Press Releases: week beginning 28 July 2014
Man fined for benefit fraud
A man who falsely claimed housing benefit was sentenced at Hastings Magistrates Court.
Mr David Evans, 48, formerly of Bohemia Road, St Leonards claimed Housing Benefit for a number of years based on his Employment and Support Allowance. He failed to inform Hastings Borough Council when he left his address in January 2013 and as a result of his actions was overpaid Housing Benefit of £2,357.14 for the period January 2013 to August 2013.
Evans failed to appear at Hastings Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 and the case was heard in his absence. He was proven guilty and fined £1,200 with £333 costs with a £120 victim surcharge and ordered to repay all overpaid benefit.
If you suspect somebody is committing benefit fraud, you can report this anonymously by calling the council's investigation hotline on 01424 451082.
Freehold owner fined for not making repairs to building
Mr Shiplu Hoque was summonsed to Hastings Magistrates Court on 23 July 2014 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice served on 23 October 2013 by Hastings Borough Council.
The council served the notice under S215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as part of the Grotbusting enforcement initiative, requiring that within six months of 22 November 2013 extensive repairs and repainting works should be carried out to the exterior of 177a Queens Road, Hastings.
Despite legal notices sent to Mr Hoque, the building remained an eyesore and in a dilapidated state. Hoque failed to attend court and was found guilty in his absence. He was fined the maximum fine of £1000 with £333 costs and £100 victim surcharge.
Cllr Peter Chowney lead member for regeneration said:
"Formal enforcement action is always a last resort as most owners of grotty properties are willing to cooperate when contacted by the Grotbusting team."
"This latest prosecution demonstrates just how committed we are to improving run down buildings in the interest of the town's environment, its residents and businesses.
"Mr Hoque will still be expected to complete the improvement works and failure to do so will incur further enforcement action."
The Grotbuster scheme has a zero tolerance approach to shabby and derelict structures, land and buildings and considers the initiative to be a core part of the council's function and a key element in the town's regeneration.
Hastings fountain restored to former glory
The fountain on the roundabout at Pelham Place, Hastings was officially switched on Saturday, 26 July to the delight of hundreds of spectators.
The event began with a procession of illuminated bicycles that made their way from the Pier to the roundabout led by Bernie Goldman and his music box. Council Leader, Cllr Jeremy Birch, shouted the opening speech to each side of the street and everyone cheered as the water spouted up for the first time in many years and the new lighting system came on.
Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for amenities explained:
"Extensive refurbishment work began in April when the pipe work and dishes were restored and replaced where necessary and a modern LED lighting system was put in place. We have also installed three new pumps and a wind detector that will ensure that water and electricity are used sustainably.
"We are absolutely delighted with the finished result which has occurred just over 50 years after the original installation in the 1960s. Residents and visitors will now be able to enjoy the fountain in all its magnificent glory.
"Our thanks must go to our contractors Chris Thayre Swimming Pools and Alpha Electrics for their guidance and design of the new system and to the Landscape Group, who have offered to sponsor the maintenance of the bedding for 2014. We will work with The Landscape Group to design a more permanent landscaping feature for next year."
Assistance pops up in St Leonards
Sussex Police, Hastings borough Council and other organisations including the national homelessness charity St Mungos Broadway came together for a major new initiative to link members of the street community with local services through a 'Pop-up Hub' held in St Leonards.
The Pop-up Hub operated at the WRVS in South Street for three days earlier this month. Fifty eight 58 people came along and were provided with help especially about drug, alcohol and mental health services or advice on accommodation. As a result twenty people were found temporary accommodation.
Referrals to the hub came from the police and other organisations working in the area. And those referred included rough sleepers, street drinkers, people with drug abuse problems and some who have resorted to begging.
In total, 58 people attended the hub and had plans put in place to address their housing, health and substance misuse issues. 20 people who had been sleeping rough were offered emergency accommodation and plans for longer term housing agreed.
Inspector Chris Veale, Hastings Neighbourhood Policing Team said:
"The Pop-up Hub was a fantastic event and all key partners engaged with a significant number of our street community offering support, pathways to life style changes?and tangible action plans for the future.
"I would like to give thanks to all who have supported this key initiative and special thanks must go to the volunteers who assisted over the three HUB days.
Cllr Kim Forward lead member for housing and communities said:
"A lot of energy is often put in to taking enforcement action against members of the street community and when their behaviour is unacceptable that is quite right, but the Pop-up Hub is part of an attempt to change lifestyles and turn people's behaviour around. This can only be done by organisations working together and everyone feels this was a particularly significant initiative."
Hastings remembers World War One
Hastings Borough Council will be commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the First World War with two events on Monday, 04 August.
A service of reflection, led by Cannon Keith Pound, will be held at 10am at the war memorial in Alexandra Park, in conjunction with the Royal British Legion to include wreath laying and a two minute silence in recognition of those affected by war.
At 10pm, Hastings will take part in the national 'Lights Out' initiative. For one hour, all the decorative lights on Hastings seafront will turn red, with a single white light moving continuously along them.
Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for leisure, said:
"World War One changed the lives of so many people and it's important that we mark the occasion.
"These two events together with the programme of events planned in the town will help to give local residents and visitors a really good understanding of how the war affected people locally."
Other events have been arranged around the town through the summer and into autumn. Detailed information about these exhibitions and talks can be obtained from Hastings Museum and Art Gallery and The Tourist Information Centre on the seafront.
Park conservation improvements completed
After many months of hard work the Alexandra Park conservation improvement project in Hastings has finally been completed.
A small group gathered to celebrate the completion of the project with representatives from Friends of Alexandra Park, Alexandra Park Volunteer Team and the John Muir Award.
Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for leisure and amenities explained:
"The project, funded by The Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund, has been a real success and the difference it has made to the park is very clear to see.
"775 hedging plants and 7 native fruit trees have been planted to start the new orchard in Shornden. Improvements have been made to the fencing in the Shornden area and repairs to the Buckshole railings to make them safe. A new oak notice board and information lectern in Shornden have been installed explaining points of interest and wildlife that can be seen in these important areas and a new leaflet for the park has been produced.
"On top of that, new planting areas have been created in Shornden water ways for marginal plants which benefit the parks wildlife creating feeding and nesting areas.
"Over 1100 volunteer hours have gone into this project led by the Park Ranger, Nick Hennessy who has worked with Friends of Alexandra Park, Alexandra Park Volunteer Team, Education Futures Trust Forest School, Seaview Project, TCV, Community Payback, Sussex Autistic Society, 1066 Green Gym, Hastings Botany Group and the John Muir Award. Our thanks must go to them all."
There's still more work to be done in Alexandra Park as well as other green spaces across the town. If you would like to know more or get involved contact Nick Hennessy, Park Ranger on 01424 451066.
Follow the herring at the Stade
This weekend sees A Coat for a Boat and Get Up and Tie Your Fingers at the Stade Open Space in Hastings.
Both events are part of the Follow the Herring touring festival which celebrates the culture of fishing towns on the coast of England and Scotland.
Cllr Peter Chowney, Chair of Hastings Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) said:
"Funded by FLAG, the Follow the Herring Tour in Hastings focuses on maritime heritage combining performance, song and visual arts.
"A Coat for a Boat knitted exhibition together with the First Knitted Fish and Chip Shop, knitted by people from Hastings and St Leonards, will be on display until Sunday, 10 August. Local community groups and pupils from Castledown School have been involved in creating the hundreds of knitted items on display, with many people learning new skills and ranging in age from 4 to 94!
Janey Moffatt of the Craftimation Factory and local knitting project organiser said:
"Follow The Herring and the creation of the knitted fish and chip shop has been a real community project and has brought all sorts of people together to learn new skills and enhance existing ones. Real relationships have been forged and it's a project that I have personally benefitted from tremendously. It's so wonderful and inspiring to see the community come together to create something that's fun and beautiful for others to enjoy. None of this would have had any meaning if it wasn't for our treasured fishing fleet in Hastings which we hope will be maintained for many years to come."
Cllr Peter Chowney added:
"'Get up and Tie your Fingers' is a deeply moving piece of theatre about the women from fishing communities up and down the country during the 19th century. The 'herring lassies' would follow the herring fleets to meet the catch in the next port of call. Local choir, the Herring Girls will be performing in what promises to be a remarkable tale of the east coast fishing communities. This free event will take place at the Stade this Friday, 01 August from 7.30pm."