Our civic leaders reflect on 2013

Cllr Jeremy Birch, 
leader of Hastings 
Borough Council:

“Hastings and St Leonards have positive and varied character, a proactive and collaborative council with a lively mix of trusts and charities contributing to the town’s regeneration.

The towns have an authentic sense of distinctiveness. So said the judges of this year’s Great Town Award where our town came second out of 74 nominations.

“We also had a crack at becoming UK City of Culture 2017. And all this gets national recognition for Hastings as a distinctive, cultural, improving place to visit, live, study or invest in. The Jerwood Gallery’s posters on many stations on the line from Charing Cross help with our image too.

“So, 2013 was another year of revival and improvement for the town. Visitors to the town have continued to grow; jobs have increased. Jerwood celebrated its first anniversary; our university centre its 10th and the opening of its new Priory Square building. The council compulsorily purchased Hastings Pier and work has begun on its restoration.

2014 will see the biggest investment in our town centre since Priory Meadow opened, new monies going into the fishing quarter and grants for creative businesses. And our plans for a cultural celebration of 950 years since 1066 will take shape.

“The social challenges in Hastings have not vanished; the council is facing big financial difficulties but our town continues to move forward.”

Mayor Alan Roberts:

“This has been another really interesting year for me, and one which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

“I’ve always known what a great community we have here in Hastings, and being mayor really reinforces it. There is just so much going on and I really cannot think of another town where so much happens.

“I will be standing down as mayor in June, and would like to thank everyone involved in organising the very many events I have attended over the last 18 months.

“These have been put on by very hard-working local people doing their very best to improve the town. It really has been a very humbling experience, and I have been very proud indeed both to attend these events, and represent the town at the regional and national functions I have been invited to.”

Hastings MP
Amber Rudd:

“We are ending the year with some key achievements behind us and some exciting plans ahead.

“As momentum returns to the economy nationally we can see good things taking place all over the town. Work has begun on the pier and this time next year we’ll be planning the opening.

“It may have taken a long time to get here, (since it was actually closed in 2006) but now the team and the money is in place the results are going to be visible fast.

“Another cause for celebration are the tremendous changes in both our primary and secondary schools, in a drive for higher standards for our children. The Hastings Academy stands proud on the hill on the East, and the St Leonards in the West in a more discreetly modernised but equally exciting building.

“Investment has continued to come into Hastings for our schools, roads, offices and even the library. But none of this would add up to a stick of rock, if it weren’t for the people who make it happen and see it through.

“I don’t underestimate the need for investment to deliver economic growth in Hastings. And I am proud to be an MP delivering that.

“But the results will only be felt in people’s lives if there is the right leadership to make it happen. And that is where we have really made progress this year.

“It was only possible to raise the money for the pier because of the great, professional local team that stubbornly and doggedly put together the plan and are now delivering the vision.

“It’s not the new buildings that will improve our children’s education, but the excellent leadership, and staff support that is now in place at all our secondary schools, and many of our primary schools.

“So we finish this year aware that there have been some transformative changes in the town. The new buildings, roads, schools are the physical evidence.

But it is the individual people behind these changes that will really deliver progress. And at this time of year, how right it is, to thank them for their commitment to our Hastings community. Thank you - you know who you are.”