Rother may have to cut tourism budget

FACED with the prospect of having to lop between £20,000 - £40,000 from its tourism budget this year, Rother District Council must now decide how.

At Monday’s meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, it was resolved to set up a seven-strong working group to review various options.

The move is part of a wider cost-cutting drive over the next three years to ensure that Rother can balance its budget and meet its medium term financial strategy .

During this period, it needs to make savings totalling some £2 million - constraints brought about by a significant cut in central government funding.

By establishing a tourism working group, it means the committee has reached the maximum of four that it can appoint at any one time.

Not only will its members have to look at ways of saving money and getting best value this year, but they must also look ahead . Further savings of 25 to 30 per cent could be necessary in 2015-16.

The group will have a remit to consider sharing tourism services with neighbouring authorities, deleting or altering services and possible diversion of resources to support events.

The councillors comprising the group are four Conservatives - Martin Mooney, Jim Carroll, Mary Barnes and Paul Osborne; Liberal Democrat - Kevin Dixon; Independent - Tony Mansi, and Labour - Sam Souster.

The group will report its recommendations to the scrutiny committee on June 17.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Sue Prochak attacked the negativity of the group’s brief.

She said: “Tourism supports 17 per cent of jobs and brings nearly £3 million into Rother.

“Surely we should be looking at ways to attract visitors rather than looking at ways to make cuts?

“This sends out the wrong message and is not a sensible move at all.”

And Independent, Cllr Stuart Earl , said: “We should be looking at wealth creation, not just cutting everything.”