Press Releases: week beginning 10 March 2014
New Overview and Scrutiny charter signed
Councillors on the two Overview and Scrutiny committees have agreed a new Overview and Scrutiny Charter to guide their work and outline to the public what they do.
The Overview and Scrutiny committees hold the Cabinet and senior officers accountable for their decisions and publicly monitor the council's performance, they then challenge and question when necessary. They can also ask other providers of services in the town like health or education to come along and answer questions in public. On top of that they conduct in-depth reviews into areas of council activity or issues affecting the town to help develop the council's policy.
Cllr Dawn Poole, joint chair of the committees said:
"Overview and Scrutiny committee members have been looking at a number of issues which affect the town from higher education to highways as well as monitoring how the council is doing against its targets. Our council website already urges local residents to suggest what issues we should look into next, so please send us your views."
Cllr Andrew Cartwright, lead member for corporate services added:
"The council's cabinet really welcomes the work of scrutiny. They quite rightly keep us on our toes and the work they put into reviews brings forward new ideas and plans for the council to adopt. I'm sure their new charter will be very useful in enhancing all that."
Overview and Scrutiny meetings are open for members of the public to attend. The agenda, reports and minutes of meetings can be found in the Meetings, Reports, Agendas and Meetings area.
Visitors flock to sunny Hastings
Hastings enjoyed an early season bonus as the warm and sunny weather over the weekend brought thousands of visitors into the town.
David Hartley, Company director of Hastings Adventure Golf on the seafront, said:
"It was just fantastic. We were incredibly busy all weekend, and especially Sunday. Not only was it our best March day ever, it beat many of our August days and, indeed, many bank holidays too. And it wasn't just the adventure golf that was packed, our catering side did a roaring trade. We really couldn't have asked for a better start to the season."
Cllr Peter Chowney, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council and lead member for tourism, added:
"It was great to see the town so busy, and so many people enjoying themselves on the seafront.
"It is incredible to think that exactly a year ago the roads here were blocked with snow and we had to accommodate over 100 stranded German students in the town hall.
"It's not just the good weather that's making people come to Hastings. There's so much going on here, and so much to see and do, that Hastings is becoming the destination of choice for many sun-seekers."
Local girls take part in Us Girls Rocks festival
Funded by Hastings Borough Council and Hastings StreetGames project, twenty four girls from the town took part in the 'Us Girls Rocks' Festival held in Newham Leisure Centre in Stratford to celebrate International Women's Day.
The event, held on Saturday, 08 March, enabled the girls to participate in a selection of sporting activities from step aerobics, table tennis, rounders, mini trampoline and Zumba.
Cllr Emily Westley, lead member for leisure and amenities said of the day:
"This was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to try new sports and meet other young girls. Some of the group participating had never been to London so it was a real confidence boosting trip for them.
"We are very keen to see young people, especially girls take up a new sport and this festival has given them a good taster of a variety of sports."
Visit www.hastings.gov.uk for further information about StreetGames.
Commonwealth day is marked in Hastings
Hastings joined the international ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day and to celebrate the true value of the Commonwealth as an increasingly multi-cultural world seeks unity, understanding and tolerance.
After a short parade through the town centre the Commonwealth Flag was raised at the Town Hall on Monday, 10 March by Oli Rahaman, Chair of the Hastings Intercultural Organisation (HIO)
The Mayor, Cllr Alan Roberts commented:
"It gave me great pleasure to see so many people attend the ceremony and to see the flag flying above the Town Hall. Thirteen countries were represented at the event which gave us the opportunity to celebrate the success of the Commonwealth in bringing together people from countries across the globe in a spirit of co-operation and understanding."
The Mayor read a message from the Queen written especially for the event together with the Commonwealth affirmation and a pledge was made to support the Commonwealth by working together for a future in which there is freedom, justice for all and peace and understanding between peoples and nations.
Owen Thompson, HIO champion added:
"Raising the Commonwealth Flag at the Town Hall as part of 'Fly a Flag for Commonwealth' has been an exciting privilege and an opportunity to reflect on the unity and diversity of the local communities; promoting inclusiveness and integrating diversity amongst cultures and communities and uniting a family of nations in a common purpose."
Council Leader urges action now on rail line
Council Leader, Cllr Jeremy Birch has written to Network Rail and the Department for Transport asking that the railway line between Hastings and Tonbridge is given the importance it deserves.
Cllr Birch explained:
"We are very frustrated indeed that our main line to London remains closed because of a landslip at Whatlington, between Robertsbridge and Battle, despite an announcement that it would reopen on 03 March. Over a week later, the line remains closed. Indeed, we have not had a full train service on this line since before Christmas.
"Quite frankly, this is not acceptable. It is hard enough on local residents who commute to London, or who need to use the line for other trips, business and pleasure, but Easter will be upon us shortly, and we will then be into the summer season. No-one wanting a day trip to the seaside will choose to travel on a rail replacement bus service, and the continued closure of the line could have a potentially serious effect on our visitor economy.
"I have therefore written to Network Rail, who are responsible for the rail infrastructure, expressing my concerns. The importance of this route to Hastings is obvious - it is our mainline, our rail lifeline to the capital. Although not as high profile as the Great Western main line, it is nevertheless vital to us. I have said in my letter that I hope that the line has not been given a lower priority just because the Whatlington landslip is not as photogenic or as accessible as the line at Dawlish which was washed away by the sea.
"I cannot overstate the importance of the Hastings to Tonbridge line, and the damage its continued partial closure is having on our town, and the other communities it serves.
"I must stress that I am not critical of the staff and contractors who continue to work in difficult conditions on the ground trying to repair the line. My criticism is of the lack of maintenance and planning which continues to give us timetables for the line's reopening which are then broken.
"I have sent a copy of my letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, as if necessary the Department of Transport should be approached to help fund the necessary repair work. The prime minister said money would be no object to deal with the aftermath of flooding. As I have said before, on this key infrastructure route that brings so many visitors to our town and allows commuters to get to work the weather has caused just as much damage, and we need action now.
"For a main line to be closed indefinitely with no firm date set for its reopening is just not good enough. Our town, our residents and our visitors deserve better."
Eat Global Food Festival returns
Food lovers in Hastings and St Leonards are in for a treat as Eat Global returns for the third year with a packed programme of food, fun and entertainment. The festival celebrates the quality and diversity of the local food industry, featuring the best in international cooking from restaurants and cafes across Hastings and St Leonards.
The festival starts on Saturday, 22 March with a family-friendly, foodie fun walk about event at Priory Meadow shopping centre followed by effortless acrobatics from UK Africa Acrobats at Priory Meadow and the Town Centre.
Cllr Kim Forward, lead member for housing and community services said:
"Eat Global celebrates the restaurants, shops and cafés of our very ethnically diverse community and showcases the talent of our local chefs.
"There will be festival breakfasts, lunches and dinners and sometimes you will be treated to live entertainment as you dine!"
Pick up the Eat Global brochure from the Tourist Information Centre or visit www.eatglobal.co.uk
Developers fined for Planning Contravention
Developers of a site in Beauharrow Road appeared at Hastings Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 05 March after failing to respond to a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN) served by Hastings Borough Council's planning enforcement Grotbusters team.
The council served the PCN on 23 September 2013 with a request for information about works Gemselect Limited of Battle had carried out at a site without permissions. They are currently working on a development of seven dwellings with planning permissions in Beauharrow Road but they made alterations to another site without the required authority to do so.
Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration said:
"We take contraventions of planning issues of this nature very seriously indeed and will prosecute if necessary. Gemselect Ltd were using this property opposite their development as a site office and had constructed a fence and undertaken engineering works without planning permission.
"After hearing all the evidence, the court fined Gemselect Ltd £750 with £195 costs and a £75 victim surcharge. This is good news and highlights our zero tolerance to such practices in the town."
Out of Africa - Friendship Link Team returns from Hastings, Sierra Leone
Emotionally and physically exhausted, a band of 20 Hastings-based teachers, engineers, environmental and health professionals and volunteers have just returned from Hastings, Sierra Leone after continuing the Link's work to improve the lives of residents in our twin town. Coordinated by the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link (HSLFL), many of the group funded their own travel so they could carry on with previous work on a range of projects that have been developing over the past few years.
Derek Tomblin, retired civil engineer who became involved in 2001, rebuilding bridges in the village said:
"Our twin town continues its struggle to recover from the ravages of the Rebel War in Sierra Leone over a decade ago. It was really good to return to continue our work, helping with this recovery in a variety of ways."
Visit www.hastingshastings.org.uk for further information about the Friendship Link Team and their recent trip.