Observer column: 14 May 2021
It has been confirmed that we will be moving to Step 3 on the COVID-19 roadmap from Monday May 17th, which is especially significant for Hastings as a tourist destination. Our pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to open fully and we can eat and drink inside as well as outside and visitors to our town will be able to stay overnight in our hotels and guest houses.
There was a real buzz about town over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, and it will be great to see the town properly open again. There are still restrictions and guidelines in place though, and it is important that we remember the virus is still with us. The same message about wearing face coverings and washing our hands apply and we need to remember social distancing and the space we keep between ourselves and others not in our household or support bubble.
More and more of us have been vaccinated and to ensure everyone in the groups that are eligible can access their jabs we have some 'pop up' clinics coming to town in central locations. When your turn comes please make sure you get your jab.
The elections last week involved a huge amount of work from hundreds of people making sure it was as safe as possible. I would like to thank everyone who worked on the elections for ensuring this democratic process could take place. Going forward it would be good to see an increase in the number of people who vote as the turnout was around 35%, which is the same as it always is in local elections.
We have a lot to do over the coming year as we are still managing our way through the difficulties caused by the pandemic and helping our town to recover as well. We will continue to work with partners to the priorities contained in our corporate plan which is reviewed regularly and to deliver the services that people depend on. Together we will build a brighter future.
Thanks to all the councillors who have left us for their service over many years and welcome to all the newly elected councillors. The former deputy leader Colin Fitzgerald's support for our town through what was a very challenging year was invaluable and Cllr Paul Barnett is pleased to be taking on this role. It is good to see that nearly half of the Labour councillors are women.
The annual council meeting will take place next week as a meeting in person and will be a socially distanced event at which we will elect a new mayor and deputy. All our formal meetings will continue to be live streamed on our website and available to watch afterwards. Please visit www.hastings.gov.uk
Don't forget that this is also the place where you can report litter and fly tipping (and do much more). Thanks to everyone who does this already and to Tidy Up St Leonards and all the volunteers who are litter picking in our town to help us keep it looking lovely. We really appreciate your work.
Council Leader's column