Council hits back at reporter’s comments on Hastings

COUNCIL bosses have hit back after a journalist said there was ‘not much to do’ in Hastings.

Tom Esslemont, a BBC reporter, made the remarks during a television report on Monday (August 26) about seaside resorts and the planning rebuilding of Hastings Pier.

He said in the bulletin that ‘apart from taking in the sea air there (was) not much else to do’ in Hastings.

Following his comments though the council has leapt to the town’s defence, even extending an invitation to Mr Esslemont to visit the town.

Cllr Peter Chowney, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council and lead member for regeneration, said: “I was flabbergasted when I heard the BBC report. If there’s ‘nothing much to do’ in Hastings, why do more than three million tourists visit every year?”

“I’m not sure if Mr Esslemont has really ever spent anytime in Hastings other than to make his report. I would like to invite him to visit on September 14 and 15 to enjoy our Seafood and Wine festival, a mouth-watering weekend of delicious seafood, award winning local wines and music.

“If that doesn’t whet his appetite he could always come any Saturday evening and enjoy the free entertainment at the Stade Open Space or indeed to any one of our other festivals; Hastings Bonfire Night, the internationally renowned Jack-in-the-Green festival – in fact, he could come any time and enjoy what this incredibly diverse, creative town has to offer weekly.

“We have had a lot of people report back to us, residents and visitors alike to express their disappointment about the negative, throwaway comments Mr Esslemont has made. We have had messages from people who have been here on holiday commenting on this report and explaining how upset they are as they have had a tremendous time here in Hastings.

“I hope he takes up my offer, he will be spoilt for choice as there is so much to do.”

Mr Esslemont chose not to comment personally when the Observer emailed him.

However Sarah Vahtola, publicist for BBC News and Current Affairs, said the journalist’s report on Monday was not meant to offend Hastings at all.

She said: “This report was a positive story about the community of Hastings who have come together to improve their town’s future by rebuilding its pier, following reports that many of Britain’s traditional and iconic seaside piers are under threat because of lack of investment.

“The introduction to this report was not intended to offend, but rather set the scene for the story and referred to the current derelict state of the pier that has been lying unused for several years. The aim of this report was to tell the story about how the pier will be redeveloped to its former glory, improving the prospects of the town, all because this community have banded together.”