Questions (if any) from:
a) Members of the public under Rule 11
b) Councillors under Rule 12
5(a); QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC RULE 11
A written question had been received from S M Ali regarding climate change and making Hastings Carbon Neutral by 2030. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
A written question had been received from Mr Richard Stevens regarding the closure of the Isabel Blackman Centre and the development of a joint venture. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
A written question had been received from Ms Patricia Stephenson regarding badger culling within Hastings boundaries. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
A written question had been received from Ms Barbara Lowe regarding the development of a sustainable energy plan. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated
Ms Lowe asked a supplementary question as to whether there were any plans to include and invest in alternative fuels such as biofuels, or to use wave energy within the energy plan. Councillor Chowney replied there is a lot more we would like to do and that the Council will be updating its planning policy to identify where we might be able to use wind energy within the borough. Wave and tidal energy opportunities will be kept under review as technology advances. The Council is investing in solar energy at the moment to generate power and will be looking at wind too. He advised he would add the potential to use biofuels into the energy plan.
A written question had been received from Ms Amanda Jobson regarding the proposed development of a Marina at Rock a Nore and the importance of the natural environment. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated
Ms Jobson asked a supplementary question regarding how important it is to include the community’s voice and how important it is to think about climate change as a community. A ‘community hub’ could be a place where people could talk about the environment and sustainable living. Councillor Chowney replied that he thought a community hub was a good idea and that he would like to participate if one were established. He stated that the more people are involved the better.
A written question had been received from Mr Tim Godwin regarding improving cycling and walking levels locally. Councillor Forward replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
Mr Matt McDonald asked a supplementary question on behalf of Mr Godwin regarding why the Council has not used section 106 agreements for cycling infrastructure and gave an example of the Asda site agreement which was 10 years old. Councillor Kim Forward replied that East Sussex County Council were being lobbied for improvements for the route from Silverhill to the town centre via Alexandra Park, and that the new cycle route through the park would be created shortly.
A written question had been received from Julie Hilton regarding recognised climate change risks. Councillor Fitzgerald replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
Ms Judy Scott on behalf of Julie Hilton asked a supplementary question also what plans does the Council have in place to manage and reduce these risks to the Council, the town and its people? Councillor Fitzgerald refered to his written answer and also added that additional robust Government policy was needed and more action was needed on keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
A written question had been received from Laurie Temple regarding a deposit scheme for single use plastic. Councillor Fitzgerald replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
A written question had been received from Sam Kinch regarding Sea Space and Sea Change to provide annual reports. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
Sam Kinch asked a supplementary question regarding the sale of the land in the Ore Valley and who would be scrutinising the sale of this land which has a community housing development scheme being planned for the site ‘Heart of Hastings’. Councillor Chowney replied and referred Mr Kinch to talk to the Councils chair of Scrutiny Committee.
A written question had been received from Chris Petts regarding encouraging the population to become a carbon neutral town. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
A written question had been received from Matt McDonnell regarding commitments to sustainable transport. Councillor Fitzgerald replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
Mr McDonald asked a supplementary question regarding when we can expect to see the money to make the cycle path. Councillor Firtzgerald replied and referred Mr McDonald to the written response provided.
A written question had been received from Chrys Brook regarding where does our recycling go and how is it processed. Councillor Fitzgerald replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated.
5(b); QUESTION FROM COUNCILLORS UNDER RULE 12
Questions to the Leader, Deputy Leader and other Lead Members were asked and answered in accordance with Rule 12.1 as follows:
Questioner and Councillor
Reply given by Councillor
Supporting local retailers what was the Council doing to support local retailers especially at Christmas time?
Councillor Chowney replied giving examples such as: free car parking was being provided on Thursday evenings to support late night shopping. In addition, that the council had delivered the Business Rate transitional relief scheme and supported the Business Improvement District ‘Love Hastings’ initiative.
MyHastings sign up and statistics what were the statistics showing with regard to MyHastings sign ups and usage for Council services?
Councillor Rogers that she could share detailed statistical analysis after the meeting but that the figures are very positive. There are 31,000 registered self accounts for My Hasting and 55% self-service transactions were undertaken in November. In total 136,039 reports had been made – which represented a huge number of avoided calls going via the contact centre. This includes 3965 missed bin reports and 3042 on line reports about street litter.
Subletting of privately owned beach huts at the Beach hut association AGM members were not happy about the Councils proposal thatthey should be allowed to sublet their huts as the Council thought they would.
Councillor Chowney agreed that the Council was wrong in making this assumption.
Proposed movement of Childrens ENT services from the Conquest Hospital to Eastbourne Hospital is the Leader concerned about the proposed closure of the local childrens ENT services in Hastings and that the towns deprivation is a relevant issue to be considered in this decision?
Councillor Chowney replied this is an issue for Hastings children and families and that deprivation is relevant as many local families cannot either afford a car or public transport costs to travel to Eastbourne for medical appointments. He will campaign to keep the services in Hastings.
Universal Credit impacts on Hastings residents and families the impact of Universal Credit is having an impact on the people of Hastings. What is the Council doing so that we do not penalise local people who cannot afford to pay their Council tax bill?
Councillor Chowney replied that over 5200 people were on UC locally and that many had experienced long delays in payment and benefit sanctions.
Residents being made homeless had a direct impact on the Council. The local Food bank has seen over an 80%increase in demand. Over 9800 people are still to be migrated to UC in Hastings and the foodbank has stated they do not know how they will respond if that results in additional demand for their service.
The Council will be recommended in January to continue with the Council tax reduction scheme which sees 100% discount for our poorest residents – we are only one of nine local authorities in the country maintaining this scheme, and potentially will be the only one next year – a fact that he is very proud of
New MRI scanners at Conquest hospital would the leader like to welcome the news about two new MRI scanners arriving at the Conquest?
Councillor Chowney welcomed the news and replied the NHS is a very special service we all value. We should all celebrate this achievement.
Local Fish Quota’s the local fisheries are having a hard time currently due to the low fish quotas.
Councillor Chowney replied the fleet receive 4% of the overall quota for the fish species they catch. Quota calculations and distribution is very complex, but that the Labour Party would increase the quota to the under 10 m fleet.
Development of land on Bexhill Road ‘Lower Tier site’ for Housing The Council has previously made a commitment not to sell park land for developments. The Lower Tier site has been agreed to be developed for housing. Does this area not fall within the countryside park land?
Councillor Chowney replied this area of land is not park land and can be used for housing . Other similar types of land such as the recreation ground on Harrow Lane are also being considered for housing development. Football pitches which are not being used for example can be used for other purposes including housing.
Dissemination of the Cemetery Grounds - vandalism and fly tipping What is the Council doing to rectify the damage created by the vandals and to prevent such events happing again?
Councillor Fitzgerald confirmed that a vehicle had driven across the cemetery and across graves and dumped waste over the cemetery wall into Ivy house Lane affecting Rother DC land. An investigation is underway and the 2 Councils were working together with the Police. If anyone has any information please contact the Police or Crime Stoppers.
Harold Place Toilets with reference to the Seafront strategy, whereby the Council are committed to making improvements to our seafront, can the Leader give reassurances that the state of the Harold Place toilets will be resolved before the summer season and won’t be an eyesore next year?
Councillor Chowney replied he cannot promise any changes to the site by next summer, it had been hoped that a bid to an external funding pot (CCF5) would be successful, unfortunately it was not . The Council are therefore currently marketing the site and looking at funding options to develop it for commercial use. Cllr Chowney reminded the meeting that the decision to close the toilets was due to the councils worsening financial position.
Impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit on local manufacturing companies What does the Leader think the local impact will be of a no deal Brexit on local manufacturing companies will be?
Councillor Chowney replied that local businesses he had spoken with were very concerned about a no deal Brexit and wanted the same trade relationships to be available.
Rough Sleeping in Hastings Following last year’s rough sleeping tragedies can an update be provided about the rough sleepers initiative, how is the funding is being applied so that we avoid rough sleepers ending their days on our streets this winter?
Councillor Basford replied that during last weekend’s cold snap both Snow Flake and the Councils emergency night shelter were in operation. Snowflake currently has 12 users per night. The Rough Sleeper project is fully staffed and 18 people across the project are being assessed to support their transition off the streets.