Let the truth come out during public meetings

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THANK you for your ‘exclusive: first look at the new pier’ in the Observer (May 18) while the existing pier is looking sorely neglected.

The much lower attendance at this year’s HPWRT Annual General Meeting, held on May 4, and with exclusive coverage on http://sussexcommunity.blogspot.co.uk was disappointing.

The aspiration to be ‘The Peoples Pier’ certainly has a long way to go. No representatives of the likely next owners of the pier (Hastings Borough Council) attended this HPWRT event.

If nothing else, attracting only 20 people to the only public meeting, demonstrates that it’s a tough job for community leaders to encourage people to remain engaged when they have little faith in what is happening.

Trust in the Pier Trust remains low. Much trust could be built by an overdue community justice response to the fire, where many feel the criminal justice system has let us down.

I write as the instigator of the ‘Talks to mark anniversary of pier fire’ (Observer, September 30, 2011). These were unequivocal in wanting an investigation independent of the police and Crown Prosecution Service and much mediation work to bring out the truth of what happened and how the community can see justice done.

As a result of this event, ‘St Leonards Sharing’ Consortium entered into a temporary partnership with Sussex Police to deliver restorative justice elsewhere in the county.

‘St Leonards Sharing’ Consortium is now asking the HPWRT to join in writing to the Ministry of Justice to clear the way for mediation and restorative justice.

A successful request will enable us to bring out the known facts, e.g., the names of those who were on the pier that night.

Then we will hear what hasn’t been heard and be better able to build trust between us all. Then the phoenix can at last rise from the ashes of the pier fire.

Who wouldn’t want us to learn from any conflagration in our towns? Lottery funding for the pier is dependent on community engagement.

Let the truth out in public meetings that are well-publicised and inclusive and we will have the start of a type of regeneration which we can all buy into.

PAUL CROSLAND

‘St Leonards Sharing’ Consortium

Southwater Area Community Centre

Stainsby Street

St Leonards