Keeping a ‘white elephant’ afloat

Readers my be aware of the huge amount of our council taxpayer’s money Rother District Council see fit to grant to the De La Warr Pavilion in order to keep that particular white elephant afloat. In the last financial year this amounted to £555,975 from RDC combined with £525,674 from the Arts Council. As RDC are trumpeting loud that they have a reduced amount of money to spend on front line services I was expecting to find that the DLW Pavilion had also had its’ grant cut. Such a move may have galvanised the DLW Pavilion Trust into becoming more business-like and attempting to at least break even, but as can be seen from the reply to my question to the Leader of RDC (below) that is not to be the case.

Question. ‘In view of the reduced finances available to RDC what will be the total grant from RDC to the De La Warr Pavilion for 2013/14? How much less will this be than it was for the previous financial year in monetary terms? By how much has the Arts Council reduced its financial support to the DLW Pavilion for the 2013/2014 financial year?’

RDC reply; Rother District Council has approved a budget for financial year 2013/14 that does not reduce the budget commitment to the De La Warr Pavilion Trust. The Arts Council likewise has not reduced their budget to the Trust.

Nevertheless, with the stringent financial times ahead RDC and the Arts Council will be discussing their commitments to the Trust in the future This will require the Trust playing their role but it will also be a careful balance to ensure avoiding financial problems for them. These discussions will be occurring throughout 2013 and no decision has yet been made. (04/03/2013)

RDC News dated 4th March 2013 relating to proposed increases for the users of allotments and beach huts contains the following statements:

Rother has a number of services it must provide by law (or ‘statutory services’), but others are classed as discretionary or ‘non-statutory’. In order to protect the statutory services, councillors are being advised to look at where savings or income can be made.

Cabinet will consider if it is fair for all Rother residents to pick up most of the bill for something a minority use.

RDC say fee increases aren’t something they take any pleasure in recommending. Councillors will have to decide if, with a shortage of funding, it is right for the Council to subsidise things like beach huts and allotments with tax payer’s money or if the people who use them should pay a bit more of the true cost.

The difference between income and expenditure on beach huts is £5,000. The grant to the DLWP is well over £500,000.

Also RDC say they have advised officers to work up plans to find almost £500,000 of savings this year and £1million next year in the face of large reductions to their funding by Government. This is likely to see some Council services reduced or stopped, although it is has yet to be decided which areas will be affected.

I know where I would be looking to save money.

R A Came