Observer column: 02 October 2020
Last week, following rising numbers of cases nationally, the government announced new measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19 which are likely to remain in place for six months.
The new measures, some of which came in to force last week, some this week, and some still to come, include: urging those who can work from home to do so, new restrictions on operating hours for certain businesses, changing some of the rules that affect how businesses can operate, higher fines for businesses who break Covid-19 rules, reducing exemptions for the 'rule of six', new laws and financial support arrangements around self-isolation, expanding the places in which face coverings are required and increased fines for breaking the rule of six and for failing to wear a covering. At the same time the government introduced the new NHS Track and Trace app and is urging everyone to downloaded it.
These measures, which you can find out more about on the government's website, will affect us all and we need to work together to keep supporting each other and to follow the new rules to get through this challenging winter period. The best way to continue to stay safe remains to wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay two metres apart.
We know it is challenging keeping up with these changes and understanding what they mean in practice. We found out about these new measures at the same time as everyone else, following the Prime Minister's announcement. Since then we have been working hard to understand the new guidance and legislation, so we are clear what they mean for Hastings Borough Council and what they mean for residents, businesses and employees. As things become clearer, we will be updating our website, social media and providing information in our weekly resident's newsletter.
This week we had another reminder of the impact that Covid-19 continues to have with the closure of Hastings Academy. The school is being supported by Public Health England as well as the County Council as the local authority responsible for education. We have also been involved and stand ready to do whatever we can to assist. The education of our young people is so important, and they have already faced so much disruption this year.
On a different note, we were thrilled to find out last Friday afternoon that the Hastings Town Deal board's bid for £1million funding was approved.
The projects being funded include restoration of the courtyard space at the former White Rock Baths where Source Park is now located, a new Employment, Events and Advice Hub in the ground floor of East Sussex College Group's Station Plaza building, retail, training and outdoor space at 'Hastings Commons', and increasing the number of electric vehicle charging points in the seafront/town centre car parks, by installing new additional fast electric vehicle charging points.
There are some other funding opportunities for local organisations available now, through Connecting Hastings and Rother Together and the Foreshore Trust.
The Foreshore Trust is asking non-profit-making voluntary and community groups in Hastings and St Leonards to submit applications their new grant programme. The programme is long term over three years, and they are really looking for organisations that aim to improve?the quality of life for residents and encourage participation within?the?local?community and the Trust is focused on specific priorities. You can find out more on our website.
The Connecting Hastings and Rother Together call for projects is also live. This scheme is focusing on organisations and projects that will help people across Hastings and Rother find and keep jobs. It prioritises projects that work with over 50's and those with disabilities as these groups are currently under represented within the programme. They are also looking for projects to support businesses to grow, and to support budding entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
Both funding streams will have a focus on COVID-19 recovery. At the council, we are doing all we can to support the organisations and businesses and our communities which make Hastings the unique place that it is.
October is Black History Month which is an opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate the outstanding contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made to our country over many generations. From business, law and education to technology, sport and the creative arts. Locally, SHADE are organising a cultural trail 'celebrating the past and present of black people in Hastings and St Leonards'. The council will be changing the bottle alley lights as part of its recognition and celebration and at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery the final two submissions from the Black Lives Matters will be on show.
Let's continue to appreciate and show consideration for each other as we find our way through this difficult time.
Council Leader's column