Community groups suffer in budget cuts

COUNCILLORS have agreed to cut thousands of pounds from community groups as part of next year’s budget.

The Hastings Borough Council (HBC) Community Partnership Fund gives grants to organisations which tackle major issues that affect Hastings and St Leonards, but will have their budgets reduced as the council looks to balance its books.

Both Hastings Voluntary Action and the Gensing and Central St Leonards Forum will lose 10 per cent of their funding - £5,575 and £650 respectively - earmarked to promote community cohesion and participation, while the town centre management group will also lose 10 per cent of its cash (£3,157).

The Hastings Trust budget for life training skills will decrease by £5,529, or 8.3 per cent, as will the money given to 1066 Enterprise to promote the local economy, down £2,174.

The three groups who provide services councillors believe are most significant for the coming years face five per cent reductions in funding - the Citizens Advice Bureau is down £9,075, CRI - which supports domestic violence victims - is down £1,583 and the Seaview Project which helps the homeless drops by £1,478.

Cllr Jay Kramer said: “By making these reductions across the organisations we have weighed them up. Some we believe deal with the most vulnerable - we are not saying the others are less valuable but we had to make decisions in the unfortunate climate of reduction.”

Her views were echoed by Cllr Paul Barlow who said: “This is the real story tonight. These are the organisations dealing with the sharp end and the people helped are not the types who can go out and organise petitions.”

The cabinet set aside £20,000 for the MyPlace bid to transform St-Mary-in-the-Castle into a youth hub, subject to the Government giving the scheme the go-ahead. Hastings Voluntary Action will continue to administer the £10,000 small grants fund after offering to do it for free.