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Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

HBC council leader Paul Barnett.

Labour makes the difference!

HOT has asked the four local parties for a brief rundown of their policies and reasons why you should vote for them. Here is the response on behalf of the Labour Party from Paul Barnett, the Hastings Borough Council leader.

One of the many contradictions thrown up by the two-year pandemic has been the sudden rise in popularity of Hastings as a town to live, work or holiday in.

So as the new Leader of Hastings Council, it is my role to reflect on what has made this happen, how we can all benefit from it, and to persuade others to help us focus on our goal to ensure that everyone living here feels equally valued and secure.

Only those who have been here for more than 12 years will remember what it was like when the local Conservatives ran the town. Depressing, empty, a fighting town say some. Cultural vandalism selling off the cricket ground, say others. We certainly still have a legacy of sell-offs and privatisations.

I prefer to focus on what Labour has achieved since then. And where our vision, energy., determination and skills will take Hastings next. We are a democratic party with more than 1,000 members, and they have shaped our manifesto for these elections.

Here are six examples of where Labour in Hastings and St Leonards makes a real difference.

HOUSING This council, working closely with our amazing voluntary sector, has become a recognized expert at progressively supporting rough sleepers and homeless people, and now leads for East Sussex. But getting people off the streets isn’t enough, so we have just set up a housing task force to find better ways of helping our families who are being priced out of the rental market, and we are starting by building 500 low-rent homes. Local Conservatives are not happy, they don’t want ‘the wrong kind of people’ living in their wards.

On the comeback trail: Margi O’Callaghan is standing in Braybrooke.

CLIMATE CHANGE This council was one of the first nationally to declare a climate emergency and we are well on the way to being a carbon neutral council by 2030. We have chosen innovative green architecture for the visitor centre at the Country Park (straw bales) and the Business Start-up Centre in Hollington (one of the few to score excellent for environmental standards in the south of England) – local Conservatives laughed this approach off as a white elephant.

Now record numbers pour into the Country Park, so vital after two years of being stuck at home. We will now change our Local Plan to further prioritise climate emergency planning, including wind power along the sea front, more solar on all housing, and active travel (walking and cycling) and public transport, not more roads.

HEALTH Ten years of austerity has seen health inequalities here get far worse, as recognized by Chris Whitty in his 2021 report on Coastal Towns. Labour has campaigned to improve things, kept the Station Plaza drop-in open, lobbied for investment at The Conquest and forced the NHS to return over £3m that had vanished from our local budgets!

Now we have established through Covid a good relationship with local GPs and health managers, and are working on a major investment in Sports and Play, including a new Sports and Health Centre, to make it easy for all residents to be more active, think about their health and find the right support to get well and stay well.

Kenan Haako. left, is contesting Conquest and incumbent Nigel Sinden Silverhill.

FIGHTING POVERTY A Labour council will always put the needs of the poorest first. So we set up a council tax reduction scheme 10 years ago, one of very few nationally to offer 100% reductions to those most in need. And it’s still there, despite government stripping out most of their funding for local government over those 10 years. Sadly it’s now not enough. The cost of living increases now going through, government forcing us to abandon our landlord licensing scheme, tax rises, fuel costs up, food prices up and rents up are going to force people to make impossible decisions soon, totally wrong in 2022 Britain.

We have brought our street cleaning staff back in house, and our cleaning staff too. Conservatives and Greens opposed this! Next year we will bring back our parks staff, so workers will get decent pay and conditions. And this autumn we launch our Emergency Fund and will invite residents who can afford it to donate their £150 fuel grant so that as a town we can protect those on the verge of losing their homes.

COMMUNITY SAFETY This is a rich town in so many ways, not financially, but culturally. But to be a truly great town, everyone needs to feel safe, and sadly we are a long way from that. Hate crime has gone up during the pandemic, and women, our lgbt+ community, and black and Asian people, have been victims. We have raised, with community help, funding to start investing in making the town feel safer, but there is much more to do.

Ruby Cox is seeking re-election in Central St Leonards.

Our £100m Town Deal programme will help us rethink what kind of town centre we want to live in, with a big investment in designing in safety. Greener, kinder, softer and more inclusive public spaces. Water features, play areas and well-designed seating. Better lighting and disabled access. This Labour Council is committed to working with all communities to ensure the town works equally well for all.

LIVE, WORK AND PLAY Hastings is really popular now, and one of the main reasons we are more attractive to invest in than seaside neighbours is the amazing arts and culture economy here. This council has been championing Regeneration through Culture for many years, and this has seen a new gallery, public art, festivals and events and more suitable workspaces. Artists flourish here, but we must do more, as the cost of living crisis threatens this renaissance. So this Council will invest in the arts, support our venues and champion the role of culture to keep Hastings different.

We have an amazing array of Labour candidates in this election, people who have done real jobs in all walks of life. Plumbers, teachers, artists and housing support workers. Café owners, government officials, youth workers, gardeners and miners.

Labour has passion, vision and energy in Hastings. Your support will help us continue to transform the town and ensure that everyone shares equally in our future prosperity.

Hastings local elections 2022: Labour Party candidates

Ward Candidate Ward Candidate
Ashdown Jane Hartley Maze Hill Justin Greenland
Baird Mike Turner* Old Hastings James Bacon*
Braybrooke Margi O’Callaghan Ore Simon Willis
Castle Judy Rogers* Silverhill Nigel Sinden*
Central St Leonards Ruby Cox* St Helens Andy Batsford*
Conquest Kenan Hakko Tressell Liam Crowter
Gensing Kim Forward* West St Leonards Chris Munn
Hollington Paul Barnett* Wishing Tree John Cannan

*Incumbent councillor
Candidates’ biographies

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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 19:21 Thursday, Apr 21, 2022 In: Elections 2022

1 Comment

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  1. Ian

    The main things I read about aren’t mentioned. Cycle path in Alexander park. The development of the old swimming pool site in St. Leonards. The link road from Queensway to the A21. The huge number of potholes in Hastings.

    Comment by Ian — Monday, Apr 25, 2022 @ 16:51

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