A council is increasing its burden on residents by more than it needs to, according to opposition councillors who called for additional help for coastal residents whose homes are at risk.

Lewes District’s budget was approved at a meeting of the full council last night/this week (Feb 24th) but not without criticism from Conservative councillors who felt that it was a ‘tax and spend’ proposal which would end-up leaving people worse off.

An area Conservatives felt was unfairly neglected in the proposed budget was work on coastal erosion. They proposed an amendment for £10,000 to be devoted to a project to support residents in high-risk areas whose homes were at risk from the crumbling cliffs.  The Conservative proposal was approved and incorporated into the new budget.

“I am pleased that the council will now be able to participate in the Coastal Loss Innovative Funding and Finance project (undertaken by Coastal Partnership East) which will examine ways to financially support residents whose homes could be at risk from coastal erosion”, said Conservative Leader Cllr Isabelle Linington.

The Conservative group also pointed out that the district’s increase was higher than it need be. They criticised the ruling alliance for choosing a £5 hike rather than the lower two per cent increase they could have chosen. When they ran the council, their increase was just 1.99 per cent, Conservative Group Leader Cllr Isabelle Linington reminded the meeting.

Residents will be paying more for the council to increase its reserves rather than to spend on vital services, Cllr Roy Burman (Conservative, Newick) told the meeting. This would place the burden on those who could least afford it, he added.  This was a ‘tax and spend’ budget being adopted by the ruling alliance, said Cllr Sam Adeniji (Conservative, Seaford South), following ten years of prudent approach under his Party’s leadership.

For Cllr Jim Lord (Conservative, Seaford North) there were serious concerns about the housing provision element in the new budget. He questioned the quality, design and build satisfaction of the proposed new council homes, while raising doubt about the borrowing requirement to fund the scheme and whether it would provide value-for-money. Cllr Ian White (Conservative, Seaford West) said it looked like being luxury housing paid for by the public, looking at the figures.

The new budget for Lewes District Council came on the day when the Conservative government confirmed the biggest increase in council’s spending power for a  decade to help local authorities.