Observer Comment: Campaign for fairer deal for Hastings fishermen wins overwhelming support

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OUR campaign for a fairer deal for Hastings fishermen has won overwhelming support.

The Observer’s offices in Woods House have been awash with cut out fish coupons since the campaign got under way at the start of February.

For far too long fishermen here in 1066 Country have been forced to throw back perfectly good dead fish into the sea because of the ridiculous quota system set by the European Union.

The fishing industry in Hastings has been here for centuries and is part and parcel of the town’s heritage. It is seriously under threat and will be lost forever unless this unfair policy set by Brussels is rightly consigned to the dustbin.

There have been promising indications of support from the Government this week in the form of Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and on Monday we will be taking the fight to Prime Minister David Cameron’s doorstep armed with thousands of your signed fish coupons.

This is only the first step. Let’s hope people power can bring about change and save the town’s fishing industry.

AS PART of the International Women’s Day celebrations, there were some startling statistics which revealed just how much work still needs to be done to close the gender gap – both nationally and internationally. An incredible 75 per cent of civilians killed in wars around the world are women and children, while education and employment remain huge issues. Closer to home, from boardrooms to the benches of Parliament, women are still woefully under-represented.

Here in Hastings, it is almost certain that our next MP will be a woman with Labour already having announced they will be standing a female candidate. Hopefuls may be playing their cards close to their chests at the moment, but don’t be fooled – behind the scenes the runners and riders are already jostling for position.

But while Hastings will almost certainly return a female MP to bolster the female contingent in Westminster come 2015, there are more pressing concerns at a local level. Only seven of our 32 councillors are women, and only one of those – Labour’s Cllr Emily Westley – is under the age of 50.

This town is fortunate to have a great many politically engaged, socially passionate young people. What we need now is for some of those people to get involved in local politics. Nobody is saying that our more seasoned councillors are past their sell-by-date – they bring a wealth of experience which is crucial to this community.

But there is always room for new faces, new voices and new ideas, and it would be good if come the next local elections, all three main parties make a real effort to stand some candidates with an eye on the future.

THE course is ready, the crowds are willing and the runners are terrified – it’s that time of year again. The Half-Marathon is one of the highlights of the Hastings calendar and with up to 5,000 runners set to pound the town’s streets this Sunday, this year’s event promises to be as exciting as ever.

From the elite athletes battling it out for the top prizes to the most unfit, unlikely contestant, and from the merry-makers head-to-toe in fancy dress to the moving challenges facing those running in memory of loved ones they have lost, Half-Marathon day shows off everything that is good about Hastings. If you’re braving the 13.1 mile course, we salute you, and we’ll see you on the finish line. And if you’re not, well, the least you can do is help 5,000 hardy souls on their way.