Questions from Councillors under Rule 12
a) Members of the public under Rule 11
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: -
Questioner and Councillor
Reply Given By Councillor
White Rock Theatre with the future of the White Rock Theatre under question, what assurances can the Leader of the Council give that we will retain a good performance facility in the town?
Councillor Chowney replied that the existing contract for White Rock Theatre comes to an end in 2019. The council pays a £600,000 subsidy to the theatre operator, and this is not considered to be sustainable, given the council’s current financial position. The facilities at the theatre were also not considered appropriate for a modern performance venue. Councillor Chowney acknowledged that it was essential to retain a large performance venue in the town, and this would be considered as part of broader plans for the redevelopment and improvement of the White Rock area.
Supporting Job Creation the corporate plan includes a target for the council to support the economic development of the town and in particular, the creation of employment opportunities. Would the Leader of the Council provide an update on this?
Councillor Chowney replied that the council contribute to Locate East Sussex, a county-wide initiative which encouraged business development and relocation to the town. He noted that the number of people in the town employed in the manufacturing sector was above the national average. Hastings also had a good reputation for vacuum and high technology manufacturing. He added that it was important firms could recruit their workforce locally and this will be a key aim for the CLLD programme, if the bid is successful.
Play and Leisure activities what play and leisure activities will the council be providing for children and young people during the summer holidays?
Councillor Batsford said that he had recently attended a Playdays in the Park event with the Mayor. This was a high profile, successful event for the town’s young people. It demonstrated the council’s commitment to providing play and leisure opportunities, as well as the hard work of council officers to deliver these activities. A full brochure of activities organised by Active Hastings over the summer period was available. This included a street bites project, aimed at children in receipt of free school meals. The project included both play and sports activities, and a healthy meal for the participants. Further work would be undertaken after the summer season to assess both the financial and social benefits of the programme.
Open Wide International Limited a recent article in the Argus newspaper stated that Open Wide International Limited, an adventure sports company, was looking for a potential site in Hastings. Have they contacted the council about this?
Councillor Chowney said that he would check this with the lead member and respond in writing.
National Crime Statistics national crime levels are showing an upward trend. In Hastings, the number 1 reported crime is domestic violence. What more can be done to address this issue?
Councillor Fitzgerald acknowledged that there were a variety of complex reasons which had contributed to the reported increase in domestic violence. In part, the increase was due to improved reporting measures. The council continues to work proactively with a variety of partner agencies, including the Police, on a range of initiatives to tackle violent crime. He added that budgetary pressures across these agencies had impacted this work. Councillor Fitzgerald agreed to raise this issue at the next meeting of the crime reduction partnership and with the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Risk Assessment will the Leader of the Council provide an update on risk assessment works that have been undertaken locally since the Grenfell tragedy?
Councillor Chowney replied that the council had been working closely with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) to develop an action plan of priority buildings across the private and social sector which will require assessment. The cladding on the Four Courts tower blocks had already been tested and was found to be safe. Inspections are now being carried out on 5-stroey blocks in the town, once these have been completed assessments will also be undertaken on all
blocks of 3 storeys or more. Given the housing stock in the town, particular consideration would need to be given to practical safety measures that can be introduced for houses in multiple occupation.
Green Flag Accreditation Alexandra Park, St Leonards Gardens and Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve have retained their green flag accreditation. Will the lead member explain what this means?
Councillor Fitzgerald explained that the green flag award was a national accreditation scheme run by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).The awards set a benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces, considering not only how clean, well maintained and sustainable they were, but also the levels of community engagement. Retaining the green flag accreditation was to be welcomed and showed the work of members, officers, contractors and volunteers in this area.
Bexhill Road bus lane given the reduced levels of traffic on Bexhill Road, following the opening of the new link road, does the Leader of the Council agree that the proposed bus route for Bexhill Road is no longer necessary and will he write to the lead member at East Sussex County Council, asking them to reconsider their proposals?
Councillor Chowney said that he felt the proposed bus lane was no longer necessary and agreed to write to the lead member at East Sussex County Council regarding this matter.