Council accused of using cuts for scoring points

THE Labour-run council has been accused of using a mooted drop in funding for young people to score political points.

Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet this week met to discuss a review of leisure services available to the town’s youngsters - which was received positively from across the chamber.

The in-depth study highlighted the likely impact East Sussex County Council (ESCC) cuts will have on teenagers here in 1066 Country.

Of particular concern was the county council’s decision to specifically target 900 youngsters across East Sussex who are deemed at being at most risk.

Together with members of the Hastings Youth Council, the councillors and officers behind the recent report estimated there are more than 900 vulnerable young people in Hastings alone.

And they questioned how the needs of all these young people could continue to be met in the light of what even the lead member at county hall admits will be ‘very significant’ reductions in funding.

The report found that Hastings compares poorly with towns with similar levels of deprivation when it comes to providing sporting facilities, and suggested this problem would only worsen with further cuts looming.

For example, Great Yarmouth boasts 32 sports halls compared to Hastings’s nine, and 12 swimming pools to three locally. It also has 93 grass pitches. Hastings has 34.

All sides agreed on the importance of safeguarding funding and facilities for the town - particularly mindful of the high levels of childhood and teen obesity in 1066 Country.

However, when Conservative Councillor Matthew Lock suggested the authority should take a more pre-emptive approach and try and work more closely with its county council counterparts, he was met by a barrage of dissatisfaction.

Responding to Labour accusations that he ‘voted for the cuts’ while serving on ESCC he said: “I can completely understand why you (Labour) would be critical of ESCC because it sounds good.

“But we should not be waiting to hear from it to come back and tell us what is happening just for us to turn round and say ‘Oh no, another round of cuts.

“We should be more pro-active about this. I am going to be the voice for the young people.”