Press Releases week beginning 14 January 2019
Hastings Borough Council budget consultation 2019/2020
Hastings Borough Council are consulting on their draft corporate plan and budget for 2019/20 - 2021/22 and want to know what you think.
The corporate plan sets out the council's vision for the year ahead, outlines what the service priorities will be, and the key opportunities the council will pursue.
The budget sets out how the council propose to pay for what they intend to do.
This draft corporate plan and budget for the period 2019/2020 to 2021/22 is available on the council's website:
This is your opportunity to have your say, help shape the future of Hastings, and ensure our plans are fit for purpose and relevant to you. Submit any comments you have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hard copies of these documents can be accessed at the Council's Contact Centre and the Tourist Information Centre. At both of these centres there are the IT facilities and support necessary for the submission of comments.
The deadline for feedback is 5pm on Friday 8th February 2019.
All comments received will be summarised and reported to the Council's next Cabinet meeting. After which the draft plan and budget will be put before full Council for approval.
Members of the public are welcome to attend these meetings to hear the associated debate.
Budget statement, Leader of Hastings Borough Council, Councillor Peter Chowney
"Over the last eight years, we have been faced with continuing year-on-year cuts to our government grants. Revenue Support Grant, the main grant we got from central government has been cut over that period from around £10m, to nothing at all. This means that since 2010, the council has lost well over £40m, cumulatively, from a net annual budget of just £15m.
"So we've had to replace that funding wherever we can by raising money locally. We've done this by increasing fees and charges, raising Council Tax, and income generation, notably commercial property purchases, which have generated over £700,000 a year in additional net annual income.
"Although we have no control over the level of business rates, we are participating in an East Sussex pilot scheme this year whereby 75% of the business rates collected in Hastings are retained locally, rather than the current 50%. However, describing this as "75% local business rate retention" is misleading. Hastings Council will retain 44% of the business rates, with 27% going to the county council and 4% to the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. That means Hastings Council gets to keep £9.5m in business rates - except that it doesn't, because we're subject to a business rate 'tariff' which means we have to give £5.5m of this to the government so they can redistribute it to other councils. The overall result of this is that Hastings will gain just £50,000, while losing many times that in government grants.
"The Hastings Council element of the Hastings Council Tax will increase this year by 2.99%, which amounts to £7.69 per annum for a Band D property, or 15p a week. This is the maximum allowed. We are however very proud that we've been able to keep a generous Council Tax reduction scheme, which means that most people on out-of-work benefits (75% of claimants) will still pay no Council Tax. We believe we will be the only council left in the country who does this, for the coming financial year. Because of the extreme financial hardship that's been caused by the early roll-out of Universal Credit in Hastings, we believe we need to do this to protect those who are least able to pay.
"This year however, we've seen a 'perfect storm' of cuts to our grant funding and massive additional pressures on our budget. The new refuse collection contract and street cleaning services will cost a million and a half more than the old contract, Added to that, rocketing homelessness has pushed the bill for rehousing homeless people to over a million pounds a year. This means that we were facing a gap in our budget for the coming year of over three million pounds - 20% of the total net budget. We've had to cover that gap by a mixture of service cuts, efficiency savings, and income generation. There will be around fourteen council staff redundancies, in full time equivalents.
"However, all that will only cover about half the gap, and we'll have to take around £1.8m from our reserves. So over the coming year, we'll have to find further savings, or generate additional income, to cover that gap next year.
"But it's not all bad news. We will continue to bid for external grants to fund projects that help us meet our priorities. We've been very successful at this, raising millions over the last couple of years for additional targeted support for rough sleepers, a series of employment and community development projects in the most deprived parts of town, improvements to the seafront, funding to help our local fishery, and more. We're also bringing our street cleaning service back in house, running it directly rather than through an external contractor. This will give us more control over the service, making it more responsive and helping us to improve standards of cleanliness across the town. We'll also continue to look at new ways to tackle the challenges we're facing, including homelessness, deprivation, and climate change, as well as continuing existing initiatives such as our support for cultural regeneration, and physical regeneration through the 'Grotbusters' scheme and private rented housing licensing, all of which have helped the regeneration of our borough and its local economy.
"We will continue to generate new income where possible, for example through our own housing company that will both buy existing housing and start developing council-owned sites, energy generation, and other projects. We'll also be investigating marketing our award-winning 'My Hastings' online reporting and payments framework to other councils.
"This year will be our toughest budget ever. But we will do all we can to be more efficient, improve our performance and customer care, and get the very best for local people."
Hastings Borough Council has successfully prosecuted landlord Shaun Matthew Treloar for a failure to carry out work to a property he owns in Shepherd St, St Leonards.
Kim Forward, lead councillor for planning said,
"We aim to work with owners to transform rundown properties and most of them understand our approach and the need to be responsible and maintain their property. A poorly maintained property has an impact on everyone, particularly the neighbours in the vicinity. We will use enforcement notices and prosecutions for those property owners who ignore our communications."
In this case, Mr Treloar was asked to do the work last April. He did not comply with the section 215 notice sent to him, so regrettably we have had to take him to court."
Mr Treloar was fined a total of £1,060 pounds, including costs.
Hastings Council prosecution
Hastings Borough Council has successfully prosecuted Dashdream Ltd for failing to comply with a request for information regarding some uPVC windows installed at 4 Pelham Crescent, a listed building. The fine totalled £5,562.00.
Kim Forward, deputy leader and lead councillor for planning said,
We look forward to the work being completed swiftly; we take our responsibility to look after our historic listed buildings very seriously".
Waste services in Hastings are changing from June
Waste services in Hastings will be changing as Hastings Borough Council's contract with Kier comes to an end.
From 29 June Biffa will take over delivery of the domestic waste and recycling collection service in the town.
The council will take over delivery of street cleaning, graffiti removal, fly-tip removal, and bulky waste collection.
The appointment of Biffa follows a robust procurement process conducted by the joint waste and recycling partnership of Hastings, Rother and Wealden councils over the last year.
As part of this process Hastings decided to bring its street cleaning back in house.
Cllr Peter Chowney, the Leader of the Council, said:
"Clean streets matter a great deal to residents and make a big difference to the experience of visitors to the town. It's something we get a lot of feedback about, and so we have taken action. We spent a lot of time and effort reviewing the options available to us and it was clear that as we continue to regenerate the town, bringing street cleaning services under our direct control was the right choice for our residents and visitors.
However, keeping the streets clean is the responsibility of all of us. Over the coming months we'll also be looking to see how best to use enforcement as a means to crackdown on those who refuse to take responsibility for disposing of their rubbish properly. We'll also be continuing to encourage residents and visitors to report problems they see via 'My Hastings' - the council's online reporting system. Where possible we'll use these reports to issue fines to those who drop litter and dump rubbish on our streets.
We remain committed, in these challenging financial times for local government, to continue to improve the services that we deliver."