Last week Hastings Borough Council (HBC) set its budget for the coming financial year in the face of what council leader Peter Chowney described as the ‘biggest funding crisis’ the council had faced.
But Councillor Rob Lee, leader of the eight-man Conservative group on HBC believes the Labour administration should be doing more. He fears the budget approved last week will deplete reserves and fails to establish a long term financial plan to take the council in to the 2020s and beyond.
Mr Lee says: “This year’s budget from Hastings Council (HBC) confirmed to many of us what we had suspected for some time, the current Labour administration is not prepared to budget for a long term future but instead has opted to simply put off difficult decisions until next year when the financial reserves will be depleted.
“This delay is simply saving up trouble for later and is not a responsible way to balance the budget. Significant savings must be made now in order to make reserves last longer and to give more time for the income generating schemes to reach their potential.
He continues: “Labour locally are cynically playing a political game. When offered a way out of the financial difficulties by way of the amendment I calculated for them, they decided to vote against it. This amendment would have made the financial reserves of the Council last longer and vital services could have been protected for longer. As it came from the Conservatives however they decided to let the town down by kicking it to the sidelines.
Councillor Lee says he put forward a proposal that would have made the council’s financial reserves last longer and would have provided greater protection for vital services.
“The Labour administration would like you to believe that there are no further possible savings to make in the Council. This is totally untrue and much more could be done. This year again saw Labour ignore our calls to set up a new expenditure savings committee to save precious financial resources for where they are really needed.
Mr Lee concludes: “The failure of the current Labour administration to make wise savings is a symptom of organisational failure on their part, while complaining about a lack of funds they continue to spend freely whilst shutting down amenities such as the Harold Place toilets. The Conservatives have the answer to Labour’s growing mess in Hastings. Make the savings that are necessary now, keep open the public toilets, have a better longer term financial plan to take us into the 2020s and beyond.”