Corned beef city?

SOME of us have been holding back criticism of the bid for UK City of Culture 2017, fearing accusations of not talking Hastings up and putting the mockers on it.

Having written off traditional seaside tourism and closing the Old Town coach park, the ‘cultural tourism’ bandwagon is just right for Hastings’ council.

We’re invested heavily in the ‘cultural tourism as a transformational catalyst accelerating change’ argument, the old ‘designed to stimulate visitor economies and generate physical, social and culture benefits’ malarkey. Like when redundant offices and shops are developed in the town centre and business parks in the meadows are built to ‘create’ more jobs. As before, writing this stuff in weighty documents is nonsense.

A 2009 report from the Department of Culture Media and Sport, in notes for bidding cities for 2013, suggested ‘that around £10 million of public funding, as a minimum, over and above a local authority’s typical baseline per annum spend on culture, would be needed to prepare for and deliver a reasonable UK City of Culture programme’.

This figure is apparently £15 million for 2017. Now we learn from Cllr Birch, in Hannah Collisson’s excellent coverage in the Observer, ‘we’ve done fantastically well from a standing start’ and ‘my guess is the bid would have looked the same if we’d started a year earlier’.

Was there ever a more dysfunctional council? The justification for Hastings taking on this vanity project should be explained, and how much has been squandered this time?

Hastings, UK City of Culture? More like Corned Beef City, ain’t too pretty.

ERIC CHATER

Old London Road