Investment has boosted economy, says councillor

I WOULD like to take issue with Roger Collyer (last week’s Letters page) who seems to be living in a different Hastings, as pretty much none of the points he makes are accurate.

Firstly, he claims that One Priory Square and Lacuna Place are not finished. They are: Lacuna Place was completed in 2008, and One Priory Square was completed last year.

One Priory Square has since been sold to Saga Group, with the creation of around 700 new jobs. The only building still to be completed around Priory Square is the new University Centre Hastings (UCH) building behind the post office, which will open in September of this year, as planned.

This follows on from the very successful new UCH building in Havelock Road, which now has more than 500 students on 27 different courses. Added to this, we have at Station Plaza the new Sussex Coast College with more than 1,300 students and the health centre, which far from being “a mess” have been completed for more than a year and are looking fine.

The only outstanding work there for the last few months was the removal of a wall owned by Network Rail, which has now been done.

And then there’s the Creative Media Centre, the Enviro 21 Business Park on Queensway, the Innovation Centre at Churchfields, and the Castleham Business Centre, all providing new jobs and opportunities for Hastings people.

This investment has been incredibly good for Hastings, and has had a positive effect on the local economy: with more students and more people working in offices in town, local shops benefit. According to recent figures, Hastings has fewer empty shops in its town centre than any other town in the south east, apart from Guildford. That has a knock-on effect, with more shops wanting to open here rather than elsewhere.

It’s true that the Government has made disproportionately huge cuts to funding for Hastings, but with the investment made here by the previous Government, we’re in a good position to face what will inevitably be a tough future.

We will have to be more imaginative in the way we encourage and facilitate new business in Hastings, particularly in the creative and cultural sectors. But this is made no easier by those who wish to run down Hastings and pretend that regeneration has failed. I can only assume that their interests lie with some other town.

CLLR PETER CHOWNEY

Lead member for

Regeneration,

Hastings Borough Council.