It’s three years since the then leader of Hastings Borough Council Jeremy Birch died suddenly after suffering a stroke and at the beginning of the month a memorial to him was unveiled in the Peace Garden in Alexandra Park.
Mr Birch had been a member of the council since 1998 and led it for 13 years, over two separate periods and at the time of his death was described as, “a tireless fighter for what was right and good”.
At the beginning of the month current council leader Peter Chowney was among a group who gathered to honour the memory of Mr Birch and to dedicate a tree and a plaque in his memory.
Mr Chowney said: “I was honoured to be able to speak at a small ceremony at the Peace Garden in Alexandra Park, to ‘open’ the plaque dedicated to Jeremy Birch. The plaque is fixed beside the three Red Birch trees we planted a while ago, to remember him – they’re growing well and strong.
“Jeremy built up the Labour vote in Hastings over many years. He took us from a council that had never been controlled by Labour to one where we have 24 out of 32 seats. And his policies live on, helping us to maintain that high point.
“The ‘Grotbuster’ programme that has led to the improvement of getting on for 1,000 poorly maintained properties, for example – even the name was his idea! And the cultural regeneration programme, he led the creation of the cultural regeneration strategy when we were in opposition, and pushed it forward when we regained our majority eight years ago. Now, Hastings is recognised as a cultural and creative centre both nationally and internationally – we’ve come a long way. And of course, there was the compulsory purchase of Hastings pier, which was achieved under his leadership.
“I hope people will take a couple of minutes to remember Jeremy and what he did for our borough. We miss him, but his legacy lives on.”