Seaford Town Councillors were recently advised of the many successes achieved during their 4-year term of office.
The term started in May 2015 with the Council having very low financial reserves and therefore it appeared little opportunity to undertake improvements in the town. Despite keeping the Council Tax the lowest in the District and managing to increase the reserves to an acceptable level, the Council achieved many successes over the four years. These included;
• Construction of new £210,000 children’s play area within the Salts
• New £240,000 skatepark commenced construction
• Neighbourhood Plan passed Regulation 14 stage
• Construction of the popular Shoal art feature bench on the seafront
• Council’s Finances now secure
• Built 20 beach huts at Bonningstedt, sold 12 in first full summer
• New concessions attracted to seafront
• The View and Golf cost centre now back in profit
• Developed a new highly skilled workforce
• New daily hire beach huts in place
• New craft stall beach huts in place
• In partnership with Sam Taylor putting in place disabled beach access
• Generates highest level of non-council tax income in the Country
• Lowest taxing Town Council in the District and East Sussex
• Set up the long-term security of Seaford Head Nature reserve in partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust
• Introduced the long awaited new brown sign scheme around town
• Secured retention of football pitch and other facilities within Newlands as well as reducing housing numbers to agreeable level
• Secured external funding for outdoor table tennis and skatepark additions (more grant applications pending)
• Generated over £70,000 income from film rights in one year
• Secured over 30 recognised qualifications for employees
• Established strong working relationships with many groups including Lewes District Council, Wave Leisure, Seaford Community Partnership, The Old Town Hall group, The Museum, The Arts at The Crypt, all the local sports clubs and many more
• Construction of a new barn at the golf course and new water tank
• Completion of the construction of The View bar restaurant and golf facility
• Successfully defended the proposed sale of the Buckle car park
• Set up a partnership to self-manage the Crypt Art Gallery (saving STC £5,000 plus per annum), now have a craft store open six days per week there selling local crafts
• Renewed lease arrangements with Martello Museum to enable museum to secure £300,000 in grant funding
• Established the Old Town Hall as a self-running tea room and meeting place for the elderly
• Re-established management arrangements with Friends of Blatchington pond to enable its continued good maintenance
• Set up a partnership with Premier Soccer which now enable 250 plus youngsters to play football every week
• Improved Christmas Magic and now attract over 40 events to town every year including outdoor cinema and this year a beer festival
• Adopted the Council’s first Strategic Plan
• Adopted a full system of corporate governance
• Provided the Town with a much-needed medium sized employer with a typical 45 staff employed at any given time working from 4 hours per week up to full time
• Improved the quality of maintenance of all the Councils 250 acre plus estate with regular inspections now in place
Seaford Town Council is now the 7th biggest Town or Parish Council in the Country in terms of finances. It is the biggest in Sussex in terms of finance and its staff numbers. It is perhaps more notably the biggest generator of non-tax payer income in the Country. The total income generated this financial year was £1,718,603, which is 2.4 times more than is generated from local taxpayers through the precept at £709,949.
This has been partially achieved by The Golf and The View total income £1,043,072. This year the Golf and The View have again gone back into profit with a surplus income of £117,056, (reduced to £22,365 after funds set aside in ear marked reserves for spike bar and borehole). This means that since the Town Council acquired the Golf Course in 2005 the total surplus income from golf now totals £366,123 which is one of the reasons why the Council tax in Seaford is significantly lower than any other Town in the District.
In addition to the golf income the Council has secured regular income from other commercial sources. A Council spokesman said “The total income generated within the Council offices this year is £675,531 (in addition to the funds generated at the golf complex) which is staggering when you consider that the main activities for Council Officers is non-income generating activities and that the total wages bill is £359,037 (including all on costs). The Council staff main activities are providing corporate and civic support, maintaining over 300 acres of assets including over 16 buildings, facilitating 40 plus events per year and delivering numerous new projects every year. To achieve all of this with such a small workforce is an amazing achievement!”
The omens are already good for the current financial year both at The Golf and The View and within the Council offices with financial performance and bookings already looking very encouraging. A priority for the new Council is the replacement of the Martello Toilets with an up to date facility including Changing Places disabled toilet, indoor seating area, sheltered outdoor seating and two new concessions one relocating the existing concession. Council Officers are currently looking at sources of funding to enable the new facility to be built as soon as possible. Minor refurbishment works will take place soon to improve the toilets for this summer.
Thanks to the foundation stones that have been put in place by this outgoing Council, the projects that will be delivered, at no cost to local taxpayers but through prudence, commercial acumen and securing of grants will continue to increase to provide the much needed facilities and improvements to the town that residents ask for, whilst continuing to ensure the Council remains a commercially viable operation without onerous increases in Council tax.