Last week we were able to share some of the benefits of managing the council’s finances well.
Despite the 40 per cent cuts to our funding from central Government, we delivered a small underspend last year, meaning we were able to allocate just under £900,000 in committee on Thursday to things that residents and organisations in the city have told us are needed.
Top of the list was money to improve, maintain and keep safe our city’s parks. Issues with litter, drug waste and anti-social behaviour, particularly at weekends, has been the subject of a lot of concern recently, so we put over £230,000 into weekend staff and other measures to make our parks and open spaces better.
We also agreed £50,000 to help meet additional demand on services tackling domestic violence, and £200,000 so that we can focus on issues like benefit changes.
We committed £100,000 to the crowdfunding campaign to restore the iconic Madeira Terraces, which will launch next week. Alongside our pledge to commit a million pounds from the revenue we get from the i360, this should put us in a good place to win substantial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in the autumn.
If we can restore this stretch of our seafront then the future rewards in tourism and business revenue will be very good for our city.
There was also a contribution to the memorial for the victims of the Shoreham Air Disaster, and a loan to Saltdean Lido whose launch has been so successful.
Finally we would have liked to put £250,000 into local communities, with spending priorities decided by residents, community groups and local councillors. The aim was to tackle small but important street-level problems, or kick-start fundraising campaigns for neighbourhood projects. Sadly this was opposed by the Conservatives, alongside most of the other priorities to benefit residents as well, but once again we have focused on getting the basics right, supporting the most vulnerable, and growing our economy to the benefit of everyone. It’s what Brighton and Hove deserves.