Observer column 19 August 2022
We are making progress
It's always easy to see the many things that need fixing but much harder to make a fix that works.
So this week I am pleased to write about a couple of steps in the right direction.
One of the really thorny issues over the last two years has been the big increase in street drinkers in the town centre. So a range of short, medium and long term fixes have been put in place to try and ensure that no one feels that they are put off from coming into town because of some often rowdy behaviour.
Long term we are hosting a national pilot to help people with addiction, Project Adder. This is now up and running successfully, starting to engage with residents, mainly those with serious drug addictions. Many of these people also have problems with alcohol, and some of the team of new workers have had addiction issues themselves, so understand how best to help life style changes happen. But it's a long term challenge.
In the medium term we are redesigning the town centre, to improve the range of attractions (Owens opens soon, and then the Observer Building) and transform the quality of the streetscape. Our Garden Town project will green the town centre and encourage new visitors, families to spend time in town and then new investment, including I hope a wider range of local independent shops and more housing.
And in the short term all agencies are doing their best to stop the street drinking right in the middle of town, mainly along Wellington Place. I want a zero tolerance of street drinking here, and with some council assistance there will be additional police patrols starting today for the next few weeks.
And I heard other good news when I met Rebecca Conroy, the College Principal, this week. She outlined that East Sussex College, of which Hastings is a key component now, has been teaching the new T-levels (T for technology) for the last two years, one of only 50 colleges to pilot this new qualification, the equivalent of A levels. This will help put technical education back on the map for our local students, who will get their results this week. The courses include a large industry placement element, and our students will go on thanks to this to impressive degree courses, higher apprenticeships and well paid jobs.
Excellent to see our local young people able to access these routes, but of course more for us to do to make sure all of our communities understand the potential of these T-level courses for them.
I look forward to regular meetings with the College as we develop a new approach to partnership working.
Council Leader's column