Delegates from all over Europe descended on Hastings recently to discuss ideas for sustainable, low-carbon public transport systems that can help boost the tourist trade,
Delegates from Greece, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Latvia, Hungary, Cyprus and the UK countries met in the council chamber in Hastings with the subject of low-carbon transport systems for visitors at tourist destinations dominating the agenda.
Each country made a presentation outlining their specific problems and potential solutions. Hastings was represented by groups including the local disability forum and sustainable transport forum. Other speakers included Patrick Severn Lamb, the managing director of UK-based Severn Lamb, the company that makes bespoke people movers for destinations around the world.
Delegates also went on a study tour of Hastings Old Town, including both the West Hill and East Hill lifts, and the seafront, looking at the potential route of a new sustainable public transport service between the Old Town and West St Leonards.
Councillor Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council, opened the conference, he explained later: “Hastings has benefitted considerably from European funding over the years, and continues to do so.
“We are using our participation in this programme to explore options for low carbon and sustainable transport along the seafront, so as to more effectively link The Stade in the Old Town and West St Leonards. This will include a feasibility study, and the development of a business case.
“Currently this journey is impossible by bus without changing vehicles en route, which is a real barrier to visitors wanting to explore the whole seafront. This project will enable us to consider pilot schemes which if successful could be used elsewhere. And not only will we share our experience with our European partners, we also hope to learn from them too.
“Sustainable public transport is a subject close to my heart, and it was great to see so many delegates from across Europe here in Hastings discussing the subject.
“It was the first visit to the town for most of them, and they seemed to be very impressed with it. They particularly enjoyed their tour of the Old Town, several saying they would like to return in the future.”
The delegates were part of the ‘DESTI-SMART’ programme (Delivering Efficient Sustainable Tourism with low-carbon transport Innovations: Sustainable Mobility, Accessibility and Responsible Travel) it is an ‘Interreg Europe’ project led by Thessaloniki in Greece.