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A Brexit Party candidate looks likely in Hastings & Rye following PM Boris Johnson's refusal to play ball with Nigel Farage. (photo: Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Open Governent Licence v3.0).

A Brexit Party candidate looks likely in Hastings & Rye following PM Boris Johnson’s refusal to play ball with Nigel Farage (photo: Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0).

Brexit Party candidacy looms in post Rudd Hastings

So there’ll be no Amber Rudd anywhere in the forthcoming general election, but whoever takes her place looks likely to be facing a Brexit Party opponent. The Labour and Lib Dem candidates have clashed over the Labour council’s regeneration policies. And – guess what? – Ukip is still lurking in the shadows. Nick Terdre provides an election update.

Now we know – no immediate return to the Conservative fold for MP Amber Rudd. And since she has also changed her mind on standing as as independent somewhere other than Hastings & Rye, she will therefore shortly become an ex-MP.

According to reports in the national press, Rudd is on good terms with prime minister Boris Johnson but will not be including Tory chief whip Mark Spencer on her Christmas card list after his officious response to her request to be allowed back that:“Receipt of the whip is an honour, not a right and it cannot be discarded or returned at will.”

Rob Lee, leader of the HBC Tory group, has thrown his hat into the ring for the party's parliamentary candidacy.

Rob Lee, leader of the HBC Tory group, has thrown his hat into the ring for the party’s parliamentary candidacy.

The local Tories still have to select a candidate. Rob Lee, the leader of the Conservative group on Hastings council, took to the radio to announce his intention to stand, while Rother councillor Sally-Ann Hart has also told HOT she would definitely apply. Candidates have to be registered by 4pm on Thursday 14 November.

Whoever gets the nod looks likely to be facing a Brexit Party opponent, following prime minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to accept Nigel Farage’s offer of a Leave alliance – an offer conditional on Johnson dropping his deal with the EU.

Council’s regeneration policies questioned

So the only candidates we know about so far are Labour’s Peter Chowney and the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Perry (and of course none on the part of the Greens). In an early skirmish these two squared up to each other over Hastings’ status as one of the most deprived town in England, as certified by a recent government report.

In an article in Hastings in Focus, Perry, while acknowledging that the Conservative government’s funding deal for local councils since 2015 had been unfair, suggested the Labour-dominated council had made the wrong choices on regeneration, allowing itself to be “seduced by a ‘flashy building projects’ approach to regeneration,” and an over-reliance on Sea Change Sussex (formerly Sea Space).

The regeneration company, on whose board the leader of the council sits, was a “totally opaque, unaccountable quango that has managed to spend millions and millions of pounds on unused commercial square footage in the town centre and the failed Enviro 21 industrial park off Queensway,” Perry wrote.

“Hundreds of millions of regeneration pounds have been spent here over the past 20 years – mainly in town, not so much the rural parts of the constituency – yet what do we have to show for them apart from some big, newish buildings and a railway station with a facelift that is already looking tired?” Perry wrote.

“Sadly, as the new figures show, whatever we are doing is just not working for our poorest neighbourhoods.”

He suggested that Hastings council could have “decided to use its considerable land and property portfolio to set up a network of one-stop hubs powered by solar energy in our local neighbourhoods. These buildings could be used to provide a range of easy-to-access community and outreach services that encourage and engage residents, rather than cost extra bus or taxi fares.”

Chowney countered that up until 2010, the Labour government had made significant investments in Hastings, spending over £300m on infrastructure projects, but that “All such investment ended when Perry’s party went into coalition with the Tories, ushering in years of austerity.”

Since 2010 the council had lost £55 million from its £15 million annual budget, Chowney stated.

Additional funding required

“We know what the reasons for deprivation in Hastings are,” he said. “And none of them the council can fix without additional funding, and certainly not with the huge funding cuts we’ve had to cope with.”

He also defended Sea Change’s record, stating that “new office accommodation in the town centre, and industrial units on the Enviro 21 site on South Queensway” were all fully occupied, while the Saga building in Priory Square alone created 300 new jobs.

To Perry’s charge that when the University of Brighton pulled out of Hastings, no real effort was made to get another university to move in, Chowney replied that other universities had been approached but had not been interested because of the uncertainties about the impact on Brexit on foreign students.

Both candidates, the Labour statement pointed out, do agree on one thing:  “the value to Hastings of the UK remaining in the EU. Both have said they will campaign for Remain in any referendum.”

Ukip in turmoil

Reverting to the Leave side, do you remember Ukip – the UK Independence Party abandoned by Farage? They are still imploding – this week the chairman and national executive committee moved to suspend the leader, Richard Braine, to head off “extremists” aiming “to pervert the party into a shouting street-activist movement.”

“Sadly UKIP has been distracted and diverted from its founding aims by a small number of noisy Momentum-style activists aiming to take it over and convert it into a new EDL [English Defence League],” Ukip said in a statement.

Braine subsequently resigned as leader. Ukip, who don’t like Johnson’s deal either, say they will “seek to work with other parties and individuals to ensure that there is a Clean-Break Leave candidate in every seat.”

Does that mean they will cooperate with the Brexit Party? If not, and they are hardly on the best of terms, the result may be a Ukip candidate in Hastings & Rye. We wait to see what transpires in the Brexiteer ranks. But all the emphasis on this single issue will give Labour a tough time calling attention to all the other burning issues which voters should be considering.


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Posted 17:11 Saturday, Nov 2, 2019 In: Election 2019


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Ms.Doubtfire

    After trawling around the ‘tinternet,general election betting odds for Hastings & Rye appear to be rather strange. Labour 14/5 – Conservatives 1/3 – Lib. Dems. 41/5…
    What are we to make of this?????

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Nov 8, 2019 @ 16:36

  2. Patrick Burton

    I agree with Rachel Lever. Abuse gets us nowhere. But, sorry Rachel, like many people who have been past members and recent voters and canvassers for the Labour Party, I will probably but regrettably be voting Liberal Democrat. Not on local issues, (this is a national election after all), but because Labour’s position on Europe is untenable and illogical (how can you negotiate for a deal which you are going to oppose), its spending plans are unaffordable (and as far as nationalisation is concerned, unnecessary), and its leadership is indecisive and incompetent (the handling of the anti -semitism issue was a disgrace, as admitted by a Labour Party shadow cabinet member this morning).

    Comment by Patrick Burton — Thursday, Nov 7, 2019 @ 11:18

  3. Rachel Lever

    What an abusive and trollish load of comments. If you want to replace Peter Chowney as Council Leader the quickest way is to vote Labour on 12/12 and he’ll be gone to Westminster where he can fight for a decent deal for Hastings as part of Labour’s transformative manifesto. That will see a boom in housing, an end to the crippling poverty that dominates the town, free personal care at home for older people who need it (which will end bed blocking at the Conquest), a revival of youth facilities and free uni education and under-fives provision, free prescriptions and a transfusion of support for the Conquest. And plenty more.

    Comment by Rachel Lever — Wednesday, Nov 6, 2019 @ 23:06

  4. Michael Edwards

    And where are the shrill, self righteous, hectoring Green Party? Ah yes, they have decided not to contest the seat and abandoned the left of centre voters of Hastings & Rye to the Momentum grouping of far left anarchists and to the Brexit denying LibDems. Watch the Conservative majority vastly increase.

    Comment by Michael Edwards — Wednesday, Nov 6, 2019 @ 22:51

  5. Bolshie

    I agree with Mrs Doubtfire and DAR here. Here we have the local Labour party hawking round their manifesto claiming an “Achievement” of something they blatantly did not “Achieve.” And despite offering clear and undisputable evidence this political party continues to ignore this issue. Therefore this one fallacy diminishes any trust in their integrity as far as I am concerned. Remember if they win it will mean total control of the council and borough.
    As for Cllr Lee, again I agree with Mrs Doubtfire. Very poor on email replies, has failed to challenge and raise issues on many local issues and Labour.
    For those who are aware what goes on in the borough where to put that “X” on the day is going to be a difficult one

    Comment by Bolshie — Wednesday, Nov 6, 2019 @ 09:01

  6. David Stevenson

    The forthcoming election is a pointless waste of time and money. Rather like shuffling a deck of cards, when the deck of cards itself should be discarded. The House of Commons in its present form was created in 1707, for goodness sake, and it has not developed since that day. No wonder people like Jacob Rees Mogg are so at home there. Time to scrap Parliament and replace it with something appropriate to the 21st century with members appointed on ability not just because they have sold their soul to a Party. I look forward to being visited by the local canvassers so that I can tell them where to go.

    Comment by David Stevenson — Tuesday, Nov 5, 2019 @ 12:45

  7. DAR

    My quandary is as Ms Doubtfire’s, and it may be that I (also as a Leaver) will hold my nose and vote LibDem because Chowney and Labour have consistently approved plans for massive housing developments on green spaces in the borough where there is already traffic congestion and a lack of school places, dentists, doctors and so on (e.g. The Ridge area/ Harrow Lane).

    It’s a pity we won’t have a NOTA (None Of The Above) box on the ballot paper after the numpties in the House of Commons failed to support Theresa May’s deal – which would have meant we wouldn’t have Johnson as PM and all the present chaos.

    Comment by DAR — Monday, Nov 4, 2019 @ 12:19

  8. Ms.Doubtfire

    May I make a suggestion for the succesful future of this town? DO NOT vote in a Labour MP – enough is enough…
    Nick Perry has raised some very pertinent points and he has very neatly sussed out what has been going on here – money wasted all round by this council.
    Now that Amber Rudd gone we have a Tory Hastings councillor who rarely replies to emails from constituents, we do not know anything about the woman candidate who has been suggested and with no Green party candidate we are left with Nick and the Lib Dems – which to my mind would be the lesser of the other evils…Nick will have my vote even though I am not a Remainer. Its so important for this town that we do not let the Labour party get another foot in the door.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Sunday, Nov 3, 2019 @ 21:16

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