THIS week ten years ago, the full extent of the Government’s spending cuts were revealed as North-East councils were ordered to find £200m of savings.

The Northern Echo:

The region’s councils were to have their Government grant cut by an average of 6.64 per cent, while some local authorities in the south would largely escape the pain.

Town hall bosses reeling from the settlement were given accounting advice by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

The Northern Echo:

He said they should merge departments with neighbouring councils, rather than slashing front line services, such as closing libraries.

He spoke out before revealing that the region’s 18 authorities would have to find savings of £204.1m next year.

Also that week, controversial plans to build a £1.4bn waste incinerator were approved by councillors under the watchful eyes of police.

The Northern Echo:

Extra security measures were in place for the meeting of North Yorkshire County Council, after threatening letters were sent to councillors, and in anticipation of the large turnout of protestors.

Police stood outside County Hall, Northallerton, while council security staff stood in the council chamber.

The Northern Echo:

About 90 members of North Yorkshire Waste Action Group chanted and waved signs outside, led by chairman Steve Wright.

Meanwhile, doctors warned that Britain was facing a major health alert as 11 people in the region were confirmed critically ill with swine flu.

Medical experts were concerned because the return of swine flu had coincided with a drop in the number of people taking free vaccinations – down by 15 per cent in October.

About a million people in the North-East were entitled to the vaccination, which protects against swine flu.

Although the previous year’s swine flu pandemic was officially over, H1N1 was still circulating in the population, along with other flu viruses.

Some of the victims fighting for their lives in the North-East have existing medical conditions.