Observer column: 24 December 2021
2021 began with a national lockdown and is ending with more concerns about very high COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant which is very transmissible. It has been a difficult time and we could not have predicted that we would still be battling the virus at the year end.
Even without the added pressure of COVID-19, the NHS is always very busy over the winter, which is their most difficult time. With the national drive to get everyone boosted this has led to even more pressure for our health workers. Thanks to everyone who has been working on the vaccination programme this year (NHS staff, volunteers from community groups and council officers) for all their hard work and dedication to ensuring as many people as possible in our town are protected against COVID-19.
Everyone is eligible to book their booster, as long it has been more than three months since your second dose. If you are trying to book your booster, please keep trying - there are additional appointments being made available at the town's vaccination centres which will continue into the new year. We also have an additional centre at the Conquest Hospital which opened this week. This will be able to offer 7,500 boosters a week. GP surgeries across town are also hosting pop-up clinics. The Hastings Centre will be open over Christmas on 28 to 30 December.
Texts are also being sent by the Hastings vaccination team. If you receive one of these, follow the link on the text to access more Hastings appointments. The Hastings vaccination team has done a fantastic job over the last year, getting so many of you vaccinated and protected
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms over Christmas, the town's testing site at Falaise Road will be open and the mobile testing unit will also be at Pelham Place car park between Christmas and the new year. If you have symptoms, you must book a PCR test and self-isolate until you get your results. If your results are positive, please follow the instructions you are given with your result.
Bin collections over the Christmas holidays will be a working day later than usual for most people. You can check your collection date and find out all the council's Christmas opening hours on our website at www.hastings.gov.uk/my-council/christmas_information. This also includes information about food supplies for those who need support.
Some council officers will be working over the Christmas holidays doing essential work and others will be on call ready to respond to any emergencies. With ever decreasing funding, local government officers are working harder than ever and have coped well with the increased workload brought about by COVID-19. Thank you to all our council officers.
I am proud of what we have been able to achieve this year and next year we will work to continue to deliver more of the projects in our corporate plan. This will include more work on the Town Deal regeneration programme which should bring £100m worth of investment into our town over several years.
The lights in Bottle Alley lights are red and green for Christmas now and our light shows take place at 7.30 and 9.30pm, with extended shows on Fridays.
Christmas can be a hard time for many people and thank you to everyone supporting and caring for others in our town. Please take care and remember to be kind and look after each other. I hope you have a safe and happy Christmas as we look forward to a positive new year.
Council Leader's column