Tees

Darlington leader 'felt sick' over £13m council cut proposals

Protesters
Image caption A protest was held earlier outside Darlington's Victorian Market

The leader of Darlington Borough Council has said he "felt sick" proposing £13m of cuts that would see about 200 jobs lost.

The Labour-run council said reductions in its budget since 2010 meant it would have lost £44m in funding by 2020.

Proposals could see libraries and Sure Start centres close and Darlington's Victorian Market, which needs a £4m refurbishment, sold off.

Councillor Bill Dixon said: "I feel sick. I was born and bred here."

He said: "We have been forced to set a budget for four years which will have a far-reaching impact on the town.

"Much-loved services and buildings will be lost over that period."

Image copyright Darlington Council
Image caption Council leader Bill Dixon said said "much-loved" services faced being axed

Greengrocer Robin Blair, whose family have been trading at the market for 145 years, said: "It is important that we keep it as a market - what would you do with it?

"It's the heart of the town, it's the jewel in the crown and it's got to be kept."

The council said it could afford only £2.5m a year on discretionary spending, with the remainder of the £84m budget going to statutory services such as adult and children's services.

A council tax rise of 3.99%, the maximum allowed, has also been set.

The council said it aimed to keep open its Dolphin Centre, which was well-used by local sports clubs but not profitable, making it "unattractive to the private sector".

Mr Dixon added: "Darlington's biggest asset has always been its people and as we see services we have relied on being steadily cut, now is the time for us all to step up and think what we can do for our community, however large or small."

The proposals will be considered at a cabinet meeting next week.

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