I WHOLLY reject the view in last week’s editorial that Hastings has been let down by either myself (as your MP) or by this Government.
The fact is that despite the necessity of cuts Hastings remains in the top five per cent of the most subsidised towns in England, in respect of its grant per head of population: 9th out of 227. Rather than being let down by the Government, Hastings has been recognised as needing additional support which it is getting and will continue to get.
I relentlessly lobbied the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, ahead of this settlement to make sure that we got funding to replace the Area Based Grant (which was due to finish this year regardless) and helped to secure a “Transitional Grant” for two years – the second highest in the whole of the country.
Since being elected to serve the people of Hastings, I have been (and will continue to be) a vocal and persistent voice for our town in Westminster. I never miss an opportunity to put the needs of our town before the appropriate Government ministers. However, the simple reality is that the world has changed since the economic crisis and Hastings (like everywhere else) will have to become smarter and more efficient in the way it uses its resources.
With regard to tuition fees, the real choice facing any Government was either ‘raise fees to maintain the current student intake’ or ‘drastically cut the number going to university’, because (even before the financial crisis) the level of subsidy was unsustainable. There is also an issue of why low-paid workers, including those in Hastings, should increasingly subsidise the costs of university for others.
I don’t wish to dwell on the editorial’s ridiculous suggestion that I ignored the wishes of the people of Hastings by voting with the Coalition for the sole purpose of furthering my political ambitions.
The simple truth is that I voted the way I did because I believe that these measures are necessary to tackle the unprecedented debt left by the last Government and slowly rebuild the nation’s economic foundation. Hastings is not an island and its future prosperity is inextricably linked with that of the country as a whole.
I understand that Santa has traded in his sledge for a snowplough so he’ll probably make it to Hastings. My present is the hope that we, and the rest of the country, can look forward to the start of an economic recovery during 2011.
A Merry Christmas to all.
MP for Hastings