Saved! – Hartlepool Council shelve plans to scrap lifeguards and lollipop crossings

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CONTROVERSIAL cost-cutting measures which would have put the safety of hundreds of town youngsters at risk are set to be shelved.

Faced with the prospect of making cuts to the tune of £14m over the next two years, Hartlepool Borough Council was considering axing the lifeguard service and school crossing patrols.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Hartlepool Civic Centre.

The withdrawal of the lifeguards, which covers Seaton Carew and the Headland between May and the beginning of September, could save the council £75,000.

Around £120,000 would also have been saved by removing lollipop men and women from schools across the town.

The plans were thrown out by the local authority’s Neighbourhood Services policy committee, and referred to the Finance & Policy committee to make a final decision.

But at a meeting scheduled to take place next week, councillors will hear that both the lifeguard and crossing patrols could be secured for the next two years.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of Hartlepool Council, said: “I have been working with the Corporate Management team to safeguard both school crossing patrols and the lifeguard service.

“Each and every year the budget process involves a range of recommendations from officers of the council, but it is members who make the decisions and set the council budget.

“This year suggested cuts for next year included School Crossing Patrols and the Lifeguard service but the Neighbourhood Services policy committee, chaired by Councillor Peter Jackson rejected the proposal and referred it to the Finance & Policy Committee for a solution.”

The proposals sparked outrage from councillors who were opposed to the plans.

The council leader has been in discussions with the local authority’s chief finance officer Chris Little and chief executive Dave Stubbs to come up with a solution using budget reserves.

He added: “This will safeguard school crossing patrols and the lifeguard service for not one but for the next two years.

“I believe the solution to be presented at Monday’s committee will fulfil the commitment given under the new governance arrangements whereby the council will make decisions that resonate with public expectations.”

The meeting will take place in the Civic Centre on Monday, September 15, at 9.30am.