Unspent Hartlepool Council money to be spent in communities

Hart ward councillor Paul Beck at the Clavering Skatepark
Hart ward councillor Paul Beck at the Clavering Skatepark

PLANS to reallocate unspent council money to help benefit residents are set to be confirmed tonight after senior councillors backed the plans.

It comes after Putting Hartlepool First councillor David Riddle, who represents the Hart Ward, called for council chiefs to divide £10,500 of unused funding to the benefit of residents.

Each councillor in Hartlepool is given a ward budget of around £5,000 to spend on worthy causes but former independent councillor Keith Fisher, who lost the Hart ward seat to Coun Riddle in May, hadn’t spent any of his allocation in the last two financial years.

That led Coun Riddle to call for the £10,500 to be equally divided between himself and Hart ward colleagues, Paul Beck and Jean Robinson, of Labour.

There is also £8,300 of unused ward member budget money from the Seaton ward that is also set to be reallocated after members of the finance and policy committee, chaired by council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, backed plans at a meeting on Monday.

The proposal will now go before the full council tonight as part of the latest budget reports but it is yet to be decided what the funding will be used for.

At the finance meeting Coun Beck again called for the money to be used to create new apprentice posts within the ward.

Coun Beck said: “Both me and Jean Robinson believe this money should be put towards environmental apprenticeship post - that would be good for everyone.”

A full council report said members are asked to approve the proposal to allocate the unused ward member budgets for the Hart Ward of £10,500 and the Seaton Ward of £8,300 for use by the current ward councillors for these areas to “support projects which meet the existing criteria for using ward member budgets”.

Mr Fisher has previously told the Mail the money was not his but ‘belonged to the people of Hart’ and he stressed he’d earmarked it for a potential judicial review if the decision was ever taken to place a potential gypsy and traveller site in the ward again.

The full council meeting takes place at 7pm in the council chamber at the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.