This time next week the town’s polling stations will be open for business and local residents will be electing the 32 members who will make up the new Hastings Borough Council.
There are 32 candidates standing for the Labour, Conservative and Green parties with 30 Lib Dem Candidates and one candidate from each of The For Britain Movement, The Democrats & Veterans Party and UKIP.
With two candidates standing in each of the 16 council wards that make up Hastings Borough Council each elector gets two votes. The candidate who receives most votes in each ward will serve as a member for that ward for four years, the candidate coming second will become a councillor for just two years and will face the electorate again in 2020. This is the first time for many years that both seats in all wards have been contested and is as a result of changes to the boundaries of virtually every ward that makes up the authority.
Labour and Conservative groups each believe they have a chance of winning control of the borough council and have each produced comprehensive manifestos to support their campaigns – so what’s being promised?
Labour says: “Continuing the regeneration of the borough’s economy is crucial, especially in the light of new challenges and problems created by Brexit. We need to encourage new employers into town, building up our manufacturing and creative cultural sectors in particular, as well as promoting both UK and international tourism.
“We need to continue to find sources of funding to provide grants to small businesses, especially in the creative and cultural sectors. But we also need to make sure local people are given the right opportunities by supporting and promoting initiatives that help people into jobs, so working with education and training providers is important, too. A thriving local economy is an essential part of creating well-paid, rewarding jobs for all.”
The Conservatives say: “On May 3 you will have the chance to vote for Conservative councillors who will deliver better services for you and your family and who will spend your council tax wisely. Our local planning department has not been working as it should for some time with too many poor and controversial decisions being made and a lack of transparency causing frustration to many.
“We have to build more homes locally and we are dedicated to setting up a housing company for Hastings Borough Council so we can build the houses we need. We promise to fix our broken planning system. It is so important that we choose a council which listens to the people of Hastings and St Leonards. Unfortunately we have not seen this under the Labour-run Hastings Borough Council. What we have seen is that Labour leave you with less money in your pocket and worse services across our area.”
Labour says it will: “Use the funding achieved from the EU Community-Led Local Development programme to establish projects to address long-standing unemployment and income deprivation, as well as skills shortages, principally in the Hollington, Broomgrove, Farley Bank, Halton, and Downs Farm estates.
The Conservatives will: “…encourage business to thrive in our town and we are the only party committed to do doing so. We believe that a thriving business community will lead to a happy and successful Hastings and St Leonards. As Conservatives we believe that we should do more as your local council to encourage businesses to locate to Hastings and St Leonards.”
You can read the manifestos in full by clicking on theses links..
As all the parties step up their campaigning there has been a significant increase in interest of the interviews we recently filmed with the leaders of the two big political groups, Rob Lee for the Conservatives and Peter Chowney for the Labour group. In each interview they set out their aspirations for the future of the town, if you haven’t seen them yet why not have a look now.