COUNCILLORS in Darlington have agreed millions of pounds of cuts to services and facilities, including the loss of the town’s Arts Centre, as they confirmed the budget for the coming year.
The leader of Darlington Borough Council, Bill Dixon, spoke of his regret at having to make the cuts, as opposition councillors accused the ruling-Labour party of 19 years of over-spending and financial mismanagement.
Among the cuts agreed by full council last night were:
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- Darlington Arts Centre will close, as proposed, in July. The building is up for sale.
- At least 155 staff will be made redundant, mostly compulsory redundancies from the Arts Centre.
- Council tax will increase by 3.5 per cent each year for the next four years. The council rejected an offer of a council tax freeze from the government on the grounds that it would force them to make even deeper cuts next year.
-Parking charges for onstreet parking will be introduced on Sundays at a charge of 50p for every 30 minutes.
-Fees for residents' parking permits will increase from £25 to £50 per annum over the next three years.
-Introduction of a £5 per day waiver to allow trades people and builders to park a vehicle on yellow lines while working.
-The budget for the Connexions service, which works with 12-19-year-olds, will be reduced by £127,000.
-Rent subsidies for the Darlington Association on Disability base in the Market Place will be withdrawn over four years.
Durham Police has stepped in to offer funding for 18 CCTV cameras in outlying areas of the town. 19 others will be switched off from April 1.