MP defends comments about Hastings in newspaper article

THE town’s MP has hit back at criticism levelled against her over comments she made about Hastings in an interview in a national newspaper.

Amber Rudd told the Financial Times (FT) that people on benefits who want to live at the seaside moved to Hastings to have easier access to drink and drugs.

She also said she decided to stand for the Hastings constituency because it was within a couple of hours from London and could see the Conservatives were going to win the seat.

The MP has come under heavy criticism from her political opponents since the article was published on Friday (April 26).

Resident Phil Bailey said: “The comments that Amber has made about our town are nothing short of disgraceful. The suggestion that Hastings is a town that people move to because they ‘have easier access to friends and drugs and drink’ is absurd. She also says that the people of Hastings think that the City of Culture bid for 2017 is ridiculous but if she read last week’s Observer she would have seen the support that the town has for the bid.”

Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “You don’t have to be from Hastings to love the town, it just so happens I was born and grew up here. So when I see the MP talk it down, I question what commitment they have to stand up for us.”

Nick Perry, Hastings’ parliamentary spokesman for the Lib Dems, said: “This interview demonstrates a serious lack of judgement by the MP.”

Ms Rudd said when she and the FT journalist walked around town several locals did tell her the City of Culture bid was ‘ridiculous’.

But she said: “I am disappointed that the article in the FT did not say more about the wonderful activities and investment that’s happening in Hastings. I am incredibly positive about Hastings and think the City of Culture bid is a fabulous idea.

“When we visited central St Leonards people did raise concerns about street drinkers in the London Road area, which are well-documented.”

Ms Rudd said London families were moved to Hastings in the 1970s and 1980s but said: “People come here now because there are job opportunities coming. I moved here myself six years ago and I love Hastings. The town is very welcoming to those who move here. But I have to be close to London because of family commitments and I make no excuses for that. My job is to stand up for Hastings and I will continue to do that with every bone in my body.”