A report was recently published by The Commission into Prosperity and Community Placemaking which made detailed recommendations to the government how to improve what they described as ‘places left behind’.
The report goes into great detail and highlights many of the problems that communities such as ours face. The report, in which Hastings features heavily, puts forward many interesting recommendations and makes many thought-provoking observations.
It is a large report on which I can’t comment in detail here, but I found it interesting that a lack of proper community engagement and effective communication between authorities and local communities was frequently cited as fundamental flaws in long term regeneration.
We must fix this and make sure that communities have a much bigger say in long term plans for the borough and we must make it easier for residents to put forward their own creative ideas.
Money and investment are always an issue of course. However, the wrong sort of funding was identified as problematic too. Often regeneration schemes were seen to have too much emphasis on short term funding and on capital investment, while overlooking the importance of social infrastructure.
Other big issues highlighted were access to jobs and healthcare. There is definitely a case to be made, when the government talks about ‘levelling up’, special concessions should be given to businesses operating in our borough. Perhaps central government should offer lower or no business rates at all or create a special enterprise zone to give businesses incentives to take on apprentices or to give ‘on the job’ training.
Regarding healthcare, Professor Chris Whitty, the UK government's Chief Medical Adviser, was interviewed on BBC Southeast this week. He suggested that in coastal towns, where there were limited educational and employment opportunities, one solution would be to create medical training colleges and in towns such as ours encourage local students to pursue careers in medicine, nursing and the care sector. What a great idea!
I always feel fortunate that we have such an amazing facility like the Conquest Hospital on our doorstep because easy access to local healthcare is vital if we are to improve the life expectancy of residents.
However, there is an emerging story at the moment whereby a vital local service is being threatened. The NHS Trust is soon to make a decision to amalgamate the Cardiac Units at the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne General into one unit, in one location - either Eastbourne OR Hastings.
Whilst Eastbourne and Hastings Cardiac units are both roughly the same size, sadly the high levels of deprivation in Hastings means emergencies are bound to be more common within our town.
With all the reports being written underlining problems in Hastings how can the Trust move this vital service away from the Conquest?