Let’s grasp the nettle, Peter

I am sure that all progressives in Hastings would have been pleased to read in your paper the first column from Peter Chowney, the new Leader of the Council.

He is an approachable, thoughtful and in my experience of him, significantly less tribal politician than some of his colleagues.

I believe he means it when he says that he will work with others who have a ‘similarly positive outlook’.

It was interesting to read about his programme of reform at the Town Hall (there will be more to say about this), and also to note his reference to the European Union (and the funding opportunities it might provide in the future).

These are straitened times, and we are now seeing what an unfettered Conservative Government looks like...

I submitted a Freedom of Information question to the Council at the end of June to find out just what level of funding had been derived from the EU over the past ten years.

Surprisingly, for a town with significant regeneration challenges, only (just over) £6m.

From my work alongside South East MEP Catherine Bearder, I know that there are more opportunities out there for a Council that seeks to co-operate more closely with Europe.

To that end, I wonder if now is the time (ahead of the Referendum likely next year, or at the latest the year after) for all those of us living in Hastings, St Leonard’s and our Rother regions, who are proud Europeans, to put party allegiance aside and come together in a ‘Hastings for Europe’ campaign?

The Liberal Democrats along with other parties want to see 16 and 17 year olds able to have a vote in the Euro Referendum, just as young people were empowered to vote in the Scottish referendum on independence.

Businesses across the constituency know just how important European markets are to the regeneration of the town.

And now we have a Council declared in its openness to the benefits of Europe.

Let’s grasp the nettle. Cllr Chowney, I hope we can work together?

Nick Perry

Hastings & Rye Liberal Democrats

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