News In Brief

Police investigate hit and run

Police are investigating a hit and run collision in Hastings.

A 50-year-old man was treated at Conquest Hospital for cuts and abrasions after reporting having been hit by a car which did not stop, while he was walking in Old London Road, Hastings, near the junction with Robertson Hill, at about 9.20pm on Sunday (March 24th).

There is currently no description of the car and anyone who saw what happened or who has any other information, is asked to contact Sussex Police online or by calling 101, quoting serial 1280 of 24/03.

Rick Wakeman at the White Rock

Rick Wakeman visits Hastings for a one-off show at the White Rock Theatre on Sunday July 21st on the second part of his Piano Odyssey UK tour.

In 2017, the professional musician, keyboard player, songwriter, broadcaster and raconteur made chart history when his Piano Portraits album became the first solo piano instrumental album to enter the UK’s Top Ten on release – a feat he repeated with the  follow-up Piano Odyssey last October.

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Both albums feature music that has been important to Rick on his personal musical journey, drawn from contemporary pop and rock, as well as classical repertoire, and including arrangements of David Bowie’s Life On Mars, Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken, the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, YES’ Wonderous Stories and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

The accompanying tour was such a sell-out success that Rick decided to perform more Piano Odyssey shows in 2019. Expect an evening of superb musicianship with a selection of music from both albums plus much more, interspersed with insightful anecdotes and much knockabout humour!

Tickets go on sale on Wednesday (March 20th) at 10am.

Primaries join Ark Helenswood Dance show

Now in its 17th Year Ark Helenswood will once again be showcasing dance works from year seven to year 11 GCSE and A Level students.

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As part of the schools outreach work with Dance Teacher, Elaine Vanner, there will be performances from Ark Blacklands, Ark Little Ridge and Ark Castledown primary schools. All are welcome to enjoy this evening of outstanding dance.

The show will take place at 7pm on  Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March at the Main Hall at  Ark William Parker Academy  in Hastings. Tickets are available on the door and are priced at £6 adults or £3 concession.

Parker students enjoy ‘Book Swap’ 

Staff and students celebrated World Book Day at Ark William Parker on Thursday with a World Book Day Swap Shop.

Everyone was encouraged to bring books to school they had already read and swap them at the event which was held in the library.

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Ark William Parker students enjoying World Book Day last Thursday.

Librarian Kimbley Firth said: “This event was a great opportunity to broaden students experiences of different authors and great stories and I would like to thank our Junior Librarians who helped out on the day.

The school celebrated World Book Day in other ways too staff put a picture and an excerpt from their favourite book outside their classroom doors enabling students to see all the different reading habits of the staff.

Have you seen Jack Emery?

Detectives in Hastings are searching for 32-year-old local man, Jack Emery, who they want to interview about an allegation that he damaged doors and walls at a flat in St Leonards in February.

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Emery, who is white, 5’11”, with brown hair and brown eyes, frequents the local area but is also believed to have been in Maidstone recently. Anyone who sees him or hears of his whereabouts is asked to contact the police online or by calling 101, quoting serial 1433 of 15/02. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Hastings Open Mosque Day

On Sunday Hastings Mosque held an open day organised by the Islamic Association and supported by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) the open day was to counter negative perceptions of Islam and  to tell people about the religion.  

Visitors were offered temporary henna tattoos and there was food for all.

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Sunday’s open day at Hastings Mosque.

Councillor Nigel Sinden, Mayor of Hastings said: “Once again Hastings Mosque and Madrasah was open to all as a part of National ‘Visit my Mosque Day’. Members of the mosque were keen to speak to visitors about their religion; and what it’s about. It was an honour to be invited to speak. Talks were given from Imam Ismail, the deputy Mayor Councillor James Bacon and the local police inspector.”

Beware of phone fraudsters

Elderly and vulnerable people are being warned to beware of phone calls from fraudsters pretending to be from HM Customs and Revenue (HMRC) or the police.

The bogus callers claim the targeted person is wanted for tax evasion and is arrestable on warrant unless they pay a cash sum – usually some £3,000 to £4,000 – to clear their ‘debt’.

Some even address victims by name, or use a number that is often displayed as the official number of the agency they claim to represent, to add credibility to their call.

But the genuine authorities stress that people would never be texted or telephoned by them out of the blue with requests for payments, to log in to an online account or to disclose personal information, such as PIN numbers, passwords or bank details.

Anyone receiving such contact should hang up and report the call – preferably using a separate phone or computer in case the criminals have kept the line open – to police here, at 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

It is understood that HMRC received more than 60,000 reports of phone scams in the six months up to January 2019, an increase of 360 per cent on the preceding six months.

Sergeant Kat Argholeka, of Sussex Police, said: “This underlines the importance of never giving out private information and reporting any suspicious activity without delay.

“We’d also ask friends or relatives of potentially vulnerable people to ensure they are fully aware and alert to the risks.”

More cash for road repair

Rye Road in Hastings will be one of the first to benefit from a £4.7 million cash injection that will allow East Sussex Highways to improve and ‘pothole-proof’ an additional 15 miles of road at 37 locations around the county..

While the A259 Rye Road, in Hastings will be one of the first stretches of road to be repaired the rest of the work will be carried out between now and July.

The additional work is on top of the £16.6 million being spent this financial year to improve 145 miles of road and 20 miles of pavement across the county.

Councillor Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said: “Throughout the year our highways teams do a fantastic job of identifying which roads will need work to keep them in a good condition and scheduling improvement work accordingly.

“This extra funding is very much welcome and will allow us to carry out improvements on roads we’d identified would need work in the short to medium term, but didn’t previously have funding for.”

Schemes being carried out include carriageway reconstruction and resurfacing, less extensive surface dressing, patching – where small areas of defective road are fixed – and joint repairs.

Details of forthcoming roadworks can be found on the East Sussex Highways website at www.eastsussexhighways.com

Canine carnage in country park    

Twelve sheep died in Hastings Country Park yesterday morning as a result of attacks by out of control dogs.

The attack has been described by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) as, ‘the, worst dog attack the site has experienced’.

Two dogs from a local property caused carnage when they got into a field with the sheep. By the time police arrived some sheep were already dead and others were so badly mauled that they had to be shot. A grazier who attended the scene was forced to shoot the dogs which were still attacking the sheep. It is understood the dogs belong to a local resident.

Councillor Colin Fitzgerald, lead member for HBC’s environmental services and chair of the Hastings country park management forum said: “We have never suffered such a devastating dog attack at the country park. The Police are investigating to find the owners of the dogs and the reason why they were out alone. Everyone who has a dog should keep their dog on a lead when near any fields at the country park.”

Sussex County Cup Final for Parker

Year ten Ark William Parker football team won through to their third County Cup final in four years by beating Bedes School 1-nil in the semi-final yesterday.

In glorious conditions Parker dominated the first half both in terms of possession and territory, however chances were sparse for both teams. Warren narrowly missing the best of Parker’s chances, while Craddock in the Parker goal was very well protected by the defence, marshalled by the impressive Mapstone.

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The triumphant Ark William Parker Year ten football team.

In the second half the game became more open with more attempts on target for both teams. The Bedes keeper pulling off a remarkable double save when a Parker goal seemed certain. Throughout the contest Parker always seemed the more likely to score and Avery proved to be the hero. He picked the ball up on the half way line, forced his way through two Bedes defenders before finishing from outside the box, driving the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.

En route to the final William Parker have beaten Priory School, Uckfield, Claremont, Durrington and now Bedes. They will face either Hove Park, Ardingly College or Dorothy Stringer school.

Coach Jimmy Elford said: “The boys were amazing today, every player contributed to this success. They showed great determination to put right the defeat in last year’s final and are hungry to become County Champions this year”.

Squad: Craddock, Legg, Winters, Mapstone, Skinner, L Warren (B Warren), Ward, Palmer, Corke, Avery, Peacock; Cooper, Roscoe, Cumber.

Appeal for witnesses

Witnesses are being sought to an incident in London Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, in which a 39-year-old man was attacked by three other men.

He was struck about the head and face, causing injuries which required treatment at the local Conquest Hospital.

The attack occurred shortly before 5.30pm on Thursday February 21st near to the Boots and Co-Op stores in London Road. The area was busy with traffic and pedestrians at the time.

Police would like to hear from anyone who saw what happened or who may have relevant mobile phone images or dash-cam footage of the incident.

They are asked to contact Sussex Police online or by phoning 101, quoting serial 0959 of 21/02.

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers or call the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Year of the Pig

Hastings celebrated Chinese New Year on Sunday at Priory Meadow shopping centre.

Mayor of Hastings Nigel Sinden and his deputy James Bacon were both there as was Councillor Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council who said: “The Chinese New Year celebrations are always a colourful, lively and fun way to brighten up a winter afternoon. I’m very grateful to the members of the local Chinese community who put this event on it helps remind us of the increasing cultural diversity we have in Hastings, and how new communities settling here have helped to regenerate the town, creating new cultural traditions and local businesses that help to boost the local economy.”

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The event featured a variety of traditional Chinese dances, the lion dance, baby dragon dance and the ribbon dance. There were also gymnastics demonstrations, with a chance to join in and several martial arts displays throughout the afternoon. A large and appreciative crowd was in attendance to celebrate the year of the Pig.

Road repair road closure

Motorists are being advised of overnight road closures as an improvement scheme begins on a main road through Hastings.

The A21 London Road will be closed between Battle Road, outside the Asda superstore, and Bohemia Road for seven nights for carriageway resurfacing.

The work begins next Monday, February 25th, with the road closed to through traffic from 8pm until 6am every weekday night, and is due to finish on the morning of Wednesday, March 6th.

Temporary two-way traffic lights will be in place to allow vehicles in and out of the superstore car park.

Councillor Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said: “This is one of the busiest roads in Hastings, which carries very heavy traffic every day. The daily pounding it receives takes its toll on the road. While we do need to close the road to ensure the safety of our workers and the public, carrying out the work overnight will allow us to keep any traffic disruption to a minimum.

“We’d ask residents to bear with us while we carry out these essential works.”

While the road will be completely closed to through traffic, crews will allow access to residents where possible, but this may be subject to delays. A signed diversion route will be in place.

More information about forthcoming roadworks is available on the East Sussex Highways website at http://www.eastsussexhighways.com

Suspended sentence for dodgy cigs

A shopkeeper from St Leonards has been handed a suspended jail term and left more than £3,000 out of pocket after being caught selling illegal tobacco products.

Arsalan Mohammadi was convicted at Hastings Magistrates’ Court following an investigation of his store – One Shop, in London Road – by officers from East Sussex Trading Standards.

Undercover operatives were sold Golden Virginia rolling tobacco not bearing the plain packaging required by law, while officers also seized counterfeit Richmond cigarettes from the shop.

The defendant admitted two offences relating to trademark law and was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years and handed a community order requiring him to carry out 160 hours’ unpaid work.

The 38-year-old also admitted three counts of breaching the law on packaging and was given a £1,000 fine for each count. He was also ordered to pay £450 court costs and a victim of surcharge of £115.

Richard Strawson, East Sussex County Council team manager for Trading Standards, said: “Our officers work tirelessly to reduce the supply of illegal tobacco through intelligence-led inspections and test purchases.

“Selling these kind of products brings organised crime into our communities, undermines efforts to discourage smoking and in particular encourages tobacco use among young people due to cheaper prices.

“I’d encourage anyone who knows of illegal tobacco sales to report it so that we can work together to tackle this issue and bring offenders to justice.”

Mohammadi, of London Road, St Leonards, was convicted of two counts of breaching the Trade Marks Act 1994 by having in his store counterfeit Richmond cigarettes on January 4 and 11 last year.

He also breached the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Product Regulations 2015 by selling illegally-packaged Golden Virginia tobacco on December 22nd 2017 and January 4th and 11th 2018.

He was sentenced in a hearing at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on Friday, January 25th 2019. The court also ordered the illegal tobacco products be forfeited and destroyed.

People can report the selling of illegal tobacco to Trading Standards anonymously online at http://www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk/ or by calling the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 6 999.

Two-wheelers can use bus lane

Cyclists, motorcyclists and taxis will be allowed to use a bus lane on a main coastal route between Bexhill and St Leonards in a trial which launches this week.

An experimental Traffic Regulation Order comes into force on Bexhill Road, between Bexleigh Avenue and Harley Shute Road, on Friday 15th  and will run for up to 18 months.

The bus lane opened last year and is one of a number of transport improvements delivered as a condition of planning approval being granted for the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road Councillor Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said: “We’ve had a number of requests from the public to allow cyclists to use the bus lane.

“It’s always been our intention to allow bicycles, taxis and motorcycles to travel in this lane and the trial will give us a chance to see how it works in practice. The safety reviews we have carried out don’t indicate any issues as a result of this scheme, but we will be monitoring and reviewing the impact of the trial before deciding whether to make it permanent.”

People have until August 15th to submit any feedback on the trial, by emailing TROs@eastsussex.gov.uk or writing to East Sussex County Council, CET Parking, B floor, County Hall, Lewes BN7 1UE.

Later this year, two additional sections are due to be added to the bus lane, extending it to run between Glyne Gap in the west and the junction with Filsham Road in the east.

Top award for Baird

A local school has been awarded a prestigious award for their approach to mental health and wellbeing.

The Baird Primary Academy was  awarded nurtureuk’s Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award for its whole-school nurturing approach.

Local MP Amber Rudd has been one of the first to congratulate the school saying: “This is a fantastic achievement and I am pleased to see their hard work recognised. I hope to visit the school soon and look forward to seeing them build on this success.”

Nurture groups are an educational psychologist-designed, teacher-led intervention for disengaged and troubled children, which removes behavioural barriers to engagement and attainment in schools through re-creating missing or distorted early attachments. First developed in Hackney more than 40 years ago, there are more than 2,000 nurture groups in nursery, primary and secondary schools across the UK.

Museum offers work experience

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 10.25.50Hastings Museum and Art Gallery would like to hear from school students who  are looking for work experience between May 13th-17th and July 1st-5th and would like to try their hand at working in a museum.

The museum is joining a growing list of employers offering work experience to pupils in Hastings and across East Sussex promoted by the County Council’s work experience team.

The museum is giving pupils the chance to experience life behind the scenes of the museum. During each placement pupils will get to work on a range of projects alongside staff, including chances to work with collections, on exhibitions and planning events, as well as work with visitor services and learning teams. By the end of the week pupils will have a better idea of what it is like working in a museum today.

For details on how to apply check the museum website:  http://www.hmag.org.uk/aboutus/getinvolved/

DWP brings over 300 jobs to Hastings this year

The Department for Work and Pensions is to create a Universal Credit Service Centre in Hastings creating more than 300 jobs in the town by the end of the year.

The service centre is expected to bring around 350 full time and part time vacancies to Hastings and will provide support for the South East area.

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye said: “I am pleased the Department has chosen to open a Service Centre in Hastings. This will bring a huge boost to our economy through offering high quality local jobs.”

Accolade for Hastings Museum

Hastings Museum and Art gallery has received a national boost as its extensive Japanese collection was highlighted on an interactive map published by the Department for Culture, Media & Science. This coincided with a visit to the country by the Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo.

Councillor Kim Forward, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, explained: “We have a fantastic collection of Japanese artefacts all of which are part of the Brassey collection. Lord and Lady Brassey, who lived in Hastings and donated their collection to the town, were among the very first westerners to visit Japan when it opened up in the 19th century, travelling on their private yacht, The Sunbeam.

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“Our collection includes a full set of samurai armour, a saddle and matching stirrups of wood, a 17th century su-yari (a spear), an early 17th century Wakizashi (short sword), and a late 16th century Katana (long sword).

“We also have a selection of netsuke (decorative toggles), dolls, mirrors and decorative lacquer boxes on display in the Upper Durbar Hall.

“I am really pleased that the museum’s collection has been highlighted like this, it has so much of interest to see, of local, national, and international significance.”

Grotbusters prosecution

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has successfully prosecuted landlord Shaun Matthew Treloar for a failure to carry out work to a property he owns in Shepherd St, St Leonards.

Kim Forward, lead councillor for planning said: “We aim to work with owners to transform rundown properties and most of them understand our approach and the need to be responsible and maintain their property. A poorly maintained property has an impact on everyone, particularly the neighbours in the vicinity. We will use enforcement notices and prosecutions for those property owners who ignore our communications.

“In this case, Mr Treloar was asked to do the work last April. He did not comply with the section 215 notice sent to him, so regrettably we have had to take him to court.”

Mr Treloar was fined a total of £1,060 pounds, including costs.

Hospice coffee morning and bazaar

Support St Michael’s Hospice by going along to the monthly Coffee Morning and Bazaar hosted by the Hastings and St Leonards Support Group on Saturday February 2nd from 10.15am until noon, at the Arthur Easton Centre, St Michael’s Hospice.

Entrance is 50p, and there will be many brilliant stalls to browse, bargains to be had, and delicious homemade cakes to buy.

The Hastings and St Leonards Support Group is always looking for fun, creative and reliable volunteers to join their team and help at events which raise an incredible amount of money for the Hospice every year.

For more information contact the Fundraising team on 01424 456396, or email fundraising@stmichaelshospice.com.

New finance boss at Hastings Direct

Hastings Group Holdings Plc – owners of the Hastings Direct brand – is about to have a new group chief financial officer.

Announcing the retirement of existing post holder Richard Hoskins, the company said MS Amlin group Chief Financial Officer John Worth is taking over the role ‘within the next few months.’

Mr Hoskins brings experience from the likes of The Co-operative Bank, HiscoxAspen  Insurance Holdings, Barclays, PwC, and Prudential Plc.

Sir Craig backs Rudd for leadership

A one-time senior adviser to former Prime Minister David Cameron has tipped Hastings MP Amber Rudd as the next leader of the Conservative party and possible Prime Minister.

Sir Craig Oliver who was Cameron’s Director of Communications between 2011 and 2016 and was the architect of the remain campaign in the 2016 European referendum is the subject of a lengthy interview in today’s Times. In that interview he says of Ms Rudd: “Her massive strength is that she’s a real grown-up.”

Read the full interview here https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/craig-oliver-interview-a-people-s-vote-would-be-so-divisive-and-the-world-s-easiest-job-for-leave-p7n8v5vz5

Go yellow for St Michael’s Hospice!

St Michael’s Hospice is calling all supporters of the charity to help it celebrate its annual awareness week, Yellow Week, from Monday February 4th until Sunday February 10th.

Yellow Week aims to raise awareness around the vital services that the Hospice provides to adults with life-limiting illnesses throughout Hastings and Rother.

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So whether it’s a mufti day, a yellow cake sale, yellow party, or even a custard bath competition, there’s plenty of ways for everyone to get involved and raise money or sponsorship.

The cost of running the Hospice is £6,000,000 each year – that’s almost £16,500 every day – so every donation, however large or small helps the hospice to continue to provide high quality, responsive palliative care and bereavement support.

If you would like to take part, get in touch with the Fundraising team on 01424 456396 or email fundraising@stmichaelshospice.com

Emergency meeting planned

Hastings Green party will hold an emergency meeting about plans to site ten acres of solar panels on Hastings Country Park tomorrow night (Jan 10th) at 6.30 pm in the White Rock Hotel.

Richard Watson of Energise Sussex Coast will be there to answer questions and present ideas on how to generate renewable energy locally that don’t include the country park.

A spokesman for Hastings Green Party said the borough council’s plans had “come out of the blue” with no mention of the country park in either of the energy studies commissioned by HBC last year.

Tinkering not enough

Describing the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) as ‘catastrophic’ Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings, Peter Chowney, has written an open letter to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions secretary asking her to have an ’empathetic approach towards those you represent’.

His letter calls for immediate measures to ease the burden on UC claimants in Hastings and Rye.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is of course Hastings MP Amber Rudd and she and Mr Chowney will be opponents come the next general election. In his letter Mr Chowney says:

“As Work and Pensions Secretary you announced a delay to the further roll out of the Universal Credit system. I cautiously welcome this. The scheme has been catastrophic, bringing many close to destitution. However, your announcement does not provide relief for those in our town already suffering under the current regime. The constituents of Hastings receiving Universal Credit need action now and the evidence for this is plain:

  • A 91 per cent increase in homeless applications
  • An 82 per cent rise in food bank demand
  • Temporary accommodation at a cost of over £1m per year
  • A Hastings ‘baby pantry’ in providing free baby-formula because some mothers are so impoverished, they water formula down to make it last longer

“This should not be happening in the fifth richest nation and certainly not in an already deprived seaside town. Ideally, you would be announcing the scrapping of this unfair system – but I suspect this will require a change in government. Meantime, there are things you could do to provide relief to those suffering in Hastings right now, including:

  • Scrapping the current sanctions system. It’s cruel, unnecessary and leaves people destitute or scared to make changes in their lives – including looking for work;
  • Increasing the local housing allowance to reflect rents charged and making it automatically payable to landlords;
  • Making the application process shorter and ensuring technology works. Too many claims are delayed through electronic system failures;
  • Making four weeks the maximum for processing claims, with compensation introduced when delays happen through no fault of the claimant

“None of these things is particularly onerous or difficult. They just require political will and an empathic approach towards those you represent.”

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019

Hastings will host its annual Holocaust Memorial Day service at 11am on Saturday January 26th at St Mary in the Castle, on Hastings seafront. It is being organised by Dr Shelley Katz with the support of Hastings Borough Council.

This year’s service will have as its theme Torn from home. It will include the Acromax Performance Group working with Ark Helenswood Academy, the St Richard’s College choir and dancers, and the BISC (Queens University – Canada).

The service is open to everyone, and admission is free but by ticket only. Tickets must be obtained in advance, and will be available shortly from the Hastings Tourist Information Centre in Breeds Place, Hastings (by the fountain on the seafront).

MP seeks reassurance on pier opening

HASTINGS MP Amber Rudd has confirmed she’ll host a summit with the owner of Hastings Pier to explain the importance of the iconic pier being reopened on time.

It was announced before Christmas that Hastings Pier will be closed until March for repairs and other necessary work.

Ms Rudd said: “This is disappointing news, however, it is important that safety is prioritised.

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“In all my meetings with the owner, I have always stressed how important the pier is to our community and have represented the concerns of residents to him.

“Local businesses and families can be assured I will do the same again and stress the importance of our world famous pier reopening on time.

“I will shortly be meeting with the owner to ensure there is urgency for getting the pier safe and open for visitors and I will provide more information to all my constituents.

“As Hastings residents will remember the devastating effects of the arson in 2010, it is essential that the issues with electrical wiring on the pier are solved.”

Boris went to Specsavers

Specsavers in Queens Road is one of eight Specsavers stores in Sussex working together this Christmas to collect toys and donations for Chestnut Tree House.

Boris the bearChestnut Tree House is a children’s hospice across East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and South East Hampshire, caring for 300 children and young adults from up to 19 years of age with progressive life-shortening conditions.

Local MP Amber Rudd recently met staff at the branch to chat about the toy collection and to make her own donation – a Parliamentary teddy bear named Boris.

Ms Rudd said: “I was delighted to meet the fantastic staff of our local Specsavers and to hear about the work they are doing this Christmas to support Chestnut Tree House.

“Chestnut Tree House is a fantastic organisation, dedicated to supporting not only children but their whole family through end of life care. The hard work to ensure that the best quality of life is provided for children and young people is inspiring.”

West Hill rape – man arrested

Detectives investigating the rape of a woman in Hastings in the early hours of Saturday have arrested a man.

Police were alerted at 5.34am after the 19-year-old victim sought help at a friend’s house after being attacked by a man she didn’t know in the West Hill area of the town.

A 27-year-old man from Hastings was arrested on suspicion of rape on Monday last night. He remains in custody for questioning.

Detective Inspector Ben Newman said: “The victim is being supported by specially trained officers. We want to hear from anyone who may have information about the incident or from anyone who was present on West Hill between approximately 3am and 6am on Saturday morning.

“Any information could be useful, so please contact us either online or call 101 quoting Operation Insight.”

Ready for the beat

Sussex Police’s 70 new PCs – the forces’ largest intake in ten years – are now in their final days of intensive training and assessment, getting ready to go out on the streets across Sussex in the New Year.

Each constable will join a local response team in January following completion of 15 weeks rigorous training. In the new year they will be seen working in the community alongside their tutors as they work towards being able to undertake independent patrol status.

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PC Steve Richardson was a senior IT manager before signing up in September. He says: “The scenario days have undoubtedly been the best part of the course.

This record intake of 70 officers, who started their training in September, was funded by this year’s rise in council tax. More than 200 new constables have now been recruited this year to help strengthen local policing in Sussex.

The recruits have been undergoing practical scenario assessments at Sussex Police headquarters in Lewes. Presented with live situations acted by volunteers, the recruits are being assessed on how they put legislation and policing powers into practice.

Rock fall – latest

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) said this morning that there had been no further incidents of rock fall at White Rock over the weekend and council officers had hand delivered letters to residents and spoke to those who were home.

Two families directly affected by last week’s fall were moved to emergency accommodation. An engineer carried out an initial assessment which will be followed by a review of the 2016 report early in the New Year.

HBC will be writing to residents again today to advise them of the ongoing issues with their properties and their responsibilities regarding the safety of their property and/or their tenants. Residents who want further advice and support should go to the Contact Centre.

Council staff have also been attempting to speak to business owners in the immediate area between 20 and 27 White Rock and efforts will continue today.

Hastings Borough Council officers will be on call 24/7 over the holiday period should any further incidents occur. For up to date information visit HBC’s website hastings.gov.uk  where further updates will be posted.

Having your say

There’s just a week to have your say on the core offer proposed by East Sussex County Council.

A public survey to gather the views of residents and organisations runs until December 26th and can be completed online or by requesting a paper version to complete and return by the closing date.

The core offer suggests what the council says is a, ‘basic but decent level of service’ it believes is the very least residents should be able to expect, even with intense financial pressure on the county’s finances.

If adopted, the core offer will guide the council’s approach over the next three years, including how it works with partners to meet as many of the county’s needs as possible.

The survey can completed online at: https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk/governance-and-community-services/a-core-offer-for-east-sussex/

A paper copy of the survey, which must be returned by the closing date of December 26th, can be still be requested by phoning 01273 335155 or emailing coreoffer@eastsussex.gov.uk

Hastings Round Table latest

Paul McCleery Chairman of the Hastings Round Table has been busy.

This week he presented a cheque to Dynasty Reigns, a local competitive cheerleading club, he said: “This is one of many fantastic organisations that we have been able to help this year, of course the money comes from the Hastings Beer & Music Festival so thank you to everyone who came and supported the event and we hope to see you next July for the 2019 event.”

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Hastings Round Table Chairman Paul McCleery presents a cheque to Dynasty Reigns…

Last week he attended the Association of Carers Christmas lunch in Hastings, and presented a cheque to Julie Skinner to help pay for the lunch, he says: “These are amazing people. Have a look at their Facebook page and website to understand who they are and what they do.”

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…and another to the Association of Carers
MP confident of service improvement

Hastings residents are to receive a better rail service, according to local MP Amber Rudd.

She says expected changes to timetables will have a positive impact on the trains in the area. The news comes on the back of recommendations by the travel watchdog the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) which has completed its review into the issues caused by GTR and Northern Rail timetable changes in the summer.

Amber Rudd MP said: “The disruptions caused by the May timetable changes were wholly unacceptable… I am pleased that some constructive action has been laid out and look forward to seeing these steps being taken.

“I will continue to work closely with Network Rail to ensure that our towns have the best possible services.”

Following interim findings into the causes and experience of the disruption, Professor Stephen Glaister CBE, Chairman of the ORR, has recommended improvements to improve passengers’ experiences, these include improvements to timetabling and system operation, passenger impact assessments and the role of the ORR.

The ORR have also asked Network Rail to take action to improve its ability to develop the timetable.

Festive litter pick planned

Hastings Deputy Mayor, councillor James Bacon is organising a Festive Themed Fancy Dress Litter Pick later this month.

Mr Bacon says: “As Old Hastings Ward Councillor I’m arranging this family friendly event. If you are able to come along dressed or accessorised with something festive, you will be entered into the ‘Best Dressed’ competition.

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“We will be meeting at the Stade Open Space in Hastings Old Town at 10am on Friday  December 21st.

“If you have gloves and a black sack, please do bring these along with you. Litter pickers will be provided on the day but if you have your own, please feel free to bring this along too.”

Sandhurst recreation ground closed

Vandals broke in to the large changing pavilion at Sandhurst recreation ground on the Ridge last week causing damage that will cost up to £6,000 to put right – in the meantime the recreation ground has been forced to close.

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Considerable damage has been caused to the inside of the building and the changing room, which was only recently newly refurbished by Hastings Borough Council was stripped of its copper piping, heaters and cabling. All the fixtures were also smashed.

Colin Fitzgerald, lead councillor for the environment said: “This stupid act of vandalism and theft costs our community money at a time when the effects of austerity are being very keenly felt. It will take at least three months before the damage can be completely repaired. In the meantime, the clubs who play there will have to do without a changing room, or move to another pitch. I’d therefore urge anyone with information on what took place to contact the police”

Council’s successful prosecution

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has successfully prosecuted landlord Thomas Brian Rogers of Wicklemarsh Road, London for a number of breaches of licensing conditions with fines totalling £11,332 for a rented property in Cambridge Gardens.

Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing said: “The Council continues to show that we will not tolerate landlords who fail to provide decent housing in our community. We are making huge strides to ensure that every one in Hastings lives in a safe home. If you are a landlord who is falling short of the standards good landlords, residents and the council expect we will prosecute, and we will win”.

The council withdrew two charges, and Mr Rogers pled guilty to the remaining 16. The charges were for a failure to provide bathroom facilities, failing to prevent antisocial behaviour, failing to maintain the property and gardens, failing to maintain fire escapes and failing to display licenses.

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Tribunal win for council

Hastings Borough Council won an appeal against a financial penalty it imposed on landlord Keith Worsley of Vicarage Road for failing to improve his rented property as directed.

Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing said today: “This shows the council will use all the enforcement options available to it. It is very pleasing to see the tribunal supported our approach.”

Youth Council celebrates 20 years

Hastings Youth Council celebrated its 20th anniversary on Saturday at a special meeting in the town’s White Rock Theatre.

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The event was attended by the Mayor, Councillor Nigel Sinden, Deputy Mayor, Councillor James Bacon and ward councillor Leah Levane. Founder members and current members discussed the youth council manifesto as well as mental health and homelessness issues and the impact on young people. The afternoon was completed with food and fun activities.

Mr Sinden said afterwards: “What a pleasure it is to see Hastings Youth Council reach its 20th anniversary. Over the past few years I have followed our youth council closely, and  been privileged to join in on occasions. These engaged young people will form the backbone of our town’s future. I look forward to seeing them make their mark on Hastings!”

Police visibility is a ‘priority’

Following complaints of antisocial behaviour outlined to MP Amber Rudd in a recent survey she toured Linton Gardens last Friday with Chief Superintendent Jason Taylor.

Following the survey she became aware that a number of local residents were concerned about drug dealing in the area. She wrote to the former Acting Chief Inspector to raise her constituents’ concerns.

Ms Rudd has been told by police that being visible in the town centre is a priority and they are working hard to have officers on foot patrol in the town centre. She also heard that police are working with the local council, the Business Crime Reduction Partnership and the Substance Misuse Service to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Great old town event

47305493_2079838412328574_7049147883815174144_nHastings Deputy Mayor Councillor Jams Bacon has praised organisers of the Two Towers Trust Annual Christmas Tree Festival at St Clements Church in Hastings Old Town.

James says; “This Festival is still on next weekend if you haven’t yet had a chance to visit. I love these community events in Old Hastings Ward which we can all get involved with.”

The photo show Mr Bacon with the ‘Will You Waste This Christmas’ themed tree, he designed along with Sarah Esther Piper.

Weather no deterrent to protest

More than 50 local local people took part in the latest protest to save the Station Plaza NHS walk-in centre on Saturday.

The number 20 bus from St Leonards became the impromptu campaign battle bus with a  man dressed as Santa on the back seat showing his support for the campaign and gathering signatures for the on-going petition from other passengers.

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A final decision on the future of the popular medical centre has not yet been made by the Hastings and Rother NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) activist are sustaining pressure the CCG to keep a walk-in health service in the town centre. The alternative proposal is to move it to the Conquest Hospital on The Ridge. Debate on the future of the Station Plaza walk-in centre has been going on since the spring.

Walk-in Centre staff allowed protesters to gather in the foyer of the centre on Saturday rather than stand outside in the rain. Protesters sung carols and songs and shared their reasons why the Station Plaza centre is such an essential service.

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The protest continues

Campaigners determined to save the Station Plaza NHS Walk-In centre are staging another protest outside the centre at 1pm tomorrow (Saturday Dec 1st). Organiser Erica Smith, who also set up a petition that now has almost 3,500 signatures online, says there will be songs from Martin Breeson and Lily Kim.

Walk-in Centre signage

“You will have a chance to say why you support this valuable service and you can hear the latest news from Councillor Mike Turner who represents Hastings on the East Sussex County Council Health Overview Scrutiny Committee,” says Erica.

Closed until ‘further notice’

Expectations that Hastings Pier would reopen this morning after last weekend’s fire have been dashed.

The main Hastings Pier Facebook group saw a post go up this morning saying that the pier would remain closed until ‘further notice;.

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The gate to Hastings Pier remain locked this morning.

Hastings In Focus understands that a meeting was due to take place on the pier this morning to decide the next steps. At the same meeting Hastings MP Amber Rudd was updated on what is happening at the pier.

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The notice that appeared on the Hastings Pier Facebook group this morning. 

The group, Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP), is due to hold what it describes as an ‘informal’ meeting at 2.30pm tomorrow in the Seafront Room of the White Rock Hotel to assess where its supporters see FoHP is going from here. The meeting had been planned some weeks ago.

Keeping it local

Hastings Borough Council is supporting Small Business Saturday on December 1st.

Small Business SaturdayCouncil leader Councillor Peter Chowney explained: “Although we’ve got some fantastic large stores in Hastings, we’ve got some amazing small independent ones too, and Small Business Saturday is an ideal opportunity to explore some of these hidden gems.

“You can often find bargains in these smaller shops, and certainly the quirky and unusual!

“Lots of local people work in local shops, so there really are lots of good reasons to shop local, you may well be very pleasantly surprised what is on our doorstep.”

Tablers get their running shoes ready

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Next March Hastings Round Table will be pulling and pushing ‘Ronda’ – its very heavy Oak barrel around the 13.1 miles of the The 35th Hastings Half Marathon course and they will be looking for donations in aid of Cystic Fibrosis and Organ Donation. Table members point out that in terms of donations paper is lighter than coins!

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Russians take a shine to 1066 Country

1066 Country is proving to be very popular with Russian Facebook users, with over 42,000 views so far of a promotional video featuring the area made for VisitBritain Moscow.

The film crew visited Rye, Hastings Old Town, America Ground and Webbes at Rock-a-Nore as well as Battle, Bodiam and Merriments Gardens, the finished result is at https://www.facebook.com/lovegreatbritain.ru/videos/333950327340931/

Kevin Boorman, the manager of 1066 Country Marketing, said: “My Russian is non-existent, but the Facebook posting is great, 1066 Country looks superb, despite the filming having taken place during the summer but on the first day of rain after weeks of unbroken sunshine!

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Vladimir filming on the East Hill.

“Vladimir is a very well-known TV presenter in Russia who hunts down great coffee on his travels around the world. This time he found it at Hi-Store in Trinity Street, Hastings, where they paid a special visit for the Stooges coffee served there.

“Tourism is big business for 1066 Country. It is worth over £520m to the local economy, and supports over 14,000 jobs in the area. We welcomed over 215,000 overseas visitors last year and overseas visitors spent over £97m in the area.

“Initiatives like this are really important, and to get 42,000 views in just a few weeks is great. I really hope that many of these virtual visitors will be so tempted by what they see online that they will pay us a real visit, so helping our economy even more.”

Performers unite for St Michael’s Hospice

Local performers are coming together at supermarkets across Hastings for a 12 hour collection, singing and performing to raise funds for the St Michael’s Hospice during the festive season.

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Last year’s 12 hour festive collections raised more than £2,500!

You can join the performers between 9am and 9pm on Thursday December 13th at Tesco Extra, St Leonards on Sea and at Tesco, Glyne Gap, Bexhill on Sea on Saturday December 22nd.

There will be two other store collections at Sainsbury’s Bexhill on Sea on Saturday December 15th and Friday December 21st, which also have some entertainment and run from 9am-5pm.

Performers taking part include Sax with a Twist, Sharon Sellens, Keren Keeler-Moore, Glashin, Mandy Charlton, The Cherry Bakewells, Tornado Twirlstars, Frost & Fire Singers, Stagecoach, Melodian Choir, Friends Unlimited and many more.

To see a full running order visit www.stmichaelshospice.com

Donations sought for Hastings Foodbank

There will be a Hastings Foodbank donation point at All Saints Church Hall, All Saints Street (Hastings Old Town) on Friday 30th November, 4-8pm.

Hastings Foodbank logo

Hastings Deputy Mayor James Bacon says: “This will be part of the Pop-Up Emporium Christmas Market and I urge everyone to attend. If you have any in-date tinned food, pasta, rice, sugar, tea bags, coffee, etc. which you would like to donate, please bring these along to donate during the evening.

More information on the great work of the Hastings Foodbank can be found on the following link: https://hastings.foodbank.org.uk

Funky Friday Assembly

Amber Rudd paid a visit to Ore Village Primary Academy (OVPA) to attend the academy’s ‘Funky Friday’ assembly. During the event, Amber joined both teachers and pupils in a community get together featuring prize giving, songs and fun. As an academic institution, OVPA’s recent Ofsted report, rated the school as ‘Good’ – the first rating of that level in the academy’s history. OVPA has over 300 pupils and was granted academy status in 2013.

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Amber is pictured with ‘gold ticket’ winning pupils at Ore Village Primary Academy.

After her visit Amber said: “I am grateful to the staff here at OVPA for inviting me to participate in OVPA’s Funky Friday assembly. May I congratulate all of OVPA’s golden ticket prize winners, as well as the staff at OVPA on their latest Ofsted rating.”

Amber added: “After witnessing first-hand the enthusiasm and drive of both the staff and pupils at the academy, I am confident that OVPA will eventually achieve the Ofsted rating that they rightly deserve”.

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