The community that makes up West St Leonards has been brought together in its opposition to council plans for the old bathing pool site and now there are plans to take things a step further a develop a Neighbourhood Plan for the whole area, Bryan Fisher explains what’s going on.
The community in West St. Leonards has been urged to respond positively to the opportunity of having its very own Neighbourhood Plan.
Such a plan enables a local community to engage meaningfully with its local authority and a major benefit is that the community has the right, via a referendum, to approve the Neighbourhood Plan. The concept of Neighbourhood Plans was created during David Cameron’s time in government and is enshrined within law.
The newly-formed West St Leonards forum has distributed a questionnaire to all properties within the perceived boundaries. This is in order to measure the support for a possible Neighbourhood Plan.
The aim of the questionnaire is to be part of a listening exercise, allowing the community to identify its major concerns to a single entity – West St Leonards forum. It is then hoped the forum will become the link between the community and Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and develop a Neighbourhood Plan for the West St Leonards area.
There are no other neighbourhood plans within the HBC area at the moment.
Three meetings are being held to allow the West St Leonards community to show its support, act as a platform for their views and provide more details.
The schedule for these meetings is:
Wednesday 29 January – 4-6pm at the Comet public house, Harley Shute Road
Thursday 30 January – 7-9pm at the Marina Fountain public house, 26 Caves Road
Friday 1 February – 11am-1pm at the Discovery Centre, Freshfields Road
Virginia Vilela, speaking on behalf of the West St Leonards organisation has emphasised the need for local communities to take back ownership of their areas, citing the success of community involvement in Preston: “Despite the huge national swing away from Labour in the recent General Election this did not occur in Preston. This is largely attributed to the strong bond of trust and cooperation that exists between Preston’s local communities and its local authority.
“The West St Leonards forum seeks a similar mind-set change where local initiatives and local needs are embraced by HBC.
“For example, housing needs in our area would be agreed by consultation and enshrined within a Neighbourhood Plan and then approval for the Neighbourhood Plan would be sought from the community in a local referendum. This is democracy at a macro-level.”
To submit your own views via the online questionnaire and contact the forum: https://www.weststleonards.org.uk/
To reference the excellent Guardian article mentioned by Virginia Wright above: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/13/preston-labour-woes-localism-brexit
To obtain a good explanation of what a Neighbourhood Plan entails and its benefits: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/neighbourhood-planning–2
To contact the West Marina organisation, for more details or to get further involved: https://westmarina.org/
Watch what happened when the West St Leonards community came together to protest about HBC plans for the old bathing pool site