Observer column 24 November 2023
We are in the middle of the budget consultation period. All comments really welcome by Dec 1 please.
I will then consider them when we meet the following week to finalise proposals.
What we know is we have to find £4m savings next year, as I am determined not to dip into our reserves any more.
And we don't want to cut the most important public services, like housing, street cleaning, parks, sports and museums.
So how are we finding this large amount? By reorganising the council, and sharing all back officer services with external organisations, such as other councils and the voluntary sector.
Over three years this saves £1m, and will also enable us to attract and retain staff more easily.
Some of these services will be based elsewhere, so we won't need large council offices. Relocating somewhere more modest will also save a lot.
I have also committed to not borrowing any more, unless this is fully funded by income. That saves us interest payments, and also allows us to bring in more from our cash in the bank.
We will spend less on our buildings, and sell some of them. We will be more efficient and reduce the costs on several contracted out services.
Charges will need to go up, but less for pest control, allotments, cremation, sports pitches and bulky waste. Tourists will pay more for parking.
In the end, this will leave the council secure, and in a good position to generate more funding to make improvements.
This starts immediately, as we finally have £40m Levelling Up funding, which if we create the right partnerships with both business and the community will attract lots more funding to help transform our town centres. Hastings, St Leonards, Ore and Silverhill. All need investment so that local shopping and leisure is given a real chance of remaining as the heart of our local communities for the foreseeable future.
So, a budget for survival, and a budget for revival.
Let me know what you think please.
Visit www.hastings.gov.uk/consultation to find out all the details. You can also come and talk to councillors and council officers at Stade Hall on Tuesday 28 November between 1 and 7pm.
Council Leader's column