The UK should have a new Bank Holiday to celebrate the Battle of Hastings – according to a leading local councillor.
Cllr Jeremy Birch called for a new public holiday on October 14 – celebrated here in 1066 Country as Hastings Day – to boost the tourist economy and mark one of the most significant dates in English history.
He made the suggestion as he fights to fend off a Government proposal to cancel the May Day Bank Holiday and create a new holiday later in the year, a move that would have disastrous consequences for Hastings as it would put the future of the hugely popular Jack-in-the-Green event under threat.
The tourism minister John Primrose has insisted that the May Day proposal is only a suggestion and the Government will be guided
by the results of the current consultation on the plan. Cllr Birch has written to Mr Penrose, and he said: “I told the minister that the date is known locally as Hastings Day already, the date of the fateful Battle of Hastings in 1066.
“I made the point that to mark the most famous date in English history with a new national holiday would undoubtedly help us here, and stimulate the visitor economy here and elsewhere.
“If the Government believes an October public holiday would help the tourist industry then fine – let’s have an additional holiday and make it October 14 – but hands off the May Day holiday.”
It is estimated that the May Day weekend, which attracts around 20,000 visitors for Jack-in-the-Green and another 20,000 motorcyclists, is worth about £5 million to the local economy.
“I explained that our visitor economy would suffer greatly if the May Day Bank Holiday were to be moved,” Cllr Birch added. “I emphasised that the weekend is one of the busiest in the year, providing a real start of season fillip to our hotels, guest houses, attractions, shops, and eating places.
“They would suffer considerably if we were to lose that Bank Holiday.”
Amber Rudd MP has also thrown her weight behind the campaign to keep the May Day Bank Holiday, and has organised for a delegation from Hastings, including some Morris dancers, to hand over a petition opposing the change to Mr Penrose later this month.