Saturday, 17 July 2010

Cleaning up Hastings (including roundabouts)

I have ritually handed over the ‘keys’ to the Pelham roundabout (that’s the one with the fountain) to BBC Newsnight. To try and show what the ‘Big Society’ means, armed with a broom, they have adopted it. If they don’t actually do anything I will be writing to the Director General demanding some action. Our roundabout it not to be messed with!

In the real world we have be getting tougher on keeping Hastings clean. And there are two reasons why we need to. As residents we all have a right to expect it. But it’s also about presenting an image to visitors and would-be investors that Hastings and St Leonards is their sort of place. Dealing with litter, dogs, street drinking, tatty buildings etc is part of creating a more prosperous town.

So with other councillors and council officers I repeated the seafront ‘grotbuster’ walk that I first did in 2000.

I noted down every building needing repair or redecoration and owners will now receive a letter encouraging them to take action. Failing to respond could result in enforcement action. If you own a building in our town you have a social responsibility for its upkeep.

When we did the first seafront walk we noted the derelict hulks of the Queen’s Hotel, Regent Court and the Marlborough, plus other smaller eyesores too. All those have been dealt with and the seafront looks much better. But with the salt air, buildings in this prominent location need regular maintenance and improvement.

A high profile walk sets the tone and reminds everyone what we expect. The ‘grotbusters’ are on the case.

Then I had a meeting with our local police commander Chief Inspector Mark Ling to agree a get tough approach to street drinking and begging. We get complaints from residents who feel intimidated by groups of drinkers and by aggressive begging. They also complain of offensive behaviour by individual drinkers.

A dispersal area has been declared on the promenade enabling the police to move drinkers on and this is being enforced. Twenty two of the thirty four anti-social behaviour orders in the town have been issued to street drinkers.

At the meeting we agreed to step up the joint enforcement activity between the police, the council and other agencies. We want a harder line to be taken by off-licenses with habitual drinkers. Just like the Bar Watch scheme, which agrees that named individuals will not be served in town centre pubs, so off-licenses will be pressed not to serve the well-known street drinkers? Habitual Drink Orders will be considered which make it an offence to sell alcohol to a named habitual drinker.

There are now more detox opportunities and improved funding for those organisations working with drinkers and we want to encourage street drinkers to take up these opportunities.

Finally during the Summer months we will be launching a crack-down against dog fouling with some pretty hard-hitting posters and leaflets. Keep your eyes open – otherwise you might tread in something.

The photo shows me outside one of the buildings we noted down on the ‘grotbuster’ walk.


  1. If that's the building in Eversfield Place which I pass on my way to work is it not currently on the market?Inevitably any purchaser/invester would totally refurbish the entire building?His incentive being of course that the quicker he completes his work then the quicker his 'return'

    Carry on the good work Jeremy!

  2. In my various roles around town I come across a number of international tourists who can't believe that such an interesting town as Hastings is not more widely publicised abroad, severl of them have also mentioned the Foyle's War link, and the nillions of overseas viewers.

    I think the previous council's forwards plan had things wrong; every town and city in the country offers business and commercial development, most of them with far better transport links! Our links are great for touriism, our town is great for tourism, few visitors ( and in fact a number of residents) are aware of the wonderful attractions of East Cliffs, West Hill, Alexandra Park, the reservoirs, Coronation Wood, St Helen's Wood (it would be nice to actually be able to reach the foot of the Old Roar waterfalls).

    Surely, if we can attract tourists in sufficient numbers businesses will follow. Win-win situation.

    The BBC News at 10 item last night comparing Hastings unfavourably to Brighton was hardly helpful -and badly researched; the referred to the report that the pier would fall in the next storm, and failed to mention there had been several ferocious storm since that statement, that the pier still stands and a compulsory purchase order is due to go ahead.


  3. It is good that you are doing something about derelict buildings etcc in the town. I do worry about what might happen to all the empty office and retail space we're seeing! Could there be some temporary solution to these sorts of commercial eyesores? Maybe images or something in the empty shopfronts like the old images in Iceland?

  4. Well done on your Newsnight story Jeremy! Any word on how the roundabout project is doing?

  5. Thanks MJS! We recognise the importance of tourism, and the fact that it supports over 4000 jobs in Hastings, and contributes well over £200m to the local economy. We still have a very active marketing department, which promotes Hastings in its own right, and is also lead partner in 1066 Country Marketing, a private/public sector partnership marketing the whole area, from Pevensey in the west to Camber in the east, and stretching as far north as Bateman's at Burwash, and Bodiam Castle. As well as producing holiday guides and leaflets, they regularly attend trade and public shows both in the UK and in near-Europe. We also have had considerable success in hosting travel journalists here, especially from across Europe. And that includes the Foyle's link (for which we have produced our own souvenir book, of course). We are also investing heavily in our tourism website,, which is to be relaunched next month - please go and have a look at it!

  6. Thanks Henry - still waiting to hear from Newsnight but I'll let you know!

  7. Reference the proposed cycle track Bexhill to Hastings. If there is a shortfall in the funding current available, who will pick up the "tab" for this? Hopefully it won't be Hastings Council Tax payers. Looking at the current planning application, it does appear that this project will be well over budget. It would be wrong to spend taxpayers money on this project - there are other far more important issues needing funding in this town.

  8. Josie - sorry to have taken a little while to come back to you but it's been a very busy few days with, amongst other things, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Jerwood Gallery! We quite agree with you about art in public spaces and are addressing this. Hastings Borough Council is at present looking to install arts projects and exhibitions in vacant shop areas across Hastings and St Leonards town centres in the next few months. In fact, an installation is currently taking place in the House of Hastings where the Council has funded arts groups to occupy the space. We are targeting many other properties to do the same, but, as you may appreciate, the identification of owners and establishing contact then negotiating with them can be a long process! Thanks for your comment and please do keep reading the blog!

  9. Jeremy - good to hear about the Jerwood Gallery. I hope there will be a public event for the launch and that all parts of the community will be able to take part?

  10. There will certainly be a major public event for the opening of Destination Stade - the open performance and activity space next to the gallery. And this will certainy involve the community. We need to tie up how the opening of the gallery itself will link with this. Now a gallery director-designate has been appointed those discussions can really get under way

  11. Anonymous (whoever you are)- I am not aware of any likely overspend on the cycle route to Bexhill. It is funded from the lottery (via a TV competition that the national cycle route won) and from the County Council.