Cllr Rob Lee: The right deal must be made for the pier

The Conservative View with Cllr Rob Lee
The Conservative View with Cllr Rob Lee

Now that 2017 has come to an end it is time to reflect on what a busy year it has been and look forward to the year ahead.

The Conservatives won with a comfortable majority in the East Sussex County Council elections in May, including taking three seats off Labour here in Hastings and St Leonards.

Then followed a surprise general election which saw our local MP Amber Rudd only retain her seat by a few hundred votes, although she did get 3000 more votes than in the 2015 election.

We saw Hastings Borough Council make the unwise decision to close the Harold Place toilets, leaving the town centre a less welcome place for many locals and visitors alike.

A campaign spearheaded by the Ore Women’s Institute did manage to score a reprieve for the Ore public toilets for one year and I will be campaigning to see that they can be saved permanently this coming year.

The council also borrowed tens of millions of pounds this year to buy a miscellany of second rate retail properties, they have borrowed 100% of the purchase price and the agents fees, legal costs etc. This is a huge burden on the financial future of the council and a risky move to make with your council tax.

There are some big tasks ahead for Hastings and I hope that in 2018 your local council can deliver on some of them.

There are important borough council elections this coming year with all 32 seats up for election, so it is a chance to shake up how your council is run and change the administration altogether!

Hastings deserves a council that functions correctly, helps to secure inward investment and jobs into the borough.

The future of the pier must also be secured, the council is unlikely to buy it, but it should be working with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the administrators to find the right deal for the pier, securing its future for the town as a continuing major attraction helping to regenerate your town.

There is much to do regarding homelessness in the town and it will take more than thoughtful platitudes to help the situation.

Real practical help is required and it is high time that this became more of a political priority locally. Good work is being done at Central Government around homelessness and I look forward to pushing forward with the best ideas here in Hastings to make sure that we do not return to the darkest days of homelessness in the UK which was during the Labour government in 2003.

Lastly on behalf of myself and the Hastings Council Conservative Team I hope you had a good Christmas and we wish you a prosperous new year.