Press Releases week beginning 26 January 2015
Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 - Hastings remembers
Around 250 people packed into St Mary in the Castle, on Hastings seafront, on Saturday, 24 January for the town's annual Holocaust Memorial Day service.
Organiser Brian Linke said:
"I was very pleased with the event, which was very well attended; this year's theme was 'Keeping The Memory Alive'.
"We were honoured that his Excellency Mr Andris Teikmanis, the Latvian ambassador, accepted our invitation to attend. He gave a very powerful speech on how Latvian individuals had suffered during the terrible events of the Second World War.
"Trish Russell and Peter Lennard remembered Brighton resident Stanley Faull who died just last year, having been one of the only members of his family to survive the holocaust. He came to Brighton after the war and became a very successful businessman, but remained compassionate and caring throughout his life.
"One of the highlights of the event was a superb dance by 'Acromax Performance Group', from Helenswood school, who gave an exhilarating, and intensely moving, dance entitled 'Keeping The Memory Alive'. Some of their members are just 11, yet they were, simply, brilliant.
"Amber Rudd MP gave a reading explaining 'Stolpersteine', memorial stones which are created to honour individuals who died in the holocaust and Opera South East were, as always, excellent, providing music at the start and end of our service.
"It was a very thought-provoking morning, and showed yet again how we must all work together to stop these atrocities from happening.
"I am very grateful to all those who helped in the organisation of the event."
The service was supported by Hastings Borough Council, and attended by the Mayor, Cllr Bruce Dowling and council leader Cllr Jeremy Birch, who added:
"It was another very moving service.
"I was especially pleased to be able to introduce the Latvian ambassador, who chose to come and commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day with us here. I was interested to learn that he and his wife are regular visitors to Hastings.
"I am very grateful to Brian Linke, the Rev Chris Sears and their small team who worked so hard to organise it, also to Niall Whitehead from Helenswood school whose students put on such a powerful performance. Every year Brian finds another angle for us to consider Holocaust Memorial Day from, and so deepen our knowledge of those terrible events."
Council secures the future of rare trees in park
Award winning Alexandra Park in Hastings has many rare trees but some of the trees within the collection are now beginning to reach the end of their lives.
As part of the park's maintenance and future management, Hastings Borough Council has planted additional rare trees that will in time take the place of trees that will be lost.
Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for leisure and amenities explained:
"Created by landscape gardener Robert Marnock in 1878, Alexandra Park is an exceptional park and we must ensure it continues to be. Some of the original rare trees planted are now old and will naturally come to an end.
"This planting season we have added fifteen rare trees to our collection, all sourced from a specialist tree nursery in Salisbury. Amongst them are trees such as the Hastings oak (Quercus x hastingsii), Quebec hawthorn (Crataegus arnoldiana) and the Korean hill cherry (Prunus verecunda).
"Assisted by The Conservation Volunteers who have planted the trees, we intend this very special planting project to run until the long term future of the trees in the park has been secured."
Alexandra Park is a Grade II Park of Historic Interest and has regularly been the recipient of the prestigious Green Flag Award, awarded to spaces that boast the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities. It is also home to the best and most varied collection of trees in any public park in England.
Off the rails?
Hastings Borough Council has called for improvements to train journey times to London ahead of a 'Rail Summit' being held in the town on Friday, 30 January.
Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration explained:
"I am obviously very supportive of better rail links to London, and getting 'Javelin' services via HS1 and Ashford can't happen soon enough for me.
"However, I am very concerned that journey times on existing lines continue to get longer, as a look at the timetable from 25 years ago shows.
"Then, old 'slam door' trains dating back to the 1950s and early 1960s were able to do the journey from Charing Cross in 84 minutes, and they did this every hour off-peak, and throughout the day on Saturdays. The same journey now takes 93 minutes. The so-called Hastings express, launched earlier this month - which only runs once a day - still takes 90 minutes.
"Rush hour trains have also got much slower. In January 1990 the 1740 from Cannon Street got here in just 84 minutes, and the 1758 from Charing Cross did the trip in 87 minutes. Now the equivalent trains, the 1737 from Cannon Street and the 1759 from Charing Cross, take some 95 minutes and 103 minutes respectively.
"I simply don't understand why journey times have increased so much. We have the same rail infrastructure that we had 25 years ago, the track layout is effectively the same. The rolling stock is of course far newer. So, yes, let's continue to press for really fast services via HS1 but realistically, they are going to be years away, and I call on Network Rail and southeastern to go some way towards speeding up trains now by giving us back the journey times we enjoyed 25 years ago."
Hastings secures £500K investment from the Coastal Communities Fund
In an announcement on 26 January by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Hastings Borough Council has been awarded £500,000 to improve the seafront, visitor attractions and amenities in Hastings.
The Coastal Communities Fund (CCF) was created in 2012 to invest in seaside towns to help them achieve their economic potential, reduce unemployment and create new opportunities for young people in their local area.
Cllr Peter Chowney, deputy council leader and lead member for regeneration explained:
"We plan to make improvements to the area around the approach to the Pier and White Rock Baths, which is already being developed as a state-of-the-art indoor BMX and skateboard arena. To continue this cycling theme, we'll be providing electric bicycles and a 'wheelchair bike' for hire, promoting cycling between the Jerwood and the De la Warr pavilion in Bexhill.
"We will also be installing more new signboards to match those already in place in St Leonards, and setting up a free public Wi-Fi network in the Old Town, Hastings Town Centre, seafront and Central St Leonards, with associated tourism and 'guided tour' apps.
"The CCF will also provide support, coaching and mentoring for new and growing creative and visitor-focused businesses and support additional marketing and publicity in the run up to the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 2016."
Residents beat the blues in Hastings
Hastings Borough Council's Active Hastings team hosted the annual Beat the Blues event at Summerfields Leisure Centre on Saturday, 24 January.
Attended by the Mayor, Cllr Bruce Dowling and over 550 participants, the sporty event offered a wide variety of classes, swimming and use of the gym.
Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for leisure and amenities explained:
"The 'Beat the Blues' event is a partnership event organised by Active Hastings, Freedom Leisure and other local sports organisations and the aim is to showcase sport and activity sessions available at low cost in the local area.
"The family fun day offered activities for all ages; toddlers up to the elderly and also highlighted the fact that you can get active as a family and parents of young children can go to sessions with their children."
Visit www.activehastings.org.uk for details of the current sessions.