A slightly croaky leader of Hastings Council, Peter Chowney, addressed the Chamber’s January meeting with his annual statement on the council’s Corporate Plan and Budget for 2017 /18, along with a brief review of last year’s achievements.
Despite ongoing and significant budget cuts, Peter was able to run through a number of highly notable achievements in 2016, which they had either lead on or had a significant hand in helping come to fruition. These included the highly successful ROOT 1066 festival; the reopening of the restored White Rock Baths ~ now known as The Source Park; plus the re-opening of Hastings Pier, all of which members congratulated the council on as very positive contributions to the town’s offer.
The challenges remain stiff though with further budget cuts due. By 2019-20 the council’s central government, Revenue Support Grant, will have been cut by nearly £2.75m (73%) since 2010. This at a time when they face growing pressure on council services, such as homelessness; increased costs and income volatility.
Peter confirmed ‘‘we will balance the books by transforming into a different council, doing different things, funded in different ways that will generate additional income streams and reduce costs.’’
Members questioned the leader on a range of topics and challenged the council to make the town a cleaner and safer place, especially in highly visible areas which show the town in a poor light to visitors and residents alike.
In a change of subject with the 2017 Super Bowl just around the corner, a trio of representatives from the Hastings Conquerors American Football team (who would have thought!) ran through the excellent progress they are making nationally, plus their ambitious plans to broaden the awareness of the club and engagement in the local community and school projects.
To round off Hannah Deeble from the Hastings Piano Concerto Competition trailed the forthcoming annual event which continues to grow in reputation and size, so much so that the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be playing with finalists on the 3rd and 4th March.