Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Peter Chowney at his campaign launch.

Peter Chowney’s campaign launch.

Peter Chowney: why you should vote Labour

All candidates have been invited to write, in no more than 800 words, about what they see as the most important proposals in their party manifesto and why voters should support them. First out of the blocks is the Labour Party’s Peter Chowney.

I come from a working-class background, the first in my family to go to university, where I studied microbiology and biochemistry.  I’ve worked in the food and pharmaceutical industries, in medical research, and in local government.

I’ve lived in Hastings for over twenty years – I’ve never regretted moving here. I was elected to Hastings Council in 2000, and have been leader of the council for four years. So I was pleased to be selected to be the Labour parliamentary candidate – initially for the 2017 election , when I came within 346 votes of winning the seat.

This is a beautiful area, both Hastings and Rye are vibrant, exciting, historic and quirky towns with a lot going on. But our villages and countryside also have a beauty and tranquillity that’s hard to match. We have specialist manufacturers producing high-value technical products (there are parts made in Hastings & Rye in the Large Hadron Collider and on Mars in the Curiosity Probe). And we have a thriving and growing cultural and creative sector. This is a fabulous place to be.

The Hastings & Rye constituency does, however, have its problems. We have poor road and rail links, both east-west and to London. We have a desperate shortage of genuinely affordable housing, and an unusually large private rented sector. Educational outcomes aren’t good, with lower than average achievement in our schools and a skills gap between what employers want and what’s available in the local workforce.

Tourism is still the biggest economic sector, where jobs tend to be low-paid and seasonal.  And there are healthcare problems too, with stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes all well above the national average, and a shortage of GPs in both Hasting and the rural areas.

Hastings & Rye has areas of quite extreme deprivation. Parts of Hastings are in the 1% most deprived in the country, but there’s deprivation outside of Hastings too, in parts of Rye and Camber, and isolated rural poverty.

These are not problems we should tolerate, especially in the ‘prosperous’ south east. We need far more investment here, to create jobs, affordable homes, fund our schools and colleges better, and create an improved, sustainable transport infrastructure. And we need to improve healthcare, with more GPs, nurses, and a fully funded health service.

But most of all, we need to tackle climate change. Under current predictions, if carbon emissions increase at the current rate, almost a third of the Hastings & Rye constituency would be under water within the next 100 years.

Labour’s national policies

The Labour Party has national policies to increase funding for schools and the NHS, making adult social care free for older people, and improving transport infrastructure – these policies are detailed in the national Labour manifesto.

But we’re also establishing a £3.6bn fund to regenerate deprived coastal communities – as MP, I would make sure we got our fair share of that money. Labour would also establish a £250bn Green Investment Fund to promote the industries we’ll need to tackle climate change. With our local specialist engineering sector, we would be well-placed to take advantage of that.

Labour will also establish a National Investment Bank – many local businesses have complained to me about how they now find it impossible to borrow from the private sector banks, this new bank would help them get the investment they need to grow.

Labour would also build a million new council homes. At the moment, neither Rother nor Hastings councils are housing providers so can’t build council housing – I would strongly urge them to start building council housing again, to take advantage of this new funding and make homes available to families who have lived here for generations, but can no longer afford to.

Our traditional industries need support too. Fishing and farming, while employing only small numbers of people, are an essential part of the character and traditions of the constituency, and are part of its appeal as a tourism destination. Labour would increase the fish quota for the under ten-metre fishing fleets in Hastings and in Rye. We’d also make sure local farmers didn’t miss out if we leave the EU, and that a system of producer subsidies is maintained, as well as access to seasonal migrant labour where needed.

As an MP, I have no desire for a ‘career’ in politics. My only interest is to represent the people of Hastings & Rye in the best way I can, and get what we need to solve the problems we have here, while retaining all that’s good about the area. I have enjoyed representing the people of Hastings as a councillor, and as leader of the council – I would now welcome the opportunity to serve Hastings & Rye as its next MP.


Peter Chowney’s campaign Facebook page.


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Posted 18:38 Monday, Nov 25, 2019 In: Election 2019


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  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    This week a planning application has been submitted to Hastings planning department from someone who lives alongside ancient woodland and who has applied to have an ancient oak crowned because it is creating shade and encroachment to their garden.
    All too often people who have bought houses alongside our ancient woodlands do not seem to understand that ‘woodland’ means there will be trees in situ.
    This council must not give in to these unreasonable requests….our ancient woodlands are precious and supposedly carry protected status. It is especially damaging to crown or fell trees on woodland edges…woodland edges protect the major part of a woodland..
    It does seem absolutely shocking that whilst the Leader of this council is spouting his thoughts on climate change his planning department is processing permissions to hack at these ancient oaks. If an oak is diseased or dangerous there would be a reason to get rid of it…but these trees are healthy beautiful oaks. If people don’t like trees, shade and falling leaves, they ought not to buy houses close to ancient woodlands. Another beautiful healthy ancient oak was crowned only two weeks ago in the immediate area – why does the arboriculturist employed by Hastings council agree so readily to these unnecessary works?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Dec 4, 2019 @ 17:28

  2. Michael Madden

    This is a comment for the attention of Sally. I have to defend Labour against your claim abut the economy. Labour did not spend irresposibly, but the party has consistently failed to explain, which is almost as bad. Here is a link that explains the facts and it’s true. But why Labour leaders since then have failed to say anything is way beyond me:

    Comment by Michael Madden — Friday, Nov 29, 2019 @ 10:18

  3. Bolshie

    I agree with Mr Madden here in the issue of trusting both Cllr Chowney and J.C. As correctly pointed out the quality and level of transparency and democracy just within HBC is frankly appalling. The current example being the Bathing Site -West St Leonards. Followed with this Solar Farm in the Country Park that will ( I bet you ) go ahead now Cllr Chowney has allowed £80K of public money to hire some company to tell us it would be wonderful to have this in the park.
    I also concur with the comments about Ecclesbourne Glen. What a cover up that has been and not one councillor on either side since the late Cllr Hodges has ever said a word about this scenario. I am sure they must have been given a gagging order on the subject.
    While Cllr Chowney promotes himself as being for the people where was he to give any support to those protesting the Bus Lane fiasco on the Bexhill Road. One of his signed up local Comrades told me how he had emailed him twice about it and never once got a reply. As I told him, they cherry pick what is not difficult.
    On another note like the local Labour manifesto, you just cannot believe all that is written. Read the letter in last week’s Observer. The third on the same manifesto issue.
    However, one of the other most notable things is anyone who supports J.C. is in agreement with the way he ignores the anti-Semitic issue that have prevailed for way too long. That doesn’t phase this Labour candidate he just wants a to get to Westminster

    Comment by Bolshie — Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 @ 11:35

  4. Sally

    Peter Chowney has already said that he would back a second EU referendum and then campaign for Remain. He is therefore undemocratic and will not be getting my vote. He’s an unresponsive leader of the council. His party leader is a communist and his party is infested with antisemites. No thanks. Tory austerity has been a disaster but labours irresponsible spending put us there.

    Comment by Sally — Thursday, Nov 28, 2019 @ 05:49

  5. Keith Piggott

    Dare I comment? I may go with Ms (RH) ‘Doubtfire’. Andrew Neil tucked JC to bed last night, the Chief Rabbi ‘circumscribed’ him, even Laura Koensberg says his NHS Sale to Trump is a scare story. What the Hell, a plague on all of them, I’m voting with my conscience… a totally wasted vote, just like my vote in the 2016 In/Out Referendum. That’s politicians for you.. we pay them to talk… but they don’t know when to stop to obey their sovereign peoples’ instruction? KP

    Comment by Keith Piggott — Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 @ 22:56

  6. Ms.Doubtfire

    And while we are on the ecological theme Mr. Chowney, why don’t you take a trip into your planning offices and see how your department processes applications to fell or crown perfectly healthy trees in this town? And why has this department made it virtually impossible for the public to protest about this with 99.9% of these unworthy applications being decided via the delegated route so it is left up to your officers to decide the fate of these trees?
    And why are the professional reports on the landslide in Ecclesbourne Glen kept under wraps? Why are we not permitted to see the causes of this major landslip?
    More questions than any answers we are ever likely to get from your council.
    Why should anyone in this town vote for you?

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Wednesday, Nov 27, 2019 @ 12:13

  7. Michael Madden

    I may well vote Labour in this election, because I think Labour has the best policies – council housing being one of them – and I truly believe that the country will be ruined by the Tories post Brexit. However, and unfortunately (because I wish it was different), I have little faith in Jeremy Corbyn or yourself, and for the same reason. I do not think either of you are “open and transparent” enough and niether are you democratic enough. All Corbyn had to do was to explain to the electorate that many social democratic countries have exactly what he is proposing. He could have exposed every Tory undemocratic act, law or for what it was/is. Instead he carries on painting such policies as if they are ‘socialist’, and has therefore damned himself in the eyes of people who are intelligent enough to see that soviet communism is not what they want (I know what I’m talking about here, because my dad was a communist way back). He underestimates the opposition – the entire Press machine is against him besides two daily papers – he is not a political pragmatist. Labour would do much better with Starmer in charge and he knows it – they could keep the same policies so why not hand over? Two reasons – vanity and tribalism. As a lifelong Labour voter I cannot believe that this red or blue tribal war has continued into the 21st century and this is called ‘democracy’. As for your own policies, you did not bother much about natuer or climate change until they became newsworthy and would therefore get you votes. I mean look at Ecclesbourne Glen – the way that was handled was a truly disgraceful example that should have shamed any real nature lover to the core. So now what? Solar Arrays? Why not plant trees in the Country Park and put solar panels on domestic houses instead? That would be proactive thinking, especially when the Earth need millions more trees to be planted to replace the ones burnt in the Amazon. It would also preserve the “beauty and tranquility” that you espouse so highly.

    Comment by Michael Madden — Tuesday, Nov 26, 2019 @ 19:33

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