Two cafes to close in Hartlepool within weeks, with eight jobs at risk

editorial image

TWO council-run cafes are to close next month with eight jobs at risk, it has been confirmed.

Hartlepool Borough Council has confirmed the cafe inside the Central Library, in York Road, and the Art Gallery Cafe, at Christ Church, will close on Saturday, December 21, as a result of budget pressures.

Instead, vending machines and areas for customers to sit will be provided at the two sites.

The news was confirmed to councillors at a meeting of the finance and policy committee.

Officers confirmed eight members of staff are at risk, although there has been one expression for voluntary redundancy.

Redeployment opportunities in other areas of the council have been offered to those affected, but senior officers say so far none of the staff have opted for that and are currently faced with being made redundant.

Andrew Atkin, the council’s assistant chief executive, said other opportunities are available but it is whether the affected staff want to take them.

A council report added: “Closing the outlets will result in reduction of existing staffing levels.

“However, every effort would be made to find alternative positions of employment with the facilities management school catering and building cleaning sections.”

Councillors had originally met in September to discuss the catering service provided by the local authority at the sites.

At a meeting it was decided that the Wingfield Castle Coffee Shop at Hartlepool Maritime Experience will continue to operate as normal.

But its long-term future is still in doubt as it will be included as part of a wider council feasibility study of the attraction to try and generate more income.

Following the meeting, officers had explored the possibility of another provider running the Central Library cafe through a Community Interest Company (CIC).

Consultations were carried out with staff and trade unions in relation to the closure of the cafes and the potential of a CIC, but staff were very clear this was not an option that “they wished to pursue”.

There had been two enquiries from external organisations about operating the cafe but no “firm expressions” were received by officers.

The council says that despite ploughing £23,000 into running the three coffee shops at the library, art gallery and Wingfield Castle, they all fail to make a profit and face increasing competition from private companies.