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Labour’s Tressell candidate Ali Roark out canvassing with council leader Kim Forward, left, Cllr Ruby Cox, the county council candidate for Old Hastings & Tressell, second right, and Cllrs Trevor Webb, second left, and Peter Chowney.

Labour sets out its stall

In the upcoming local elections the Labour Party will be looking to maintain its dominance of Hastings Borough Council, as well as safeguarding its four seats on East Sussex County Council. Nick Terdre takes a look at the party’s manifesto and its line-up of candidates, which includes several new faces. All photos provided by Labour.

Labour has its priorities worked out for when HBC resumes work after the elections, when it may reasonably assume it will still be in control – holding 12 seats not up for election this time, it needs only five of the 16 being contested to retain a straight majority. In the 2018 election it won 12 of those.

Among the priorities laid out in its manifesto are tackling climate change and increasing biodiversity. With HBC’s target of making Hastings carbon-neutral by 2030 in mind, Labour says it will identify sites suitable for onshore wind energy generation in the Local Plan, encourage and promote community energy generation schemes, install rooftop solar on all possible council-owned buildings and develop solar arrays mounted above suitable council car parks.

It will also investigate sites for ground-mounted solar arrays, but “only where there are no adverse ecological consequences.” It is just a year since it scrapped its controversial proposal for ground-mounted solar arrays in the Country Park.

It also says it will develop renewable energy projects with local energy coop Energise Sussex Coast, though it has yet to set up any joint projects more than a year after announcing an agreement to work with them.

Housing

Another priority is to maximise the supply of genuinely affordable rented housing. The manifesto calls for the power to “ensure all developments include social rented housing, regardless of spurious ‘affordability’ arguments” deployed by developers. No detail is given on how they will combat developers’ efforts to shed their affordable housing obligation, though the council decided in 2019 not to adopt the supplementary planning document which other councils have successfully used to strengthen their hand against “affordability” arguments.

It also commits to pushing ahead with the large-scale housing schemes proposed for the White Rock and Bohemia area redevelopment, West Marina and the lower tier off Bexhill Road (Bulverhythe Recreation Ground).

West St Leonards candidate John Cannan, right, and Cllr Nigel Sinden, left, exchange views with opponents of the council’s housing proposals in that area, Peter Clarke, second left, and Chris Dadswell (behind car). Photo: Labour.

John Cannan, the West St Leonards candidate, defended the controversial proposals in his patch. “The Lower Tier will help meet a severe shortage of affordable housing on one of the few sites in the borough the council is able to build on,” he told HOT.

“The council has secured £6.9m funding to build here – but will go ahead only if Environment Agency experts, now looking into flood mitigation measures, give the green light. Without that, not a brick will be laid.

“Residents are justified in feeling frustrated over the Bathing Pool site,” he added. “The proposals have dragged on for far too long (thanks largely to the lawyers) but complex lease issues are now close to being resolved.” However, it is not time issues which have prompted opposition among local residents, but the nature of the development.

Meanwhile Labour intends to continue purchasing houses through the council housing company which has so far acquired 26 dwellings. It says it will start building or acquiring council housing again if central government provides viable financial conditions.

Other priorities

Other priorities include aiming for the best possible approach to recovery from the pandemic, and targeting policies and funding applications aimed at benefiting the most deprived households and communities. It says it has raised £10m for a wide range of projects.

It also intends to bring services back in-house, as has already been done with street cleaning, and promote projects to create secure, well-paid jobs and training opportunities.

Now that central government funding has been slashed, to the tune of a cumulative £60m since 2010, HBC needs to generate its own income to provide a good level of services – the path to “entrepreneurial socialism,” as the manifesto calls it.

It is not just funding that central government has removed but various powers which Labour says it now wants back, including the power to run its own bus services, seize abandoned property and development land with reduced compensation and increase council tax on second homes.

It also wants to see the creation of a unitary council for Hastings, or Hastings and Bexhill, taking on some of the powers currently vested in the county council, such as maintaining highways and providing education and social care services.

Ore candidate Anime Abdallah, lower right, campaigning in 2017.

Candidates

Changes have been rung among the Labour ranks. Cllr Colin Fitzgerald, deputy HBC leader, is calling time on his career in local government, at least for the time being. His Gensing seat will be contested by Heather Bishop, for whose current Ore seat newcomer Anime Abdallah will be standing.

Another about to exit the local government scene is Tania Charman, whose Tressell ward seat will be contested by newcomer Ali Roark, who is also standing for the Tory-held Baird & Ore county council seat.

“I want to work with and within the community to be a strong voice for local people – including children in our most deprived areas who deserve a bright future full of opportunities to thrive as we move forward,” says Roark.

HBC councillor Ruby Cox is standing in Charman’s Old Hastings & Tressell county council seat.

Nigel Sinden is not standing down as a local councillor, as originally reported here, but will contest the Maze Hill & West St Leonards county council seat, generally a safe Tory bet. He will however relinquish the post of mayor, probably with a sigh of relief as the eruption of Covid-19 a year ago obliged him to stay on in this role for a year longer than expected. His deputy, Cllr James Bacon, is expected to take over.

Cllr Leah Levane is also standing down, after just one term of office. Her seat in Castle ward will be contested by newcomer Claire Carr. Cllr Judy Rogers, whose Castle ward seat is not up at this election, will seek to win the Tory-held Ashdown & Conquest county council division.

Another newcomer is Anna Sabin, standing in Old Hastings for the seat currently held by Dany Louise, who was elected for Labour in 2017 but became an independent in 2019 alleging anti-semitism in the party.

Sabina Arthur, candidate in Braybrooke.

Another new face is Sabina Arthur, who is standing in Braybrooke in Cllr Dominic Sabetian’s place. “In Braybrooke, I’ve spoken to renters living precariously in poor accommodation, without the power to stand up to bad landlords,” she told HOT.

“I’ve also spoken to elderly homeowners who, despite being more comfortably off, are vulnerable to scammers who target the area. I hope being a councillor will give me more clout when raising awareness of and reporting these issues, speaking on behalf of the people I represent.

“Despite cuts to its budget Labour has managed to continue its council tax exemption for the poorest. I would support this and push for more such initiatives which mean that the limited funds we do have are distributed fairly and to those in most need.”

Another new candidate is Brian Bostock, who will contest Tory Cllr Paul Foster’s Conquest seat. Bostock, who has written a couple of articles for HOT about his experience working in the NHS during Covid times, has previously stood as a Parliamentary candidate elsewhere.

Liam Crowter, 27, hopes to be a voice for young people.

Meanwhile Steve Thorpe, who says “it all starts…with listening to people’s concerns,” is tasked with taking the former Tory leader Rob Lee’s Maze Hill seat, though it is not Lee who will be contesting it.

Liam Crowter, at 27 local Labour’s youngest ever chair, will contest the Ashdown ward as well as the Brede Valley & Marsham county council seat, while Ash Madden is standing for the Eastern Rother & Rye county council seat – like the Maze Hill seat, these are Tory strongholds.

Labour’s candidates

Candidate HBC ward ESCC division
* indicates incumbent seeking re-election
Margi O’Callaghan Silverhill* St Helens and Silverhill
Antonia Berelson St Helens*
Phil Scott Hollington & Wishing Tree*
Alan Roberts Wishing Tree*
Maya Evans Hollington*
Nigel Sinden Maze Hill & West St Leonards
John Cannan West St Leonards
Steve Thorpe Maze Hill
Trevor Webb Central St Leonards* Central St Leonards & Gensing*
Heather Bishop Gensing
Ruby Cox Old Hastings & Tressell
Anna Sabin Old Hastings
Ali Roark Tressell Baird & Ore
Anime Abdallah Ore
Warren Davies Baird*
Godfrey Daniel Braybrooke & Castle*
Claire Carr Castle
Sabina Arthur Braybrooke
Judy Rogers Ashdown & Conquest
Brian Bostock Conquest
Liam Crowter Ashdown Brede Valley & Marsham
Ash Madden Rye & Eastern Rother
Paul Richards Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

 

This article was amended by Nick Terdre on 29 April 2021.

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Posted 20:36 Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021 In: Politics

2 Comments

Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Paul Oxborrow

    Could we have a similar article on the other party candidates please?

    Comment by Paul Oxborrow — Thursday, Apr 29, 2021 @ 12:09

  2. DAR

    Hopefully, the woeful track record of this Labour-controlled council re: approval of large housing developments on greenfield sites and flood plains will see them lose control of HBC – and I’m a “floating voter”, not a Tory party hack.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Apr 29, 2021 @ 10:48

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