Observer Comment: Hastings Castle’s bid should have been a no-brainer

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THE Observer is as proud as anyone of this town’s links to 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

You only need to look at the Norman knight featured on our logo to see that.

So it is with a real sense of disappointment that we report on the news that the castle will not be getting the revamp it deserves - at least not yet.

Ask people around the world about Hastings and they will always reply with the famous four digits. It is what the town is known and loved for - despite the fact the actual battle took place a few miles down the road.

Tourists come to Hastings for its history and the castle is the only real link we have to that famous fight. And, sadly, that castle is not fit for purpose. The facilities are an embarrassment. The castle itself, perhaps a metaphor for how this town had been allowed to slide into disrepair.

However, unlike the rest of Hastings which is dragging itself out of the doldrums, the castle remains a near derelict reminder of less prosperous years gone by.

The council has spent years preparing this bid and it has been knocked back, with serious questions asked about the plans.

Questions therefore have to be asked. Hastings Castle is one of this country’s most important landmarks. Surely convincing the Lottery to fund a revamp is hardly selling ice to the Eskimos.

Hastings Pier looks like getting more than twice the amount the castle wanted from the same people. Hastings Castle’s bid should have been a no-brainer.

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IN our feature on encouraging younger people to get involved in local politics, we would have liked to have used some figures about the current councillors - not individuals but some averages broken down on party lines. After two days of prevaricating and discussions between the communications team, the personnel department, the borough solicitor and stand-in leader Cllr Jay Kramer, we were told we couldn’t have the information, and that any attempt to use Freedom of Information laws would be opposed by the authority.

Unfortunately this council – which you elected and which your money funds – has decided its members are too precious to reveal their ages to the public. The same council, whose leader only a couple of weeks ago set openness and transparency as one of his priorities for the next 12 months. Up to a point eh, Cllr Birch?

Obviously it’s not the biggest issue in the world and with more time we could have rung round all 32 councillors to take a straw poll. But we thought our readers should know just how cut-off our councillors seem to be from reality. God forbid that these public servants – who have to reveal their financial and business interests don’t forget – should let us know how old they are.

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HASTINGS has long enjoyed a reputation as a hotbed of creative talent - and it seems now we’re starting them young.

The story of the Kennedy brothers and the tale of Matt Najair prove that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Matt came through the local am-dram scene while Jack and Jason were picked up by an Old Town gallery - let’s make sure that emerging talent is still given the opportunities to shine and contribute to our town’s bright artistic future.