Observer Comment: Concern over Stade Hall alcohol licence

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THOSE objecting to the application for an alcohol licence at the new Stade Hall are motivated by concerns we all agree are important: crime levels; a saturation of drinking houses in the Old Town; the possibility of increased contact between children and alcohol.

At heart, they do not want to see the anti-social aspects of alcohol brought into a space designed for community use.

But it doesn’t necessarily follow that this licence will bring about chaos.

The council will hand control of the entire building, including how alcohol is sold, to an independent charitable trust by the end of this year. How the licence is used will be in the hands of these community figures.

Of course they must act responsibly in selling alcohol. But it would seem unfair to deny these figures, who will control such a prominent part of The Stade development, the permission that so many nearby premises enjoy.

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ANOTHER company moving into Lacuna Place can only be good for the continuing regeneration of the town amid the tough economic climate.

And with the recent go-ahead for Sea Space to build new town centre offices that could create up to 500 new jobs is further testament to the hard work between the council and business community in their efforts to attract new firms to 1066 Country.

Their collaboration has already borne fruit, for example, with Saga moving to One Priory Square, next to Lacuna Place, creating hundreds of new jobs.

But are we creating too many office spaces that may not be filled? Lacuna Place, which was built more than two years ago, still has 35 per cent of its offices vacant. And the Enviro21 business park, off Queensway, still has half its units empty.

There is also no denying that transport links in and out of Hastings are a major deterrent for many potential new firms. There is the very real danger, given the current economic hardship, that Hastings could end up with offices standing empty for a long time to come.

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AS you read these words, you are probably within a cutlass-swing of at least one pirate. August 5 is Pirate Day, and as the sea-dogs muster, it is worth remembering this particular part of Old Town Carnival Week began just two years ago.

Hastings has embraced Roger Crouch’s wacky idea to such an extent that next year’s Pirate Day will be moved out of its carnival week cradle and into a stand-alone weekend slot, to accommodate the massive numbers who want to take part.

Its popularity is a tribute to the good spirits currently flooding the town as carnival week draws towards a climax.

Today, we set aside our friendly rivalry with Penzance, who stole our world record earlier this year, and concentrate on a world first instead.

So grab your pirate gear and join a passing press-gang as Hastings stakes another claim to be the world’s top town for pirates.

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IT is with regret we are having to increase the price of the Observer to 55p from this week. This increase has been forced upon us by dramatic rises in the costs of our raw materials.

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