Observer Comment: Jerwood delay... not entirely surprising

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THE Jerwood Gallery will not open its doors this year. This is a shame, and no matter what its director says, it means the gallery has encountered some setbacks.

In itself, as the Save Our Stade group has said, this is not entirely surprising.

It is a large capital project, and these things are often beset with difficulties - though it is worth noting Hastings Borough Council (HBC) completed their side of the project well ahead of their June 30 deadline.

It is a shame because the finished Jerwood will undoubtedly be a huge asset to our town, in terms of footfall for local businesses and our tourism industry.

The original opening date, of late summer 2011, which is still being advertised on Jerwood’s website, would have coincided perfectly with the upcoming Coastal Currents festival.

Make no mistake, the Observer wholeheartedly supports this gallery.

But anyone visiting The Stade site can see it will not be finished by the date on the information sign.

And when the council itself has acknowledged the construction difficulties, it seems absurd to maintain the project is on track.

The miscommunication between Jerwood and HBC smacks of an attempt to cover up these construction difficulties, and this in turn raises suspicion about how serious these difficulties are.

A full and honest account of the project’s current status would be a better option, and would give Hastings a more realistic date to welcome this wonderful addition to our town.

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THERE are a number of events that define the Hastings calendar. For most normal people, May in our town means draping yourself in ivy and smearing on some green paint for Jack-in-the-Green. March brings the Hastings Half, the Beer and Wine festival is now a July fixture, and Coastal Currents looms large this September.

But Old Town Carnival Week, which begins today, is unrivalled for the good spirits it generates.

Each year a tireless team, overseen by Ian Porter, sets up 10 days of events targeted at just about everyone, and the town unites behind ridiculous attempts to sprint in a pair of sea boots, or cycle a bone-rattling bike up the steepest street in town.

Thanks to all those who make it happen. Now it’s just up to the rest of us to turn up and enjoy ourselves.

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WE like featuring quirky tales about the interesting folk who live here in Hastings.

Earlier this month we highlighted Paul Eldridge’s diet of snails, flies, spiders and nettles in his bid to heal his broken leg faster.

And only a few weeks ago Brian Clark told us about his miniature Tudor-style cottage he built in his garden.

This week we’ve spoken to Brian Griffin whose collection of matchbox paraphernalia is absolutely vast.

Hats off to the eccentric characters that make Hastings unique.