Row over council’s performance targets

THE council has been accused of lacking ambition over its performance targets for the coming year.

The Observer revealed last week that Hastings Borough Council hit 93 per cent of its aims for 2009/10 and at Monday’s cabinet meeting Cllr Jeremy Birch said he hoped this year’s targets were ‘both stretching and within the bounds of realisability’.

But he was taken to task by Cllr Rob Cooke (Con) who felt the authority was not being positive enough after some good results last year.

Cllr Cooke was particularly concerned that while audiences at The White Rock Theatre had jumped from 71,180 to 83,474 between 2009 and 2010, the target for next year had been scaled back to 80,000. Cllr Matthew Lock pointed out that local tax payers contribute around £500,000 a year to supporting the theatre and accused his Labour foes of ‘not having the guts’ to set a higher target. But Cllr Trevor Webb said last year’s rise was not realistically sustainable and Cllr Paul Barlow pointed to the Jimmy Osmond effect of last year’s panto skewing the results upwards.

Cllr Cooke also said it was ‘disgusting’ that despite only 25 per cent of the town’s waste being recycled against the council target of 30 per cent, this year’s target had been set at 28 per cent. “We cannot put our heads in the sand and lower the target when the green agenda is so important.”

But Cllr Birch accused him of political point scoring and said the 30 per cent target was too high.

After tetchy discussions, all the Tories’ attempts to make changes to existing targets were rebuffed and Cllr Peter Chowney said: “It is utterly pointless to set easy targets but it is also pointless to set loads and loads of targets that just look good.”

There was also a discussion about why the number of appeals over planning decisions allowed was almost double the council target of 35 per cent. Cllr Peter Finch said it was a ‘colossal’ figure and officers confirmed they were looking into the reasons behind it.

-A report in last week’s Observer said the council had failed to meet its targets on litter. That is not correct - this target was met and we apologise for the mistake.