Council does not have enough cash

Hastings Observer letters
Hastings Observer letters

From: Rosie Brocklehurst, Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards

In response to Mrs Lillington’s complaints about our council, toilets, and blue lights (October 12, Your Say).

I believe the council cares very much about Hastings Town Centre. But I do not believe they are able to solve everything single-handedly.

It is tempting to look to one’s local council to cure all the social and economic ills that beset us. While willing, they often don’t have the powers that people imagine they have, and certainly don’t have enough money.

It is an inconvenient truth that our borough has chosen not to spend £100,000 on structural repair to Harold Road conveniences, nor to commit £62,000 year on year to maintain them; not because they want us all to be caught short while shopping as some would have you believe, but because of the cuts made by Central Government.

Many other councils across the country are facing the possibility of bankruptcy in the near future because of massive cuts to the amount of grant allocated by Central Government – by far the most important source of council funding; far more important than Council Tax.

Our council has managed huge staff cuts and wise investments to stay ahead.

But every day we hear about major Conservative councils such as East Sussex and Kent, who are at war with their masters in Whitehall over cruel and disturbing consequences to swingeing budget cuts.

And as to the ‘blue lights in Debenhams’ and other toilets, that Mrs Lillington calls an ‘over reaction’.

I support them being introduced (and Hastings does have other public toilets, unlike some major cities such as Newcastle and Manchester).

Blue lights prevent veins from showing up on arms.

They are being used nationwide in store toilets and where there are public conveniences, to deter drug-injecting users, upon the advice of police and health workers who sit on public safety partnerships and who advise local authorities on community safety.

Our council is not responsible for encouraging drug users to first want to stop, and then to stop using.

In the public sphere, that hugely difficult but worthwhile task, is the job of drug treatment agencies and charities, the NHS medical and mental health staff, 
who are all also under pressure from vastly reduced real-term funding.