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Hastings town hall. Michael Madden thinks today's local council reminds him of Mugsborough times, 100 years plus ago.

At the centre of Hastings, the town hall. Michael Madden says today’s local council reminds him of Mugsborough times more than 100 years ago (photo: Nick Terdre).

Why Hastings is still Mugsborough

Michael Madden is a stalwart supporter of the Labour Party, but not of the ruling Labour group on Hastings Borough Council. In fact he was recently expelled from the local Labour Party. Here he details his serious falling-out with his former party colleagues over the council’s attitude towards planning, and in particular its actions in the Country Park, and compares HBC with the council described in Robert Tressell’s fictional town of Mugsborough, a thinly disguised portrait of Hastings in the Edwardian era.

“There is not the slightest doubt that the majority of councillors have proved themselves unfitted for the task of carrying out the administration of our town.”  Does this sound familiar?  It shouldn’t, because it was written over a century ago by Alf Cobb, Hastings’ most famous campaigning socialist and a model for Robert Tressell’s character Owen in his renowned book The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Cobb was referring to the Hastings Borough Council of his day.

On another occasion, Cobb said: “In its council, mess, muddle and mismanagement hold sway.” Yet “no one but on seldom occasions has the courage to protest against the infernal rot which set in long ago and remains today.  All are eager to smother up the faults of each other; this extends from individuals to committees and from the latter to the council…”

“This is miles, many miles outside the realms of justice. Perhaps Hastings people will become wise. Perhaps…they will make up their minds to return to the council men who are pledged to remove the disabilities under which so many suffer. Perhaps too, if illegalities are committed they will be made to suffer and not the hard struggling few.”

In 1910 Tory councillors dominated Hastings Borough Council, whereas now Labour ones do, so why do these quotes sound so familiar? Well, partly because today’s council leader Peter Chowney likes to raise the name of Robert Tressell and claims to be a socialist, even though his councillors still resemble Tressell’s “forty thieves” in that they favour developers above Hastings’ residents and tax payers. Can he really believe that Tressell and Cobb, if they were to come back to life, would give them the thumbs-up? If so, why has he closed down so many routes of communication rather than being “open and transparent,” as HBC’s literature claims it is?

I was ejected from the Labour Party after writing my last article for HOT because I said that this council does not represent the party leader’s values – certainly not socialist ones – and I stand by that statement. My ‘crime’ was to say that people should consider voting Green instead of Labour. But I am not writing this article in a mind-set of sour grapes – in fact I now consider that my expulsion was inevitable and it rather proved my point: this council is not even democratic.

In their defence, certain figures in the local Labour group have accused people who have questioned their planning department of being “yobs” or “Tories”. One has even made unfounded accusations about two members of the Save Ecclesbourne Glen (SEG) campaign group who he says have “verbally attacked councillors on the streets.” But they are the ones who have used strong-arm tactics in the past (see Zelly Restorick’s reply to my last article in HOT: Development or Democracy?).

The Bunker - blot on the Country Park landscape and on the council's reputation, according to Michael Madden (photo: Bernard McGinley).

The Bunker – blot on the Country Park landscape and on the council’s reputation, according to the writer (photo: Bernard McGinley).

If any reader wants to see who the real vandals are, go and visit the landslip from the East Hill. I moved here five years ago after 15 years of visiting, partly because I had fallen in love with that beautiful walk, which is now lost forever. When Chris Hurrell (who was born and bred here) asked me if I wanted to form a group to deal with this issue in March 2014, both of us and all the others who also joined the SEG campaign believed that all we had to do was provide HBC with the evidence and they would use their enforcement powers to bring the Rocklands Caravan Park owners to book and make them pay for the damage they had caused.

I said at one meeting that some of us were Labour voters and wanted to work with HBC, but they did nothing of the kind. If they had listened to us, the worst damage could have been avoided; now it is too late. So poor John Hodges was unable to fulfil his pledge to “protect every square inch of the Country Park”. John was the only councillor to try and work with us, and he ended up saying that he had been told that the council “couldn’t afford it.” I left the SEG committee (but remained a member) after seven months because I felt that HBC would do nothing about the landslip, and so it has proved.

The council’s previous leader, the late Jeremy Birch, also claimed to be a “socialist,” but there is good reason to believe that he instructed his officers not to act on the landslip from the very beginning. Even after commissioning a geotechnical survey and two reports by Coffey Geotechnical Associates, who found that the landslip was more than likely caused by landscaping changes, tree removals and the installation of hard-standings, nothing changed. All SEG ever asked of the council was to get those causes removed so as to stop the worst effect of water penetration, which was creating an ongoing disaster in the Glen, but they did nothing. Instead Birch and now Chowney have chosen to “smother up the faults of each other”: in this case through planning officers who act in the interests of developers and often against the interests of locals.

It is not good enough to claim that they have to act in this way because an admittedly unfair Tory Government has cut their budget year-on-year. They could, after all, use their budget far more prudently; for example, a SEG committee member clearly demonstrated to Mr Chowney that the planning department’s long-standing policy of abusing the “minor amendment” process had allowed major changes to plans while saving developers the high cost of a re-application. This person also proved that it had cost the ratepayers of this town tens of thousands of pounds in lost fees and potentially even hundreds of thousands in affordable housing contributions.

Mr Chowney was informed of these abuses in October 2015, but did not reply until local MP Amber Rudd wrote to him.  And then what was his response? He admitted this was true in one case, but then said that the council would drop the “10% rule” (which allows amendments up to 10% of the volume of the building to be passed as minor), which they had already broken on many occasions, and would instead adopt the national (Tory) guidelines in future, so that planners could continue to help developers get away with murder.

As a Labour voter, who will vote for Corbyn at the next general election, it has been shocking for me to witness just how abysmal this council is, how undemocratic and how happy to follow Tory policies. This has made it even harder for me to join local Tory councillors in calls for an inquiry, but it is now essential. The claim by HBC leaders (past and present) that they were “socialists” was the final absurdity that made my blood boil, and when Mr Chowney told me in a recent meeting that,“You are not allowed in here any more” because I had shouted that the Labour councillors were “a disgrace to the Labour Party,”  I replied, “This town is still Mugsborough under you”, and it is true. But that doesn’t make me a yob. After two years of watching good courageous campaigners being taken for mugs, I couldn’t help myself. The key problem with this council is that they allow Hastings people no democratic voice, and so I felt I had no other choice than to make myself heard by other means.

Here is Alf Cobb again, speaking of many “white elephant schemes” the council instigated in his day, and giving the following example: “In April 1902 the Town Council purchased a large area of land for £20,000, pledging that it would benefit the town greatly.” In the words of Cobb: “…the worthy councillors who had some years previously waxed eloquent of the glorious advantage that they had obtained for the town; came again before the public and assured their poor, silly dupes – the townspeople – that it would be in their best interests to sell it for £8,000.” Does this sound familiar? Strangely enough it bears comparison with a far more recent example.  The Enviro 21 “eco friendly” business park on Queensway was funded with £7 million of public money on the premise that it would create 500 jobs, yet it has proved a white elephant scheme that at the last count has created only 24 jobs, while ruining yet another beautiful area of countryside.

Little Warren Cottage before it was sold off (photo: Nick Terdre).

Little Warren Cottage before it was sold off (photo: Nick Terdre).

The sale of Little Warren Cottage in the Country Park was another dubious waste of public money. This involves a cottage owned by HBC on behalf of the people and used by park rangers that was sold to a pair of small property developers in order to raise funds for a new visitors centre that has already exceeded the estimated building budget. Having said they had “learned from past mistakes,” officers once again allowed trees to be felled illegally so that the new owners could create a view for themselves. The trouble is that the cottage can now be seen throughout Fairlight Glen, once again ruining the tranquillity of the Country Park. The affair is further evidence that this council has no concept of the public good and advances private business interests at every opportunity.

So how can anyone believe that Mr Chowney is a “socialist”, or that other Labour councillors are, when he claims that he has confidence in his planning department, citing with pride the positive report they got from the Tory Government’s Planning Advisory Service? PAS is highly pro-development and highly un-socialist, and it makes one wonder whether it is in fact the elected councillors or unelected planning officers who run this town. This is obviously not socialism in action, and it is therefore correct to observe that very little has really changed in all these years – Hastings is still Mugsborough.

If people don’t like being taken for mugs, they have the choice of voting out Labour councillors, who have become so complacent and undemocratic, in the imminent elections, so as to create a more balanced council. This advice does not mean that I want to see a Tory-dominated council or a Green-dominated one, just a democratic one. Will Hastings people “make up their minds to return to the council men who are pledged to remove the disabilities under which so many suffer”? Are there any? Whether or not there are, it is obvious that this council cannot be allowed to continue as it is.

Posted 20:04 Monday, Apr 11, 2016 In: Politics

23 Comments


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  1. Chris Hurrell

    In reply to Barney’s comments:

    I have been involved in the Rocklands affair for over two years and still do not fully understand what motivates HBC and its officers to continue appeasing Rocklands. Bunker aside there are a wide range of other issues where HBC refuse to take any action against Rocklands. Once could speculate on the reasons for this apparent complicity between HBC and Rocklands.

    Is it just incompetence and covering up for past mistakes or something more sinister? I do not know. All I know is that there has been a series of systemic errors followed by total failure to investigate and enforce.

    This behaviour continues despite the alleged improvements to planing and the implementation of the Planning Improvement Plan. Nothing has changed down at Aquila house.

    HBC officers undermined the appeal case by continuing to deny that trees have been removed. A last minute change of view on land stability further weakened the case. My understanding is that HBC and Rocklands both agreed that neither party would go for costs.

    Mrs Bahcheli for HBC did not seem to have a full grasp of the documents available or the complex history of the Rocklands case. Her presentation to the appeal was weak and did not address the full facts of the matter. The HBC barrister made a strong case but was not supported by similar performances from the HBC officers who spoke at the appeal.

    During the site visit to Rocklands Mrs Bahcheli made efforts to prevent SEG pointing out and describing issues on site. I believe she was doing this out of her remit.

    I hope that the inspector can see through these manoeuvres.

    I also fail to understand why the majority of councillors have paid no interest in the affair and continue to support the official HBC line that no trees have been removed and that the landslip is natural. They have no interest in the loss of the glen and have failed in their responsibilities.

    Many Labour councillors consider SEG to be the enemy and have made this plain by their behaviour in the council chamber. John Hodges was a notable exception who supported SEG from day one – he is sorely missed.

    Mugsborough is alive and well. I see little evidence of local democracy in the Rocklands affair.

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Friday, Apr 29, 2016 @ 15:46

  2. Barney

    What I do not understand is this: it appears from Michael Madden’s latest comment ref the Appeal Hearing that the council is making every effort to appease these caravan proprietors and skirt around the very serious breaches of planning legislation which have taken place on this site.
    Why are they putting forward a weak case when they should be defending their decision whereby the owners of this caravan park were ordered to demolish the building. Why would they do this? If the Inspector decrees that the caravan park proprietors should be permitted to retain the illegally built ‘bunker’ and finds in their favour, this surely would mean that the council would have to pay the costs of the case. Isn’t in the best interest of the council to throw the book at these people in order to get the bunker demolished and trees replanted to replace those which have been felled. Why is a council officer deliberately trying to conceal evidence from the Inspector.Why is this council pandering to these people or have I mis-read Mr. Madden’s article? I just do not understand any of this now.

    Comment by Barney — Monday, Apr 25, 2016 @ 20:39

  3. Martin

    Have we all heard about the road extension to the ridge which enables the Council to build more units of the Gateway Road? This has been though two High Court Appeals.

    What you don’t know and what you have not been told is that there have been deaths of protected species on this site of Native Dormouse, a humble little chap that does no harm to anyone.

    A complaint has been ongoing with Natural England 412 in regard to this matter were Natural England have only been asked what procedures were put in place from the time that it was informed of Dormouse deaths. They have not cancelled the license and seem to have done nothing since they were notified of this disgraceful act. Is it any wonder this borough is in the state it is.

    Comment by Martin — Monday, Apr 25, 2016 @ 17:53

  4. Martin

    Unless you didn’t realize about the Council you should already known about Speckled Wood, Hastings and the Councils position is that it’s all been saved, Have we all had that letter?. Well is this the case? Well the truth of the matter is that a large part of the woodland has been obtained by GEMSELECT despite the councilors stating it is all saved. Who is this I heard you ask. Well we have been trying to find out how GEMSELECT obtained the land when the council dealt with the sale of the land through it favorite Estate Agent. There account x409 has no record of this purchase being paid into the account or out of the account. There is a really bad smell of rotting fish here and I believe the land was given to GEMSELECT by the Council. An oddity here is that the parcel of land includes a road which was Church Street and has had use for the last 50 years. Where is all this leaving us? Well the gateway into Speckled Wood for it to be developed. The strange thing about this is this site has a massive badger set under it a protected species which if this is developed will end up in your garden. Perhaps you will consider that it has been ejected from this site to yours and who by!

    Comment by Martin — Monday, Apr 25, 2016 @ 17:44

  5. Michael Madden

    Last Thursday’s Bunker Appeal Hearing reinforced all of the negative views that were written below in the preceding week or so.

    HBC’s Planning officers put as weak a case forward as they possibly could against the appeal, presumably so as to avoid any conflict with the Rocklands’ owners or their lawyer. On their visit to the site with the Inspector on the Friday, SEG committee members saw seven tree stumps in contradiction to what HBC officers have claimed for two years – they have never been allowed on the site before. Yet Mrs Bahcheli made every attempt to keep this fact from the Inspector’s attention.

    All one can hope is that he is a man of genuine integrity who saw enough to be able to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

    Are we really mug enough to vote for councillors who protect and applaud these actions among their officers?

    Comment by Michael Madden — Monday, Apr 25, 2016 @ 10:48

  6. Barney

    Sad to say Rosie Brockelhurst has entirely missed the point here. We are talking about decisions made behind closed doors by officers while our elected councillors sit back and say not a word. Does she think this is acceptable? How she can say this council is among the most transparent she has come across is a truly mind blowing statement…
    But hey! what the heck! she managed to get the Sun newspaper to apologise to Jeremy Corbyn. Wow! (I missed that one – what did they apologise for?).

    Comment by Barney — Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 @ 10:00

  7. Michael Madden

    This is for Tony Harrison,

    In case you are unsure whether I was right about the owners of Little Warren Cottage – they registered with Companies House as co-directors of ‘Minnis Rock Development’ in 2013, which was before they bought LWC. See here:

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08520309/officers

    So I was just stating that fact in my article.

    Comment by Michael Madden — Wednesday, Apr 20, 2016 @ 07:58

  8. Bernard McGinley

    One of the most transparent councils is Hastings??!?  Just because HBC proclaims transparency and openness in its documents and deeds doesn’t make it so.  The repeated failure by members and officers to comment on  the Country Park scandals makes a mockery of local democracy.  The reluctance to express a view on the proposed use of delegated powers to consider a planning application (one that has provoked many objections) is very peculiar.

    Where was the openness and public consultation in leaving the historic Town Hall to move to a rented building (rent paid to the British Virgin Islands)?

    The Council’s Constitution says:

    Planning decisions should be made openly, impartially, with sound judgement and for justifiable reasons. The process should leave no grounds for suggesting that a decision has been partial, biased or not well-founded in any way.

    But in practice the Council are intent on flouting the principle, repeatedly.  It’s not so long since a Labour Council in Doncaster gave us the Donnygate scandal, and yet in lessons-have-been-learnt Hastings there’s a preference for decisionmaking behind closed doors.  (Why give the impression there’s something to hide?)

    Robert Tressell and Alf Cobb would find all this sadly familiar.  Power to the People.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016 @ 12:06

  9. TONY HARRISON

    Excellent article Mick. I hope the article gets widely read & goes some way to exposing the history of this Council’s shady dealings & shabby attitude towards its rate payers & towns folk.
    It is an absolute travesty that this inept, dodgy, deceitful, arrogant Borough Council is masquerading as being something we used to call the Labour Party.
    Its an insult to the image of the Labour Party & Socialism & I’m sure if Jeremy Corbyn had any idea of what is happening in this Borough he would be horrified.
    This Council is clearly doing significant damage to Labour’s prospective success in the forthcoming elections.
    Who wants to vote for a Council that by its own actions demonstrates a complete disregard for its citizens, their rights & the safeguarding of the Borough’s assets.
    I myself moved here from London over twenty years ago. Attracted by the ambiance & beauty of the natural landscape & particularly The Country Park. I explored its land every weekend. Its unique.
    I even did voluntary work in the Country Park building steps & footpaths. Warren Glen was one of my favourite spots.
    The cottage there was used by The Park Rangers to store equipment.
    So I ask myself. Who gave permission for the Council to sell off ‘Little Warren Cottage’ to what I now understand are property developers.
    If it was ‘up for grabs’ why wasn’t this made clear to the general public?
    I thought this land & property belonged to the people of Hastings who pay the wages of their elected councillors inorder that they protect their assets.
    What the hell is going on in this town ? This council needs to be exposed for the charlatans they are

    Comment by TONY HARRISON — Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016 @ 11:42

  10. Michael Madden

    This is for Rosie Brocklehurst.

    Hi Rosie. I do not think you would say this if you knew what the SEG committe knows or if you had fought so hard, like they have, for two years and been mostly ignored.

    Yes, you are right to say that the Tory government’s cuts have made life very difficult indeed for HBC and you are also right to say that this council has done some good work. However, most of the criticism that has come from those who have read this article has focused on the Planning Department, and there is something deeply flawed about it. Why have the councillors protected them?

    Comment by Michael Madden — Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016 @ 09:01

  11. Rosie Brocklehurst

    All this vying for votes is unseemly. This Labour Council under the late Jeremy Birch and now Peter Chowney who was Jeremy’s Deputy have done fantastic work for this town with little help from Government. They never get any thanks for it. I wouldn’t do it. It’d kill me. The Pier would not be opening if it had not been for Jeremy and Peter. The swingeing budget cuts to ESCC which affects us all in East Sussex, are so dreadful they have even been resisted by the Conservative council. The management of a limited budget in a town where the settlement has been cut, and where poverty results in many people not having the wherewithal to pay Council Tax, has been skilful. The registration of landlords plan is at least a genuine attempt to help people who are paying for homes that landlords neglect. I don’t think the officers or Cllrs. are corrupt and it really is a dreadful slander to say so. It is one of the most transparent councils I have ever come across, and I am a mature woman who has experienced some truly bad councils in other parts of the country. Nobody is ever going to agree with everybody else on everything 100 per cent of the time. I personally was not happy about the Jerwood. I listened to the fishermen and I don’t like modern art either. But many people do like it. I would be grateful if people could conduct this debate on this planning issue in a more reasonable way rather than in the way it is being conducted. Yours , Rosie Brocklehurst, Journalist and PRO, retired, now social media advisor to Momentum Hastings and the woman who got the Sun to apologise to Jeremy Corbyn).

    Comment by Rosie Brocklehurst — Monday, Apr 18, 2016 @ 17:37

  12. Bernard McGinley

    The problem is perhaps not so much a lack of socialism as a lack of accountability. The current local Labour manifesto declares near the beginning:
    § We believe that the Council should uphold a culture of co-operation, openness, fairness and transparency in all it does, enabling local people to hold us to account and other agencies to work with us.

    The Council’s Constitution (notably Section 5) is also full of such guff — sorry, stuff. But in practice it often means nothing. Genuine enquiries get what Labour leader George Brown used to call ‘a complete ignoral’. Regarding the problems at the Country Park, the majority party has adopted a three-wise-monkeys approach: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. (There was a 2014 initiative that acknowledged that Lessons Have Been Learnt but it seems to have unfortunately died with Cllr Jeremy Birch.)

    The opposition party has tried to make political sport of this situation, but Labour declined to be engaged, and let Council officers speak for them. For many residents and observers this feels like evasion as well as complacency.

    In practice, Council business and meetings (such as Licensing) are dominated by officers not members. In 2012 one member of the Planning Committee – a Conservative – denounced such goings-on. The Chairman (Labour) looked embarrassed.

    Similarly a few years ago an HBC planner said that the Council bent over backwards for developers. No-one ever disputed that, but is that their role? Elected representatives should represent those who elected them, and in this Borough they very often don’t.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 @ 11:26

  13. Michael Madden

    Thanks for all your comments. As if to rub salt in the wound: this is on the HBC Manifesto for 2016:

    They will: “Maintain ‘Green Flag’ award status for Alexandra Park and St Leonards Gardens and maintain our Environmental Stewardship Programme with Natural England to protect habitats, encourage biodiversity and limit invasive species in the country park”

    It is literally incredible that the leader does not even mention HBC’s failure to protectthe Country Park. After two commissioned geotechnical reports, which found that the landslip was largely due to unregulated tree removals, road and hardstanding construction and landscaping, Mr Chowney still pretends that the very unstable nature of the landscape is what gives it its SSSI and AONB status. Why then have there been no other major landslips anywhere else in the Country Park (besides the cliffs which are a completely separate issue)?

    Natural England have not helped by doling out an ‘Environmental Stewardship Award’ to a council that mismanages what John Hodges used to call “its “Crown jewels”: i.e. the CP to this extent.

    Comment by Michael Madden — Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 @ 07:48

  14. Richard Heritage

    While there are several issues here in this excellent article, I certainly agree with David Hancock on serious need for an investigation into these “Quangos” Sea Change / Sea Space fronts for Hastings & Bexhill Renaissance Ltd and East Sussex Energy Infrastructure And Development Ltd. Both basically controlled by Labour people who are directors of both companies along with several unknown names. With a large turnover of names as directors.
    Anyone watching the planning applications S.C. and S.S. have filed, not one has ever been refused. And if you look at their funding/assets, whenever they have wanted money it is freely handed over. They get the proverbial “Rubber Stamp” of approval on everything they do

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Friday, Apr 15, 2016 @ 08:57

  15. Barney

    Excellent article. Very interesting to note that Michael was expelled from the Labour party – but this is what happens if you ‘speak out of turn’ – and this is why few of the Members will comment on the Rocklands fiasco. Too damned scared. Gagged the lot of them. And the only words coming forth from Peter Chowney and the Chair of the planning committee Richard Street are the words prescribed by their officers. If he listens to them for much longer he is going to end up in ‘Dickies Meadow’. (Old Northern saying… meaning in deep trouble or dire straits). Which is not a good place to be.

    Comment by Barney — Friday, Apr 15, 2016 @ 08:54

  16. Michael Madden

    Hi to David. Just to say to you that I covered HBC and SeaChange in my last article http://hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk/hot-topics/home-ground/democracy-and-development

    To Pam, thanks very much. I haven’t decided which Party to vote for yet on May 5th, but will certainly look into what you say.

    Best wishes,

    Michael

    Comment by Michael Madden — Thursday, Apr 14, 2016 @ 14:20

  17. Chris Hurrell

    Great article Mick. The local council have been informed of an abuse of minor amendments that allows developers to avoid paying proper fess and far more disturbingly has led to the potential loss of 100s of thousands in affordable housing contributions.

    The Labour party manifesto for 2016 states “We believe that all local people have a right to a safe, secure, affordable home in an environment that enhances their health, quality of life and access to lifelong learning.”

    This is a very laudable aim that I completely support.

    Sadly our local councillors have not followed up on reports of abuses of minor amendment procedures by our planning department. This issue was reported to the leader of HBC Peter Chowney in October 2015. Sadly Cllr Chowney sat on the problem allowing 3 separate planning applications for 26 housing units to be passed as minor amendments. These applications involved changes to a previously approved plan that changed the 26 units from 2 bed 2 storey houses into 4 bed 4 storey house – there is no way this should have been treated as a minor amendment.

    Had the application been treated properly as a fresh and full application then fees of 10,000 pounds would have been charged (rather than 400 pounds). More importantly affordable housing contributions would have been calculated. It is possible that affordable housing contributions of 100s of thousands have been lost because of this procedural error.

    Cllr Chowney was aware of the procedural error yet took no action. A formal complaint has been made and HBC continue to claim that everything has been handled correctly.

    Attempts to discuss this issue on the Momentum Facebook forum led to members being blocked and a campaign of personal insults was launched by the administrator. At no time has anybody in the Labour party discussed this matter in an open and transparent manner.

    Comment by Chris Hurrell — Thursday, Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:49

  18. David Hancock

    There are many accurate points made by Michael Madden. One serious omission is the Council’s consistent and unthinking support for the {failed) regeneration company Sea-Change (previously “SeaSpace”). This unaccountable body has wasted many millions of taxpayer’s pounds with no genuine benefit. Their “Luddite” fetish for building dull, bland, expensive, un-needed and unwanted. redundant offices, which remain empty is a scandal. Hastings Council’s continued support for this “Band of Brigands” is a disgrace. Our Planning Department has bent over backwards to accommodate the will of these bully. The “cosy” relationship between Sea Space/Change and the Council leaders is worthy of closer investigation. After some 15 years of failure, we, as Taxpayers, should be entitled to bring Sea Scape/Change to account and possibly proceed with potential prosecutions.

    Comment by David Hancock — Thursday, Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:40

  19. pam brown

    Michael Madden makes some good points however his decision to vote Green, is misjudged. It is Liberaemocrats who have been involved in all the criticism of the Hastings BC Planning process. Ecclesborne Glen is sadly, only one example of their incompetent and damaging attitude to planning. Results of their flippant, ignorant and in some cases corrupt decisions are all too evident, and of course are here to stay.
    Liberal Democrats have joined with others eg ‘Watchdog’ which had some success in getting rid of those whose policies resulted in victories for developers and bad news for high housing standards for Hastings & St Leoanrds.
    We were fortunate in having a ‘caring’ Planning Inspector in charge of the new Local Plan, who was determined to give us the best possible future. Local residents pointed out to him, what would be the result if these standards were not imposed. Unfortunately, no elected member gave evidence at this Local Plan hearing which lasted about 18 months, giving ample opportunity for their involvement.
    Now majority and minority councillors are blaming each other for ‘omissions’
    Liberal Democrats have been proud to deliver high standards during times when they have been in positions of power- in the 1980s and 90s. The Greens have never been in this position, in fact, never managed to get anyone elected here.
    In the past there have been marches against the local planning process(2005) but the result was to elect the ‘other lot’ who were even worse.
    When will residents wake up and demand REAL transparency, a commitment to the highest standards, and a pledge to work with community groups who are crying out to be heard ?
    Neither Labour or the Tories deserve to be supported because their record is abysmal. The Greens are hardly an option. Look elsewhere Mr Madden !
    Pam Brown 13.4.2016

    Comment by pam brown — Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 @ 19:43

  20. Nick Perry

    If I may, I’ll take the opportunity to say that Liberal Democrats like Pam Brown have written persistently to the local press for years about problems in the HBC Planning Department (and Committee). As Greens and Tories are mentioned in this article, I hope it is acceptable also to post this to assist people in their choice on 5 May.

    Comment by Nick Perry — Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016 @ 18:03

  21. anna newington

    I find this an extremely well written and well researched report, and it breaks my heart to read it. I too have been publicly accused of being a Tory, a thug who attack people in the street and worse, mentally ill, because I tried to highlight the long standing abuse of the minor amendment process that has robbed our town of potentially hundreds of thousands of pounds.
    It is a sad day when you have to contemplate voting against Labour Councillors because you suspect they are either corrupt or else incompetent.

    Comment by anna newington — Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 @ 16:13

  22. Ollie Watson

    I find there is a complete lack of accountability. Our streets are filthy, our housing stock is dis-proportionally in favour of HMO development and is largely sub standard, crime is high, our retail spaces are made up of betting shops and off licences peddling cheap alcohol to street drinking communities. We are watching a caravan park owner tear apart the Country Park largely without any penalty. Rocklands owners seem to have something on the council they are desperate to keep quiet. University of Brighton debacle. There are countless examples of appalling decision making, it’s an utter shambles. Peter Chowney and his present team of Councillors don’t seem to have a grip on any of it. We desperately need a change.

    Comment by Ollie Watson — Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 @ 12:31

  23. pat Fisher

    In a nutshell, this Council and its Officers are corrupt!!! They claim that every issue they are tasked with has a legal solution to benefit themselves!!! The Jerwood, the Pier and other building projects. Charging Charities Business Rayes while businesses get of scot free. Everything they so is self serving and self gratifying. I too, have voted Labour all my life bit would not put a cross for any of them at HBC. Sad but true!!!

    Comment by pat Fisher — Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 @ 08:45

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