COUNCIL bosses are set to look at a number of initiatives they hope will address the impact of government cuts to their services.

Members of Darlington Borough Council's cabinet meet tomorrow night to discuss several reports looking at topics ranging from neighbourhood renewal and budget monitoring.

The meeting comes a week after the government delivered its Autumn budget saying the days of austerity had come to an end.

Councillor Stephen Harker, leader of the council, said: “Whether or not austerity is over, only time will tell, but what we must remember what has already happened and I do not expect this to be reversed in the short term. The Council has lost £42m per year of government grant in real terms and when you consider our budget is now in the region £80m a year, the public will understand how the Council has been hit by austerity.

“To offset the loss of government grant, we have been working hard to create new income for the Council. The report about Investment Opportunities is a great example of that as it seeks to increase the investment fund to enable the Council to invest in improving the Borough for everyone.

“A great example of how we are achieving this is our partnership with Esh Homes where we have established a joint venture company to build and sell new houses.”

Another item is a report proposing the authority buys land off McMullen Road to build more council houses.

Cllr Harker added: “Good quality houses are essential for everyone, but not everyone can afford to buy their own home, so we are working hard to ensure we have a good supply of affordable homes.

“I am extremely proud of the houses we have already built, which are exceptional quality and have been very much in demand. We have plans to build more quality council houses, to ensure future generations have great places to live.”

The council's report on its Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy looks at closing the wealth gap in the town, including helping to deliver jobs growth across the borough.

The council leader said: "Not everyone has the same opportunities and we have large gaps between different parts of our Borough – the most stark being life expectancy where a man living in one part of the town can expect to live 11.6 years less than a man in a more affluent area. These gaps are mirrored in earning potential, education attainment and general quality of life."

The council's Cabinet meets at 5pm tomorrow in the town hall.