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Frequently Asked Questions

This page will be updated throughout the consultation period.

All the books from the library / libraries won’t fit in the Dolphin Centre.

All the books from the library / libraries won’t fit in the Dolphin Centre. The proposed public floor space in the Dolphin Centre is comparable to what we have now at Crown Street and we will provide appropriate storage for the books not on display. 

Are you any further forward in identifying where the borough collection and archives are going to be stored?

Are you any further forward in identifying where the borough collection and archives are going to be stored? Further work is taking place with regard to suitable and appropriate locations for storing the Borough Collection and Archive.  However our working assumption is that they can be accommodated within the Dolphin Centre and other Council buildings.  

Can you clarify the costs of the remodelled Dolphin Centre? On your website it says £779k , but in the One Darlington magazine (March) p.22, it says £1.7million, which is the correct figure please?

Can you clarify the costs of the remodelled Dolphin Centre? On your website it says £779k , but in the One Darlington magazine (March) p.22, it says £1.7million, which is the correct figure please? The estimated cost of relocation of the Library is £1.1m.  There is an additional amount included in the MTFP of £600,000 to replace plant and equipment in the Dolphin Centre which will be undertaken at the same time to remove the need for more interruption to provision at another time.  The £1.7m is to be funded by borrowing (subject to Local Authority rules). The repayment costs will be repaid from the gross relocation savings and are included before the net saving of £300,000. The £779,000 referred to on the website is the annual running costs for the remodelled Dolphin Centre. 

Could schools not fund crossing patrols?

Could schools not fund crossing patrols? Schools, like the Council, do not have a statutory requirement to provide a crossing patrol service. The Council has regular discussions with schools on a whole range of topics and we would expect the budget proposals will be raised again at future meetings.

Could we bring together the libraries and museums service for all five boroughs in the Tees Valley to form one service where perhaps economies of scale can be achieved?  This may be a way of saving the library service in Darlington and keeping the library at Crown Street.  The Head of Steam Museum could also be included in the service and linked to other museums in the Tees Valley.  Has this been explored and if it has not, can it perhaps be explored?

Could we bring together the libraries and museums service for all five boroughs in the Tees Valley to form one service where perhaps economies of scale can be achieved?  This may be a way of saving the library service in Darlington and keeping the library at Crown Street.  The Head of Steam Museum could also be included in the service and linked to other museums in the Tees Valley.  Has this been explored and if it has not, can it perhaps be explored? This has been looked at previously to some degree. The complexity is that libraries tend to be managed in different ways in different places – in some they are in education, some leisure, some culture. This makes the exercise of separating out costs and people much more complex and often there will be a raft of cross subsidy going on. There appears to be little appetite from other authorities at present and regrettably the timescale involved is impractical, as it would probably take a minimum of a year with uncertainty as to whether it could actually achieve the scale of savings we need.

Do Darlington Borough Council know what the covenant related to Crown Street Library said?

Do Darlington Borough Council know what the covenant related to Crown Street Library said? The library opened in 1885 following a bequest in the will of Edward Pease. Although we do not have the original records, it may well have been the case that the property was subject to a restrictive covenant. We understand that the deeds and documents were lost in or about March 1974, most probably during local government reorganisation with Durham County Council. In 1983 statutory declaration was made by a former Assistant Borough Solicitor about the loss of deeds that occurred in 1974. This indicated that in 1983 the property was thought to be subject to a restrictive covenant that it should be ‘used for purposes of a public library forever.  Land Registry records show the Council as the freehold owner, but there is reference made to lost deeds and documents and that restrictive covenants imposed before 9 September 2010 are still enforceable. If there is a restrictive covenant concerning the Crown Street Building this does not prevent the library service from relocating to another building. It could however restrict the future use of Crown Street although there are steps that can be taken to have any restrictive covenant discharged. A copy of the Statutory Declaration is available on the relateted proposal pages.

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the Dolphin Centre could be made sustainable, which includes an option that doesn't include re-locating the library? If not, why not?

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the Dolphin Centre could be made sustainable, which includes an option that doesn't include re-locating the library? If not, why not? The Dolphin Centre has been subject to a number of reviews leading to significant reductions in operating costs in previous budget rounds.   A full option appraisal was carried out in 2012 considering the establishment of a Trust, working with other Councils and the private sector and the result of this was to continue to operate in house and continue to look for other options to reduce net costs.

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the library service could be made sustainable? If not, why not?

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the library service could be made sustainable? If not, why not? In 2011/12, the Council did carry out an options appraisal for the Library service, which considered a number of proposals: 1)              Remaining in current location 2a)          Remaining in current location but half time at Cockerton 2b)         Close Cockerton and operate from Crown Street only 3a)          Keep Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to Central Hall 3b)         Close Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to Central Hall 4a)          Keep Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to the Town Hall 4b)         Close Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to the Town Hall Cabinet considered these options on 22 February 2012 and agreed to note budget reductions in the service of £242,000 through consolidation of management and operational restructure, reducing opening hours at Cockerton from 50 to 28, and further explore opportunities for savings beyond 2013/14.  The current approach adopted by Cabinet in responding to its financial challenge is to look at producing a core offer budget being what we believe to be a budget that meets our legal obligations, the Core Offer budget includes Crown Street library.  As part of Cabinet’s considerations of how to utilise the £2.5m futures fund they decided to include the Dolphin Centre.  The cost of the library and the Dolphin Centre overall could be reduced by £300,000 by relocating the library to the Dolphin Centre therefore this is judged to be the most cost effective model for the 2 services. In addition you will be aware we have worked with various organisations to try and deliver a volunteer based library service at Cockerton unfortunately without success.

Has the Council looked at ways buildings or services could be looked after by local groups?

Has the Council looked at ways buildings or services could be looked after by local groups? We appreciate that there might well be groups willing to take over running buildings or services. While it is important that they are aware of the costs and responsibilities they would take on, we would be very happy to receive proposals. Unfortunately the speed of the spending reductions mean that the Council does not have the time to work with groups over any length of time so proposals need to be firmed up quite soon. 

Have you had any more thoughts on the plans for the £50,000 for 'public sector volunteering'? 

Have you had any more thoughts on the plans for the £50,000 for 'public sector volunteering'?  We are currently working on this with partners in the Darlington Partnership We are looking at the services that could be valuably augmented with more volunteers, but there is a wide range, from litter picking to early help for parents. We would expect to have some ideas to share with the sector 

Have you undertaken an impact assessment of closing the mobile library service on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups? If yes, please can you provide a copy? If not, why not?

Have you undertaken an impact assessment of closing the mobile library service on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups? If yes, please can you provide a copy? If not, why not? An Impact Assessment will be carried out following the completion of the Library survey and will be available for Cabinet to consider prior to making any final decision on the Library Service.  

How are discussions going with the Pease family? Have they had chance to see if they have got a copy of the covenant?

How are discussions going with the Pease family? Have they had chance to see if they have got a copy of the covenant? We have contacted the Pease Family and they are reviewing their records to see if they have any documents that will be of assistance.

How much would it cost to save the library and the indoor market?

How much would it cost to save the library and the indoor market? The market is not under threat of closure, so there is no single figure available to save it. With input from traders, the Council is looking for a partner to invest in and improve the market. The relocation of the central library from Crown Street reduces spending by £300,000, so if the relocation does not happen the Council would need to find alternative savings to balance the budget.

How will you deal with increased litter/fly tipping?

How will you deal with increased litter/fly tipping? The Council has a legal duty to ensure as far as reasonably practical that footpaths and the highway are free from litter and we will do our best to clear areas when issues are reported to us, although it may take longer. However, we would again urge local residents and visitors to the borough to play their part in keeping the area tidy. If there is an increase, we will remove the tipped waste, however this may take longer than previously has been the case. If there is a large increase we will look at further options to address the issue.

I would like to get involved, but don’t know how – what do I do?

I would like to get involved, but don’t know how – what do I do? Give us your views on the website at /microsites/budget-2016-home/your-say/ Come along to one of the public meetings – at 2pm and 6pm on Wednesday, 16 March in the Central Hall, Dolphin Centre. 

If traders don’t/can’t come up with a plan for the indoor market, what will you do? There must be some other means rather than selling it?

If traders don’t/can’t come up with a plan for the indoor market, what will you do? There must be some other means rather than selling it? Traders were given an opportunity to put forward a business plan to take over the running of the market. However, following discussions with traders, it was decided to look for an external partner to take over the running of the Covered Market and the twice-weekly outdoor markets. Efforts to identify a preferred partner are ongoing and the markets will trade as normal in the meantime. In the event that efforts to secure an external partner are unsuccessful, the Council would continue to work with traders to reach a solution. However, we are confident there will be sufficient interest that the right partner can be found.

If you are reducing support for vulnerable homeless people what will happen to them?

If you are reducing support for vulnerable homeless people what will happen to them? It is proposed that contracts will be ended with local providers who support approximately 500 vulnerable adults with their tenancies and in terms of improving their well-being and outcomes.  We realised there is a danger that some of these will deteriorate when the support is withdrawn and go on to have acute housing or social care needs.  Therefore, it is proposed to design a new service which will provide some support for many of these former beneficiaries; support won’t be as much as before or for as many as before, but will be there to maintain a service to prevent needs from escalating. There will also be some specialist provision for victims of domestic abuse contained within this budget.

Is it time the Council’s books were looked at?

Is it time the Council’s books were looked at? The Council’s finances are subject to an annual audit and are published online on our website - /your-council/council-information/financial-information/statement-of-accounts/

Is the indoor market being sold to generate revenue or reduce council costs?

Is the indoor market being sold to generate revenue or reduce council costs? We are not proposing to sell the market. The Council, in full consultation with traders, is looking at leasing out the covered market to secure its long-term future. We want the market to thrive and it needs private investment to enable this to happen. Work to secure a private sector partner is ongoing and has the support of traders. Such an approach, if successful, will improve the quality of the market provision and ensure the council does not need to invest significant sums in the maintenance of the building.

Our understanding is that there is a signed affidavit by the then Borough solicitor of Darlington Borough Council that was written at the time the covenant for Crown Street Library was found to be lost and that this affidavit states the covenant existed and what was in it. Is this true? 

Our understanding is that there is a signed affidavit by the then Borough solicitor of Darlington Borough Council that was written at the time the covenant for Crown Street Library was found to be lost and that this affidavit states the covenant existed and what was in it. Is this true?  The document you refer to is a statutory declaration by Alan Thornthwaite Carling, at the time the Assistant Borough Solicitor to Darlington Borough Council, on 22 December 1983.  

The Cabinet papers suggest the children's library will be bigger, is this right? Does this mean that all other parts of the library will be smaller as a result?

The Cabinet papers suggest the children's library will be bigger, is this right? Does this mean that all other parts of the library will be smaller as a result? Draft designs are not yet complete and we are looking at a number of new options and once complete we will be keen to share them with you and others to get your views. 

The Council’s Children’s Services has already failed an Ofsted report – won’t cutting the budget make things worse?

The Council’s Children’s Services has already failed an Ofsted report – won’t cutting the budget make things worse? We are spreading reductions over time to work with partners on new services. We now have an improvement plan in place to tackle the problems highlighted by Oftsed, which is getting us back on track, and ensures that all our services contribute to giving all children and young people in Darlington the best start in life. Our proposals aim to develop a new service that combines early help with other support, which will include Children’s Centre delivery, early help and Troubled Families. Working with partners we are changing our approach, building on what works to target support at those children and families in greatest need. We are also strengthening our area social work teams and management in response to the Ofsted improvement plan. 

There are too many pen pushers in the Town Hall, the cuts are hitting those doing the real work.

There are too many pen pushers in the Town Hall, the cuts are hitting those doing the real work. Staff working directly with the public cannot do their jobs well without support, whether that’s ordering supplies or paying the wages. The Council continually reviews its staffing levels and the overall costs of services compare well with those at other councils and, where appropriate, compare well with the private sector. Staffing numbers also compare well. We have already cut back office staff and once services are reduced the support services behind them will be reviewed. 

We understand from the Land Registry that Darlington Borough Council has lost the covenant placed on Crown Street Library. When was it lost?

We understand from the Land Registry that Darlington Borough Council has lost the covenant placed on Crown Street Library. When was it lost? We understand that the deeds and documents were lost in or about March 1974.  Further details are set out in the statutory declaration of Alan Thornthwaite Carling (formerly the Assistant Borough Solicitor to Darlington Borough Council), on 22 December 1983.  

What are the £10.2m cuts for – where is the money going?

What are the £10.2m cuts for – where is the money going? The Council has to save a further £10.2m on top of savings of around £35.5m already made. This is mostly due to cuts in real terms of grant funding from the Government and increased demand and costs of services. Since 2010 our grant has been cut by 40% so the Council has had less and less to spend on the services it provides. As a result some of the services that we have provided in the past, which we are not legally required to provide, will have to be reduced or stop altogether. 

What are the estimated relocation and capital costs associated with moving the registrar from the Dolphin Centre to the Town Hall? How is it proposed this is funded? From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

What are the estimated relocation and capital costs associated with moving the registrar from the Dolphin Centre to the Town Hall? How is it proposed this is funded? From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds? The estimated costs of relocating the Registrars is £140,000; this will be funded by prudential borrowing paid for from within existing budgets. 

What are the estimated relocation and capital costs of putting the library in the Dolphin Centre? How is it proposed this is funded?  From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

What are the estimated relocation and capital costs of putting the library in the Dolphin Centre? How is it proposed this is funded?  From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds? The estimated cost of relocation of the Library is £1.1m this amount allows for the structural changes required and full fit out of the library.  We intend to produce a mixture of modern vibrant areas together with more traditional elements hopefully recycling some of the elements of Crown Street into the latter. There is an additional amount included in the MTFP of £600,000 to replace plant and equipment in the Dolphin Centre which will be undertaken at the same time to remove the need for more interruption to provision at another time.  The £1.7m is to be funded by prudential borrowing and will be repaid from within the Library and Dolphin Centre budgets and this repayment is taken into account when calculating the savings from the relocation of the library.

What are the estimated relocation costs and the annual storage costs for moving both the Borough art collection and the Borough archive? How is it proposed this is funded? From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

What are the estimated relocation costs and the annual storage costs for moving both the Borough art collection and the Borough archive? How is it proposed this is funded? From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds? The costs of storage of the Art Collection and the archive are included in the existing Dolphin/Library budget.  Relocation costs are not yet finalised.

What happened to the money from the sale of Feethams site where cinema is being built?

What happened to the money from the sale of Feethams site where cinema is being built? The land was part owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and as part of the HCA contractual obligations the money from the sale of the site is to be reinvested in improvements to Feethams Riverside area.

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Cockerton Library?

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Cockerton Library? Again the market will ultimately determine the value and like Crown Street we do not see the level of receipt as significant in terms of the overall budget position.

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Crown Street Library?

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Crown Street Library? Clearly the market will decide the exact value of the assets however due to the costs of conversion etc. we do not expect the receipt to be significant in terms of the Council’s overall budget position 

What is the legal basis for considering that one library constitutes a 'comprehensive library service'? Has an appraisal been undertaken about whether this would leave you open to legal challenge?

What is the legal basis for considering that one library constitutes a 'comprehensive library service'? Has an appraisal been undertaken about whether this would leave you open to legal challenge? Currently the Council is consulting on its proposals for the Library service and alongside this a survey is being circulated for users and non-users to complete, which will help inform any final decision.  The Library Needs Assessment will be presented to Cabinet before they make their final decision.  

What will be the impact on voluntary organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK, GADD? What happens if they close?

What will be the impact on voluntary organisations such as Citizen’s Advice, Age UK, GADD? What happens if they close? We fully support the work of our voluntary sector partners and hope to continue to work with them in the future. However, the financial situation is such that the Council is not able to continue funding these organisations at current levels. The likely impact of the budget proposals on these organisations is currently being identified, following discussions with the organisations most affected. We hope that they are able to continue their work by looking at where they can make further cost and efficiency savings, but we appreciate that in some cases this may not be possible and it will therefore mean a reduction in the support they can offer to the residents of Darlington.  It could lead to the closure of organisations if they are unable to make the necessary changes for them to be sustainable, which will be very regrettable. We want to avoid this happening and we will support organisations making grant applications where we can. We will also be undertaking work to understand the impact of any reductions in service on individuals accessing them. 

What will changes to Adult Social Care mean for elderly people – will they get less support and have to pay more for services? What if they can’t afford it?

What will changes to Adult Social Care mean for elderly people – will they get less support and have to pay more for services? What if they can’t afford it? Adult Social Care will carry out an assessment to find out if an individual has eligible needs. The national eligibility criteria, as defined within the Care Act 2014, sets a minimum level for adult care and support needs which the Local Authority must meet.  If following an assessment, an individual has eligible needs then Adult Social Care will work with them to look at ways of meeting their needs. This may include support from family, friends, the community and, where appropriate, through the provision of services. Individuals in receipt of support are financially assessed to see what level of contribution they need to make towards the cost of their care - individuals should only be required to pay what they can afford to. There is a proposed reduction of approximately 4 per cent from current spend. This will be delivered through making people more aware of local support networks, improving independence through specialist support for those recovering from illness or injury, greater use of digital care technology, and more use of extra care accommodation. There are some services that are currently provided free of charge or at subsidised rates, which the Council may charge for in the future. This would affect those who contribute to the cost of their care. 

What will happen to the Crown Street Library building – isn’t it covered by a restricted covenant?

What will happen to the Crown Street Library building – isn’t it covered by a restricted covenant? The library opened in 1885 following a bequest from the will of Edward Pease (1834-1880) and we have been in touch with the Pease family about the Council’s budget proposals. Although we do not have the original records, it may well have been the case that the property was subject to a restrictive covenant and possibly a trust. In 1983 a statutory declaration was made by a former Assistant Borough Solicitor about the loss of deeds that occurred in 1974. This indicated that in 1983 the property was thought to be subject to a restrictive covenant that it should be ‘used for purposes of a public library forever’.Land Registry records show the Council as the freehold owner, but there is reference made to lost deeds and documents and that restrictive covenants imposed before 9 September 2010 are still enforceable. If there is a restrictive covenant concerning the Crown Street building this does not prevent the library service from relocating to another building. It could however restrict the future use of Crown Street. There are steps that can be taken to have a restrictive covenant removed. This would be by making an application to the Lands Tribunal, which has the power to vary or discharge covenants on land.

Who actually owns Crown Street Library?

Who actually owns Crown Street Library? The Council owns the building.

Why are we funding the Indoor Bowls Club?

Why are we funding the Indoor Bowls Club? There are around 300 members of the bowls club, most of them elderly. It's a very valuable service that helps keep them active and prevents isolation. The Council part funds the Bowls Club as a result of a long standing contractual arrangement with Morrisons that dates back to the opening of the supermarket when Morrisons built the bowling facility. The Council has the primary lease with Morrisons and we sub-lease to the Bowls Club to which we give some financial support and the club pays the rest. The agreement dates back to 1981 and the former local borough council, and runs until 31 May 2041. We have worked with the club over a number of years to assist it in reducing its costs with some success, but it could not be reduced further. If the club closed, the Council would be liable for the full costs of the lease. 

Why are you closing Crown Street Library?

Why are you closing Crown Street Library? The Council has a duty to provide a library service and we will continue to do so. Our proposals include relocating the library service to a remodelled Dolphin Centre, which will deliver efficiencies, reducing the costs of the Central Library and Dolphin Centre by approximately £330,000. It would also deliver a modern, accessible library for the town which will address many of the shortcomings of the Crown Street site such as poor toilet provision, baby change facilities, social/breakout space, cafe facilities, modern environment and improved ICT. 

Why are you increasing burial charges – they are already very expensive?

Why are you increasing burial charges – they are already very expensive? The Council has to cover its costs in running the cemeteries and crematorium. We estimate that by 2019/20 those costs will be around £51,000 a year, therefore to break even, charges for the services within the cemeteries would need to increase.  The burial charge for 2016/17 is £710 (subject to Cabinet approval), which will need to increase over the next two years by approximately 12.5% rising to £742 in 2017/18 and in 2018/19 to £799.  Charges are comparable with those set by other authorities, as the 2015/16 figures show: Darlington 625 South Tyneside 786 Newcastle 786 Sunderland 782 Gateshead 757 North Tyneside 762 Stockton 420 Middlesbrough 522 Durham 760

Why do charges for allotments have to increase so much?

Why do charges for allotments have to increase so much? All services have to contribute to helping the Council balance its budget. Currently there are 18 Council owned sites of which 11 are DBC managed and 7 self-managed.  On the Council managed sites there are 241 plots, of which on 88 plots the tenants pay full price and on 153 plots the tenants pay concession rate, which is half price.  The charge for an allotment plot from April 2016 is £80 for a full plot and £40 for a concession.  The proposal in the MTFP is to remove the concession from 2017/18 altogether so all tenants pay the full price and over the following three years, further raise the charges by £40 in 2017/18 to £120, £25 in 2018/19 to £145 and finally by another £25 in 2019/20 taking the charge for an allotment plot to £170. The increased charges are required to cover operating costs, making the service break even. 

Why don’t you mothball Head of Steam and/or merge it with Locomotion at Shildon (which is free) and use the money to save Crown Street Library?

Why don’t you mothball Head of Steam and/or merge it with Locomotion at Shildon (which is free) and use the money to save Crown Street Library? If you wish to put this forward as a suggestion it is something that could be considered. However, the Cabinet’s budget proposals reflect a desire to retain Loco No.1 and other key assets that are in the Head of Steam as they are a fundamental part of the town’s heritage. There is the opportunity to use that heritage to be a part of the town’s regeneration and visitor offer as we move toward the 200 years celebration of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025. The saving from closing the museum could be used to retain Crown Street, however further savings would also be required to keep Crown Street open as the cost of the Museum is less than would be required to keep Crown Street open.

Why have you spent £3m on agency staff?

Why have you spent £3m on agency staff? Agency staff are used in a range of situations, for instance as a way to fill gaps to ensure services continue to be delivered, this in particular is the case in social care where there have been staff shortages, not unlike the problems the health service has in recruiting full-time nurses. We are looking at ways to try and improve recruitment and retention in social care but this is a national problem.  Other areas of spend tend to be where the Council has short term increases in work, for example in the building and highways divisions.  Rather than employ permanent staff who would then need to be made redundant, agency staff are used.  Agency are also used to cover one off specialised work where we don’t have the skills in-house.  All agency spend is monitored closely to ensure it is appropriate and achieving value for money.

Why keep the Dolphin Centre – more people would want to save the library and market first?

Why keep the Dolphin Centre – more people would want to save the library and market first? Unfortunately the lack of funding means the Council must take some very tough decisions and they have proposed that keeping the Dolphin Centre is important to the borough and it can be kept open at the same time as maintaining a town centre library. In terms of the market, as stated earlier it is not closing. It is hoped the recent announcement – that the Council is working with traders to identify a partner to take over the management of the market – will put an end to incorrect speculation that it will close. Closure of the Dolphin Centre would have a significant impact on the Council’s ability to narrow the health gap as a significant proportion of the population use the Dolphin Centre on a regular basis. You can, of course, suggest an alternative to be considered.

Why should we put down roots here or stay in Darlington?

Why should we put down roots here or stay in Darlington? Because the Council will still be providing many good services and community groups and private businesses will continue to provide great facilities. These cuts only affect Council spending, they do not affect the aspirations of Darlington itself. A lot of private sector development and investment is coming into Darlington such as the new cinema complex and Central Park and, so long as people see a future in the town, it will continue to grow and thrive.

Will Bill Dixon and Ada Burns be subject to a salary review/pay freeze?

Will Bill Dixon and Ada Burns be subject to a salary review/pay freeze? The Chief Executive’s pay has been frozen for eight years and there has been no increase in councillors’ allowances since 2009. 

Will senior managers take a cut in salary to enable more staff at lower levels to be employed?

Will senior managers take a cut in salary to enable more staff at lower levels to be employed? Wages of senior staff are reviewed by external consultants to ensure they are set at the correct level to attract suitably experienced and qualified people.  Their salaries are also bench marked against other councils. The numbers of senior managers is always under review, however, senior staff are needed to help with the changes and bring investment into the town.  We will look again at the situation in two years’ time.   

Will the library have at least the same number of computers that are currently in both Cockerton and Crown Street combined, so people can access these to apply for work and benefits?

Will the library have at least the same number of computers that are currently in both Cockerton and Crown Street combined, so people can access these to apply for work and benefits? The ICT offer within the Library service will be reviewed and modernised in line with best practice and the intention is to provide at least the same number of work stations as there currently is across the Library service.  However, again, the detail is still being worked on.  

With all these increases, our Council Tax is one of the most expensive in the region.

With all these increases, our Council Tax is one of the most expensive in the region. Council Tax in Darlington has been one of the lowest in the region for a number of years. Even with increases the amount you pay is still a lot less than other nearby councils. Our Band D Council Tax for 15/16 is £1,263.34 (this excludes any parish precept or police or fire precept). The average North East Band D Council Tax for 15/16 is £1,351.74 

Won’t reduced street cleaning and grass cutting make the area look more unsightly and cause health issues?

Won’t reduced street cleaning and grass cutting make the area look more unsightly and cause health issues? The Council has a legal duty to ensure as far as reasonably practical that footpaths and the highway are free from litter and that people do not come to harm when visiting parks and open spaces. Much of the work we have done in the past was well above what was legally required, but due to the increasing pressure on our budgets we are being forced to cut back on these services to minimum levels. It is sadly inevitable that there will be an impact and we would urge local residents, and visitors to the borough, to play their part in keeping the area tidy - use litter bins provided or take your litter home to dispose of it. Larger items can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre or you can arrange for collection via the council. We would also welcome any ideas from voluntary and community groups about how they can get involved. Working together we can help keep Darlington a tidy and pleasant place in which to live, work and visit. 

Would you be willing to consider transferring the Crown Street Library building to a heritage organisation (such as the National Trust or English Heritage) or a community organisation?

Would you be willing to consider transferring the Crown Street Library building to a heritage organisation (such as the National Trust or English Heritage) or a community organisation? It is our intention to market the building, however should any such options be forthcoming the Council would consider them.

You blame Govt cuts but other towns/cities still have libraries and arts centres – is this a case of financial mismanagement?

You blame Govt cuts but other towns/cities still have libraries and arts centres – is this a case of financial mismanagement? Darlington has always been regarded by our external auditors as good at financial management, this is not the reason we are facing such high levels of cuts. Other councils will also be announcing cuts over the coming months and years. The level of cuts required as a result of Government grant cuts vary depending on many factors, but generally deprived areas have been hit worse. Also, other councils have higher Council Taxes than Darlington so have more revenue from that source than us, so their cuts will be less.

You have no money but you’re building a cinema, a car park and restoring the Civic Theatre.

You have no money but you’re building a cinema, a car park and restoring the Civic Theatre. The cinema is a private development, being built on land which was jointly owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Council and was sold by them to get the cinema in the town centre. It is not funded by the Council. Money from the sale of the land will be used to fund riverside works to enhance the wider town centre area. Funding for the Civic Theatre and the Hullaballoon children’s theatre is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England sponsorship and a ticket levy. 

You say you have no money but you’re paying high wages to the Chief Executive and senior officers.

You say you have no money but you’re paying high wages to the Chief Executive and senior officers. The cost of senior management has fallen by £2M over the past five years and will reduce by a further £0.25M over the next few years. The details are published on the Council’s website. Wages of senior staff are reviewed by external consultants to ensure they are set at the correct level to attract suitably experienced and qualified people. The numbers of senior managers is always under review.

You’re closing the market in a Market Town.

You’re closing the market in a Market Town. We are not proposing to close the market. The indoor market needs a lot of investment and we don’t have the money. We are looking at different ways that the market can operate in the future and looking to partner with a commercial organisation that can bring in the sort of money needed to make this important building a landmark the town can be proud of for generations to come. Traders are playing an active role in efforts to identify a partner to take over the management of the indoor and outdoor markets.

You’re letting me have my say but the decisions are already made.

You’re letting me have my say but the decisions are already made. The proposals are based on what you have told us in the past, including previous consultations, public events, focus groups, complaints and comments. We want to hear your views but we need alternative suggestions about how we can make these savings.

You’ve got no money but you’re choosing to pay for free bus passes.

You’ve got no money but you’re choosing to pay for free bus passes. We are not choosing to pay for concessionary bus passes. By law, The Council must administer and fund the scheme which allows those eligible for bus passes to travel for free in the off peak period. We know that many people would be happy to pay for bus travel, but the Government would have to change the scheme. We are proposing to reduce our costs by removing the free pass given to companions of disabled users. There are currently 635 holders of these passes.