Arts, sports and parks in Darlington under threat of axe

Arts, sports and parks in Darlington under threat of axe

ARTS venues, sports centres and parks in Darlington face potential closure because of funding cuts, the council has warned.

People wishing to support services and groups are advised to establish friends groups to raise funds.

The warning has been made in Darlington Borough Council’s Town Crier magazine, updating the public of the latest in the council cuts.

The council must find £22m worth of savings within four years out of £107m of its controllable budget.

Last week, the cabinet group of senior Labour councillors agreed the first £1.2m – however, £11m must be found in the first year.

The update in Town Crier warned that services could be reduced and council buildings, including arts and sports venues, green spaces and parks, faced closure.

The council said yesterday nothing had been decided but all options were being investigated.

Councillor Stephen Harker, cabinet member for health and leisure, said: “While we were given no time to consult on initial cuts, wider consultation will take place on budget planning over the coming year.

“There will be a reduction in a wide range of services as well as the potential closure of some council buildings, but no decisions have been made as yet.”

Conservative leader Councillor Heather Scott said: “Friends groups to support parks are a very good idea. It helps people to look after them.”

A friends group was formed to protect The Forum, a private venture which initially faced closure next month because it had failed to secure an £80,000 unsecured loan from the council) Coun Scott said: “We have to look very seriously at all services that we provide. It is the main services that we have to protect as much as we can.”

Councillor Mike Barker, Liberal Democrat member of the cabinet group, said it was sensible to look at all options to save money.

He said: “The important thing is that, unlike the first wave of cuts that were introduced last week, the proposals need to be made and then put into the public domain as quickly as possible for a proper consultation.”

The annual budget for culture and leisure, the department responsible for venues such as Eastbourne Sports Complex, the Dolphin Centre and Stressholme Golf Centre, as well as the Arts Centre and Civic Theatre, is £8.6m.

Figures for the theatre, which were discussed by the council in January, showed that the annual net expenditure was £596,637.

Source: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/darlington/8314406.Arts__sports_and_parks_under_threat_of_axe/

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