DAILY MIRROR 23 OCTOBER 2023 - UK SEASIDE TOWN COUNCIL COULD GO BANKRUPT AS HUNDREDS OF FAMILIES IN NEED OF ACCOMMODATION
The council of British seaside resort could be at risk of bankruptcy as hundreds of families have been left in need of temporary accommodation, according to reports.
More than 500 households in Hastings, East
Sussex, cannot afford a home and there are fears the situation could push the local council into bankruptcy. This financial year, Hastings Borough Council will spend £5.6million housing families in need this year - a quarter of its entire budget.
House prices in Hastings have almost doubled over the past decade and private rents have gone up too. The Local Housing Allowance, which is the maximum amount of housing benefit tenants can receive, has been frozen by ministers since 2020.
Chris Hancock, the director of housing at the council, told BBC News: "We didn't have a single two-bedroom flat advertised at local housing allowance rates last year. There is a strong risk this could bankrupt the council. We cannot make our budget stack up if we continue to have to spend this amount of money on temporary accommodation."
Barista Keira Boorman, 19, said she has been living in a one-bedroom flat since her 19-month-old daughter was born, and added there is not enough space for the two of them. The mum said that despite working at The Grumpy Cook in Hastings, she cannot save enough for a two-bedroom flat, which would cost around £950 a month.
Barry Ashley, owner of cafe in Hastings, said the issue of accommodation is close to his heart as half of his eight staff are in temporary accommodation. In the evening, the 60-year-old prepares meals for families who do not have cooking facilities in their rooms.
He said: "It breaks my heart to see the conditions they're living in. It's really heartbreaking." According to figures released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities last week, councils in England spent at least £2.4billion tackling homelessness last year - and of that figure, £1.7billion was used to pay for temporary accommodation. The data also showed that overall spending increased by 10.5 per cent since 2021/11 and the biggest increase in costs was in Liverpool.
A council spokesperson said: "Current financial forecasts is a challenging one,
councillors and officers are working tirelessly to ensure that the council does not find itself in a position where it faces a section 114. We are confident that with the measures being put into place, and the tough decisions being made over the coming year, we will be able to balance the budget.
"We are working closely with DLUCH and Homes England to bring more social housing on stream, and we have introduced measures such as buying property for temporary accommodation and hiring more housing officers to deal with the backlog. In 2019 we were spending £730,000 on temporary accommodation. In 2022/23 we spent £4.5million, with a forecast of £5.6million for 2023/24.
"We are working to reduce the numbers of people in temporary accommodation in several ways, and these numbers are falling. In 2010/11 the council’s net budget was £22.9m. By 2022/23 this had fallen by 28% to £16.5m. During this period direct government support (grants) has reduced from £15.9m in 2010/11 to £1.5m in 2022/23, a reduction of more than 90%.
"Over the last 13 years we have made prudent budget cuts to ensure we stay afloat, and we will continue to do so. To help us address the forecast deficit we are bringing forward our budget discussions and consultation to November so we can maximise any savings identified. We have also introduced restrictions on spend for non-essentials for the rest of this financial year."
Over the summer, we reported that the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation in England reached the highest level since records began 25 years ago. In a grim milestone, Government figures published in July showed 104,510 households, including 64,940 with children, were living in such conditions.
They include over 13,000 forced to live in B&Bs, 5,890 in hostels and 25,750 in nightly paid privately managed accommodation. The total figure of those living in temporary accommodation between January and March 2023 - 104,510 - is a 10% hike on the same period last year. It is also the highest number since the Government records began in 1998.
Matt Downie, the Chief Executive at Crisis, said: "Once again, we see the crippling cost that years of no investment in housing benefit, and a shameful lack of social house building, is having by trapping families in temporary accommodation. Not only do people not have the stability and security of a home, but they’re often left to cope in just one room, with no facilities to cook meals or do washing."
[It is much the same in other areas, Wealden, Eastbourne, Brighton, etc. They have all been busy granting consents for unaffordable executive houses (for their developer
mates, and party contributions) and failing to secure land for self-build and social housing, as required by the
National Planning Policy
Framework, and other statute. It's all about the money, for greedy landlords.
Some of which are councillors. Also grabbing money for doing nothing much on committees, where officers typically have delegated authority. And in any event, those officers bully and brainwash the members into sitting on their
hands. So, why do tax payers have to pay for the dead weight?
was that slave trader, Maggie
Thatcher, who cancelled council house building,
allowing social housing stocks to be sold off as another of her quick
fixes, in among trying to "Poll
Tax" people who had nowhere to live. This in turn has led to
the increase in council taxes, to compensate for not having houses that
people can afford, as the bedrock foundation of an equitable society.
Flatpacks cost around £40-50k all in, and take just a few weeks to
install. But, there is no profit from those for the party funders. No
slush fund for backhanders, allegedly.]
& ST. LEONARDS OBSERVER 22 MARCH 2019 - Hastings council leader expresses frustration with pier reopening delay
The leader of Hastings Borough Council has expressed his frustration that reopening of the town’s pier will be delayed.
Councillor Peter Chowney made the comments after pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar said the reopening would be delayed by a few weeks.
Mr Gulzar shut the pier for three months in December 2018 for essential repairs.
On Tuesday, Mr Gulzar said the reopening would be delayed, however, in a Facebook post on Friday morning added it would be open ‘before Easter’.
Councillor Chowney, who has previously said the pier closure could have been handled better, added: “We were disappointed when the pier closed suddenly before Christmas, potentially losing out on the lucrative business between
Christmas and the New Year.
“Similarly we had a fantastic half term in February, with the temperatures some of the highest ever recorded in winter. The town and our seafront was packed, with several traders saying they’d bettered their summer trading figures on some days. Yet the pier remained closed.
“We understand that the storms of the past fortnight may have had an impact on the
pier, but we would have expected that any issues could have been addressed quickly with an appropriate maintenance regime.
“Easter is likely to be very busy too, especially as it is later this year; normally residents and visitors would flock to the pier then, the traditional start of ‘the season’.
“It is frustrating to see this fantastic attraction standing empty. We remain very keen to work with the pier management, but urge them to reconsider their position and reopen the pier as soon as possible, and certainly before the start of the Easter holiday.”
On Wednesday (March 21), Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd wrote a letter to her constituents saying the pier ‘belongs to our town’. By Stephen Wynn-Davies
In common with all shire counties, the whole of
East Sussex County Council is elected every four years. The first election to the reconstituted council took place in 1973, to prepare for the handover of services in April 1974. The 1997 election was the first at which no representatives from Brighton and Hove were elected, as a result of that area acquiring a unitary council. The Conservative Party has always held the largest number of seats on the council, though among the existing divisions of the council (excluding wards from Brighton & Hove), in 1993 the Liberal Democrats won 23 of the 44 seats, which would on current boundaries have given them overall control. Since the removal of Brighton and Hove, the Labour Party influence has been reduced although the party retains the majority of seats in Hastings.
& BOROUGH COUNCILS
Sussex has five District and Borough Councils, each with a border on
the coast. From west to east they are:
is also East
Sussex County Council as the provider of services to the 5 East
near neighbours and with councils now sharing facilities and working
together, these area of Sussex are included in our remit and an area
change and affordable
housing are issues that need urgent attention. Where the coastline
is a feature in every Council, Blue
Growth is a food
security issue, especially where this side of of our local economy