Press Releases week beginning 16 January 2017
Council Faced With Difficult Choices in Tough Budget
Hastings Borough Council has unveiled proposals for its 2017/18 budget.
Council leader Cllr Peter Chowney explained :- "We are faced with continuing cuts from our government grant, which has fallen by over 50% since 2010. Yet there is increased pressure on some of our vital services, such as dealing with homelessness, and staff salaries and inflation continue to rise.
"This year alone we are faced with a cut of well over £1m in our total government grant :- our 'revenue support grant' has been cut by £797 000 (a 28.1% cut), and there were unexpected cuts to other grants too, for example our 'new homes bonus' funding is being reduced by £379 000 (a 27.3% cut).
"We are proposing a council tax rise of £5/annum, but that doesn't go nearly as far as we would like it to in balancing our books.
"We are working very hard to raise additional income :- we'd much, much rather raise money than cut services. Renting out the town hall gives us nearly £100 000 pa, and commercial property investments such as the new BD food factory, the seafront kiosk, and buying the retail park in Sedlescombe Road North will raise around £500 000 a year. We are having to raise fees and charges too, including car parking and our beach huts. We continue to 'invest to save', buying our main office accommodation Muriel Matters House last year will save us £75 000 pa.
"We are working much more efficiently too, changing the way we work and 'going digital.' This is saving us around £150 000 pa.
"But even with our additional income and our more efficient ways of working, some cuts are inevitable. For example, we are looking to close the Harold Place and Ore village toilets, where we believe there are suitable alternative toilets nearby, and reduce what we give to our voluntary sector by £42 000. And in spite of our efficiency savings, only around nine 'full time equivalent' posts will be lost overall.
"But it's not all bad news. We will invest more in waste and street cleaning, and in our cultural development. Our capital programme includes further improvements to Pelham Arcade, the country park, coastal defence, and more.
"We will continue to generate new income where possible, for example through setting up our own housing company, investing in more beach huts, using our parks and open spaces for new events that don't just make us money but add to our community and cultural life, and through energy generation.
"We will work with partners to attract investment into the area, continue to lobby for high speed rail, and continue to promote Hastings as a great place to live, visit, work and invest in. We will also continue to support higher education in Hastings, and a successor to the University of Brighton.
"So although there is no doubt that the budget will be tough, we will do all we can to be more efficient, improve our performance and customer care, and get the very best for local people."
Full details of the budget, and how to comment on it, can be found on our website www.hastings.gov.uk from Friday 13th January, when formal consultation on it starts.
The budget for 2017/18 will be discussed and agreed at the budget council meeting to be held on Wednesday 22nd February.
Do you love music? - Music Month is coming!
MUSIC MONTH 14 February - 17 March 2017
Organisations across 1066 country have come together to support and develop the music sector and music economy in Hastings and Rother; all with big ideas and ambition.
Working with local authorities, the music community have developed a steering group who have declared Hastings and Rother a Music City. A Music City is defined as a place with a vibrant music sector and the key elements of Music Cities include artists and musicians, a thriving music scene, spaces and places and a receptive and engaged audience.
With the abundance of musicians and music events in the area and, Hastings being voted first in the UK for musicality, this is a justifiable title.
The Music City idea was introduced by Andy Gunton of The Stinger who says, "Myself and the Fat Tuesday team have been looking at ways to celebrate, promote and nurture the amazing local music scene we have here in the Hastings area for some time now and this partnership, tied with the Music City/Music Month plans, is a great way to kick start things."
The group's first initiative is Music Month. Running from Valentine's Day to St Patrick's Day it will encompass some of the area's best music events including Fat Tuesday and the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition (HIPCC) and, it's not just about gigs.
Music month will also include community engagement activities such as the vibrant Fat Tuesday Umbrella Parade where people can get involved in umbrella decorating and join the parade and HIPCC plan to put a grand piano into the Source Park to bring BMX riders and skateboarders together with concert pianists to shake up pre-conceptions of what and where music belongs.
"We are very excited about Music Month. It's great to see the local music community across 1066 country coming together under one banner to promote the fantastic variety of musical entertainment on offer, there really is something for everyone" said Cllr Dawn Poole the council's lead member for culture.
Music Month event listings can be found at visit1066country.com and people are encouraged to upload photos of events they attend to social media using #musicmonth1066.
100's Beat the January Blues
Hundreds turned out to beat the winter blues at a special family activity held day in Hastings last Sunday (15 January).
Active Hastings, a partnership project between Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council Public Health worked with Freedom Leisure to create Beat the Blues; a fantastic fun filled activity day for all at Summerfields Leisure Centre.
Lots of activities were on offer for everyone to try including trampolining, swimming, Pilates, netball, messy play, soft play, spin classes, 'Drums Alive' and lots more.
"Over 450 participants took part in the activities throughout the day for just £1 each" said Cllr Dawn Poole, the councils lead member for leisure. "We are committed to providing a wide range of sport activities for all ages and I'm sure that everyone taking part on Sunday was able to join in with something that they already enjoy or try something new. Thanks must go to Play Hastings, StreetGames, JasFit, Fighting Tigers Gym, Hastings Predators and Nina Yoga for supporting this event" she added.
The new Active Hastings programme runs from now until 2nd April 2017 giving full details about the many physical activities available in the Hastings and St Leonards area.