Press Releases: week beginning 06 January 2014
Works begin to expose important geological features
Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Hastings Country Park and Nature Reserve has some of the most important geological features in the country, specifically the cliffs and rocks within the Quarry at the main entrance.
These rock exposures have now largely disappeared under vegetation and scrub and will be cleared at the request of Natural England; the body responsible for designating SSSIs.
Cllr Emily Westley, lead member for leisure and amenities explained:
"The essential work to remove excess vegetation from rock faces will take place during January and February by contractors. We will consistently monitor the works to ensure that wildlife is not affected; working at this time of year will avoid disturbing nesting birds.
"For public safety during the works, the footpath has been diverted. The old route will be opened again when the works are completed, hopefully by mid February.
"We recognise the works will initially look drastic. However, by exposing the sandstone rock outcrops, Natural England and Hastings Borough Council will be displaying some of the finest examples of our geological past for everyone to see."
Further information about the work can be found at the Visitors Centre at the Country Park.
Fighting poverty 'an absolute priority' for Council
Hastings Borough Council has pledged to tackle poverty, unanimously agreeing at its meeting on Monday 06 January that it should remain an absolute priority.
Cllr Jay Kramer, who introduced a report on the subject at the meeting, explained:
"Poverty has been an issue for large numbers of Hastings residents for a very long time.
"Poverty, its causes and effects are complex, and it can corrode individual and community life in many ways and, sadly, it is increasing here in Hastings.
"We are investing considerable resources in tackling poverty. I am very pleased that we have the support of a number of partners, all of whom have demonstrated firm commitment to address issues associated with poverty locally.
"We are committed to 'poverty proofing' our decision making, which means all parts of the Council will have to consider the impact of people facing poverty when we make decisions about the future.
"We have already produced an anti-poverty action plan, and will work with partners to review this in the light of the emerging impact of benefit reforms.
"The need to address poverty in the short and long term will pose challenges, especially with the expected reduction in government funding next year, but it will remain an absolute priority for us."
Cliff fall at Rock-a-Nore, Hastings
There has been a spectacular rock fall of the cliff face at Rock-a-Nore, Hastings.
The area, which forms part of Hastings Country Park and Nature Reserve is susceptible to landslides as this is a natural and expected process for this type of cliff. However, the excessive rain fall over the last few weeks has saturated the land which together with strong winds and exceptionally high tides has lead to the massive fall on Friday, 03 January.
Cllr Emily Westley, lead member for leisure and amenities commented:
"Rock fall is a natural process for these cliffs and although it is very exciting to see this happen we must remind the public not to enter the area. It is extremely dangerous given the current weather conditions.
"We already advise the public not to enter the area with warning and information signs and a fixed barrier to restrict access but must reiterate the current dangers. We have also installed some additional larger signs following the last large falls at the end of the summer.
"Visual inspections are carried out daily of cliffs as part of the Beach Inspector's checks and this includes ensuring all signage and barriers are in place. In addition, we also visually inspect and photograph this area of cliff as part of our quarterly inspection of coast defence assets.
"The agreed coast protection policy for this stretch of coastline under our current Shoreline Management Plan is 'no active intervention'. In addition, the Country Park's Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status would also support minimal intervention in the natural erosion process."
Council Chief rails against train service plans
Council Leader, Cllr Jeremy Birch is leading a campaign to save one of the town's most important train routes. Currently the 06.39 from Ore runs to Cannon Street, in the centre of London, but local train operating company Southeastern, plan to divert the train to Charing Cross from December.
Cllr Birch said:
"We recently campaigned, successfully, we thought, to keep our direct Cannon Street services, and are very concerned that we stand to lose the busiest Cannon Street train of the day because of the London Bridge rebuilding works.
"Indeed, I regularly use this train myself to get to meetings in Essex, via nearby Fenchurch Street.
"A significant number of passengers from the Hastings line - not just Hastings itself - use Cannon Street, and these commuters, who live in our hinterland, also spend money here. We are the most deprived town in the southeast, and the second most deprived seaside resort in the country, and we cannot afford to lose higher-earning commuters to other routes, which is our fear if our city service were to worsen. These highly mobile commuters will move elsewhere if they cannot get the service they want from their local station.
"The direct link to the city is absolutely vital for us, and for the other communities in East Sussex served by the Hastings line.
"I call on all users of the direct Cannon Street trains to support us in our plea to southeastern to retain the current service pattern from the Hastings line. We simply cannot afford to lose this train."
Archaeology of the Link Road
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery will be hosting a free illustrated talk about the archaeology of the link road under construction between Hastings and Bexhill on Saturday, 18 January at 2pm.
East Sussex County Archaeologist Casper Johnson will talk about the findings so far from the ongoing excavations on the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road that have been carried out by Oxford Archaeology with as many as 40 staff.
Cllr Emily Westley, lead member for leisure and amenities commented:
"Some impressive findings have already been made, with evidence of past human activity from almost every period since the end of the last ice age, covering the periods of hunter gatherers, early farmers, iron workers and more recent settlements.
"The earliest evidence includes flint scatters from possibly the Upper Palaeolithic onwards, and at one site on the edge of Watermill Stream, over 20 separate scatters of worked flints were revealed. They have also found evidence that points to a significant early native British iron industry.
"This will be a fascinating afternoon for anyone interested in the early developments of the area as well as those interested in general history or archaeological techniques."
Visit www.hmag.org.uk for more details of events at Hastings Museum.
Employers make 1066 pledges of investment in young people
A local campaign to encourage businesses to help local young people's employment prospects has reached its target of 1066 pledges.
The Own Grown project started in February last year with a bold target of getting 1066 pledges to invest in and help young people into employment during the year. The campaign, led by a partnership including the Observer newspaper group, local councils, business associations, Sussex Coast College Hastings, Jobcentre Plus and other organisations working with young people has now reached its target of 1066 pledges, several weeks early.
Since the launch of the campaign, unemployment among under 25s in the area has dropped by nearly one-third, from 1,265 claimants to 865 claimants. This demonstrates the willingness of employers to take on our local young people, and reflects the work of schools, colleges, and support agencies to help them to be ready willing and able to start work. Nationally, unemployment in this age range went up by 0.2% over the same period.
Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration said:
"Young people are very important to the future of Hastings, so it's vital that we make sure they have the right skills to help them into useful, rewarding jobs. That's why the council has been committed to supporting this initiative by providing the day-to-day administration and coordination of 92 employers who have all made pledges. We are delighted that they have enabled Own Grown to hit the challenging target set by the partnership."
The partnership aims to build on this success in 2014, by sustaining links between businesses and schools, and supporting employers who can offer work experience and apprenticeships. They also aim to ensure that training in practical and personal skills, such as confidence and communication that employers need are available to local young people.