OPINION: Setting our focus – why we want to hear from you

Last night the 32 men and women who make up Hastings Borough Council met for the first time since they were elected just two weeks ago and we would like to wish them all the best for all they will be doing on the behalf of Hastings’ 96,000 residents in the coming years.

It’s oh so easy to sit in judgement and to criticise, it’s far less easy to put yourself in the firing line and take the flak that comes with public office and for doing that they deserve our utmost respect.

At Hastings In Focus we take the work of Hastings Borough Council very seriously. Our ever growing band of regular readers will have noticed that we gave over time and space to coverage of the elections to the council and that was for one simple reason. What Hastings Borough Council does has a direct effect on our daily lives; from whether our bins get emptied on time to whether we have great open spaces like Alexandra Park to enjoy and relax in is all down to the decisions that are made by those 32 men and women sitting round the table in Muriel Matter House.

That’s why we published the full manifestos of the Labour Party and the Conservative party; it’s why we carried interviews with the Greens and Liberal Democrats because we believe it was – and still is – important that you, the people of Hastings, hear what those contending for political office have to say, in their own words.

Thirty years ago local newspapers sent reporters to every council and council committee meeting, it was part of the job for a reporter and it was an essential part of the function of a local newspaper to report on the activities of its local council. Doing so kept people up to date and aware of what their council was doing in their name and with their money.

More than that local newspapers were able to explain what the local council was doing and more importantly why! That helps local people understand the role of their council and councillors and to appreciate what is possible and what is not.

These days local reporters are rarely seen in the council chamber relying instead on handouts and press releases that peddle a particular line rather than reporting on a debate and reflecting the range and breadth of opinions that were put forward before members reached a final decision.

For example, until recently we did not fully comprehend the scale of the financial cuts that Hastings Borough Council has faced in recent years as grants from central government have been scaled back and the reason we did not understand is because it has not be adequately reported.

Yes Hastings In Focus is a modern online-only publication but we want to employ some old fashioned journalistic skills and values.

We only launched in February and we’re still finding our feet but we want to grow with this new council and for you we will report on what it’s doing.

  • We will report the news in a balanced and impartial way
  • We will not take sides
  • We have no political allegiance
  • We want what is best for Hastings
  • We want to be a platform for a wide range of views and opinions
  • We want to do the job that your local newspaper is now unable or unwilling to do
  • We have no ‘ego,’ no vested interests and no agenda of our own
  • We want to hear from you….

email tellmeyourstory@hastingsinfocus.co.uk

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