Old Town Museum could close through council cuts

Hastings Old Town Museum,  ENGSUS00120120310112018
Hastings Old Town Museum, ENGSUS00120120310112018

The Old Town Museum has been earmarked for closure, 20 jobs set to be lost and council tax to rise by 1.9 per cent as part of the council’s annual budget review.

Hastings Borough Council says the cutbacks are required due to 6.4 per cent reduction in its spending power by the Government.

Car park charges will also go up for the first time in two years and be frozen for the next two years.

Over the next two years the council will use around £1m of the reserves it built up to help cushion the transition down to a smaller, lower spending authority.

In 2015/16 the Old Town Museum is earmarked for closure with its displays to be taken to the main museum off Cambridge Road.

Only the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link will receive any twinning money – there will no financial support for links with the other twin towns. It is proposed the funding for the annual Chess Congress is reduced from £20,000 to £10,000. There could also be a reduction in the support the council has been able to give local community organisations.

The council is looking to make over £200,000 of savings by enabling more payments by residents and contacts with the council to be completed electronically. It wants to reduce its accommodation needs by introducing more flexible working arrangements for council staff including working from home. As a result a whole floor of the main Aquila House office block could be made vacant and available for letting out and bringing in revenue.

The proposals will go before the full council meeting on February 25.

“This has been a hugely difficult budget-setting process,” said council leader councillor Jeremy Birch. “Leading councillors and senior officers have spent many hours poring through the council’s spending. Every pound has been examined to check if it is really needed. We are reducing the number of directors from three to two, and we will look at the remainder of our senior management structure during this year with a view to making further savings.

“The loss of council posts has been restricted to around 20 this year, perhaps 40 over a two-year period – which is about 10 per cent of our workforce. But we have managed to protect those services most dear to the hearts of local people and those that make the biggest difference to the town.”