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Hastings Democratic Alliance

Hastings Democratic Alliance makes its point.

Could the Hastings Democratic Alliance be revived?

In 2005 the Hastings Democratic Alliance (HDA) was formed, aiming to promote participation and involvement in the democratic process, and to maintain a watching brief on the activities of public and private bodies. HOT’s Chandra Masoliver interviews former local councillor, Sue Palmer, and artist and activist, Colin Booth, both founder members of the HDA. They discuss the background of HDA, the achievements of the alliance and the prospect of its revival.

“Authority wins if there’s no unity, and a single group can be disregarded, but with everybody sharing the same cause, it is harder to be ignored.”

“We go to the streets with banners, organise demonstrations and protests, but the real politics happen elsewhere…”

Local activist and artist Colin Booth

*****

CM: Sue, please tell me a bit about your political background and how you got involved with the HDA.

SP: I’ve lived in Hastings Old Town for 30 years. I joined Old Hastings Preservation Society (OHPS) to find out about the history and architecture of the Old Town and I contributed to setting up a database of local properties. I took a keen interest in Planning Committee meetings and the decision-making process, and I observed residents objecting to plans affecting their areas – for example the Amusement Park and Boating Lake, Stade car park and the Jerwood, the hotel on the beach opposite St Mary in the Castle and the Observer building.

CM: What was the background to the formation of the HDA?

SP: At Planning Committee meetings, I was hearing many disaffected residents’ groups from all over Hastings and St Leonards protesting against intrusive and unwanted schemes in their areas. After the introduction of the Cabinet system by the late Jeremy Birch, then leader of Hastings Borough Council (HBC), there was very little consultation. Decisions were made behind the scenes. The HBC Cabinet system was modelled on Blair’s creation at government level when elected in 1999. Blair side-lined his members of Parliament – and council leader Birch did the same with the 32 HBC councillors. The so-called ‘Gang of Four’ made the decisions – Cllrs Jeremy Birch, Deputy Leader Jay Kramer, Godfrey Daniel and one other. The standard phrase was: ‘We make the decisions and you abide by them.’

A past employee of HBC, Ted Newcomen, was quoted in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer (21.04.06): “The claim that the new Cabinet system is more democratic will go down as one of the great lies of the early 21st century. Public consultation is a joke…the chief beneficiaries are out-of-town consultants and talentless yes-men.”

“If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realisation the New World Order means we are all to be managed and not represented.”

Tony Benn

CM: Colin, what actually triggered the formation of the HDA?

CB:  In the autumn of 2005, HBC decided to demolish the 90 concrete chalets at West St Leonards, the last remnant of the Old Bathing Pool, known as West Marina Bathing Station. These chalets were designed and built in 1934 by borough engineer and ‘Concrete King’, Sidney Little. In protest, my partner Louise and I and two close friends formed the Chalet Restoration Action Group (CRAG). The huts were described as ‘architecturally unique’ and appeared to be structurally sound, so CRAG questioned the legality of it – and 784 signatures were raised.

Sydney Little's Beach huts, now demolished.

Sydney Little’s chalets

I enlisted the help of John McAslan Architects who had undertaken the restoration of the De La Warr Pavilion. Their chief engineer and project manager agreed that the chalets could very easily be put back into full use. With the support of local residents, we set up West Marina Partnerships and prepared a community plan for the Old Bathing Pool site, which included restoring the chalets.

Cllr Jeremy Birch said their decision was made on ‘all the expert advice’, although later he admitted that was not so. CRAG offered to lease the chalets from the Council and raise the £900,000 for their restoration – both English Heritage and Twentieth Century Society expressed interest. This was ignored by HBC.

We made CRAG a high-profile campaign and everybody was watching to see how the Council would respond. When the bulldozers moved in to demolish the chalets we were devastated. The injustice still lingers. There’s something structurally wrong in the way we undertake all politics in this country. We go to the streets with banners, organise demonstrations and protests, but the real politics happen elsewhere, decisions are made, and consultation counts for nothing. We kept meeting people involved in other campaigns and we felt we needed to form an umbrella organisation to make HBC answer for its actions. Authority wins if there’s no unity, and a single group can be disregarded, but with everybody sharing the same cause, it is harder to be ignored.

CM: Sue, when was the HDA formed?

SP: In the autumn of 2005 a public meeting was called in the Pig in Paradise pub (now The Palace), and the HDA was born from the realisation that the views of local residents were being ignored and that a common voice was needed in defence of the democratic process – not about what, but how decisions were made.

The HDA was non party-political: it was made up of individual members from all parties – and none.

People marching through town centre

CM: What were the HDA’s main aims?

SP: Our aim was to speak with a united voice against bad governance and biased decision-making, made without recourse to the voters.

We wrote a constitution of the Hastings Democratic Alliance of Hastings and St Leonards (HSL); the four key aims were:

  1. To restore and promote true local democracy within the Borough of Hastings and St Leonards.
  2. To promote the widest possible participation and involvement in the democratic process among HSL residents.
  3. To keep a watching brief on public and private bodies and take necessary action.
  4. To act as an umbrella group and to work with and alongside any other organisation or individuals who are in sympathy with and support the aims of the society.

CM: I notice you produced a leaflet called The Buzz. Please tell me about this venture, and the impact it had.

The Orange and Lemon Awards

SP: The Buzz was a double-sided flyer informing people about alleged abuses of power by HBC. Everyone was asked to cast votes for the four Orange awards, to go to people or organisations that enhanced democracy. Also there were three Lemon awards for those who had done democracy a disservice.

The Buzz informed and helped motivate the protest march on Saturday April 22, when about 200 people marched from the pier to the Town Hall. Dee Howard designed posters with slogans like ‘Knock Birch off his Perch’, ‘Our Space not SeaSpace’, ‘No More Gang of Four’, ‘HBC Putting the Con into Consultation’ and ‘HBC Needs Recycling’.

Hastings Democratic Alliance outside Town Hall

Hastings Democratic Alliance outside Town Hall

People wore orange T-shirts (the colour of the Ukranian Orange Revolution of 2004), and masks, some with the faces of Cllrs Birch and Kramer.

Mr Birch and Ms Kramer came out of the Town Hall and said they realised they had been high-handed and would be more consultative if re-elected.

CM: Colin, what sort of groups were involved?

CB: There was Save Our Seafront (SOS), opposed to the building of a hotel on the beach opposite St Mary in the Castle, Pelham Place. On Monday 3 October 2005 about 60 furious residents crammed into Hastings Council Chamber with a petition of over 4,000 signatures, to force councillors to listen to their objections. Residents had been given no official opportunity to object to these plans. They insisted that there should be no building on the beach, which was given to the people of Hastings in the terms of the Foreshore Trust (FT).

Representing those who signed the petition, Evelyn Modlinger asked: “Why is the Council so anxious to ignore the opinions of the residents?” (Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 7.10.04). To which Jeremy Birch replied “You are here to listen.”

Also: People Against Rises in Council Tax (PART) conducted a poll, in which 85% of Hastings residents voted that future council tax rises should be approved by a public vote if they went above inflation. Their secretary – and HDA member – Mike Mitchell said: “Councils should give residents a direct say in how heavily they are taxed, as well as how their money is spent.” This was approved by the Mayor, Pam Brown, who said, “Don’t give up on the work that’s being done today, because you can make a difference” (HSLO, 28.04.06).

And No Slipway: CRAG enlisted various groups to stop the construction of a concrete slipway for jet skis near the Old Bathing Pool site.

And The Union of Residents Association was formed to combat the perverse planning decisions of developments.

No Slip Way campaign

No Slipway campaign

CM: What was the outcome of the campaigns Save Our Seafront, People Against Rises in Council Tax, No Slipway and the Union of Residents Association that you refer to?

CB: The concrete slipway project was abandoned directly due to our campaign, and the proposal to build a hotel on the seafront (the SOS campaign) never went ahead. I’m not sure what happened with PART and the Union of Residents.

CM: To what extent were the more general aims of the HDA achieved?

CB: I think we won the battle, but lost the war. We were told on good authority that the Labour Party lost control of the Council at the subsequent local elections as a direct result of our campaign. As a lifelong Labour Party supporter I had mixed feelings about that particular result. I would have preferred the then controlling faction within the Labour Party to have listened to all our concerns.

We lost the chalets, but for a rare moment we showed what is possible when community groups come together to form a united front to stand up for local democracy.

People challenging the local council's decisions

People challenging the local council’s decisions

CM: Sue, what led to the HDA’s discontinuance?

SP: After the April 2006 protest march, with the May elections coming up, in spite of their promise to be more consultative, the Council were rattled.

When the Labour Council lost their majority, HDA members felt they had achieved all they could and disbanded. The Tories had said they would do it all differently, however they found themselves unsupported and ridiculed by Labour when they wanted to reassess decisions, and two years later, Labour were back in power.

Unfortunately, the Council has slipped back into its old ways, defining democracy as, once elected they have the mandate to make decisions without informing and consulting with their electorate.

“I think very often the boat-rockers turn out to be the people who are building the craft.”

Tony Benn

Rock-a-Nore: currently saved from development Photo LB

CM: As reported in HOT, there are a variety of issues affecting local people over which HBC’s lack of consideration has caused  widespread frustration and opposition:

  • The unpopular harbour proposal at Rock-a-Nore – Hastings Harbour Quarter Company has withdrawn its proposal (see recent HOT article Hastings Harbour Proposal to be withdrawn).
  • Ecclesbourne Glen landslips, allegedly due to unregulated development at Rocklands caravan park. HBC has refused to release documents which might throw light on the cause of the landslips.
  • Sea Change Sussex criticized by SeaChangeWatch (previously Combe Haven Defenders) for not giving a briefing to HBC, leaving buildings empty or unused, roads through unspoilt countryside, and not creating the promised number of jobs.
  • Affordable housing: HBC has failed to insist on developers including a quota of affordable homes in house-building projects, allowing them to plead that it makes them unviable.
  • Proposed extension and refurbishment of the Amusement Park, which threatens the public right of way along the footpath.
  • Unnecessary tree felling at Beauport Caravan Park.
  •  The Isabel Blackman Centre’s threatened closure by East Sussex County Council (ESCC).
  • Hastings Greenway Group: ESCC switching funds intended for walking and cycling projects to cover cost overruns on Sea Change road schemes.
  • The area action plan for White Rock and Bohemia, which proposes extensive house-building on much-needed green spaces.

Yet Hastings is a vibrant town with exciting grassroots activity reflecting local people’s views and initiatives as to what our town needs.

Amongst the current community groups written about in HOT are:

  • Transition Town Hastings: Encourages local residents to share their vision of how they see the town’s future in the areas of local economy, housing, waste and recycling, food, sustainable transport and energy.
  • Energise Sussex Coast/1066. Local Energy: A community benefit co-operative set up to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future through the development of community-owned renewable energy generation projects and energy efficiency schemes.
  • Heart of Hastings: A project set up by Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust, to use the land at Ore Valley for community events, with future hopes of affordable, sustainable housing and employment opportunities for local people.
  • Fossil Free Hastings/Divest East Sussex: Campaigns to persuade the East Sussex Pension Committee to switch funds out of fossil fuels.
  • Hastings Doughnut Economics Action Group: Explores the ideas and suggested actions in Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist.
  • Hastings Sustainable Transport Forum: Aims to bring together local not-for-profit groups with an interest in sustainable transport.
  • The West Marina Diving Tower Project: Colin Booth’s project to create a full-size concrete and LED rendition of the original diving tower, once the centrepiece of the Old Bathing Pool (Hastings Independent Press, 24.08.2018).
Making a difference to local decisions

Making a difference to local decisions

CM: Individuals and groups in Hastings and St Leonards do their best to hold public and private bodies to account, but collective action is fragmented and individual activists may become isolated, burnt out or ‘silenced’.

Sue and Colin, do you think the aims of the HDA remain relevant today? And would its revival prevent fragmentation, and inspire and empower people to take co-ordinated action, ensuring their voices are heard?

SP: Yes! A resounding yes! It has been done before, and there is absolutely no reason why it couldn’t be done again. It just needs the right spark.

CB: Anything that is pro-democracy, pro-activist and pro-local people coming together to take responsibility for what happens in this town has got to be a good thing.

Do you think that it would be a good idea for local groups to collaborate and for the Hastings Democratic Alliance to be revived? 

Please use the Comments section below.

Posted 08:56 Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 In: Grassroots

25 Comments


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  1. Siobhan McHugh

    While it’s understandable that you all have your reasons for criticising the decisons made by HBC and the cabinet etc, just be thankful that at least you have decisions made for Hastings by councillors from Hastings. In Bexhill we have decisions made for us by councillors from up to 30 miles away from our town. We recently had a “consultation” where we were invited to have our say on whether we should have a Town Council like Rye and Battle do which is the equivalent of a Parish Council. Needless to say that the people of Bexhill wanted this and 97% of those responding voted for a Town Council. When the decision was made by Rother District Council we were told to get lost by rural Tories with no connection whatsoever to Bexhill and at least one of the councillors denying us a Town Council don’t even live within the Rother District area but in Wealden. We have also seen our town deprived of funds and services while outlying areas are heavily subsidised by the countil tax payers of Bexhill. The majority of Rother residents live in Bexhill but the numbers on the Council give the culchies a built-in majority.

    Comment by Siobhan McHugh — Sunday, Oct 14, 2018 @ 14:26

  2. Chris Hurrell

    Excellent article.The Cabinet system and the party whipping system has eviscerated local democracy. Elected members do not hold Officers to account. There is no separation of powers.

    HBC is not accountable and its claims of being an open and transparent council are laughable.

    Hastings is ruled by a cabal of senior officers in collaboration with the leader and a handful of Cabinet members. Councillors have little say and their main function is to rubber stamp decisions.

    Internal party democracy is deeply flawed and ordinary party members have no say in decisions made at Cabinet – the general public have even less say – witness the way the Marina proposal was railroaded through Cabinet in 10 days without any consultation.

    There are many campaign groups who work in isolation on single issues – they have very little impact. HBC sideline them and if they remain persistent close down all communication and vilify the group.

    The resurrection of the HDA is essential – it would allow sharing of knowledge and resources and help to hold HBC to account.

    A return to the committee system would be welcome and would return some control to councillors. However this would only work if our councillors would free themselves of the party whipping system and unconditional loyalty to the leader and HBC officers. The political dominance of a single party does nothing for democratic accountability – a PR system would be a much better option but is unlikely to happen.

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Saturday, Oct 13, 2018 @ 08:25

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    Councillors who support the majority party here in Hastings will never disagree with the Leader or their colleagues – they will have one opinion and it will not be supportive of the resurgence of the HDA.
    Of that I am certain.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Oct 12, 2018 @ 13:19

  4. Susan Tyler

    Terrific article – and equally terrific comments! I’ve been coming back to read the comments every few days, and it’s heartening to see such enthusiasm to get out and do something.

    I would particularly support Julia Hilton’s point that we will be more effective by finding out what individual councillors think – while working towards a “positive vision for Hastings”.

    Comment by Susan Tyler — Thursday, Oct 11, 2018 @ 15:00

  5. Ms.Doubtfire

    How many residents are aware that not all important decisions are made via the Cabinet or Council meetings. Some decisions, considered of little importance to residents, are made via the delegated decision route – i.e. paid officers make the decisions and that is that.

    This applies to the recent huge increases in beach hut rentals and other issues such as closing beach lavatories at 5pm in the summer months.

    It also applies to the majority of planning applications to fell trees which carry Tree Preservation Orders. No commitee discussions and no public representation. You can complain if you are fortunate enough to find these applications but your complaints will be ignored.

    There is no platform for protest. It just happens and tough luck if it hurts.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018 @ 08:56

  6. Julia Hilton

    I think Russell’s suggestion of a petition asking for HBC to hold a referendum on whether to change from the current cabinet system to a more democratic and representative Committee system is a good one. Wherever Green councillors have either held power (as in Brighton) or held the balance of power (as in Worcester) they have changed the council back to a committee system.
    For this to work in Hastings you would ideally need to get support from both Conservative and Labour councillors and voters. It’s not enough to just get the signatures, you would need a groundswell of support to win the referendum as well. It would be worth finding out what your individual councillors think of this, particularly those who are not in the cabinet. I am sure many of them would like to have more influence over decisions. If the HDA was revived I would like to see it working on what would be a positive vision for Hastings not just fighting against issues.

    Comment by Julia Hilton — Sunday, Oct 7, 2018 @ 16:15

  7. Sunbear

    I’m in.

    Don’t “they” realise this constituency is knife edge ?439 majority? for Amber Rudd. We are in a rare constituency where our votes actually DO matter.

    Comment by Sunbear — Saturday, Oct 6, 2018 @ 17:53

  8. Peter Bolwell

    I remember that crazy scheme to build a hotel on the seafront – the brazen cheek of confiscating our beach matched only by the blind stupidity of putting such a building in that location when sea levels were known to be rising!

    I agree that the “cabinet” system is pernicious, and tends to reinforce the general perception that “democracy” means in practice an elected dictatorship, the people having no power other than to swap one set for another at election time. There is always I am afraid the tension between the need to “get things done” and the awkward and messy business of listening to the people.

    Interestingly, the problem is not a new one, nor is the suggestion for action to deal with it. Many readers are no doubt aware that a very distinguished resident of Hastings at the end of the 19th century was Elizabeth Blackwell, famous as the first woman to qualify as a doctor in Britain, who moved to Rock House on the West Hill in 1979 when she retired. Not so many perhaps will know about her brush with local politics. I have a copy of her pamphlet written in 1885 entitled “On the decay of municipal representative government”. The title says it all! On the first page she describes how candidates standing in the Council elections would come to call on her before the election and agree with everything she told them but, she continues, “I soon perceived that all influence ceased with the election; that matters went on in the same way without me as with me, and my supposed privilege of voting seemed really to be very much of a mockery.” Does this sound familiar at all?

    What is also interesting is that she responded to the particular situation she was dealing with – basically Councillors forcing through measures that not only had no popular support but which were actually harmful to the interests of local residents – by forming a Ratepayers Committee, and she closes her pamphlet with this appeal: “An unofficial organisation sufficiently suited to respond promptly to any sudden municipal call, has really become of vital importance”. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Comment by Peter Bolwell — Friday, Oct 5, 2018 @ 21:59

  9. Michael Madden

    Sorry to comment so late Chandra – busy lately. But having finally read your article I think it’s truly excellent – really in-depth and making a very strong case for reviving the HDA. It’s true that small groups taking up separate issues can achieve far less than a bigger one; so I think this is a fine idea.

    Just to say that regarding Hastings threatened built heritage, I am very concerned about the proposed White Rock Masterplan, which will involve the demolition of the 1927 theatre building, which is one of the most interesting and elegant older buildings on the seafront. It’s irreplaceable and should be listed, but it probably won’t be because it wasn’t designed by a famous architect. I’ve made an application for its listing but it may fail. I should say, by the way, that the entrance columns are not original to the building but were added by the council some decades ago and are in fact modified sewer pipes. They should be removed.

    The problem I see is that planning officers are not visually or historically trained. They seem to have no idea of the quality of such remaining buildings, and so they don’t appreciate the fact that many of the building they demolish are finer than their replacements could ever be.

    I do not believe that the W.R.Theatre’s under-use is because of its size or capacity. I think it’s because of the standard of the shows that are put on. At the moment its management is subbed out to a company who are subsidised by Hastings’ taxpayers on every ticket sold. So it seems that the “Masterplan” may just be another case of this council’s tendency to cosy up to developers.

    This is just one more instance, added to the others menationed in your fine article, why the HDA should be revived. The council is shockingly non-transparent, which doesn’t help. Russell’s idea of the petition is alson very good.

    Anyway, well done. Excellent stuff, as always.

    Comment by Michael Madden — Friday, Oct 5, 2018 @ 09:29

  10. Bea

    I agree with all. Hastings Council is the opposite of transparent.
    It is even in their interest to come out of their caucus, listen to comments, and explain why they decide things. This is especially true of planning issues. Let’s face it: we won’t always like their decisions (eg for more housing development) but if we understand the pressures they are under then the atmosphere will improve.
    Sometimes too there is scope for negotiation – for exmaple, if the playing fields are build on then what area and what money is to be set aside for recreation, perhaps designed to cater for a wider section of society than use the space at the moment?

    Comment by Bea — Thursday, Oct 4, 2018 @ 11:17

  11. Oona Ball

    Inspirational article. Yes to a relaunch of the HDA and to happy to sign Russel Halls suggested petition!

    Comment by Oona Ball — Thursday, Oct 4, 2018 @ 08:07

  12. Chris Coverdale

    An excellent article Chandra. A revival of HDA is exactly what is needed.This time however we must ensure that it has teeth – the decision making power to decide for ourselves what Hastings needs and the financial power to put it into effect.

    I suggest that we set up a public meeting in the near future to revive HDA and set it on a new course.

    Comment by Chris Coverdale — Wednesday, Oct 3, 2018 @ 12:18

  13. Pam Brown

    I certainly remember that march, and stand by my comments at the time.
    Most of the anger was directed at the planning process as practised by the Labour Party. This has in fact got worse, and when the Tories were involved, they were no better.
    The problem with Labour is that they do not believe in REAL consultation which to work properly, needs – not just listening, but being prepared to change if this is clearly the majority view.
    Under the Liberal Democrats, planning was far more ‘out in the open’. Less delegeted powers, and less authoritarian decisions. Way back, the Lib Dems introduced the ‘Petition’ system, which others have tried to decry and even get rid of!
    Local groups have much expertise, and strong links with the community – neither major political party will commit to involving local groups – a real change is needed to bring back those who are genuinely committed to WORKING TOGETHER for the good of our town.

    Comment by Pam Brown — Wednesday, Oct 3, 2018 @ 11:15

  14. Eye on the ball

    We definitely need the HDA. There is no effective consultation in Hastings. It would seem from the recent council meeting that the only reason the Rock a Nore marina proposal was withdrawn was that H M Treasury did not come up with the £1.5M for a feasibility study.
    (The proposer was clearly not going to risk any of its own money). I’ll sign up to the HDA today.

    Comment by Eye on the ball — Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 @ 11:55

  15. James Buchanan

    An excellent call to action. Just what we need in Hastings. A central group able to bring to attention matters that ‘the public’ value.

    James

    Comment by James Buchanan — Tuesday, Oct 2, 2018 @ 01:12

  16. Lynda Foy

    Yes, I think it would be a good idea to revive the Hastings Democratic Alliance to act as an umbrella group for residents who are tired of seeing their legitimate concerns ignored by the borough council.
    For example, the current Rock a Nore Marina plan has been withdrawn, but there’s a good chance that it will be revived in a modified form. If so, a residents’ group is needed to try to get the government’s planning minister to call this scheme in for a public inquiry. A proper, public examination of any future proposals is needed and a residents’ group could gather and present its planning objections in a coherent and professional way.

    Comment by Lynda Foy — Monday, Oct 1, 2018 @ 18:58

  17. DAR

    Anything that curtails the cavalier attitude to development, democracy and transparency is to be welcomed. I concur with Russell Hall about abandoning the Cabinet system re: HBC.

    FYI, the appalling decision (by a mere 6 votes to 2 when not all planning committee members were present) to develop the publicly-owned Harrow Lane Playing Fields (140 dwellings) means that this land grab will deprive the area of its last green space for recreation. This, in tandem with a proposed development for Holmhurst St Mary (65 dwellings) adjacent to the playing fields can only mean more traffic congestion in The Ridge area and more pressure on already-stretched public services (schools, GPs, dentists etc.).

    Comment by DAR — Monday, Oct 1, 2018 @ 14:31

  18. James

    This is an excellent article, Chandra. Hastings needs local well-wishers to preserve its unique charm. The town has so much beauty and it requires vigilance to maintain that distinctive character. The Hastings Democratic Alliance would likely be the required platform to focus attention where it matters.

    Comment by James — Monday, Oct 1, 2018 @ 12:13

  19. ELSA79

    Excellent article, Chandra. Thanks for the inspiration. I think it would be a very good idea to revive the HDA. Eg am delighted that the harbour proposal at Rock-a-Nore has been declined. Apart from what a monstrosity it would have been – think also of the amount of CO2 emitted, when eg building a tunnel underneath East Hill,(yes, that was mentioned) – so as to give access to the “project of building a marina within a new harbour wall for 600 berths, 1,300 houses, a hotel, a leisure facility, a new venue for events – and permanent jobs for five hundred to a thousand people”. How would all those occupants and the 500-1000 new workers move around? I thought Hastings was in the process of REDUCING CO2 emissions…
    So it would be good to revive the HDA.

    Comment by ELSA79 — Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 @ 23:01

  20. Edward

    The only language elected councillors understand is the ballot box. A campaigning group outside the party political divide can hold the council to account and demand proper consideration of the will of the people if they make enough noise to threaten the electoral majority of those in power. So yes to relaunching the HDA. In Hastings you seem to have got their attention with the harbour proposal being dropped. Now follow through with a general campaign against all abuse of power by campaigning for a change of the Cabinet system to a representative committee system.

    Comment by Edward — Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 @ 19:30

  21. Ms.Doubtfire

    Lets get cracking on this petition – I am sure we would be able to get more than the required amount of signatures.
    We need some democracy in this town – the current system is operating behind closed doors and this has to stop.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 @ 16:50

  22. S Serf

    I think its time for some people power here – I would support the revival !

    Comment by S Serf — Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 @ 16:31

  23. Bolshie

    Well covered article about the problems with HBC, the lack of democracy and transparency. Some thing is desperately needed to bring this council into line. Russell Hall’s suggestion is something I have raised with others as I can see that will be the only forward way to go if there is to be a drastic change in the way HBC operates.

    Another stab at local democracy not mentioned is the Planning Application changes: From five minutes to three minutes for anyone speaking on an application. From three objections to five objections to avoid a delegated decision. Tree applications all now delegated and not going before the planning committee. The apparent reason for this is councillors on the planning committee don’t know anything about trees and their decisions on such matters is not considered sound. As if their knowledge on ordinary planning applications is something to shout about. Then there is the £120 charge you will be expected to pay if you want to ask the planning department a question on something that is not a current active application. that of course stops most people in their tracks.
    And while on the democratic issue – who in the council decided to buy two retail units costing the taxpayer £16million – without costs.

    Comment by Bolshie — Sunday, Sep 30, 2018 @ 15:54

  24. Russell Hall

    A 3,169 signature petition would force Hastings Borough Council to hold a referendum on whether to change from the current Cabinet system of governance to a more democratic and representative Committee system (see: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/voting_elections/petitions/)

    Brighton & Hove City Council did this in 2012 (see: https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?AIId=26051).

    Comment by Russell Hall — Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 @ 15:02

  25. John Baker

    Well, yes, let’s relaunch the Hastings Democratic Alliance! It worked last time, there’s a crying need for greater democracy here, there’s an army of activists in the town, let’s bring them together. Thanks again for another piece of effective campaigning journalism, Chandra.

    Comment by John Baker — Saturday, Sep 29, 2018 @ 10:10

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