Press Releases week beginning 27 June 2016
Hastings Still Proud To Be One Town With Many Voices
Following the reported rise in racial attacks and hate crimes following the 'Brexit' referendum decision last Friday, the leader of Hastings Borough Council, Cllr Peter Chowney, has reassured the local community that Hastings welcomes everybody, from whatever background.
Cllr Chowney said :- "I was disappointed to hear that some areas of the country have experienced a rise in community tension and, indeed, some members of minority communities here in Hastings now feel more uncomfortable following the referendum decision.
"We are very proud of our 'One Hastings, Many Voices' approach, which is much more than just a slogan. We have a fast-growing, diverse population, and this increasing diversity has been an important part of the town's economic regeneration. We are very pleased to welcome not just new residents and visitors from Europe, but indeed from around the world, especially those seeking refuge and asylum, as we have done for many years.
"I absolutely condemn all race and hate crime, and Hastings Borough Council will support and encourage the police to take the strongest possible action against those committing any such crimes."
Hastings Celebrates Refugee Week
Refugee Week 20 - 26 June 2016
This year national refugee week celebrates acts of welcome shown to refugees by individuals and communities across the UK and Europe.
Although the theme for this year is framed by the mass movement of people fleeing terrible fighting and destruction in the Middle East, refugees have been seeking protection in the UK for many years, some of whom have lived in Hastings.
Over the last 15 years the Links Project supported by Hastings Borough Council has been working in immigration and asylum in Hastings. This week (22 June) at their Wednesday meeting a celebratory event was organised to recognise national refugee week.
Cllr Peter Chowney, Hastings Borough Council's leader attended the event. He commented:
"The theme this year is 'Welcome', which is very appropriate as Hastings is a very welcoming town and we pride ourselves on the overwhelmingly positive local response to refugees from local residents.
"Refugees in Hastings and St Leonards add to the cultural diversity of our town - it's estimated that over 43 languages are now spoken in Hastings! Others might see this cultural diversity as a threat but we don't, we believe that it has improved the town and helped its regeneration. We hope to continue to offer welcome to refugees in the future."
Marc Turczanski, Links Project Coordinator added:
"We have met some incredibly vulnerable but brave people often who first arrive here with only the clothes they have travelled in, little English and limited understanding of life in the UK.
"Our aim has always been to make them feel welcome and that our project is a safe space for them. We have also seen some incredible acts of kindness, generosity and acceptance by the people of Hastings and St Leonards some of whom only have a small amount to give themselves."
The Links Project is a multi-agency support and advice project for asylum seekers, refugees and new migrant communities living in East Sussex. It runs a drop in on Wednesday each week from 10.30am - 4pm at Concordia Hall, Church Road, St Leonards and also provides telephone support during the rest of the week.
Councillors take to the seafront to bust grot
Hastings Borough councillors and enforcement officers carried out the annual Grotbuster seafront walk this week (21 June) to identify dilapidated properties in need of improvement and to review progress in terms of tackling eyesore premises since the previous year.
First undertaken in 2000, the seafront walk has witnessed significant changes for the better. Back in 2000, there were many dilapidated properties along the seafront, and several completely derelict buildings, including two former hotels.
When the council introduced the Grotbuster campaign owners of run down and derelict properties were warned that they would face enforcement action and prosecution if their buildings were not improved. The scheme continues in Hastings and is admired by other authorities as best practice.
Cllr Kim Forward, the council's lead member for housing and communities explained:
"We carry out the inspection of the whole seafront to identify properties in need of attention and to see the progress of those that are now completed or being improved.
"This year we were pleased to see that further progress has been made since the last inspection in 2015. However, a number of properties were identified as a cause for concern and the owners will be contacted; we will prosecute if our warnings are ignored. One of our priorities is to build better neighbourhoods and enforcement action is an effective way of achieving this."
Since the Grotbuster scheme began in 2000, 750 premises have been improved with 53 in the last year. Most recently and together with St Leonards Town Team, councillors attended a Grotbuster walk in Central St Leonards where over the past several years 35 premises have been improved with works promised or underway at another 21.
Property developers fined
Hastings Borough Council has brought another successful prosecution, this time against property developers for failing to comply with two breach of condition notices.
Connor Developments (UK) LLP of 28 Wilton Road, Bexhill, TN40 1E were successfully prosecuted at Eastbourne Magistrates court last week (17 June) for failing to comply with a Breach of Condition Enforcement Notice served by the council on 01 October 2015.
The defendants were required to comply with two conditions (condition 4 and 5) of the granted planning application HS/FA/12/00252 within six months of the served notice. The conditions sated that provision should be made for traffic calming features such as raised tables on Whatlington Way and Catsfield Close and an adoptable footpath and pedestrian crossing point to recreational land on the south side of Crowhurst Road.
Cllr Kim Forward the council's lead member for development control commented:
"This result is excellent news and very important as conditions such as these are critical for people living near the new developments. Such conditions are a key aspect of many permissions and this delivers a strong message that violations will not be tolerated"
Connor developments (UK) LLP were fined £950 for each offence, £432 costs and £120 victim surcharge
Blacksmiths flock to Hastings beach for live forging event
Blacksmiths from all over the country will converge on Hastings on the weekend of 8, 9, 10 July, for a live forging event at the Stade Open Space, as part of the ROOT1066 Festival of Contemporary Arts, inspired by the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
Hastings-based sculptor Leigh Dyer, in collaboration with the British Artist Blacksmiths Association, will produce parts for a new piece of public art.
"We're delighted to welcome the British Artist Blacksmiths to Hastings for this event," said Cllr Dawn Poole, Hastings Borough Council's lead member for culture. "Leigh's work is iconic in Hastings - for those who don't know, he's behind the chess sculptures at Butler's Gap, the winkle on Winkle Island, and many more landmarks around the town. This collaboration is sure to create something wonderful."
The free event will include opportunities to try your hand at forging, including a fully safe children's forge. The blacksmiths will be at work from midday to 6pm on Friday, 9am to7pm on Saturday, and 9am to 4pm on Sunday.
The sculpture - 'The Landing' - will be unveiled in September, when it will "rise like the prow of a Norman longboat from the shingle" on Hastings seafront, by Albert Place. It will incorporate a time capsule of letters from local people, to be opened in 2066 on the 1,000th anniversary.
The British Artist Blacksmiths Association has created collaborative public artworks around the UK - such as the Blacksmith's Needle on the Quayside in Newcastle, and the International Pillar of Friendship in Ironbridge. In September, they will be travelling to Ypres in Belgium to work on a commemorative Poppy Cenotaph.
ROOT 1066 International Festival has been funded by Hastings Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Coastal Communities Fund. Blacksmiths on the Beach has been sponsored by Birchwood Ford, and many local people and companies have supported the building of The Landing through a successful crowdfunding campaign.