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Durham council must find further savings of £110m

Durham County Council HQ Credit: ITV News

A special meeting to discuss the budget for Durham County Council gets underway this morning (Wednesday). .

It's expected the local authority will face further budget cuts as reductions in Government grants are confirmed.

Over the past three years, the council has made savings of £113.9m.

Councillors will hear today that this figure must rise to £224m of savings by 2017.

Council Leader, Cllr Simon Henig, said: "Despite us explaining our very serious situation to central Government, it is clear not all parts of the country are seeing the same level of reductions. There is little doubt that our area is again being hit the hardest."

Council faces £130m funding cut

Northumberland County Council faces the prospect of having to cut spending by £130m over the next four years.

It comes after Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published new figures as part of the Local Government Finances Settlement announced today.

Councils face an average cut of 2.9% across the country.

Some authorities in the North East will see their budgets cut by an even bigger proportion.

“Local government is facing unprecedented financial pressure as the Government focusses its public sector expenditure reduction upon councils. The provisional settlement confirms the government’s intention to significantly reduce grant funding, which will unfortunately adversely impact upon local service delivery. The council faces the prospect of having to cut £130 million over the next four years, with cuts of around £32 million next year_.”

– Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader Northumberland County Council

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Council funding cuts confirmed

Councils across the region were told today the extent of overall cuts to funding for 2014/15.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published the figures which showed an average cut of 2.9% across the country.

A spokesman for Newcastle Council said they were facing an overall cut to spending of 4.6% - more than ten million pounds - but that the news was what they expected.

Middlesbrough Council is facing a reduction of more than 5%.

Funding cuts to both councils are well above the national average.

ITV News Tyne Tees contacted all of our region's councils about the figures but many said it was too early to tell what the cuts meant for them.

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Council responds to arts criticism

Newcastle City Council has responded to an open letter from members of the arts community who have called the proposed spending cuts, particularly to arts, "totally unnecessary".

The council said it recognises that some of its decisions are not palatable but it can only spend the resources it has.

"We face unpalatable decisions which we know are counterproductive and, in many cases, false economy but the council can only spend the resources that it has as it faces losing more than a third of its budget over the next three years.

The reason for a long-term approach is to be able to talk with cultural organisations to find alternative sources of funding, and we are having positive discussions with organisations across the city about what we need to do together."

– Newcastle City Council

Cuts condemned by arts community

Newcastle City Council is set to make savings of nearly ninety million pounds Credit: ITV

Newcastle council's proposal to cut 100% of its arts funding has been condemned by prominent artists and musicians.

In an open letter to the city council, famous names connected to the region like Sting, Bryan Ferry and Mark Knopfler branded the authority's plans "totally unnecessary".

It is a "short-sighted attack on the arts" and the council risks "throwing away a shared cultural heritage that has been built up by generations and generations of ordinary people in the city", the letter said.

Neil Tennant, Robson Green and Jimmy Nail also signed the letter against the cuts which, if implemented, will affect venues including the Theatre Royal, the Northern Stage and City Hall.

The council should "rethink this baffling decision and find an appropriate way to preserve the arts in Newcastle", the letter concludes.

In response the council said it recognises that some of its decisions are not palatable but it can only spend the resources it has.

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