New Towner bill under fire from Tory councillors

THE NEW Towner Art Gallery will cost tax-payers an extra £320,00, according to Tories.

The budget for the Towner was originally set at £569,300 but has now been increased to £889,300.

Worried Tories hit out at the rise at an Eastbourne Borough Council meeting on Wednesday night.

Annabelle West, an Upperton campaigner, said that in these times of austerity when everyone is trying to reduce spending and cut back, it was unacceptable the Towner’s budget should have increased.

Conservative finance spokesman councillor Graham Marsden also criticised the Galleries and Museums budget, questioned the council’s spending and said the budget the Liberal Democrats had set would lead to long-term debt for Eastbourne council tax payers.

He said, “While the budget, as always, balances the books, it puts off any potential pain for residents until after the elections in May.

“I find the budget uninspiring and lacking in vision for the town.

“It does nothing to make one feel Eastbourne will be a better place in the future. The council may be more efficient and effective but the Liberal-Democrat administration is failing in its responsibility of facing up to the challenges of taking the town forward.

“The country continues to face a very difficult period, but while the Coalition Government is prepared to face up to the challenges and do what is necessary to return Britain to financial stability, our council plans to extend its borrowing powers to the equivalent of £9,000 for every man, woman and child in Eastbourne.

“It doesn’t make sense.”

Resident and fellow Conservative campaigner Gordon Jenkins also addressed the council meeting and said he too was worried about the long-term debt facing residents.

“As we are all only too aware, this country is living through a very difficult financial crisis, some would say the worst financial crisis it has ever seen, and it is a direct consequence of the previous Government’s actions that we are in a situation of such significant debt.

“The council papers show the current level of long-term debt burden Eastbourne Borough Council carries is expected to be £58.7m, thankfully a reduction of £1.15m from last year.

But the papers also show this burden will increase to £81.8m in 2011/12, to £87.9m in 2012/13 and finally £88.9m in 2013/14, a total increase in three years of £30.1m.

“Why is the council not following the Government’s example to cut back on its financial deficit?

Such a level of debt really is totally outrageous.”