Observer Comment: Hastings - a sense of fun, a spirit of community, an acceptance of the alternative and the quirky

Whether you’re reading this in the last few hours of 2010, or in the shiny first few days of 2011, the New Year is always a good time to take stock of things.

For Hastings, 2010 has been a turbulent 12 months, from the cuts to the sham marriages trial, more transport chaos to the devastating Hastings Pier fire, the headlines have been difficult to write, and difficult to read. But amid the gloom there have been high points - Saga’s 800 new jobs, the continuing emergence of the local arts scene and that wonderfully warm Friday in August when 6,166 people dressed as pirates claimed our very own world record. Nothing illustrates better this town’s best qualities; a sense of fun, a spirit of community, an acceptance of the alternative and the quirky.

How many times do we hear organisers of charity appeals praising the generosity of this town? It’s that quality that stands us in good stead for whatever trouble may lie ahead.

But as well as our collective future, at midnight many individuals will look back on their own lives and forward to the next 12 months. New Year’s resolutions have become a bit of a joke, but why not use this chance to change something in your life? Smokers will be offered a week’s free nicotine patches (page three) - could this be the push you need to finally quit? Jean Paul-Dunin and his team are on a mission to improve our eating habits, so why not embrace fruit and vegetables and use 2011 as a springboard to a healthier lifestyle? Whether it’s a drug or alcohol problem, the person at the office you’ve never had the courage to ask out, the job you’ve always dreamed of or the hobby you’ve always thought was for you, now is the time to try and make it happen.

We raise a glass with all of you tonight, and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

The decision to cut Hastings police station’s front office opening hours had been coming, but the scale of the cuts will raise eyebrows. People need the police station for all sorts of reasons, whether it’s reporting crimes, meeting bail conditions, sorting out certain motoring or immigration matters. The opportunities to use the front office will be curtailed - we must trust that Sussex Police have done proper research and that they will continue to listen to opinions re the correct opening hours. But more than that we must trust the Chief Constable when he says he is able to do more with less. He is not the only one who will be asked to deliver the seemingly impossible - in schools, hospitals and the town hall they will be challenged to do the same. It goes to the very heart of these cuts, with the Government insisting frontline services can survive. Sussex Police hopes to save £1.8 million by changing police station opening hours - if that protects officers then it will be welcomed. But if criminals end up getting an easier ride then the Government will have some serious explaining to do.

Our new I Heart Hastings campaign has already been well-received. In a town like ours that has certain problems, there is always a danger the many inspiring, uplifting and heart-warming tales can get overshadowed. It is a myth that the Observer is preoccupied with bad news, but nevertheless we are reaffirming our commitment to making sure the very best of this town is there for all to see. We urge you to help us get the message across.