LAST year my wife and I visited Hastings having a great time, finding the people friendly, and we were fascinated by the rich history of the town. One of many highlights was a visit to St Mary-in-the-Castle (SMIC), Barbara Rogers specially arranged a tour and we enjoyed the cafe.
We were impressed by the spectacle of SMIC overlooking the sea and standing grandly like a Greek temple but astonished to discover its future was uncertain.
Living in Crawley our town suffered from having much of its heritage demolished - consequently having lost character and acquiring a soulless atmosphere.
Having enjoyed Hastings we promised to support the campaign to safeguard SMIC. Last year Cllr Chowney responded positively however recently I was disappointed when my emails were ignored by Cllrs Birch, Chowney and Kramer.
I therefore forwarded them to Cllr Pragnell, passed in turn to Cllr Lock who assured me they would continue to raise this issue particularly at the council meeting on July 27. Sadly the arts centre and cafe looks set to close by end of July, meanwhile Barbara and staff try to run a business in impossible circumstances - a shameful way to be treated.
Whatever local authority we are under our elected councillors are supposed to represent us and most expect fairness shown towards residents and businesses.
The position of the incumbent tenant needs special consideration because of the conscientious job they continue to do, extending the licence would ensure the building is used, maintained and cared for. SMIC has huge potential as a permanent arts centre and, if properly licensed, for musical and special events, could attract more visitors to Hastings.
I’m amazed that one of Hastings’s brightest gems is not currently subsidised until such times it can operate independently for the long-term. We look forward to our second visit to Hastings - let’s hope the story of SMIC finally has a happy ending.
Mr and Mrs MARTIN BALLARD
Crawley, West Sussex