Observer Column 14 October 2022
Standing up for Hastings
At the Council Meeting this week, two important decisions were made.
Firstly, we are standing up for your rights to a decent health service. On the doorstep this is the most important issue for most residents, with seeing (or more often not seeing) your GP the number one complaint. But these same doorstep conversations show a real love for the Conquest, as most people praise both the treatment there and also the customer care. I was impressed last week when the NHS told me they wanted to prioritise Hastings and tackle the health inequalities here, but the next day they announced that cardiac surgery was moving from the Conquest to Eastbourne.
I met senior doctors and managers to ask them to justify that decision. Should they be able to save money at our expense? That seems to be the plan, although they insist that for most patients, heart services will improve with a new unit based at A and E. But for the 1500 people a year who need surgery, they will have to get to Eastbourne. Not an easy or cheap journey. So the NHS promise they will lay on transport, but we all know how close the ambulance service is to collapse locally.
At the Council meeting, the other party leaders agreed to sign my letter to the Health Secretary asking for this decision to be reviewed. Hastings deserves better.
But at the same meeting, it was also agreed to bring our Parks service back into the Council. This gives the committed staff the same pay and conditions that other council workers get, and we will have the flexibility in future to change the service to adapt to climate change and the changing priorities locally. Combined with stronger environmental protection in our new Local Plan, I expect great things in our green spaces over the next few years. The town can work with forward looking organisations like Plumpton College and Great Dixter, and local people too.
You can watch the Council meeting on the HBC website. You might be surprised at the passion and commitment from councillors to make Hastings a great place to live. We also agreed to lobby for a 20 mile an hour limit on our residential streets to save lives and improve air quality.
Let me know if you agree, it's easy to respond on my daily Facebook blog: PaulBarnettCouncilLeader
Council Leader's column