I was shocked to read in the article on the borough council’s proposed budget a quote from the council leader saying their intention is to raise council tax by £5/annum, put up car parking charges and close public toilets.
The leader of the council, with some justification, blames central government for cutting the borough council’s grant money but we all know that the government faces a huge challenge in trying to reduce our country’s financial deficit.
The council should be looking at more creative ways to balance the books rather than going for the easy option of increasing council tax (already higher than some London boroughs ), whacking up parking charges which have a direct effect on our local economy, or closing public toilets, upon which disabled people in particular rely.
Some years ago, Cllr Peter Chowney (leader of Hastings Borough Council) put forward the suggestion that Hastings council should amalgamate with Rother District Council to become a unitary authority which he said would bring many economies of scale and various reductions in costs which have to be met by the Hastings council tax payer.
Cllr Chowney’s proposal was accepted but I wonder how much effort has been made since to see it come to fruition?
These are tough times and ‘tough decisions’ have to be made as your article correctly reports but can Hastings really afford, for instance the luxury of two councillors per electoral division, all of whom have to be paid, plus East Sussex County Councillors as well? Surely it is time to lobby for a complete reorganisation of local government and to seek a return to the days when there was local power over education, social services,highways, engineering, environmental health - even a borough police force.
Perhaps that is too much to expect in the near future but a partnership with Rother District Council is a possibility and to my mind, far preferable to savage tax hikes and reductions in basic council services.
All Saints Street
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