The Mayor presented a statement a copy of which would be circulated to all Members.
In his initial comments the Mayor reiterated that whilst it was acknowledged that the Government had to cut public expenditure the extent and the pace at which such cuts had to be implemented were considered to be too severe given the increased demands on services arising from high levels of deprivation, unemployment, an ageing population and increased numbers of children looked after.
As part of the background to the position statement the Mayor gave some initial thoughts on the Chancellor of the Exchequers Autumn Statement. Over the last two years the Council had made £28 million budget reductions through efficiency savings and service reductions which also included over 450 job losses with an additional loss of £8.9million following the cessation of Working Neighbourhoods Fund in March 2011. Based on current assessments of Government spending plans the Council would need to reduce spending in the next three years by at least a further £33 million which as previously indicated was now likely to be followed by further year on year cuts until 2018.
The Mayor stressed the importance of pursuing aspirations and ambitions for the town and be reminded of the many positive achievements as outlined in the statement including:
Middlehaven, one of the north easts largest regeneration schemes and Middlesbroughs flagship regeneration project;
Use of Heritage Lottery Fund to refurbish and upgrade the Transporter Bridge and visitor centre;
Refurbishment, investment and provision of new properties in Gresham;
Development and investment in Grove Hill;
Demolition and subsequent development of Trinity Gardens, North Ormesby;
Flagship regeneration project at West Lane;
Specialist housing provision at Levick Court, STAGES Academy and Rainham House;
Provision of 2,760 new homes over eight years to 2011/2012 which represented a 42% increase on the previous eight years;
Erimus had spent £182 million in planned investment affecting over 10,000 homes and £6.2 million had been invested in facelift programmes;
Boho Zone which was the fastest growing business sector;
Retail initiatives in the Town Centre such as the Corner Emporium and work at Baker Street and Zetland Square;
Teesside University, one of the key cornerstones of Middlesbroughs economy;
Building Schools for the Future;
mima which had a major role to play in supporting the Towns economic regeneration;
Development of Prissick Sports Village;
James Cook University Hospital Rail Link;
Key improvements to the local transport network in and around Middlesbrough;
Restoration of Stewart Park;
Reduced levels of crime;
Improvements in educational attainment.
The Mayor also referred to his concerns and the potential harm caused by negative comments which had been expressed on numerous occasions by an unnamed small group of people as outlined in the Mayors statement.
Members expressed support for the Towns achievements as outlined in the Mayors statement and of the need for continued efforts in attracting investment from various sources. In commenting on the many developments Members also referred to the need to expand the areas manufacturing sector. In pursuing available options Members acknowledged the work of Officers in examining new ways of working.
In his concluding remarks the Mayor acknowledged the supporters of Ayresome Industries in attendance at the meeting and gave an assurance that their comments together with other responses arising from the budget consultation exercise would be considered and a further update provided in the next budget statement to be presented to Council at its meeting to be held on 18 December 2012.