Observer column: 5 February 2021
The number of people in our country who have died from the coronavirus has risen to more than 100,000 and is still rising. More than 200 local people have lost their lives and we have many grieving families and friends in our community. These are still very sad and worrying times and kindness and compassion towards each other will continue to help us get through.
Locally the number of COVID-19 cases continues to fall slowly but there is still a lot of pressure on our hospitals. The mantra of Hands, Face, Space remains as important as ever if we do go out for essential reasons.
The vaccination programme is being rolled out across the country and in our town, we have the GP led vaccination centre at The Hastings Centre who are working through the government's priority list and started with those people aged 80+ and will then move onto the next groups. If you are in the over 80 or over 70 priority groups please don't worry if you haven't been contacted yet. The team will continue to contact you by phone, text or letter with an appointment time. You can now book an appointment yourself depending on the surgery you are registered at or through the booking line. Please check here for further information.
There is also a roving service visiting care homes and those who can't leave their own homes and the Conquest hospital is still vaccinating front line health and social care workers.
There is also another system run by the NHS where vaccinations are being offered at large vaccinations centres such as the ones in Brighton and Eastbourne and at some pharmacies including one in Ore. You may get a letter from the NHS telling you how you can book an appointment at one of the large centres within a 60-mile radius or a local pharmacy.
Please don't worry If you don't want to or can't travel outside our town because you can still book an appointment at The Hastings Centre. It is your choice.
Even after having the vaccination we could still pass the virus on to others so we must remember to keep our distance from others, wear a face covering where required and wash our hands regularly.
Please be on your guard against fake COVID-19 vaccination appointment text and email messages. The COVID-19 vaccination is ONLY available from the NHS and it is FREE - you will never be asked to pay for it or give your bank details.
Remember that if you have any symptoms of the virus book a test immediately and you can be tested here in our town.
It is with sadness that we heard about the death of 100-year-old Captain Sir Tom Moore from the virus. He was such an inspiration to many people including our own amazing Old Hastings House resident Joan Willett aged 104, whose daily hill climb raised over £50 000 for the British Heart Foundation.
In other news the council has submitted a planning application for 192 new homes on land at the rear of Bexhill Road in Bulverhythe. We are desperately in need of more homes in our town and we are aiming for these to be affordable homes using modern methods of construction. The flood mitigation works mean that the houses will be protected against the chance of flooding in a once in a 100-year worst-case scenario and existing Bexhill Road houses will benefit from this as well.
The submission of the Town Investment Plan to the government by the Town Deal board has been a huge undertaking not only by the board but also by the project team and project leads. Well done everyone. The plan, if approved, would see £28.2m of Town Deal money and a further £85m of match funding for the town over the next six years. It is a fantastic opportunity for the town to re-set its ambitions for regeneration and offers an exciting future with benefits for all those who live, work and visit. You can find out more on the blog: www.hastingstowndeal.co.uk
This week we launched our draft local plan consultation and if you are interested in our town and its future, please get involved. You can find everything you need to know, including a video showing the importance of the plan and information on how to share your thoughts, on our website at www.hastings.gov.uk/planning/policy/new-local-plan/consultation/
It's not too late to comment on our draft budget and corporate plan and again you can find these on our website. They will be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Monday and at the council meeting on 17th February. Remember you can watch all the meetings live via our website.
Please stay safe and remember our community hub is still here for you if you need it: call 01424 451019 or fill in the form on our website.
Council Leader's column