Hastings & St Leonards One Town – One Voice
Hastings Observer column – September 2021
‘Love Hastings’ is a great – but currently flawed – brand.
We all love Hastings, there’s no doubt about that.
But right now, ‘Love Hastings’ (the company behind the ‘business improvement district’) only represents just over a third of the businesses that make Hastings such a great place.
Five years ago, a line was drawn around the town centre and over 75% of businesses voted to pay into a pot of money that would help make the area cleaner, safer, and more attractive to shoppers, tourists and new businesses.
We’ve done loads since then but hands up – things are still far from perfect.
Anti-social and violent behaviour, shoplifting, and graffiti are all blights on the town that we want to do more to see reduced.
And when we ‘sell’ Hastings to the rest of the world we need to be able to shout about everything we have to offer – not just focusing on small areas in isolation.
So, with our first five-year term reaching an end, it’s time to take a decision as we consider a new ballot in March 2022.
Do we play it safe and just count on continued support from those businesses in the town centre who want to keep investing in the basic things that everyone expects – Christmas lights, flower baskets, and cash support for big local events…as well as the crime reduction measures funded through support of the ShopWatch and BarWatch schemes.
…or do we go for broke and invite the Old Town and St Leonards to join us and come together to make a real difference?
It’s a risk because we know that many of these businesses are fiercely independent and may not welcome our offer of help…especially because a ‘yes’ vote does mean putting your hand in your pocket and pushing a few pounds towards a common goal.
And what happens if we do get a majority vote?
Well, it’s not easy, and there’s no magic wand – even another five years may not be enough.
But let’s look at some specific things that we can do to move things in the right direction.
First off – and maybe most importantly – this would create one single body with a mandate to speak on behalf of all businesses across Hastings’ main retail areas.
And right now, Hastings has no tourism association – we are subsumed within the ‘1066 country’ brand’.
It’s time that Hastings shouted out more about its own unique history and its current offer.
We are the birthplace of television. We are a town oozing with musical talent, great little venues, fantastic cafes and bars, and a place that attracts artists and people with dreams.
Let’s stop being a borough with three distinct spaces and become one town that has three complimentary but different flavours.
One Hastings – three voices.
Love Hastings plans to hold weekly drop-in sessions throughout October to consult on this idea – email; email@example.com if you would like an invitation.