Following the publication in the Hastings Observer of the plans for new student accommodation at Station Plaza, Lib Dem MP for Lewes and Home Office Minister Norman Baker stopped off in the town centre to see the potential impact of the development.
Local campaigners are not only concerned about design issues and the way the planning process has been handled, but also the potential impact of the building on the proposed Greenway town centre link.
Lib Dem candidate for MP Nick Perry said, “Whilst he was in town I wanted to show Norman the potential of this scheme, and members of the Hastings Greenway Group briefed us on progress made to date. But no doubt we could move faster towards making the Greenway a reality if the Council really put its weight behind the scheme and helped lead the work to source other seams of capital investment.”
Norman Baker backs the Hastings Greenway. He said,
“Nick Perry is a top-notch local campaigner and I am delighted to support his fight for a greener and cleaner town centre. I have long campaigned on environmental issues myself, and the potential contribution of the Greenway the town centre in Hastings is substantial. I hope local people will get behind it, and Nick is right to call on the Labour Council to find external funding and deliver it.”
The Hastings & Rye Liberal Democrat Association has unanimously re-selected Nick Perry to be their candidate for MP.
Speaking after the event Association Chair Chris Lewcock said:
‘We are delighted to be able to announce that Nick will be our candidate for MP in 2015. He has a proven record of action for the constituency and has the experience to be a strong voice for us all in Westminster.’
Nick Perry, who was the Liberal Democrat candidate at the 2010 General Election and improved the party’s vote share said,
‘I am honoured to have been given such a strong endorsement by the local party. And I remain absolutely convinced that the country needs Liberal Democrats in Parliament: to ensure that we have a stronger economy as well as a fairer society. Folk are only too aware that on their own, Labour can’t be trusted on the economy, nor the Conservatives to deliver a fairer society. Liberal Democrats have a difficult job to do, but we continue to roll up our sleeves and get on with it.’
[Here is my letter in response to local Labour - a version edited by the local press will be published on Friday]
I wonder if Labour’s home-grown candidate for MP would say that her Leader, Ed Miliband, represents Doncaster less well because he wasn’t born there?
Her letter in last week’s Observer exhorts the Coalition government to ‘rethink their insistence on dismantling the NHS’ as well as to join her campaign to save consultant-led maternity services in Hastings and Eastbourne.
I am afraid the Lib Dems don’t have the purchasing power of the GMB Union or City backers to fund regular adverts in your paper, but I hope you will allow me to make a few points in response.
First, Liberal Democrat ministers working within the Coalition Government have ensured that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery, with competition based now on quality, not on price. We have won hundreds of amendments to Health legislation during this parliament, and we will not be lectured from your Letters Page by a Labour Party that introduced the Private Finance Initiative into the NHS with disastrous fiscal consequences.
Second, as someone who has spent the last 15 years – yes 15 years, not 15 minutes – working with and alongside NHS colleagues, I can reassure your readers that local Lib Dems are determined to secure excellent emergency services right across East Sussex: services that are commissioned by clinicians rather than managers.
Third, I am baffled by the statement that Labour’s candidate will ‘be meeting with members of the Clinical Commissioning Group’. There was an opportunity to do this at the public consultation meeting held at Sussex Coast College a week last Monday to which, with no explanation or apology, Labour’s candidate did not turn up.
At this meeting I put the travel time issue direct to Dr Wilcox who was sitting on the Panel for the CCG and was able to get his commitment that the CCG will share its research on this crucial issue through a pro-active press campaign. Dr Wilcox, if you are reading, we are waiting. I also pressed for transparency on how decisions will be made by the three CCGs in July.
My final point is that obstetric emergencies are a labour issue, but not just a Labour issue. Let’s work across the County (as we have been doing for nearly 10 years) and across the political parties to win safe, efficient and sustainable maternity care, not grandstand in a way that comes across as partisan and, frankly, inexperienced.
Just wanted to share with you some information about a campaign we are supporting in St Marys Road. We are trying to get a joined-up response from the agencies concerned. If there is an issue that you think we should be dealing with in a Castle Ward road near you (!) please get in touch…
Dear Mr Berrisford,
May I draw your attention to this site (for which there is currently a planning application HS/FA/13/00949).
The site has been causing a problems to residents in St Mary’s Road for almost nine years since the previous building was knocked down.
You may know that there have been problems for developers due to a sewer which runs through the site.
As you can see from the attached photographs the site is extremely unpleasant and is a hazard on a number of levels.
There is also a major problem of access to it (via the path behind number ?53-60 St Mary’s Road) because of the many cars being abandoned there.
This must surely also be a problem for emergency services should any access need arise.
Please will you arrange a site visit and investigate possible enforcement action under s215 for this area?
We are very concerned that residents’ hopes of a development solution to this eyesore site are realised, and that access problems do not hamper development.
To this end we are copying in Mr Batchelor who is overseeing the planning application.
We are very aware that there needs to be a joined up approach between different departments and agencies in order to resolve what has up to now been an intractable problem for residents, who are becoming increasingly affected. There is, for example, a damp problem for number 60 St Mary’s Road, due to the condition of the site; number 63 St Mary’s Road is worried about landslip; and the site is affecting the general regeneration condition of this part of Castle ward as a whole.
I am copying in the Highways department at East Sussex County Council because, further to the photograph showing the pavement at street level, there is a real danger that the damaged paving will see a child fall into the derelict site with real risk of serious harm.
This is to say nothing of the possibility in the current weather conditions of the iron fence collapsing and for the site to become a real community danger – for all ages.
We hope that you will all respond quickly stating your commitment to play your part in delivering a joined up solution.
Hastings and Rye Liberal Democrat Campaigners are demanding urgent action from the County Council to get rainwater gullies across Hastings and St Leonards unblocked.
The Lib Dems are concerned at the hazards to pedestrians and vehicles from drains overflowing into local roads – especially in current stormy conditions. Local residents, for example in Wellington Road, experienced severe problems last year when cold weather iced up overflowing surface water on the local steep roads. The Lib Dems have drawn especial attention to gullies in Castle Ward but there are many others blocked across the Borough.
The Lib Dems are disturbed by what appears to be the mis-management of gully clearance by Tory-led East Sussex County Council. Blocked gullies have been reported over many months and promises made of early action – which hasn’t materialised. Assurances have been received that works have been carried out – when they haven’t!
The newly elected Chair of Hastings and Rye Liberal Democrats Chris Lewcock has sent a letter to the ESCC Cabinet Member for Highways, Carl Maynard, seeking urgent action to deal with identified problem gullies and assurances that management processes will be improved, for example by including gullies alongside existing routine pothole inspections.
Chris Lewcock stated:
“I’ve been shocked by the extent of neglected gullies and by the promises of action that have been made and not kept. I hope that County Councillor Maynard will be able to take a grip on his portfolio responsibilities and get these very basic but essential works carried out as a matter of urgency!”
Nick Perry, the parliamentary spokesperson for the Lib Dems in Hastings & Rye, has written to the Leader of Hastings Borough Council, slamming the Council’s failure to improve the access route to the Castle from the Town Centre.
In recent years the Council has repeatedly failed in different bids to secure significant funding to improve the site for future generations.
In his letter Mr Perry said, “It is no wonder that the Council has failed to win funding for the Castle site. The approach via the Town Centre is an absolute disgrace. This is a Grade I listed building – associated with one of the most famous events in European history – and it is poorly signposted, poorly cared for and there has been no meaningful enforcement on the grotty, fly-tipped private land by the main access route.”
Former Castle Ward councillor Pam Brown has said to the Observer, “I am afraid to say that this is a problem that has resurfaced since I left the Council in 2006. Officers have not been taken to task by ward councillors for letting this eyesore continue to fester.”
News release from East Sussex Lib Dems
A Liberal Democrat proposal to create jobs and invest £2m windfall money in a programme of properly patching potholes has been deferred by East Sussex County Council.
At the recent Full Council meeting, Councillor Mike Blanch (LD Hampden Park) called for a radical approach to focus on the tens of thousands of potholes in roads across the County. “There is huge public concern, The County Council overspent its roads repair budget last winter by £750,000, doing emergency repairs which can’t and don’t last. Doing the job properly with patching will save money and create jobs. Not doing the work means a huge risk, in wasted money though the winter, claims for damages to vehicles and loss of reputation. Government has allocated another £1.5m for work this year, but the money seems to have run out.”
Overall the County Council under-spent its budget last year by £12 million, at least £3m was an unexpected windfall, and Lib Dems propose that £2m of this be put to properly patching potholes, matching the Government contribution.
The proposal was not approved at Full Council: Conservatives placed a wrecking amendment to defer action until next year. Leading members of UKIP said that there was no problem with potholes. The Hastings Labour councillors accused Lib Dems of trying to “shanghai” the council.
Eventually a compromise amendment saw this proposal deferred to a Cabinet meeting in September.
“At election time last May all political parties promised to try and sort out the potholes” said Lib Dem leader David Tutt, “yet now some want to put off action for a year and others even deny there is a problem! So if you really want something to happen, write to the Leader of the County Council with your views, contact your local councillor, ensure your voice is heard!”
Nick Perry, Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Hastings & Rye said, “It is disappointing to learn from David Tutt that Hastings Labour councillors were not prepared to work with Liberal Democrats to make these monies accessible now, and achieve repairs for our roads sooner. This solution will create jobs. It should have been backed by Labour.”
Hastings & Rye will get a jobs boost as part of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF), the Coalition Government has announced.
More than half-a-billion pounds of funding to create jobs and growth across England was announced by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg as part of the fourth round of the RGF. Hastings Borough Council received a share of this funding for SUCCESS – Southeast Urban Coast Creative Enterprise Support Scheme – a boost for local jobs.
In the South East, this round of the RGF is expected to create 22,228 jobs through investing £45m in addition to millions of pounds of private sector investment.
Commenting, Nick Perry said:
“This is excellent news for our area, helping to create jobs for local people.
“The Regional Growth Fund is a key part of the Liberal Democrat commitment to building a stronger economy in a fairer society. For too long, previous Labour and Conservative governments have focused on boosting financial services in the City of London and neglecting our local economy.
“The RGF invests in businesses in Hastings & Rye so they can grow and employ more people. It has been vital in stimulating private investment that would otherwise not have gone ahead.
“This grant for Hastings Borough Council is intended to be a vote of confidence in our area, laying the right foundations for stability and good solid business growth. I will be working with them and others to build on this to create more jobs for our area.”
Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said:
“There are more people in work today than ever before – since 2010 we have helped create 1.3m jobs in the private sector. Liberal Democrats want to create a million more.
“That’s what the Regional Growth Fund is all about – and I’m extremely proud to have found extra money to invest in projects across the country that have plans for the future and want to recruit local talent that will make their businesses better.”