Press Releases week beginning 19 February 2018
Landlords prosecuted for failing to license properties
Hastings Borough Council successfully prosecuted four landlords for failing to licence properties under the discretionary selective licensing scheme for private rented homes.
The four landlords, Mr Peter Gilbey, Mrs Elizabeth Brandt, Mr Jeremy Vane and Ms Amanda Wray failed to licence in total seven properties across the town.
Councillor Andy Batsford, lead member for housing at the council said, "These properties fall within one of the seven wards in the borough that are required to be licensed under the council's selective licensing scheme introduced in 2016. We ask all new or long term landlords in the selective licensing area to check and obtain the correct licence or you will be prosecuted. The aim of the scheme is to improve conditions, management standards and tenancy practices in the private rented sector to ensure that properties have a positive impact on the area."
Mr Peter Gilbey pleaded guilty and was fined £350 with £432 costs and a £50 victim surcharge. Mrs Elizabeth Brandt and Mr Jeremy Vane were both proven guilty in absence and fined £500 with £432 costs and a £50 victim surcharge. Ms Amanda Wray was fined in total £2000 with £1728 costs and £200 victim surcharge.
For more information about the council's selective licensing scheme visit: www.hastings.gov.uk/selectivelicensingscheme
Energy efficient visitor centre at Hastings Country Park
Hastings Borough Council is in the final stages of planning to build a first class visitor centre for Hastings Country Park.
The visitor centre will offer improved facilities for visitors to the park with the opportunity to learn about all the park has to offer (past and present), to take part in events and activities and to relax and enjoy the amazing views over the English Channel. In March 2015 Hastings Borough Council's Planning Committee agreed planning permission for the construction of the new visitor Centre at the Country Park.
Colin Fitzgerald, lead councillor for the environment said, "A key feature of the new visitor centre is that much of the building will be constructed using straw bales. This has been chosen as a sustainable and energy efficient way of creating the building. European Commission funding has been secured from the Interreg North West Europe programme to help fund the centre.
The Interreg North West Europe project that is helping to fund the centre is called Up-Straw and as part of this project, one public building is being built out of straw or insulated with straw in England, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands."
He added, "As the process of engaging contractors for the project nears completion, we are starting to prepare the site for the construction of the visitor centre.
This process involves removing a layer of topsoil from the footprint of the building. The topsoil will be banked safely on site for re-use later during the project. This will allow further tests and preparations for laying the foundations of the building to take place"
Archaeologists will be on site throughout the process to help identify any artefacts or finds relating to the park's wealth of history so that these can be recorded and conserved as appropriate.
Fencing will be put in place to ensure that the site is safe and secure. The fencing will match the current fencing used.
Destination: White Rock
Hastings Borough Council is launching a publicity campaign for both residents and visitors: an invitation to (re)discover White Rock and the America Ground and to use the improved WiFi network.
Councillor Kim Forward, lead member for regeneration said, "The publicity campaign is the latest bit of good news for the area's entrepreneurs who have been steadily improving it through a combination of creativity, grant funding and sheer hard work. The White Rock and America Ground area is independent, creative, vibrant and has great shops and restaurants.
Our existing Hastings free online WiFi network, managed by Hastings Borough Council, has benefited from an extension thanks to Coastal Communities funding. So now you can connect from Hastings railway station down through the America Ground, Havelock Place and Robertson Street to The Source as well as along the seafront in both directions.
"The publicity campaign, which is jointly funded by Hastings Borough Council and The Great British Coast with assistance from Love Hastings Ltd, lasts for a year and focuses on some of the wonderful events in the area such as Fat Tuesday, Music Month, Independents Day and HiFest."
Follow the social media campaign: #americagroundhastings Twitter: @visit1066 , Facebook & Instagram @1066country
Council agrees corporate plan and budget for 2018/19
Hastings Borough Council has agreed its corporate plan and budget for 2018/19 at a meeting held on Wednesday (21st February).
Cllr Kim Forward, deputy leader of the council introduced the corporate plan. She explained :- "The corporate plan is our prospectus for the year, and underpins the budget agreed later in the meeting.
"I was proud to present the corporate plan, which we are trusted by the local community to deliver. It is always difficult to plan against a background of cuts to local government funding but we are focussed on our priorities and continuing to deliver real benefits for local people, particularly the most disadvantaged groups. I am appreciative of our close working relationships with our partners, including our voluntary and charity groups, who are so important to us here in Hastings.
"Some highlights of our plan for the next year will be: to strengthen our planning policy team, reflecting our focus on the White Rock and Bohemia area; our continuing cultural activity; our new housing company; carrying on our 'grotbusting' work; dealing with the shortage of suitable accommodation for homeless people; continuing to maintain our parks and open spaces to a very high standard and a real focus on income generation, which is a much better alternative to continued cuts. Thanks to our vision and the hard work of officers we are a council which makes a difference."
Council leader Peter Chowney introduced the budget plans. He said :- "This budget has been another real challenge, against a background of severe cuts. We are a small council, but our budget has been cut by a total of over £45m in the last eight years.
"However, through good financial management, and careful investment in property, we have been able to do far better than we had expected :- this year we are around £1m better off than we had expected to be. And our increased focus on income generation has given us an additional £2.2m over the last two years.
"During the next year we will continue to focus on investing in commercial property, housing investment, and energy generation.
"Some increase in council tax is inevitable given the current budget situation, but the 2.99% increase in the Hastings Borough Council element of the tax amounts to just £7.48 a year, or less than 15p a week for a typical Band D property.
"Whilst I fear that further reductions in services in coming years are inevitable if government cuts continue, I am pleased to announce that, for 2018/19, we will be making no cuts to front line service, no cuts in staff, and a freeze in our off-street car parking charges.
"We will continue our innovative work to run vital services for the local community."