Press Releases: week beginning 10 November 2014
New visitor at centre Combe Valley Countryside Park - have your say!
A new visitor centre, located off Freshfields Road at Combe Valley Countryside Park is a partnership project between Hastings Borough Council, Rother District Council, East Sussex County Council and Groundwork South. Its aim is to improve access, participation and the natural environment at the park.
People are invited to see the plans for the visitor centre and comment on the design and use prior to submission for planning at West St Leonards Children's Centre, 464 Bexhill Road St Leonards TN38 8AU on Saturday, 15 November between 11am and 3pm and Tuesday, 18 November between 10am and 1pm.
If you can't make these dates you can also view the plans and leave comments online at www.combevalleycountrysidepark.com
Cllr Dawn Poole lead member for leisure and amenities and chair of the Combe Valley Countryside Park Board explained:
"The provision of a new visitor hub at Combe Valley Countryside Park is a really exciting project for the Countryside Park. We are proposing to use recycled shipping containers to be as sustainable as possible for our building. Everyone is welcome to come along and participate in the consultation and we really welcome your feedback before a planning application is submitted to Rother District Council in December."
Successful leap of faith for Sierra Leone
Members of the local team of teachers and volunteers from the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link who visited our twin town in Hastings, Sierra Leone back in February were so affected by the plight of the schools and the community, still recovering from the impact of the rebel war, and now ravaged by Ebola, that five of them made a free fall parachute jump on 09 November. This was to raise urgently needed funds for projects currently underway and for new projects that can help make simple but significant changes the lives of the community and help them cope with the Ebola crisis.
The five included Richard White, Head Teacher of St Paul's Primary School in Hastings and his daughter Ellen, Richard Homewood, a director at Hastings Borough Council and Matt and Hollie Lockwood. They expect to raise over £2,000 for the charity.
Richard Homewood, who is also the chair of the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link said:
"We all do so much for charity nowadays but the people of Hastings, Sierra Leone are close to our hearts, having seen first-hand the plight and daily struggles they have with things we take for granted like water supply, and even a roof over their head. They are very proud and generous people but have so very little. One of the Primary Schools can't open in the wet season because the roof is incomplete, two of the schools were without water supplies until Hastings UK schools raised the funds for wells to be dug earlier this year. We have been working to improve the Health Centre facilities in Hastings, Sierra Leone for the past few years and this work is even more critical now that Ebola is affecting the village, which now hosts a large Ebola Treatment Centre in the old Police Training School.
"We are all working hard to raise much needed funds to help keep the Health Centre and the local schools functioning at this extremely difficult and traumatic time for them. The Jump is one of many fund raising activities we have promoted recently. There was also a Gala Concert at St Mary in the Castle, a Posh Jumble Sale, a BBQ in St Helens Wood and a Quiz Night. One of our patrons ran the Beachy Head Marathon and raised over £1,400. We are extremely grateful for the support of others, including Laurence at the White Rock Hotel for helping us with fundraising events. We would like to thank all those who have donated for their generosity and support."
If you wish to donate you can still do so at the Charity Checkout website charitycheckout.co.uk/1127137/bigjump or call Richard Homewood on 07711 076900.
Businesses come together at partnership events
Over thirty businesses came together last week for two free networking and information events jointly hosted by the Own Grown project, Hastings Borough Council and Coastal Communities at Sussex Coast College. Held at Webbe's, Rock-a-Nore for breakfast and The Love Café, Norman Road for tea, businesses were able to access a wealth of free information that could enable them to grow and develop.
Both events were a great success with businesses engaging in a Coastal Communities funded social media taster workshop, expertly delivered by Mark Baldwin from Talkativeonline and hearing how they can access all sorts of other free training opportunities such as the internationally recognised WorldHost customer service training. Attendees were also able to hear from the council's Sector Development Officer on a range of government funding opportunities, including the SUCCESS fund helping them to grow and develop their business.
The Own Grown Project Officer was on hand to explain how businesses can pledge. Those attending took up the challenge and pledged all sorts of opportunities to better prepare young people for work, including work experience, sector based school talks, shadowing and mentoring.
Councillor Jeremy Birch who introduced both events was delighted with the response from businesses, he said:
"We are committed to supporting the growth of businesses locally and thanks to joint initiatives like these we are able to highlight the variety of opportunities and support on offer. These events really showed that businesses are keen to get involved and it's good to be in a position where we can offer this in a way which suits them and the way they work. We would like to thank Mark at Talkativeonline for such an informative talk and of course, Paul at Webbe's restaurant, and Ed and Rosie at Love Café for their warm hospitality and excellent food."
If you were unable to make either of the events but would like to find out more, email email@example.com or call 01424 451795 for details of forthcoming business events and training.
Council calls to keep passengers on track
Hastings Borough Council is calling on the rail industry to do more as passengers are faced with three years of disruption.
Council Leader, Cllr Jeremy Birch, was speaking after councillors received a briefing on the implications of the closure of London Bridge station', which will lead to major changes to the timetable as the London terminal is rebuilt to accommodate the new Thameslink services.
Cllr Birch explained:
"We absolutely support the need for investment in new rail infrastructure, and have no doubt that, when completed, London Bridge station will have first-rate facilities and a better train service than now. What concerns us is what happens during the three years that the Southeastern side of the station is being rebuilt.
"At our briefing by local train operating company Southeastern, we were told that trains from Hastings to Waterloo East and Charing Cross cannot call at the station for some 18 months, starting in January 2015.
"Huge numbers of passengers travel between Hastings and London Bridge, and they will face having to go through the station to Waterloo East, then retrace their journey on the Jubilee Line, or by bus. Although this will not cost any more, it will be massively inconvenient, adding to already long journey times.
"Passengers wanting to travel onwards via Thameslink services will be even more seriously affected, as Thameslink trains won't be calling at London Bridge for three years.
"We asked Southeastern if Hastings passengers could travel via the high speed line via Ashford and St Pancras International at no additional cost, which will make it much easier for those travelling to/from the Kings Cross area, who currently change at London Bridge, and for those with onwards Thameslink journeys but that hasn't been agreed, which means even more passengers having to travel via Waterloo East.
"We also asked for more to be done for passengers travelling to places like Guy's Hospital; this journey is very easy at the moment, but will become much more difficult, particularly for those with mobility problems, when London Bridge closes to Hastings line trains.
"We are also concerned that the rush-hour trains might become even slower, which, again, is not acceptable.
"So, whilst we accept and understand that the work has to be carried out, we do think Southeastern, in conjunction with other train operators, Transport for London, and the Department for Transport, could do much more for passengers who are being inconvenienced. I will be writing to David Statham, Southeastern's new managing director, to ask that our concerns are taken seriously, and more is done to help those travelling to and from Hastings whilst London Bridge station is rebuilt."
Footpath to reopen at Hastings Country Park
Work has started to open up a major footpath at Hastings Country Park.
Last winter a major landslip affected a number of footpaths in Ecclesbourne Glen at the Country Park. Hastings Borough Council has been working with East Sussex County Council and Natural England to agree what footpaths can be reinstated and what ones will remain closed.
Hastings Country Park Conservation Volunteers, working with the Rangers, have reinstated some of the steps on the main footpath that joins the East Hill with the rest of Hastings Country Park. Further work will take place before the end of the month to install signs and wooden fencing on other footpaths that will remain closed until further notice.
Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for leisure and amenities commented:
"The volunteers are very proud to have undertaken an important first stage in reopening our main coastal footpath, which can now be used with care due to the uneven surface. Their hard work will allow people to resume walking from the East Hill to the rest of the Country Path along the coastal path."
Everyone is welcome to join the Conservation Volunteers. They meet on the first Sunday of every month to help maintain the town's premier nature reserve. If you are interested in joining any tasks please contact Julie Apps, Country Park Ranger at firstname.lastname@example.org
Local fishing industry struggles due to fishing quotas
Hastings fishermen are currently having a difficult time. They would normally be catching plaice and skate but they have no quota for these fish. They are able to catch sole but this requires the use of the same nets to catch plaice which are in abundance; they cannot therefore catch sole without catching plaice. As a result of this the local fishery has shut down until cod arrive.
Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration explained:
"The currently unfair fishing quota distribution favours large, factory fishing ships over local, low impact fishermen. We need fishing that protects our marine environment, contributes to the local economy, and supports coastal communities. The local fishing industry supports hundreds of jobs and has a massive impact on the tourism industry.
"Local fishermen have been up to Westminster to bring this to the attention of the fisheries minister. They asked for an immediate, emergency reallocation of unused quota from the big producer organisations and have requested that when quotas for 2015 are allocated local, low-impact fishermen are first in the queue.
"We need government to permanently re-allocate quota from the 96% that's given to the big producer organisations which account for less than 10% of the fleet, to the under ten metre boat fishing fleet accounting for 92% of fishing fleet who fish sustainably in the South East."
You can help support the local fishing industry in their request for permanent quota re-allocation, by emailing George Eustice, UK Fisheries Minister via the Greenpeace website.
Take a stand against domestic violence - support the White Ribbon Campaign
Hastings Borough Council has recently been awarded 'White Ribbon Status' confirming that the council is committed to support the aims of the White Ribbon Campaign: never to commit, condone, or remain silent about domestic violence against women.
Nationally one in four women and one in six men will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. One incident of domestic abuse is reported to the police every two minutes and In the UK, on average, two women are killed every week as a result of domestic violence. Locally there were 1,989 domestic violence related crimes reported in Hastings during 2013/14.
To raise awareness of these shocking statistics the council will be holding activities on Tuesday 25 November in support of the White Ribbon Campaign.
Council leader, Cllr Jeremy Birch explained:
"Given the high figures reported locally it's very important that we make every effort to raise awareness and support the White Ribbon Campaign. We need to get the message across that this is an issue for the whole community not just the victim or perpetrator. We are asking everyone to stay vigilant and report incidents of domestic violence to the police if they believe someone is in trouble.
"I am asking people to join me, the Mayor, Sussex Police and other dignitaries at 1pm on Tuesday 25 November outside the town hall to show their support and sign the pledge against domestic abuse and violence. There will also be stands at Morrisons and Priory Meadow Shopping Centre.
"Last year 2,256 people signed the White Ribbon pledge to 'never commit, condone or remain silent about domestic violence and we plan to gather as many signatures as possible again this year.
"If you are unable to attend this event you can make your pledge at www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk and I urge everyone to do this to make a stand against domestic violence."