THE leader of Hastings Borough Council has launched a scathing attack on the county council for savage cuts which he says will hit the disabled and vulnerable.

Labour’s Peter Chowney is demanding to know why the Tory group on East Sussex County Council – which has the most councillors but no overall control – won’t spend any of its £122 million reserves.

On Tuesday the county council approved the Tory budget which will see savings of £70 million in the next three years.

Councillor Chowney said, ‘While I have a lot of sympathy with the council and the scale of government cuts they have to face, I fail to see why such big cuts are necessary when they're sitting on £122m in reserves.

‘The government has told councils they should be reducing their reserves by using them to balance the budget - which Hastings Council is doing.

‘But ESCC isn't - so in Hastings, the Seaview Project gets a £48,000 cut and may have to close - which will lead to much more rough sleeping, homelessness and street begging in St Leonards especially.

‘These cuts affect the most vulnerable people with the most chaotic lives. And when services such as Seaview - which represents excellent value for money, because so many of the people who help out there are volunteers -, they're gone forever.’ Another cut will see wardens removed from 93 sheltered housing complexes in the county to save £1.2 million.

A spokesman for Eastbourne Homes – which manages 11 of these schemes – said,’ ‘We have worked hard to mitigate the impact on residents of the loss of funding from ESCC and are seeking their views on three options.

“The options include a proposal that Eastbourne Homes will fund almost 50% of the loss of funding, and all the options involve keeping the on-site co-ordinator service.

‘Eastbourne Council has also agreed to reduce sheltered housing rents by 1% from 1st April, despite the recent announcement that these rents could be increased.

“We have been working closely with residents and will be holding consultation meetings for residents at each sheltered scheme to discuss the way forward. We will also be providing advice to residents to ensure that they are claiming any benefits they are entitled to. ‘ Councillor David Elkin, deputy leader of East Sussex County Council, has admitted that these cuts will impact on people’s quality of life.

But he said there was no other choice because the grant from central government had dropped to such an extent there was a huge shortfall in money.

He also said that the problem may get worse in the coming years, and the shortfall could be even higher, so there was a need to be prudent while at the same time delivering a sustainable budget.

He also said that the amount of reserves was within the recommended range.

But he said last night that he didn't recognise the figure used above by the Hastings leader.