Observer column: 19 March 2021
We have started our journey on the 'roadmap' out of full lockdown with our children and young people returning to schools and colleges and us being allowed to meet up socially with one other person outside. If all goes to plan the next easing of the restrictions will take place on Monday 29th March when we will be allowed to meet outside, including in our gardens, with up to six people or two households.
The number of people with the virus has reduced a lot recently which is very good news, but it is still here in our town so please remember the mantra of hands, face, space, as this will help to keep us all safe. Many of us have had our vaccinations now and it is important to get a jab when it is your turn but remember you may still pass the virus on to others who have not had theirs. Let's all remain very cautious as we welcome springtime and the new possibilities that it brings with the easing of restrictions.
This has been a difficult year for many of our businesses and 'non-essential' shops must remain closed until at least the 12th April, meaning that it will be a very quiet Easter on the high street. Details of all the support grants available to businesses and the eligibility criteria is on our website.
On Saturday 20 March 2021, World Against Racism & Fascism - an international coalition of anti-racist movements - will come together for United Nations Anti-Racism Day to oppose all forms of racism and fascism in a global day of action. Our poster boards along the seafront are advertising the day, and the lights in Bottle Alley will turn purple, the chosen colour of the Black Lives Matter movement. We are asked to take the knee at 1pm to show support and we can join an international online rally at 5pm.
The local elections for both Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council are happening on Thursday May 6th and it is a good idea to get a postal vote, so you don't have to go to a polling station. Everyone is entitled to a postal vote; it is easy to apply (the deadline in April 20th) and you can find the details on our website. Our polling stations will be COVID-secure of course if you do want to cast your vote in person.
Remember that Sunday March 21st is census day and you should have received your letter by now. You can find out more on the census 2021 website: www.census.gov.uk.
It was with great sadness that we heard of the murder of Sarah Everard and our thoughts are with her friends and family. Women should feel and be safe on our streets at any time and in any place and they should also feel safe in their homes.
Every year many women are attacked and killed by men and most of these incidents are carried out by men who are known to them. In our town we have many women who are being abused and nationally one in four women will be the victims of domestic violence in their lifetime.
We must work together as a society to ensure the systemic changes in attitudes to women that are needed become a reality. Without this the violence won't stop. The embedded misogyny and stereotypes must be challenged and ended, and the onus falls on men to join women in acknowledging this and calling for change.
All men can rise to the challenge and no longer condone but call out sexist behaviour and abuse when they see it as women have been doing all their lives.
Help and support for domestic violence and abuse can be found at theportal.org.uk and safeineastsussex.org.uk
Council Leader's column