Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012 - a year of opportunities

What sort of year will 2012 be for Hastings Borough Council? It will be challenging; but what year isn’t? It will certainly be a year of intense activity for the council and a year with significant opportunities for Hastings.

It will see the council move on with the compulsory purchase of the Pier with the intention of passing it to the Pier Trust who have the chance of Heritage Lottery funds; we intend to compulsory purchase the eyesore that is the Malvern pub in Broomgrove and the equally unattractive empty nursing home in St Leonards. We will also be seeking to compulsorily purchasing a further batch of empty homes and return them to use.

Once the CPOs are confirmed the pub will be demolished. The nursing home refurbished and turned into individual dwellings as part of our housing improvement plan for Central St Leonards working with Local Space Housing Association. With us they will be investing £2 million into the area in 2012 for housing and environmental improvements.

Early in 2012 we will be launching our campaign to encourage local businesses to take on 100 apprentices in 100 days as part of our Jobs Action Plan.

In February Pizza Express opens on the Queens Road side of Priory Meadow which will be a good addition to our local economy and of course the council is the freeholder of the shopping centre.

In March the Jerwood Gallery will open which will really put Hastings on the national cultural map. The gallery will be home to an internationally acclaimed permanent art collection and will attract quality artists for changing exhibitions too. The Arts Council has awarded us £160,000 to add our own accompanying cultural activities on the Stade open space, based upon the principles of culture for all.

In 2012 work will go on at last in the White Rock Baths with the planned use by Lifecycle and there is a really exciting project for West Marina, again after too long a wait.

These could bring new life to the seafront. So too will our new seafront decorative lights which will be up by March, a little tea and coffee spot opening on the prom at Warrior Square and a number of play facilities we will be installing at different points on the prom by the Summer.

In July the Olympic Torch will be run along the seafront. We are the only East Sussex town where it stops overnight and where a real celebration is organised. We are planning to close the seafront from West St Leonards to the Old Town. Communities along the route are preparing festivities to greet the Torch and to have a good time, culminating in a big event on the Stade and the traditional Hastings firework display.

Financially the council is facing a difficult future but at least for 2012 there will be no rise in council tax and no rise in prices in the council’s car parks. So let’s make the most of this new year and hope that Hastings can prove it is the most improving seaside town.