Just what is going on at the old bathing pool site in West St Leonards?
It’s two and a half years since Hastings Borough Council said it was on the verge of signing a deal with a developer who was all set to build houses there and it’s getting on for six months since a meeting of the full council was told by Councillor Peter Chowney that signing was imminent.
All that delay has allowed those who do not want to see housing built on the old bathing pool site – who believe its only use should be for leisure purposes, that it should be used to attract people from Hastings across to the western end of the town – to develop their campaign and recruit more people to their cause.
Yesterday campaigners handed in their petition to HBC’s offices. Disappointingly no councillor would come to meet the campaigners and symbolically accept the petition on behalf of the council. Perhaps those in power hope if they ignore the protestors they will go away – if that’s the case then they underestimate the strength of feeling.
Here campaigner Lucie Mason explains what happened when she went to deliver the petition.
The car park was almost full on arriving at Pelham Place car park at 10.45 yesterday morning (April 13th), surely an indication that people are desperate to come and enjoy much needed leisure time down at our fabulous seafront writes Lucie Mason.
With our local economy reliant on tourist trade I’m sure it was a welcome sight for the many small businesses trying to recover. However, it really does beg the question why Hastings Borough Council is ready to throw away the opportunity of maximising the potential of what could be an amazing leisure and recreation area at the other end of town – on the site of the old bathing pool..
I personally feel more passionate post Covid that to waste the potential of this site on housing in light of the objections would be a despicable abuse of power. With the growing numbers joining the SOBS group it seems I am not alone.
Covid has meant we have been unable to drive this campaign as strongly as we may have liked but now lockdown is easing I hope to see a renewed energy going forward.
I hope the council recognise that the huge response from residents asking them to carry out meaningful consultation prior to any contracts being signed can no longer be ignored.
There were 268 signatories on the HBC website – the usual response to petitions on this site are less than 50! There are 520 signatures on the paper petitions that were carried out on the site itself and were located in local shops and the Change.Org petition continues to grow but currently stands at 2,490 signatures.
HBC needs to show that they understand their role as elected representatives and start listening to the communities they serve.
They are custodians of this site and the unique potential this area has to offer. Luckily, previous custodians were not short sighted and managed to retain the many wonderful green spaces, parks and leisure destinations we have to offer locally that now makes this area so desirable for visitors and residents.
Lets hope HBC can follow in their footsteps and leave this space for future generations to enjoy.
Why no councillor turned up to accept the petition…
Lucie was told: “We are currently in the pre-election period we are unable to facilitate a meeting with a councillor on council property.”
She replied explaining: “We do not want a meeting, we just feel a document expressing the wishes of more than 3,000 people should be received by a senior member of the council rather than the receptionist. It would go a long way to demonstrate the desire of the council to listen to the residents it is there to represent.”
The council responded: “Due to the pre-election period it is not appropriate for a councillor to be present to receive the petition. In normal circumstances it would usually be the Chief Legal Officer or the Mayor who would receive a petition. However due to Covid-19 restrictions and the continued instruction from the government that staff should work from home, we only have minimal essential staff in the office.
“The petition will be received and receipted by our Contact Centre staff and then passed onto our Democratic Services to process. The Democratic Services team will then contact you to advise you of the process.”
Councillor Andy Batsford said he had spoken to Lucie to check the petition was “constitutionally friendly” and would meet the council’s criteria for holding a debate on the issue. He says he very much wants the matter to be debated by the council but for that to happen the petition needs to meet the criteria laid down by HBC for a debate to take place.
Watch videos from the protests staged on the old bathing pool site…
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