Four weeks to have your say
Your borough council has launched a consultation on two of its key documents for the coming year.
Members of Hastings Borough Council (HBC) wants to hear wat you have to say about its corporate plan that sets out the council’s vision for the year ahead by outlining what the service priorities will be, and the key opportunities the council will pursue.
HBC is also seeking the views of local people on its proposed budget for the coming year as it sets out how the council propose to pay for what it intends to do.
This draft corporate plan and budget for 2020/21 is available at https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my-council/consultations/corp-plan-budget2020/
In a press release issued today the council says: “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.”
Any comment you have should be submitted at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find hard copies of these documents at the council’s contact centre and the Tourist Information Centre. At both of these centres there are IT facilities and support necessary for the submission of comments. The deadline for feedback is 5pm on Friday, February 7th.
All comments received will be summarised and reported to the council’s budget cabinet meeting on February 10th. After which the draft plan and budget will be put before the full council for approval on February 19th. Members of the public are able to attend these meetings to hear the debate.
Leader of Hastings Borough Council, Councillor Peter Chowney, said: “Over the last ten years, we have been faced with continuing year-on-year cuts to the grant we get from central government. Our total grants have been cut by over 72 per cent. This means that since 2010, the council has lost well over £55 million in the money we receive to run services in our town.
“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 will raise over £1million a year in additional net income.
“The Hastings Council element of the Hastings Council Tax will increase this year by 1.99 per cent, which amounts to £5.28 per annum for a Band D property, or 10p 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 per cent of claimants) will still pay no Council Tax. We believe we will be one of the few councils left in the country who do this.
“This year we’ve seen further cuts to our grant funding and massive additional pressures on our budget. Rocketing homelessness has pushed the bill for rehousing homeless people to over £2million pounds a year.
“We were facing a gap in our budget for the coming year of over £2.4million. We’ve had to cover that gap by a mixture of service cuts, efficiency savings, income generation and using up our reserves. There will be around 30 council staff redundancies, in full time equivalents, including some of our most senior managers.
“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 many 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 are also working hard with partners to develop a proposal to submit to the Town Deal Fund for up to £25m of money to help further regenerate our town.
“We’ll also continue to look at new ways to tackle the challenges we’re facing, including homelessness, deprivation, and a significant focus on meeting our commitment to the climate change emergency by becoming a carbon neutral town by 2030.
“This year will be another extremely tough budget, and the future is not looking bright. The government is due to carry out a ‘Fair Funding Review’ of how it funds local councils in 2020. We have no idea yet what impact this will have on our council and it could mean that we have even less money. But we will do all we can to continue to be more efficient, improve our performance and customer care, and get the very best for local people.”