In the first of a two-part feature, the Hastings Observer looks back at what made the headlines this year.
• The new Bexhill-Hastings link road flooded just a week after it opened. The flooding occurred near the Queensway end of the road following heavy rainfall on January 3.
• A reported bomb scare at Hastings train station on January 11 turned out to be a false alarm as staff were alerted to a handbag on a train. The station was evacuated in the afternoon and reopened 20 minutes later.
• Junior doctors took industrial action over proposed changes to their contracts and picketed outside the Conquest Hospital. They joined more than 30,000 junior medics across the country who walked out on January 12.
• Labour councillor John Hodges, who represented the Old Hastings ward on the borough council, died on February 11. He also represented the St Helens and Silverhill division on East Sussex County Council.
• Storm Imogen caused severe disruption in the town and across 1066 Country, with trees falling on cars, flying fish and high tides on February 8. Winds of up to 86.2mph, recorded on the pier, caused delays to trains and even managed to knock over the helter skelter in the Old Town.
• The world’s largest subterranean skate park had its grand opening on February 13. Brothers Richard and Marc Moore waited nearly three years for the skate park to come to life after approaching the council in 2013. The 130-year-old former seafront swimming pool opposite Robertson Street features two skate parks, a shop, café and space for 600 spectators.
• A second legal challenge was launched in a bid to stop the Queensway Gateway Road. Gabriel Carlyle launched the bid to get planning permission for the road overturned. Permission for the road was granted in December 2015. The application for judicial review was launched on air pollution grounds.
• Protestors gathered on March 10 outside university buildings as unions accused bosses at the University of Brighton of planning to close the Hastings campus in the next two years. Students, councillors and staff picketed outside the Havelock Road campus. Students also held a mass demonstration on March 17. The university unveiled its plans, saying the current campus model was ‘not sustainable’ and added it would continue to deliver higher education in Hastings in collaboration with Sussex Coast College.
• Thousands of runners took to the streets on March 20 for the annual Hastings Half Marathon and once again the town turned out in force to support the participants.
• Storm Katie raged across 1066 Country on March 28, toppling trees and blowing fences over. Fire crews were called out to dozens of incidents as roads were closed and dangerous structures made safe.
• Patient transport company, Coperforma was branded ‘unacceptable’ after hundreds of patients across 1066 Country and the rest of the county were hit by delays. Coperforma apologised after technical problems affected the company’s first week of operations following its takeover on April 1.
• The Duke of Gloucester visited town on April 20. He unveiled a plaque at The Source Park during his trip which also included a tour of the Jerwood Gallery and a trip on the East Hill Cliff Railway.
The purpose of his visit was to see all the work done to regenerate the town.
• A police officer who contacted prostitutes and videoed himself masturbating in uniform while on duty was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Police said Luke Smith, 34, who was dismissed from Sussex Police, was sentenced for three charges, including obtaining personal data from police systems.
• People flocked to Hastings Pier on April 27 as it opened its doors to the public. It marked the start of a phased reopening following two years of renovation works at a cost of £14.2m.
• Morning rain and mist failed to dampen the spirit of thousands of people as they packed the streets of the Old Town for the annual Jack in the Green celebration.
• A three-day-old cat survived an 80-mile trip in a digger shovel. The animal was part of a litter of kittens that travelled across the country and was the sole survivor. The kitten and its siblings were discovered when workers started their shift.
• A petition was launched in a bid to help a vulnerable young Iranian man, who arrived in the UK as a child nine years ago following the death of his parents, stay in the country. Javad Ebrahimi’s parents were killed in the Bam earthquake in 2003 and he was put in an orphanage in Tehran where he was forced to learn how to use guns and subjected to extreme religious teaching. He fled the country and was found terrified clinging to the underside of a lorry in Reading. He was moved to Hastings more than three years ago.
• Campaigners fighting against the planned closure of the University of Brighton’s Hastings campus staged another demonstration in town on May 14.
• Tributes were paid to beloved author and agony aunt Sally Brampton, of Stanhope Place, St Leonards, after her body was found at Galley Hill, Bexhill on May 10. The writer helped launch Elle magazine, becoming its editor-in-chief, wrote columns on her struggles with depression and penned a book on the subject, called Shoot the Damned Dog.
• Hastings Pier officially opened on May 21. The grand opening was marked with a full line-up of entertainment including Madness in concert in the evening.
• Hundreds of school children paraded along the seafront on June 10 to promote aspiration. The Sky Parade was part of the Hastings Thrives scheme, which aimed to celebrate the success of young people and raise achievement.
• St Leonards joined the world in paying tribute to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died on June 3. A large mural dedicated to his memory appeared on the wall of the Shelter charity shop on the corner of Saxon Road and London Road in central St Leonards. Stuart Purgailis, manager of the Royal Hotel, also created a memorial to Ali with the help of his regular customers.
• The town voted to leave the EU following the referendum in the UK on June 23. The majority of voters in the town opted for Brexit, with 24,339 voting in favour of leaving the EU, compared to 20,011 wishing to remain.
To be continued.