Questions (if any) from:
a) Members of the public under Rule 11
b) Councillors under Rule 12
43(a). MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC UNDER RULE 11
A written question was received from Mr Ian Sier regarding funding for sustainable transport infrastructure and the setting up of a local task group to work with other agencies on this issue. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated to Councillors and members of the public.
Mr Sier asked a supplementary question inquiring if alternative resources, such as the EU Desti-Smart funding, could be allocated to support a small task group. Councillor Chowney replied that the Council does not currently have the resources to do this but would explore the possibility of alternative funding.
A written question was received from Mr Mat McDonnell regarding air pollution. Councillor Chowney replied to the question. Copies of the question and response were circulated to Councillors and members of the public.
In a supplementary question Mr McDonnell asked if the Council could monitor local air pollution. Councillor Chowney replied that this is a statutory duty of the Council and figures can be supplied to the questioner and members of the Council.
A written question was received from Mr Ken Davies regarding the Hastings and St Leonards Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. Councillor Chowney replied and copies of the question and response were circulated to Councillors and members of the public.
In a supplementary question Mr Davies asked what Hastings Borough Council will do to pressure East Sussex County Council, and local businesses, to support rapid decarbonisation. Councillor Chowney responded that he will be looking to setup a working group to report back to the Council on action being taken on decarbonisation.
A written question was received from Mr Tony Palin regarding the repealing of bye-laws on proposed cycling routes. Councillor Chowney replied and copies of the question and response were circulated to Councillors and members of the public.
A written question was received from Ms Julia Hilton regarding Hastings and St Leonards share of the carbon budget. Councillor Chowney replied and copies of the question and response were circulated to Councillors and members of the public.
In a supplementary question Ms Hilton asked if the Council will bring a report back to Full Council in 6 months to provide an update on action being taken to reduce carbon emissions and what resources the Council will allocate to this task. Councillor Chowney responded the Council can only use the resources of the committee and scrutiny process and this is why a scrutiny working group has been suggested. There are no funds available to allocate officers and staff.
43(b). 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:
Reply given by
Jerwood gallery - Could you provide an update on the Council’s mediation role and what is happening at the Jerwood gallery?
Councillor Chowney replied that negotiations with the Jerwood gallery are ongoing.
Corporate peer challenge - Still to see the results of the 2017 Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge. In response to a Freedom of Information request it was said the report would come to Cabinet last October, but we still haven’t seen it.
Councillor Chowney replied that the recommendations have been circulated. The final report has not been agreed and therefore will not be published.
Homelessness – The Leader of the Council promised to resign if he didn’t meet his targets for the Hastings Housing Company. Can the Leader provide an update on the numbers?
Councillor Chowney responded that he didn’t have the numbers available but can share them with Councillors at a later date.
Emergency shelters - We have seen coldest weather of the year over past weeks. Can Councillor Batsford provide an update of the use of the emergency shelter and other services available in Hastings?
Councillor Batsford replied that the Council is set to spend additional funds on temporary accommodation.
Local Government cuts – Would the Leader agree that Council cuts are falling more heavily on the most vulnerable areas and how bad do you think this will be under the Government’s Fair Funding Formula?
Councillor Chowney agreed and replied that Labour councils are disproportionately affected by cuts and highlighted that proposals are being consulted on removing the deprived area adjustment.
Safety on our streets – Austerity has meant the decomposition of safety on our streets. The precept announced by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex will mean an additional 5 officers in Hastings. Can the Leader outline what we are doing, and have done, as a Council to try to fill the gap?
Councillor Fitzgerald replied that Hastings is lucky to have an award winning community safety manager. It is to be seen if the precept increase will lead to a fall in crime.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme - How can the Council provide support to those most in need in the town through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme?
Councillor Rogers replied that the Council is retaining the 100% council tax reduction for those most in need.
Food bank usage - Our MP has admitted the correlation between Universal Credit and the increase in food bank usage. Is the Leader as angry as myself about how long it has taken for the Government to announce its failure in this policy area?
Councillor Chowney replied that he was angry and that within the first few months of Universal Credit rollout Hastings foodbank saw an 85% increase in use.
Country Park visitor centre – We were informed last year that a preferred bidder was selected. Can you confirm the bidder has been awarded the contract and the name of the preferred bidder?
Councillor Fitzgerald replied that he is unable to announce the name of the preferred bidder at this stage.