Observer Comment: Local people doing amazing things

THE Observer is often criticised (unfairly in our opinion) for being negative and only reporting bad news.

Well, a quick look through this week’s paper proves otherwise. It is packed with the sort of stories we love - local people doing amazing things.

There is Simon Angel MBE - a hero soldier who travelled from Lands End to John O’Groats on a mobility scooter in aid of Help For Heroes - and a host of other local fundraisers.

Fundraisers like friends Andrea Lovatt and Donna Estherby-Ripley who have already netted more than £3,000 for good causes after catching the charity bug.

Elsewhere we have a feature on Great Escape veteran Jack Lyon who took part in the most famous break-out in history during World War Two and is trying to keep the memory of his late comrades alive.

And, equally impressive, is our front page story of Jamie Bristow-Diamond who helped save a fellow cricketers life after an opponent was hit in the chest by a ball.

They are all shining examples of what makes Hastings and St Leonards such a brilliant place to live.

Our recent I Heart Hastings campaign has been a big success, with more and more people contacting us to tell us their good news instead of just their bad.

But what we really mean when we say I Heart Hastings is that we love the PEOPLE of Hastings.

So if you know of anyone doing something special to improve local life, please do let us know. We might not be able to shout it from the rooftops - but we can put them in the paper.


WE hear so much about the Government’s public spending cuts that sometimes it’s easy to forget that every decision ministers are making up in Westminster impacts on real people’s lives.

Sitting with Nona Jackson this week as she relived the ordeal of her son’s illness and the ridiculous rigmarole she had getting hold of the proper benefits was a stark reminder of the human cost of cutting vital services like legal aid.

When the Tories embarked on their cuts programme, we kept being reassured the most vulnerable people in our communities wouldn’t be unduly affected.

The issue of legal aid threatens to expose that as a hollow promise.

Each year The Hastings Advice and Representation Centre alone (HARC) deals with 15,000 people.

The Citizens Advice Bureau and The Brighton Housing Trust help thousands more - people who need help with bread and butter issues that have huge impacts on individuals and families across the town - welfare, debt and housing.

The East Sussex Advice Partnership warns the situation will get worse, more people needing help and less money to help them. It’s exactly the kind of vicious circle that will hold back Hastings’s regeneration.

And it’s a false saving because for every person turned away by advice services the council, the health service and the police will face the fallout.

This must be looked at again. We salute Amber Rudd for taking up the fight against her Conservative colleagues - she deserves praise for sticking up for local people over and above the party line.

We would like to see this more often.

But everyone who believes in justice, in fairness and in the future of this town should throw their weight behind next week’s protest.