Press Releases week beginning 11 May 2020
Council decides not to proceed with solar arrays in country park
Following a cabinet decision in January 2019, Hastings Borough Council began investigating the possibility of housing ground mounted solar arrays in the country park.
This involved examining the business case for the arrays and asking Natural England's Discretionary Advisory Service (DAS) to advise on the impacts of placing the arrays in the nature reserve.
Unfortunately, this process took longer than hoped and significant changes in both council resources and leadership took place in the meantime, as well as the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Cllr Forward, leader of the council, and Cllr Fitzgerald, deputy leader, have begun reviewing all planned major projects in the light of COVID-19 and the council's likely new position in terms of budget and officer resource available.
One of the early outcomes of these reviews, and following the response from Natural England, is that the council will not pursue the installation of Solar Arrays in the country park.
Despite this the council remains committed to finding solutions to the significant challenges presented by climate change, as laid out in our recently published Climate Change Strategy.
Officers are continuing to explore other renewable energy schemes, such as roof top solar and solar car ports. These will be developed in partnership over the coming months.
Cllr Forward, leader of the council, said:
"We would like to take the opportunity to thank partners, particularly the Friends of Hastings Country Park, for engaging with us during this time and acting as robust critical friends as we looked to deliver solutions to the climate emergency, we all face.
The council's climate change strategy provides a significant commitment to tackle climate change and reduce our carbon footprint. It is only by working with others, in partnership, and having difficult conversations that we will be able to identify and implement approaches that respond to that emergency."
Cllr Evans, cabinet lead for climate change, said:
"We made it clear in our recently published climate strategy that we would look for workable solutions to help tackle the climate emergency and would need to be flexible as the strategy develops. That requires creativity and a lot of exploration. It also means moving on once we've investigated things if they don't meet our needs."
The council's website will be updated accordingly with the DAS advice published in full as part of this process.
Hastings & 1066 Country says no to visitors… for now
Following the government announcement on Sunday setting out plans for easing lockdown restrictions, Hastings Borough Council has been working on how this affects our town moving forward, while it continues to manage its infection rate.
Hastings has one of the lowest Covid-19 infection and death rates in England, and the council is mindful of the potential risks increased visitors from other areas could have on the residents of our town.
In order for the town to continue to keep its hospital, residents and keyworkers protected the council, and 1066 Country Marketing, the private public sector tourism marketing partnership responsible for promoting the area, have made the decision that we do not want visitors just yet. This is in line with decisions made by other popular destinations such just as The Lakes, Cornwall, Brighton, Blackpool and the Peak District.
Kevin Boorman, manager of 1066 Country Marketing, said:
"We would love to welcome visitors to Hastings and 1066 Country once our attractions, hotels, B&Bs and restaurants are open to welcome you. But until life returns to some normality please do not come here. Hastings and 1066 Country will be here waiting for you when lockdown lifts, we are not going anywhere. For now you can enjoy our fantastic 1066 Country online with Visit 1066 here."
Cllr Kim Forward, leader of the council, said:
"We love welcoming visitors to Hastings, some of whom return every year to enjoy the fantastic attractions, restaurants and shops our town has to offer. But for now Hastings will remain closed to visitors until we feel it is safe for our town to welcome them again. Our toilets are closed across our town as well which is helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We are all working hard in Hastings to keep our residents safe and our infection rate is relatively low and we need it to be even lower."
Council encourages residents to take part in 'No Mow May'
This week Hastings Borough Council announced it wouldn't be proceeding with putting solar arrays in the country park after investigating the feasibility of this. This was just one part of the council's efforts to tackle climate change, as laid out in our Climate Change Strategy. The council will continue to look at every opportunity it can to tackle this crisis.
There are things that everyone can do every day to help tackle climate change. One of those being taking part in 'No Mow May' by not mowing your lawn throughout May to help support the pollinating insects which are key to human survival.
Councillor Maya Evans, cabinet lead on climate change and biodiversity said,
"Although we have made the decision not to put solar arrays in country park, we are still dedicated to our climate change strategy and striving for a greener Hastings.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of everyone's minds at the moment, it is still incredibly important to continue addressing the climate crisis and looking at how we can all help contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change in Hastings.
This is why we are encouraging residents to take part in 'No Mow May' to support bees and other pollinating insects which are an essential part of the ecosystem that keeps us alive.
I'm planning to let my lawn grow during May, after which I'm then going for a 'Mohican' lawn cut - the two grass lengths will enable me to get the highest production of flowers and nectar with short grass, and a wider range of flowers with un-mown grass.
Small actions like this make a huge difference to help tackle climate change, and by taking part in No Mow May, you're doing nature a massive favour."
In the last week of May, join Every Flower Counts - the largest ever survey of the humble lawn. Last year it was calculated that lawns which took part in the survey produced a colossal 23kg of nectar sugar per day, enough to support 2.1 million honeybees.
Get involved by counting the number of flowers in a random square meter of your garden, and send results into Plantlife between 25th-29th May.
Council waiting on government guidance to develop new discretionary business grant scheme
The government announced on Friday 1 May 2020 that they would be making additional money available to local authorities to support businesses not eligible for funding under the Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme.
Councillor Kim Forward, leader of the council, said:
"This announcement of more money to support businesses is very welcome. We know how much of an impact coronavirus has had on the businesses in the town, many of which are in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector.
We are waiting for the government to set national criteria for eligibility so that we can decide who is eligible locally based on that criteria. As soon as we get more details about the funding, the criteria and grant conditions we will put it on our website."
Local authorities are being asked to prioritise the following types of business from this funding:
- Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible work spaces e.g. industrial parks, business incubator units, and so on which do not have their own rating assessment
- Regular market traders
- B&Bs which pay council tax instead of business rates
- Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief
The grants can only go to:
- Businesses with ongoing fixed building related costs
- Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID- 19 crisis
- Businesses with less than 50 employees
- Businesses that were trading on or before 11 March 2020
- Businesses which are eligible for the existing grant scheme or Self-Employed Income Support Scheme are ineligible
Councillor Peter Chowney, lead councillor for finance and property, said:
"The additional funding, estimated at some £1,389,000, is very welcome and will help support some of those businesses in Hastings that are falling through the eligibility gaps in the government's existing Business Grant Fund schemes.
"The scope is however still very limited, won't go far and won't help everyone. The council looks forward to receiving the details from the government and will look to develop a scheme as quickly as possible thereafter. When available, the details will be posted on the council's website, along with how to apply."