Rude, lewd and intimidating – the reason town centre benches had to go

The controversial removal of benches from Hastings town centre last month was a considered and deliberate action by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) to reclaim an area of the town that had become ‘rude, lewd and intimidating’.

That’s what Councillor Paul Barnett told fellow councillors last night when HBC met as a full council for the first time since February.

Mr Barnett who is the council’s lead member for Urban Environment and Community Safety said that just after lockdown ended he led a group on a walkabout in the town, while doing so he said an ‘altercation’ broke out among a large group outside Millets.

The people involved, he said, had alcohol and drug issues, he said they had colonised that area of town, he described their behaviour as ‘rude, lewd and intimidating’.

“It was unacceptable and local businesses said so,” Mr Barnett told fellow councillors.

He explained that he started a review of the situation involving police, Hastings town centre management and the county council as well as involving local business. The upshot was that a decision was made to ‘reclaim’ York Gardens for the public. That meant removing the benches where those causing a disturbance would congregate.

“Residents can now walk there uninterrupted and there is a changed atmosphere in that part of town,” Mr Barnett explained.

With increased police presence and increased attention to that part of the town centre by council wardens Mr Barnett says he hopes it will be possible at some stage in the future to replace the benches that were removed.

Do you think removing the benches was the right decision? Tell us in our comment section below.

12 thoughts on “Rude, lewd and intimidating – the reason town centre benches had to go

  1. An awful decision with no consideration given for the elderly and disabled that need to rest when shopping in the town. My wife and I now shop elsewhere in a town where we feel more welcome.

    1. I so agree with this I had a bad time do sing somewhere to sit and rest whilst down town as I cannot walk very far, as x police I find the lack of PCSOs in the town center seriously to deal with the street
      drinkers

  2. And now they have moved in on Bus stop Q. So that those of an age that have need to sit down can not. Also with the rule of six there is a fair chance of being moved on. By over zealous officials. Put the seats back where they were, the police and whoever had more control over that area.

  3. If the Police got out of their cars occasionally to talk to people they would be so much more effective. They simply drive by.

  4. So everyone else suffers. These issues should be dealt with by the Police, not by punishing people who just fancy sitting down whilst out shopping. Don’t paper over the cracks, deal with the issue

  5. CONFRONT THE ISSUE – STOP WALKING AWAY FROM IT — WEAK SILLY PEOPLE RUNNING A WEAK COUNCL — BE POLITICIANS- THE PEOPLE OF HASTINGS HAVE NO RESPECT FOR YOU — NO WHAT PARTY YOU ARE A PART OF — YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED ! MY FATHER WAS PRESIDENT OF THE P.T.U.I MET MANY POLITICIANS IN THE SIXTYS THEY WOULD BE ASHAMED — SO SHOULD YOU BE !!

  6. It has just pushed them into the bus stop on Harold Place what needs to happen is the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center needs to be moved out of the town center

  7. The organisation that supports people with addiction issues is in the town centre. So it would be the obvious place for socialisation Move the organisation to outside the town centre that would ease the issue.
    Removing benches means that no one can sit down. Regardless of health and age. I feel that removing benches is a pathetic attempt to solve a long running issue.
    I feel that certain members of HBC are putting the blame on the most vulnerable members of our society instead of offering much needed support. A very low blow !!

  8. In years of moving through the town centre, I’ve been preached at, panhandled, threatened, proselytised, canvassed, entertained, propositioned, and a few other things. The street drinkers never bothered me though. As soon as the benches were removed, the adjacent café had a new pavement area to move into, and did.

    It’s news to me that the street drinkers ‘had colonised that area of town’. Many others used those seats too, including me. Maybe I was lucky but there are legal measures to deal with disorder.

    (Would ‘council wardens’ – or the police – care either to enforce the cycling rules there or just remove the signs? Their uselessness gives the council a bad name.)

  9. The removal of these benches was a cheap get out to resolve a problem without having to put any effort into it.
    If you want to cure the problem surely it is down to good robust policing. But I guess that sounds a bit dumb these days.
    It worked where I used t o work where I lived for many years in a Southern city with a significant historic area with many squares and benches in everyone. One square was used to film Forest Gump. There any drinkers or street people were moved on rapidly by proactive policing. Problem solved.
    I would not be surprised it was the local plods who told HBC to remove them to stop us having to bother with the problem

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