Saturday, 6 November 2010

Here is the news

With BBC journalists exercising their right to strike regular news bulletins have been disrupted. So here is the news for Hastings:

The bad news

• On the A21, two schemes (Kippings Cross to Lamberhurst and Flimwell to Robertsbridge) were cancelled in the coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, as was the Baldslow Link;

• The Review also announced a 28% cut in local council funding over the next four years. Hastings Borough Council has been holding a Big Conversation with residents to find out their spending priorities;

• With 43% of Hastings employment in the public sector the town could be particularly vulnerable to public spending cuts;

• The government is also capping housing benefit payments from 1st April 2011 which could see a migration to cheaper accommodation in Hastings of claimants priced out of London

The uncertain news

• The government’s decision on the Hastings to Bexhill Link Road means there will be a minimum wait of 12 months before a final decision is made. There is a £600m pot for 22 or more schemes to bid against. The Link Road itself costing £100m is one of these schemes. The government is asking local authorities to consider other funding possibilities;

• The A21 Tonbridge to Pembury dualling is now in a Future Schemes list which will have to wait for the comprehensive spending review after 2015;

• Funding has been approved for the Hastings Academy new build on the Hillcrest secondary school site. For the St Leonards academy an announcement on the substantial refurbishment funding is still awaited;

• Seeda and the other regional development agencies have been abolished to be replaced by local enterprise partnerships. Hastings will be part of the Kent/Essex/East Sussex Local Enterprise Partnership and will press that body to recognise our particular needs;

• The government has set up a new regeneration funding pot – the Regional Growth Fund with £1.4 bill over three years (about a third of the funds that the regional development agencies had). The first round of bids have to be in by 21st January 2011 and Hastings will hope to be part of a successful bid;

• The campaign to save Hastings Pier continues despite the devastating fire. Hopefully we can convince heritage funders to back the restoration;

The good news

• Saga have taken the new office space at 1 Priory Square and will be providing 800 jobs;

• Hastings Direct have expanded their numbers;

• House builders Bellway are on site to starting the first 51 homes as part of the Ore Valley development scheme. This will also see a new road leading to an opened up Ore Station;

• The first four units on the environmental business park off Queensway have been taken;

• The construction of the prestigious Jerwood gallery and the performance space, community facilities and cafĂ© are now well underway with a September 2011 opening;

• The council views cultural regeneration as a key priority and believes that Hastings is better placed than other south east coastal towns

• The possibilities for Hastings town centre look really bright with the new Sussex Coast College, Station Plaza Health Centre and now the second phase of University Centre Hastings under construction and due to open in September 2011 which will see a total of 1,000 higher education students in the town.