COUNCILLORS on Teesside fear a Government funding deficit will hit residents with unreasonable council tax rises and cuts in services.

East Cleveland councillors will take a deputation to Whitehall in an all-party plea aimed at striking a better deal for the Tees Valley.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has called on Redcar MP Vera Baird and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Dr Ashok Kumar, to send out a strong message to the Government.

Councillors believe the borough has been "stabbed in the back" with a funding gap and will take their plight to Local Government Minister Phil Woolas in a New Year delegation.

The council's cabinet member for corporate resources, Councillor Glyn Nightingale, warned the borough's problems would come with an estimated £3m shortfall in budget expectations.

The two Labour MPs are invited to join the council's cabinet member for children's services, Councillor Valerie Halton, Labour opposition group spokesman on finance, Councillor Norman Davies, chief executive Colin Moore and director of finance and procurement Ray Richardson, for the meeting on Tuesday, January 10, at the offices of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Coun Nightingale believes Tees Valley councils have been badly let down by a funding gap that totals £1.2 billion nationwide.

The council is furious at what it says is a £1.5m funding cut from a miscalculation in population estimates.

And the council is facing another £1.8m shortfall because of manipulation by the Government to subsidise financial shortfalls for councils in the South East.

He said: "North-East councils have been stabbed in the back.

"This is an area that has given strong electoral support to the Labour Government, but it is appalling that the Government is taking money from our area to subsidise prosperous areas in London and the south of England through what it calls the 'damping mechanism'.

"Redcar and Cleveland council cannot sit back and let this happen without sending a strong message to the government that the way they support the council is inadequate, irrational and has little basis in financial justice.

"We need to work hard to avoid the prospect of an unreasonable council tax rise and cuts in services."