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Face-to-face council meetings resume at Muriel Matters House on Wednesday.

HBC resumes face-to-face meetings

With the annual and full council meetings which take place on Wednesday, Hastings Borough Council is returning to face-to-face meetings. New faces will be present and some old ones missing, and committee memberships will have to be amended, including the Cabinet. Nick Terdre reports.

HBC reports that it is no longer allowed to hold virtual or ‘hybrid’ meetings, and that the annual and full council meetings at 6pm on Wednesday 19 May will take place in the council chamber at Muriel Matters House.

With 32 councillors present, plus the chief legal officer, and social distancing provisions in place, other staff, members of the public and the media will have to be accommodated in nearby rooms. Members of the public are encouraged to watch proceedings online, while those who need to attend are asked to let the council know.

Outgoing mayor Nigel Sinden, left, and his replacement James Bacon.

First item on the agenda is the election of a new mayor to replace Cllr Nigel Sinden, who is stepping down after three years in the role (one more than normal due to the disruption wrought by the Covid pandemic). HOT understands his replacement will be Cllr James Bacon, currently the deputy. A new deputy will also be elected.

Council leader Kim Forward will then report on the appointment of Cllr Paul Barnett as the new deputy leader, following his predecessor Cllr Colin Fitzgerald’s decision not to seek re-election. She will also report on the composition of the Cabinet, including the decision to reduce the membership to seven, all Labour councillors.

This represents a reduction by one in the membership of the former Cabinet, which before the two Tory representatives were removed just over a year ago, numbered 10. Two previous members are no longer councillors – Fitzgerald and Margi O’Callaghan.

New Cabinet line-up

The members of the new Cabinet, and the allocation of portfolios, will not be formally announced until the meeting, the council told HOT. However the names have already been revealed by Cllr Forward on local Labour’s website. The six remaining members – Peter Chowney, Andy Batsford, Maya Evans, Judy Rogers, Barnett and Forward herself – are retained, while the re-elected Cllr Trevor Webb is a new appointee.

O’Callaghan was also chair of the Charity Committee, which runs the Foreshore Trust, so a new chair will have to be found. The other current members are Batsford and Rogers.

Several newly elected councillors will be attending their first council meeting: Labour’s Ali Roark, Sabina Arthur and Claire Carr, the Conservatives’ Graeme Williams, Alan Hay and Lucian Fernando, together with former councillors Rob Cooke and Peter Pragnell, and the Greens’ first ever councillor in Hastings, Julia Hilton.

In addition to Fitzgerald, others absent from full council having not sought re-election are Cllrs Tania Charman, Leah Levane and Dominic Sabetian for Labour, Rob Lee for the Tories and independent Dany Louise. Labour’s Antonia Berelson and Warren Davies, like O’Callaghan, failed to be re-elected.

Meanwhile a decision on Hastings’ Town Deal bid is expected in mid May (that’s now!). According to the minutes of the board meeting in late May, “Initial indications are positive, but it is not clear what level of funding will be received.”


A live-stream of the meeting can be accessed on the HBC website.

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Posted 09:56 Tuesday, May 18, 2021 In: Local Government

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