Observer column: 29 May 2020
There's a lot going on at the moment that I could tell you about, such as the new funding we will be able to claim to help re-open our high streets safely; how we are now able to host virtual council meetings enabling anyone who is interested to watch them live; our work with the county council on how the active transport funding should be used in Hastings or our financial position.
Instead I thought that I would talk about our council and a bit about what we've been doing, alone and with partners, to protect our residents, keep our services running and support businesses during this pandemic. In short rising up and meeting the challenge and serving the community as local people would expect and hope for at such times.
Council employees are key workers and a lot of what the council does, in good times as well as right now, is done in the background. It is the day to day work of keeping our town running. I am proud that when the pandemic struck, the council, side by side with its partners, was there for its town.
When we talk about 'the council' we are talking about people, just like you, most of whom live here and are living through this crisis with you. They work hard because they want the best for this town and its people. Hastings Borough Council is your council, it's our council, our town's council and the council officers have been working long hours, at weekends over bank holidays and have made personal sacrifices to ensure we get what we need.
Some examples of what they have been doing are: delivering food and prescription medication; answering all the phone calls to the Hastings Community Hub and finding the right help for people; keeping waste services running; operating the cemetery and crematorium within new guidelines and working with businesses to help them access the vital government grand funding for which they are eligible. In addition they have made sure our other services have been available for you.
Last week we had our very first virtual all staff briefing the first since the pandemic started and this was a time to pause and reflect on all that we have managed to do to support our people and our town and it was a chance for me to be able to thank everyone for their amazing hard work. I was thanking them on your behalf as well.
The full detail about all the council has done, since the pandemic started, to manage the impact on the town and keep our services going can be found in a report which will be published on our website today and it is worth a read to get the full picture.
When we look back at this time I hope the council will be remembered for doing its job: for standing with its people and wrapping its arms around this town and holding it tight.
Throughout this time we have been supported and assisted by your co-operation and understanding and by you taking the 'stay safe stay home' message seriously and following the guidelines. I am proud that as a town we have come together with a shared sense of responsibility and helped to protect each other. I am aware of how difficult it has been for many of you and of the sacrifices that have been made. Thank you very much. Please continue to say home and stay safe wherever possible.
Council Leader's column