HBC votes to increase its council tax for residents

Hastings borough councillors on Wednesday (February 25) voted to raise the authority’s council tax precept by 1.9% at the annual budget meeting.

Councillor Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council (HBC), said: “This has been the toughest budget any of us have been involved in.

“The council has received a cut of more than 50% in its grant from central government to provide services to local people.

“It is just not possible to continue doing all the things we have done before or would want to do.

“Just for this budget year 2015-16 we have suffered the largest reduction in what the Government calculates as revenue spending power of any council in the south east – 6.4%.

“The council has had to find £1 million of savings to balance its budget for 2015/16 and provisionally it has a two-year balanced budget up to 2017. But significant reductions have had to be made. The Old Town Hall museum will close and its collection moved to the main museum off Cambridge Road, support for the Chess Congress and for twinning will be cut, charges for things like parking, chalets and garden waste collection will rise and there will be a £20,000 cut in support to voluntary organisations.

“As part of the two-year budget plan 20 council posts will disappear in 2015/16 and 20 more in the following year.

“Even in this difficult environment we have been able to find a bit of extra money for key initiatives.

“These include continuing our work on bathing water quality and preparing plans for the West Marina and White Rock areas.

“We have also found £50,000 to partly mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable from the Government’s cut of £100,000 in the money it gives us for discretionary housing payments. The council’s four-year capital programme will see £400,000 spent on building a new country park visitor centre, £700,000 building a new council-owned factory, £800,000 renovating the White Rock Baths building, and £160,000 on Bottle Alley.”

Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “In the last five years Hastings has received nearly £180 million of central government investment into road, rail schools, local hospital and the pier.

“Most recently, Hastings received £500,000 of central government money which will go towards improving the seafront and local attractions, and will also create 260 local jobs. This investment has come out of the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF).”