Observer Comment: Morris dancing and May Day festivals are an important part of our culture

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JACK-in-the-Green is one of the best events held here in Hastings - if not the best.

Each year thousands of pagans, locals and bikers mix on the seafront as Morris dancers, bogeys and drummers parade a giant green bush from the fish huts to the castle, where it is eventually torn apart by frenzied locals.

Is there anything more quintessentially Hastings than the annual May Day celebration?

Not only does the event bring in millions of pounds to the local economy, but it gives the local people something to look forward to and provides and occasion when young and old can join together for some innocent, harmless fun.

The Conservative plan to shift the bank holiday to a day in October in favour of a Best of British Day shows a distinct lack of understanding on the issue.

Morris dancing and May Day festivals are an important part of our culture.

The organisers have said if the move goes ahead they will march on Downing Street. We will be with them.

As anyone who has ever been will tell you, Jack-in-the-Green - with its volunteer organisers and community involvement - is not only a perfect example of David Cameron’s so-called Big Society in action, it is a celebration of our heritage and one of the many things that makes Hastings such a special place to live.

If that does not qualify as being the Best of British, we don’t know what does.

MOST people welcomed the council’s hard-hitting dog mess campaign, but now it looks like a case of style over substance – and what a revolting substance at that.

Walk down almost any street in town and you are reminded that this is a problem the council has spectacularly failed to get to grips with.

Of course the buck stops with the dog owners who think they are above the law and feel they have no responsibility to the rest of the community to clean up after their pets.

But the council made a real song and dance about their new posters, not to mention spending £4,000 of council tax payers’ money on the campaign. The small rise in prosecutions may not seem worth it, and anecdotally people are saying the problem is as bad as ever.

Whether it’s a mum out with her kids, an elderly couple out shopping or a day tripper come down to see what Hastings has to offer, anyone having to pick their way round piles of dog mess is hardly likely to feel good about the town.

One more thing – when the campaign launch received nationwide media attention councillors were falling over themselves to be interviewed.

But when it comes to explaining its apparent failure to the people of this town, it is left up to a faceless council officer.

Residents have every right to cry foul.

YOUNGSTERS are sometimes blamed for tarnishing the town’s reputation.

Not so in the case of Blake Knight.

The heroic six-year-old deserves all the praise he is getting after saving his parents’ lives from a fire at their home.

He calmy dealt with a potentially lethal situation with a cool head.

Well done, Blake. You’ve done the town proud.