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Hundreds expected to attend final council cuts meeting

Hundreds previously turned out to protest proposed cuts by Newcastle City Council Credit: ITV News

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the final council budget talks taking place at Newcastle Council today.

Proposals to save 100 million pounds over the next three years will be discussed by the full council.

Newcastle City Council is set to make savings of 100 million pounds Credit: ITV News

Sunderland Council, who also need to save 37 million pounds over the next year, will also meet today.

Both councils are proposing a freeze on council tax but have had to make savings elsewhere.

Sunderland City Council must also make savings of millions of pounds Credit: ITV News

Newcastle City Council makes arts funding u-turn

Newcastle has announced plans to earmark £600,000-a-year for cultural projects.

Newcastle City Council was criticised by stars such as Sting, Mark Knopfler and Bryan Ferry when it announced last year budgetary pressures meant it had no cash for the arts.

The budget, which is being debated on Wednesday, has found £600,000-a-year for arts subsidies.

Leader of the Labour Council Nick Forbes said the money for the Newcastle Culture Fund came from a range of sources including public health funding and income from a loan to Newcastle Airport.

"I'm tremendously excited by the progress made on the Newcastle Culture Fund. It's an example of what can be achieved when organisations like ourselves, the Arts Council and cultural venues come together and think differently.

"We are on the final straight, and if full council agrees the plan later this week, we should be able to get the fund running within two months.

"The value of arts and culture to Newcastle has never been in doubt; what has been in doubt is the funding to support them. This new approach not only provides that security, but means those who wish can also make a contribution."

– Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council

The council will also pursue a partnership with Newcastle University where savings generated from shared services between the university and the council will be reinvested in the cultural life of the city.

The turn-around has been backed by the Arts Council England.

"The Arts Council is grateful for the way in which the City Council has worked closely with us to broker this new funding package for key cultural venues. But, of course, a 50% cut to the culture budget still means serious economic and social impact for Newcastle and beyond."

– Peter Bazalgette, Arts Council England chairman

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Newcastle City Council agrees new budget plans

The cabinet of Newcastle City Council has today agreed proposals to make cuts and savings of one hundred million pounds.

Budget cuts, including the proposed closures of libraries across the city, have faced increasing opposition and protest from the public in recent months.

The council has since announced that it has modified its proposals, including:

  • Saving some libraries from closure
  • Safeguarding the future of the City Hall
  • Keeping Castle Dene and Cheviot View respite centres open
  • Continuing free parking in council multi-storey car parks after 5pm

The council has said that it has to make the 100 million pounds worth of savings to make up for a 48 million pound cut in Government grant and 52 million pounds of cost pressures the council must meet.

Newcastle City Council set to make budget announcement

The council is expected to make its announcement today Credit: ITV News

Newcastle City Council is expected to release details later today of how it will save one hundred million pounds over the next three years.

The Budget Report will list which services which will having funding cut in order to meet the funding gap.

The council had originally thought that it would have to make savings of ninety million pounds, but increased this by a further ten million pounds at the end of last year.

North East Sat-Nav trial set to reduce stress

The stress of commuting through rush-hour traffic could soon be reduced through a trial in the North East that seeks to streamline city-centre congestion.

New sat-nav technology being tested could help drivers adjust their speed so they can pass through a series of lights on green.

The project, headed by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council, is being developed to reduce traffic jams and pollution associated with stop-start driving.

Two other benefits of the system will be a forward collision warning and a red light violation warning, which tells drivers when someone has jumped a red light.

The pilot is part of a £8.6 million project called Compass4D involving seven European cities.

"Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what's unique about this trial is that we will be giving information directly to the driver.

For example, the system might advise a driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green.

In more congested areas or particularly busy times of the day, then key roads might be given priority in order to keep the traffic flowing."

– Phil Blythe, professor of intelligent transport systems at Newcastle University

"Newcastle is already leading the way in intelligent transport systems and this work will allow us to build on the infrastructure that is already in place to provide personalised information to drivers.

By creating a joined-up information system for all road users we can give other users such as the emergency services and bus drivers information which can help them get to their destination quickly and safely."

– Dr Yvonne Huebner, UK project leader

Full Report: Fund launched for Newcastle arts

There has been a surprise £600,000 U-turn on arts funding on Tyneside.

Just months after Newcastle City Council proposed cutting all of its support for the city's venues, it is now launching a fund worth more than a half a million pounds.

The council leader says that he hasn't changed his mind, but that they have found the money elsewhere.

And, if it gets approval, theatres could get council funding again by 2016.

Watch the full report from Dan Ashby below.

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Statement from Newcastle City Council on the future of City Hall

Newcastle City Council have released the following statement in response to reports that Newcastle's City Hall, which had been under fear of closure, is safe and that it has a new owner.

"We can confirm that we have been in discussions with the Theatre Royal Trust with a view to the theatre taking over the management of the City Hall.

Conversations are still at an early stage and a lot more work has yet to be done but we remain optimistic about a positive outcome.”

– Statement from Newcastle City Council

City Hall could be saved

There are reports that Newcastle's City Hall, which had been under fear of closure, is safe and that it has a new owner.

It is understood that the Theatre Royal has struck a deal with the music venue in the city and an official announcement on the development is expected tomorrow.

Neither the Theatre Royal nor Newcastle City Council would comment tonight.

More details on that story to follow.

Newcastle City Council sets up arts fund

Newcastle City Council is starting up a £600,000 arts fund for its theatres and arts organisations to apply to.

It comes after the council proposed to cut more than one million pounds of its arts funding in its last budget.

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused the council of playing politics with its decisions, but today the council said the decision made financial sense.

Councillor Nick Forbes said the money was coming from alternative revenue streams which were safe from cuts.

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