Observer column: 12 July 2019
As the amount of funding councils have to fund non-statutory services diminishes, it's often the 'nice-to-have' services that get cut, if alternative funding can't be found. I've written in this column before about how successful Hastings Council has been at winning competitive grants for specific projects that couldn't be funded from the council's core budget. While this bidding process is wasteful, and isn't the best way to fund local services, one of the areas we have been able to boost this year by successful bids to external funds is our programme of summer activities for young people.
So as the school year draws to a close, we've put together a packed schedule of events and activities over the summer holidays. There are activities to suit all ages and abilities, and in different areas across the borough. Most of the activities are free and you don't need to book, you can just turn up on the day and take part.
Beginning on 29 July and running until the end of August there are regular 'Summer Streets' sessions. We've been particularly keen to get these sessions running in the more deprived parts of town, where parents can't afford to take their children to paid-for activities and events. So these free sessions include arts and crafts, painting, clay modelling, archery, treasure hunts, football and more. They'll take place at various locations including Farley Bank, Robsack, Broomgrove Estate and Warrior Square.
Throughout August, 'Street Bites' will offer DJ workshops, street cricket, graffiti art workshops, and gymnastics and acrobatics, in Hollington and Broomgrove. These sessions include a free lunch for children participating.
Also in August there will be a 'Tennis Camp' at Alexandra Park for budding Andy Murrays or Johanna Kontas, on Thursdays throughout August. There are also some activity sessions aimed specifically at girls, including dance, roller disco, and girls' football. And on 15th August the much-loved 'Fitness Rave' will return to Hastings Pier. This costs £3 in advance or £4 on the day and is a great event for the whole family.
Details of all these events are on the Council's 'Active Hastings' web pages, or there's a leaflet available at the Tourist Information Centre.
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery has lots of events and activities over the summer too. There's a free family fun trail from 24 July to 3 September and a LEGO makers summer club throughout August. There's also a variety of workshops on needlework, collage, felting and storytelling for £2 per child running throughout the summer holiday. More information about all of these events can be found on the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery website.
These aren't the only events and activities of course, other organisations outside of the council put on lots of activities too, often in partnership with the Council. For example, In2Play offer various play sessions across the borough, as well as running the Ore Valley Adventure Playground. Details are on their website. The Source Skate Park are planning skateboard sessions at various locations around the borough, too.
So despite the cuts, there's still plenty going on for young people over the summer. Whatever the future brings for council funding, we'll do our very best to keep up our programme of activities for young people, especially during this long summer holiday. Enjoy the good weather while it lasts!
Council Leader's column