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Above: a constantly leaking overflow from a negligent landlord and managing agent, a blocked drain, fly-tipping including syringes and broken gas meter boxes used as drug-drop points. The grot spots of Hastings & St Leonards can only get worse after the funding cuts

Hastings budget cuts amongst worst in country

Hastings Online Times has been sent the following press release from Head of Communications and Marketing at Hastings Borough Council, Kevin Boorman, regarding cuts to the council’s budget made by government and their puppeteers. Remember, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick, we mustn’t blame this Christmas time messenger, delivering such bad tidings of great annoy.

Here are the words of the press release:

“Hastings Borough Council is among the 20 local authorities in the country that are facing the largest reduction in their spending power following the government’s 2015-16 financial settlement for local councils announced last week. The government announced that across the country the average reduction for councils is 1.8%. Hastings faces the maximum 6.4% reduction.

Council leader Cllr Jeremy Birch said: “This means another year of significantly higher reductions for Hastings than for other councils. The 6.4% reduction for us is the highest in the south east yet we are the most deprived local authority in the region.

“The reductions are not evenly distributed. South Oxfordshire District Council, which is the prime minister’s local authority, will see a 1.5% increase in its spending power, while closer to home Wealden District Council, which includes Crowborough and Wadhurst will receive a 1.5% increase and Horsham District Council a 2.9% increase.

“Hastings is on course for a cut of over 50% in cash terms from 2010 to the end of the coming financial year in 2016 in the grant we get from central government to provide services for local people. Allowing for inflation, it’s an even bigger cut. It is by far the largest reduction of any council in Sussex. We are currently preparing the council’s budget for next year and against this background we are facing some very difficult choices.”

The council’s budget proposals will be published on 16 January for a four-week consultation period and then will go before the full council for a final decision on 25th February.”

How do you feel about this yuletide message? Any insights? Feedback? Comments? Please write below.

No comment from Amber Rudd, MP…

HOT have contacted Amber Rudd, but at time of going to press, we have had no reply from her or her Press Office.

Behind the scenes

Who knows what happened in the board rooms and private spaces that lead to the decision makers choosing this amount of money for Hastings? The press release tells us very little. Merely that a decision has been made nationally. And now other decisions will be made locally.

Is it all based on the amount of tax we pay, per person, I wonder? You get back as a community, what you give as individuals and organisations in terms of tax?

It would be interesting to know the real reasons, wouldn’t it? Not the marketing viewpoint, which Kevin has no choice but to offer us; he’s doing the job he is paid to do. But the real truth. What conversations took place when Hastings and St Leonards were mentioned?

Our local MP, Amber Rudd, interviewed in The Financial Times, seems to see Hastings as a good stepping stone on her ambitious political journey. Read the article… Is this how we are represented in parliament – and in the higher halls of power, where the decisions are made by whoever the government’s puppeteers are?

Decisions

How hideously difficult it will be for the local decision-makers to decide who gets something and who doesn’t? How to spread the money evenly and squarely and fairly, with so many hands reaching out so imploringly?

Beyond

In other parts of the world, I have been recently informed, there are communities creating their own energy and selling surplus to the national grid. The concept is rational, sensible, profitable, reasonable, sustainable.

Is this the time that we need to shift our viewpoint? Change our perspective? Stop waving fists at government, local and national, blaming and criticising – and just say: okay, let’s together create our own thriving economy? Let us not rely on such unreliable benefactors, who really don’t care that much about us as individuals – and create something quite new?

Is it possible for positive quantum shifts to be made?

Any enlightening evolutionary ideas for Hastings and St Leonards?

Posted 10:58 Wednesday, Dec 24, 2014 In: Home Ground

5 Comments

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  1. Chris Cormack

    Amber Rudd has responded to a HOT memeber as follows:

    I understand your concern and am pleased to comment.

    This government is committed to reducing the budget deficit inherited from the last administration, and, in order to do so, every bit of the public sector must contribute. This includes local government which accounts for a quarter of all public spending. However the headline spending power figure alone, whilst useful for a press release, is not representative of the whole picture.

    For example, Hastings Borough Council still has much higher spending power per capita than any other councils in East Sussex and continues to have one of the highest settlement funding from central government of all similar local authorities. The press release mentions that South Oxfordshire will see an increase in its spending power. The council there actually has less central government funding than Hastings and has significantly lower spending power per head. Increases in council’s overall spending power could be due to a number of factors including council tax rises and growth in business rates.

    Councils have recently been given the opportunity of generating more funding for themselves by encouraging business growth as part of the new business rates retention scheme. The scheme allows councils to retain up to half the revenue raised through business rates. This offers a strong incentive to support local businesses as they will directly benefit from local economic growth, and I hope that Hastings Borough Council will take full advantage of this.

    In the past councils have been largely dependent on central government for the level of funding they received, which often involved jumping through bureaucratic hoops rather than focussing on the needs of local communities. The council’s support for businesses will not only create jobs for local people, it will also ensure they will also receive extra funding for council services and investment without being told what to do.

    None of this changes my plan for Hastings and Rye in 2020. I am working hard to keep attracting business and investment to the area to ensure that there are jobs for all our residents, improved infrastructure and services we can all rely on.

    http://amberrudd.co.uk/amber-rudds-vision-for-2020/

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Monday, Jan 12, 2015 @ 15:19

  2. Chris Cormack

    I think conservative party supporters would serve the interests of their party better by explaining the main issue raised here, namely why is it that Hastings, acknowledged to be a deprived town, loses out to more well to do conservative run boroughs when it comes to central government funding?

    On the face of it, if that can not be explained, then Hastings might have more funding from a Labour run central government? I write as someone who wishes to vote for Amber Rudd at the next election.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Wednesday, Dec 31, 2014 @ 08:45

  3. Derek

    I totally agree Lisa. I find the ‘we mustn’t blame the messenger’ stuff quite incredible. I guess this article is aimed at simple people who can’t manage to come form their own opinions – at least that is what the clandestine writer ‘Zelly’ implies.

    Comment by Derek — Sunday, Dec 28, 2014 @ 22:01

  4. Lisa

    You are correct, the press release does not tell us much – so why don’t you do a bit of research and get your facts together before presenting us with your predictably boring, ill-researched, run-of-the-mill view. This press release came out from the council on 22nd December with Jeremy’s quote included. You posted your article on the morning of the 24th (Christmas Eve). I wonder how long you allowed for a response from our MP on Christmas Eve.
    Also, if you did a bit of research you might find the community energy scheme that has just been launched on our doorstep. Oh wait, and it was launched by Energy Minister Amber Rudd MP. Best keep you head in the sand there then.
    Finally, I can’t grasp the link between the FT article from over a year and a half ago and your comment.
    Unlike you I’m not hugely political. Mostly because it causes people to become so wilfully arrogant and selectively ignorant. And I don’t usually read the ‘HOT’ but a friend shared it on Facebook. I hope some of the other articles are better pieces than this one.

    Comment by Lisa — Sunday, Dec 28, 2014 @ 21:46

  5. Geoff

    Wow. That is a really thought-provoking and balanced piece of writing.

    Comment by Geoff — Sunday, Dec 28, 2014 @ 21:15

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