Observer Comment: Despite fine words things have not improved

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On Monday, March 21, a delegation from the Observer went to London to hand over 3,000 cut-out fish to Number 10 Downing Street as part of our campaign to secure a fairer deal for local fishermen.

It was a very successful trip but with three and a half hours spent on the train, it took up a great deal of time.

The frustration of the Hastings-London train service will come as no surprise to anyone who travels up to the capital on a regular basis.

But the news this week that the line in and around Hastings does not look set for any major investment for the next 20 years will come as a bitter shock to many.

When the new Hastings train station was unveiled in 2004, we hoped it was the first step in modernising Hastings’s transport connections.

But despite a lot of fine words from our politicians over the past seven years, the reality is that things have not improved, nor do they seem likely to between now and 2031.

With the Hastings Bexhill Link Road looking dead in the water, and no signs of any progress on improving the staggeringly not-fit-for-purpose A21, the idea that the train service might not improve could be the final straw.

For a long time it has been accepted that we would need better transport links to attract new businesses and new residents to our sun-drenched corner of the south coast.

But should our transport links stay stranded in the middle of the last century, Hastings may struggle to keep hold of those people who make this town what it is today.


MANY feared the opening of Asda last November would spell the death knell for businesses in Silverhill.

But the supermarket giant, after working with the council, set aside almost £80,000 for traders to use for their benefit.

This is a fine example of a large company working together with smaller, independent shops who rely heavily on local custom. Work has nearly finished upgrading the pavements and already Silverhill is looking brighter and more pedestrian-friendly.

The news in Silverhill is in stark contrast to Kings Road, where businesses have complained that similar works carried out two years ago along that street have seriously hampered trade ever since. Admittedly, some Silverhill traders have seen a drop in takings so it remains to be seen whether the new improvements bring in extra people to the area.

But they remain upbeat and positive that this will be the case. Let’s hope they are right.


GET ready for the clash of the cappuccinos – Hastings’s cafe culture is about to welcome one of the heavyweights of the coffee shop world.

When Caffe Nero opens its doors, coffee lovers will be spoiled for choice in the town centre with two of the country’s biggest chains standing saucer to saucer just metres apart. Add in the independent cafes dotted around and locals will have a whole host of options of where to get their caffeine hits.

Tea drinkers beware – Hastings may be about to become a borough besotted with the coffee bean.