Observer column: 11 June 2021
We have some good news to celebrate this week, as our Hastings' Town Investment Plan was approved by the Government, so we have been awarded £24.3m from the Towns Fund. This award means that we will attract a further £85m of match funding for the proposals in the plan.
This offers our town exciting prospects and is exactly the boost our local economy needs, following the huge impact that has been felt because of the pandemic.
The vision is that Hastings will thrive as a healthy, vibrant, and quirky seaside town that people love to visit, live, and work in. The programme was built around seven project themes and offers us exciting opportunities to drive forward sustainable growth and prosperity.
This investment will enable: revitalisation of Hastings Castle, so it becomes a major visitor attraction; three new regional low carbon 'green' skills training facilities and the development of land-based skills. There will also be investment in employment sites, large empty town centre buildings and much needed town centre regeneration. You can find more information at www.hastingstowndeal.co.uk
Over the next 12 months, business cases for each project will need to be developed and submitted to government for approval. It is only then that the funding will be released, and work can actually start.
All the energy and enthusiasm shown by those involved in the development of the Town Investment Plan over a long period has brought us this successful outcome. We had over 150 innovative ideas through the open call for ideas which were independently assessed against government criteria to ensure they met the brief for the funding.
Thanks to everyone who has been involved in this process: local organisations and residents who submitted their regeneration ideas for the town, the Town Deal board members, council officers and others who have worked very hard to develop the plans. You did it and the future looks brighter as a result!
Although virus rates remain low in our town the 'delta' variant continues to spread so it remains as important as ever to remember to socially distance, cover your face and wash your hands regularly. There are more pop-up vaccination clinics in June and July and the Hastings Centre is on the national booking system now. Let's encourage everyone to get their jab.
We could still pass the virus on even after we have been vaccinated and around a third of people who have the virus don't show any symptoms when they have COVID-19. We should use a 'lateral flow test' free at pharmacies on a regular basis to check we haven't caught it.
Finally, this week is Carers' Week where we celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by our country's millions of unpaid carers: in East Sussex there are over 69,000 people who look after a relative, friend or neighbour who couldn't manage without them. They are doing this all year round. The theme this year is Making Caring Visible and Valued and we have a long way to go to ensure that this happens. Thank you to everyone caring for someone else, we value you and recognise how difficult your role can be. Support and advice can be found through Care for the Carers
Council Leader's column