‘It’s a start’ but town needs more than £25m on offer says Chowney

Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet is expected to give the go ahead for developing a ‘town deal’ bid at its meeting tonight.

Hastings is one of only 101 towns across the country eligible to bid for up to £25m from the Town Fund, launched by the government in November 2019.

Council leader Peter Chowney says: “The Town Deal offer is welcome, and gives us an opportunity to bring together a wide range of interests across the borough to look at what projects could be funded to address our local priorities. 

“This first phase provides £173,000 funding to put together a detailed proposal for what we would spend the £25m on. First, we have to establish a ‘Town Board’ that will represent different interests across the borough, including education, health, local authorities, businesses and the community sector.  

“This has to be done during January, so we will need to depend on those who have already been involved in local consultative structures. It doesn’t give us enough time to recruit board members from the wider community.  However, we will also be looking to set up a community engagement framework to assemble the final proposal by the end of next summer. This proposal will then be negotiated with government, with funding provided early in 2021.

“We will be looking to create a proposal that addresses some of the problems we have in Hastings – for example, a lack of affordable housing, low skills and educational achievement, and poor local transport infrastructure. We will also be expecting funded projects to help achieve our goal of making Hastings carbon neutral by 2030.”

But Mr Chowney says that £25m will ‘not go very far’ in achieving the council’s goals: “We need far bigger investment in Hastings to deal with the very serious problems we have. 

“It’s a start, but we will be expecting the government to come up with far more ambitious plans for deprived coastal towns such as Hastings in the future.”

You can find out more at www.hastings.gov.uk/regeneration/towndeal

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