AS a student who has just spent my first term away at university, I find it shocking and saddening to see the town centre here declining and losing even more shops, as reported in the paper last week.
The town looks increasingly depressing and does not make me (or any other young people) want to stay here. What is worse is that the shops which are closing here are moving to, or are already open in, the out-of-town retail development at Ravenside.
Next has a large branch there but has just shut down in town. It is rumoured that Marks and Spencer will open a branch there – does this mean it too will close or downsize in the town centre? It seems obvious that Ravenside has helped to suck the life out of Hastings and Bexhill town centres and this leaves those of us who do not drive totally disadvantaged. For instance, my mother and I recently tried to arrange a shopping trip to Ravenside and we would have had to catch three different buses each way or pay a taxi fare of about £20, so we just gave up.
At the same time as this decline is happening, it seems as if local politicians are more concerned with throwing money at the link road than with protecting the town centre. The link road, if it is built, will make it even easier for people from Hastings to get to Eastbourne and other towns to shop and this will in turn make it even harder for shops here to survive, as your paper pointed out last week.
New roads and out-of-town centres may be great news for those who are car dependent. They are no good to all those who can’t drive, don’t want to drive or can’t afford cars, but who would like some decent shops to be within our reach in our town.