Press Releases week beginning 02 September 2019
Hastings Borough Council to consider its financial strategy
The Cabinet will be considering the Hastings Borough Council medium-term financial strategy this week.
This is the report that councillors use to decide how they will set the council's budget, and plan council spending in future years. So councillors will be looking at available resources, thinking about financial risks and longer-term financial strategies.
Central government spending review delays until 2020 means that councils won't know how much funding they will receive in future years from the government, for some time. This makes it much harder to plan spending on local services.
Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council said,
"Since 2010, government cuts in grant funding to Hastings Council mean we've lost well over £40m in total, which has been extremely difficult to cope with for a council with a net annual budget of £15m.
"Now councillors will be asked to cover a budget gap, on top of savings already identified, of around £1.5m to balance the budget for 2020/21. We'll aim to do as much of this as we can from new income generation, but service cuts will be inevitable.
"Beyond that, because the government has given no indication about how council funding will work, we have no idea how much we will have to spend on services, so financial planning beyond 2020/21 becomes difficult, if not impossible - we can only speculate on what our true financial position will be."
Investment in St Leonards bears fruit
After 16 years of renewal work in central St Leonards, the council has reviewed the progress achieved.
A £32 million in public and private investment focussed on the renewal area has seen some significant improvements, particularly in housing. The local environment, town centre and anti-social behaviour have also improved.
The main achievements are:
- Nearly 600 homes made fit to live in
- Over 300 homes were improved that were in serious disrepair
- 53 homes improved by housing associations
- 9 compulsory purchase orders made for long term empty properties
- 104 homes with multiple occupations improved
- 111 buildings improved through enforcement action
- Long-term empty homes reduced by 30% from 260 to 183
- Reduction in crime rate
- 381 local residents involved in skills and learning projects
Andy Batsford lead councillor for housing at Hastings Borough Council said,
"This review shows what can be done by a bold interventionist Council determined to improve the lives of our residents. Central St Leonards has seen a massive positive improvement because of this focused work by Council officers, local residents, key stakeholders, local councillors and organisations of all shapes and sizes.
"You only have to walk the area now and you feel safer, the area looks and feels lifted and positive. This review shows that a new improved social baseline has been set for the area. Of course there is still more to do, and this will be achieved when funding is found for projects. Its areas like central St Leonards that have taken the hardest hits to the funding being cut.
"This Council will keep an active watching brief on Central St Leonards ensuring that the work done over the last 15 years is built upon. We will continue to explore funding opportunities that will allow this amazing area of Hastings to continue to flourish along with all its residents. Projects continue such as Leolyn House that will give affordable accommodation, like the recently completed Winchester House, which also offers affordable rent.
"Enforcement work also continues in housing renewal. Hastings Borough Council will be making full use of the new powers introduced by the Housing and Planning Act. The Warm Homes Check Service and the SHINE projects continue to improve the homes of those most at risk from fuel poverty."
Ex- Councillor Andrew Cartwright
Hastings Borough Council is sad to announce that Ex-Councillor Andrew Cartwright died peacefully at his home in St Leonards last week. He is survived by his partner Georgiana de Lussy. Andrew served two terms as the Labour Councillor for Gensing Ward from 2002 - 2006 and again from 2007 until 2018 when he stepped down due to deteriorating health.
Andrew was born in Stockport in 1954 and attended Hull University where he read History and Politics. Andrew worked as a librarian and for the post office before moving to Hastings in 1988, when he worked for Barclays Commercial Services as a systems security administrator.
During his time as a Councillor, as well as serving his constituents, Andrew made a significant contribution to the work of the regulatory committees including Planning, Licensing and Environment and Safety, and Audit Committees. Andrew also led the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (the committee that holds the Council's Cabinet to account) as both Chair and Vice-Chair for five years, before becoming the Lead Councillor for Corporate Services in 2013.
As Lead Councillor Andrew led work that is continuing to benefit the council and residents today, including: bringing together most staff into one main office and introducing modern working practices; improvements to our customer service offer via the Community Contact Centre; and launching the council's digital journey which has led to a hugely improved website and our My Hastings online customer portal.
Councillor Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council said,
"Andrew played an enormously valuable role on the council. As a councillor, and as a cabinet member, his forensic approach to policy and problem-solving contributed enormously to many initiatives and was particularly useful in the Corporate and Administrative Services portfolio that he held as a cabinet member.
He was astute, well-informed, and often witty, which made him a pleasure to work with, and meant that both I and Jeremy Birch before me, as leaders, could trust his judgement and his ability to understand and develop his cabinet portfolio.
It's so sad that we'll no longer be able to benefit from his skills, ability and personality. I will miss him, as a colleague, a councillor, and as a friend. "
His funeral will be held on Friday 13th September at Hastings Crematorium at 1.15pm.
The Source BMX Battle of Hastings this weekend
The Source BMX is proud to host the world's best BMX riders for the fourth annual Battle of Hastings BMX contest at the Source Park, Hastings, this weekend.
The contest is the most hotly anticipated in the BMX World and features the 48 best BMX riders on the planet. The International field is made up of riders from 6 continents where they will compete for a share of the €24,000 prize money. The World's BMX media and industry are also making the journey while the 600 spectator tickets sold out in under 24 hours; with fans making the journey from as far away as Canada, Japan and Australia.
Local interest is strong with professional BMX rider Dan Lacey being joined by 21-year-old Source employee Stuart Chisholm who qualified his place in the event through a qualifier contest held in July.
The riders arrive on Wednesday with practice all day on Thursday and Friday; practice in itself is an event with the park being opened up for free spectating. The competition is held on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th September from 3-6pm with the event also live-streamed to a huge global audience at www.sourcebmx.com/boh
Popular festival returns to Hastings
Hastings popular Seafood and Wine Festival returns over the weekend of 14/15 September.
Wristbands giving entry for the whole weekend cost just £2.50 from Hastings Tourist Information Centre on the seafront, or entry is £4 on the gate. Under 18s go free.
Now in its 14th year, the festival showcases the excellent quality and variety of Hastings fish and other local produce on the Stade open space, in Hastings historic Old Town. It runs from 11am until 6pm both days, with music in the entertainment marquee continuing until 7pm, and a launch party on the evening of Friday 13th September.
Cllr Kim Forward, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, explained,
"Our Seafood & Wine Festival goes from strength to strength and has become a real fixture in our events calendar. It attracts many thousands of visitors each year and is enjoyed by local residents and tourists alike, many travelling long distances to come here.
"This year we have 38 traders, including 11 new to the festival. 'Sunday Brunch' chef CJ Jackson, who is also the principal of the Billingsgate Seafood School, will be demonstrating fish cooking twice daily, and local and international star Lianne Carroll returns for her popular jazz breakfast on Sunday morning. There are still tickets available for this, but they might not last long!
"There is also story-telling, circus skill demonstrations, and craft activities for children.
"It promises to be fantastic weekend, showing Hastings off at its very best."
Please note that the event can get very busy, and there are lots of young children and hot cooking equipment around, so only assist dogs are allowed into the site.