Observer’s report of council budget meeting was spot on

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KEN Maitland’s letter on the subject of the Hastings Borough Council’s budget debate contains a number of inaccuracies and I am grateful to you for pointing out that he “is a prominent local Labour Party member”.

The full council meeting began on Monday, February 28 at 6pm and lasted nearly four hours overall. Although the budget element of the agenda was ‘only’ debated for two hours approximately, shouting from protesters, who claimed to support the Labour Party, began right from the start of the meeting. Megaphones were used to amplify the protesters’ slogans and there was no let-up even during the two-minute ‘silence’ called for by the mayor in remembrance of a former councillor who had recently died.

The Observer reporter was quite correct when he described how the debate was dominated by long speeches which bore little or no relationship to the subject matter under discussion. Perhaps this was a plan to divert attention from the very dirty work the Labour council feels it is legally bound to carry out?

Of course local government faces severe cut backs but Mr Maitland’s claim that financial support to Hastings will be reduced “by 50 per cent over the next two years” cannot possibly be correct. There is, in fact, a 30.7 per cent reduction in grant funding over the two year period of the financial settlement. This is bad enough but it does have to be recognised that the Coalition Government are providing a Transitional Grant to Hastings of £4.6 million to ease the pain over the two years in question.

Labour’s budget, which I voted against, cut 40 jobs with huge savings accrued by so doing. They also raised fees and charges and introduced some new ones such as those imposed upon the country park. You have also reported upon the money that will be forthcoming from the Foreshore Trust etc.

I think Mr Maitland and others from the Labour Party would do better if they concentrated upon the reality of the situation which is quite bad enough without the need for exaggeration.

Cllr RICHARD STEVENS

Lib Dem, Old Hastings