jonathan Brash, Labour’s deputy leader, said the inequality was a “scandal” and called on Conservative Hartlepool MP Jill Mortimer to do more.

He added: "We are really grateful to Mr Reed for his advice and support, and we hope to work together closely going forward.”

Hartlepool council leader Councillor Shane Moore has said council tax is a “broken system” and that the authority is continuing to lobby the Government for more funding.

A planned trip by councillors to Westminster on the issue had to be postponed last week after meetings with ministers could not be set up in time.

It is now due to go ahead early next year.

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