On Friday afternoon the result of years of what is being described as ‘financial mismanagement’ will be laid bare before members of Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) ruling Labour cabinet at an emergency meeting to discuss the authority’s looming financial crisis as it faces having to make multi-million pound savings.
HBC is broke and unless it does something radical – soon – it faces bankruptcy and even government appointed auditors being put in place to sort out its mess says Councillor Andy Patmore who leads the opposition Conservative group on HBC.
Mr Andy Patmore says: “This is a mess and what is frustrating is that it is a mess that could have been avoided but political dogma and inexperience among senior councillors have got in the way of sensible decision making.
“It seems every project HBC touches goes over budget and runs late. The latest fiasco of spending over £1 million to renovate six one bedroom flats in York Buildings is a prime example of their financial mismanagement.”
In 2018 then Conservative group leader Rob Lee described the council’s borrowing plans as ‘a ticking time bomb of over extended borrowing ’ and said that HBC was spending too much money on external consultants and was ‘throwing good money after bad’ on a range of vanity projects.
This week Mr Patmore said: “We take no pleasure in seeing the council in such a desperate situation and we’re reluctant to say ‘we told you so’ but we did. Had HBC’s leaders heeded even just a little of what we have been saying for years then this situation could have been avoided.”
“The Labour administration will blame unexpected costs as a reason for running out of reserves but the truth is the Council have not added to their reserves, which are there to cover unexpected costs. Instead, they have used their reserves to balance the books, robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Tomorrow the council’s cabinet will be warned that its reserves are set to fall below minimum recommended levels within the 2021/22 financial year unless further savings are made this year and that it will need to find more than £3m of savings for the next financial year if it is to present the balanced budget that it is legally required to do.