THE latest funding for the Hastings Pier project (£750,000 Pier Boost, Observer, February 15) is very welcome but is the overall mission really ambitious enough?
The outline plans for reconstruction, as previously reported in the Observer, didn’t strike me as all that innovative. I’ve suggested previously, along with others, that Hastings has the opportunity to become a headliner as a diverse eco-based University town (city?) by the sea.
There are not many competitors with a campus actually on the seafront. Even Brighton with its trendy eco obsession doesn’t seem to actually put its philosophy into very much in the way of a direct outcome, although there is a sort of Earthship museum in the park.
A ‘new age’ pier seemed to me to be an excellent platform for solar and wind industries with their associated teaching and training industries. Too much reliance on the service sector could be a mistake.
I note the £430,000 set aside for a Jamie Oliver restaurant project. This seems a bit behind the curve, a similar venture has only just closed down in Leeds. Clearly a seaside town with a tourist trade needs food industry training but it would be great to have a broader focus and young people learning the engineering, building and other practical skills that are in obvious short supply nationally.
While it may be tempting and easier to carry on as before, seaside communities need diversity and imaginative new approaches in order to make themselves ‘sustainable’.
Hastings should try to keep its eggs in a minimum of three baskets ie Tourism, Education and Industrial Innovation if a real turnaround is to be achieved. The opportunity is there.