Press Releases week beginning 10 February 2020
West Hill lift repairs delayed
Plans to return the main drive wheel of the West Hill lift this morning (Monday 10 February) have been thwarted by the tail of storm Ciara.
Engineers had expected to crane the wheel back into place at 800am following its return from a foundry in Rotherham. But with gusts of around 30 mph, it was too windy for the move. The forecast is for strong winds for several days, so the operation has been postponed until next week.
It is still hoped that the lift will reopen before Easter.
Wild Ponies return to Hastings Nature Reserve
Wild Exmoor ponies will be returning to Hastings Country Park this February. Hastings Borough Council is bringing the new herd of 5 ponies to the reserve from the Exmoor. They will replace the herd that left the site last year to go to pastures new. The ponies are part of a mixed grazing system at Hastings Country Park, where together with the belted Galloway cattle they are able to manage the wild hilly landscape of the glens. The ponies and cattle manage the rare and unique habitats around the Warren Glen areas of the reserve. The acid grassland and coastal heathland habitats are some of the most threatened habitats in the UK. Restoring these coastal habitats and protecting wildlife is the long term aim of the management of the reserve.
Councillor Colin Fitzgerald, Lead member for Environment and Chair of the Hastings Country Park Management Forum said,
'The ponies are much loved and have been missed by walkers and visitors. The animals are not only a great attraction but they do a fantastic job of managing the rare habitats and landscape of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve.
"Hastings Borough Council has declared a biodiversity and climate emergency in recognition of the continuing decline to the UK's species and habitats. Here at Hastings Country Park we are making sure we are restoring habitats, protecting wildlife and reversing the decline in biodiversity.'
The ponies and the belted Galloway cattle will be free roaming around Warren Glen throughout the year. The ponies and the cattle are not farm animals, they are wild. Members of the public are advised to enjoy looking at them but not to try and get too close or feed them.
Lifeboat heroes get standing ovation at Hastings council meeting
The crew of the Hastings lifeboat, the RNLB Richard and Caroline Colton received a standing ovation from members of Hastings Borough Council at its full council meeting on Wednesday, 12 February.
The crew were publicly thanked by council leader Cllr Peter Chowney for their bravery when launched to look for a missing surfboarder during Storm Ciara on Sunday, 9 February. The video of the Shannon class lifeboat almost capsizing as it tried to return to shore made national news, and has received millions of hits on social media.
Cllr Chowney said,
"It is only right that we recognise the incredible bravery of the crew. I listened as Coxswain Mark Tewkesbury gave a most dignified interview on World at One, refusing to comment on the surfboarder, making the point that their job is to go out and rescue anyone in trouble at sea.
"But the public do need to think about the consequences of their actions, as they do put the lives of the rescuers at risk.
"I would like to pay tribute to the crew, all volunteers, for their tremendous bravery on Sunday."
The crew then received a standing ovation from all councillors, officers, and members of the public at the meeting.
Rare plant species thrives again in Hastings Country Park nature reserve
A just completed survey on behalf of Natural England says that Hastings Country Park is the best site in the UK for the rare plant Dumortier's Liverwort. Dumortiera hirsuta is thriving because Hastings Borough Council took back management of Fairlight Place Farm at Hastings Country Park.
Colin Fitzgerald, lead councillor for parks and open spaces said,
"Following serious slurry pollution to the Site of Special Scientific Interest at Fairlight Glen in 2000, HBC brought the tenanted farm back into public management.
"We changed it from an intensive dairy operation to a low-intensity mixed farming regime focused on biodiversity enhancement. The pollution from the cattle slurry nearly wiped out the plant, but we stopped the pollution and reversed the decline in this rare and important species.
"It is fantastic to see our conservation efforts paying off with rare plants thriving in the glens."
The first record of D.hirsuta in Hastings is from 1883, where it was often reported as plentiful and from where it is represented by many herbarium specimens The present survey recorded a similarly large population, along 425 m of the main stream and the lowest 15 m of the main side tributary, concentrated at the top of the valley, within the vicinity of Dripping Well.
The plant is now thriving with half the entire England population focused in Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve.