A very warm day for our walkabout today, and now lockdown restrictions have been lifted, we could do it with more people. So this time, we have (l to r) Ali Roark (Labour candidate for Tressell ward in the Hastings Borough Council elections), Cllr. Peter Chowney, councillor for Tressell ward (who isn’t up for re-election this time), and Ruby Cox (Labour candidate for Tressell and Old Hastings in the East Sussex County Council elections). We started at the top of Mount Pleasant Road, then looked at Halton Estate, St George’s Road, Emmanuel Road, St Thomas’s Road and Bembrook Road.
We started with a quick check on Halton Graveyard. This was a former Napoleonic War cemetery – the gravestones have now been moved to the edge. It was looking neat and clean, no problems. There used to be seating in here, but it was removed following requests from local people, because it attracted street drinkers. There hasn’t been a problem with street drinking in this area for a while though – perhaps it’s time to reinstate them? Maybe one, for an experimental period. There was a bit of litter opposite the convenience store on Priory Road, but before we could report it, a Hastings Council team turned up to deal with it. Another team arrived too, and set about litter on Mount Pleasant Road.
Halton Estate was, however, disappointing. The estate is entirely the responsibility of Optivo Housing Association, so Hastings Council doesn’t clean any of the areas within the estate. The trouble is, no-one else does – or at least, not to an adequate level. Much of the estate was badly littered. And again, the recycling bins were full to overflowing, with a lot of litter in that area. We have repeatedly taken up the poor maintenance of these estates with Optivo – sometimes this leads to a temporary improvement, but it never lasts. We will try again, but it may require a threat of a Community Protection Notice served on Optivo by Hastings Council to get them to do the job properly. It would be far better if the council’s own in-house street cleaning service were responsible for keeping the estate clean, but Optivo haven’t so far been prepared to consider that. There was also a problem with some of the communal bins, which aren’t being returned to the correct place, resulting in rubbish being dumped where the bins ought to be, rather than in the bins. The section of Halton Estate east of Halton Place was a lot better, with no particular problems – possibly residents are cleaning it up themselves here.
St George’s Road,
We walked down to St George’s Road then, and along there. Everything looked in good order – quite a few properties along there seem to be undergoing major refurbishment, and the road is looking a lot better than it did just a couple of years ago. We also witnessed a police raid on a property at the southern end of the road, where we understand four people were arrested for drugs-related offences. This property had been a long-standing problem, and Peter Chowney had raised it with DCI Sarah Godley, the Hastings police commander, last week. Hopefully this will sort it out.
Emmanuel Road and St Thomas’s Road
We then walked up Whitefriars Road (no particular problems there) to Emmanuel Road, and along Emmanuel Road. Ali reported several deposits of dog poo on My Hastings, to get them cleaned up. The road was otherwise pretty clean and tidy, but the road surface here is poor, with a lot of potholes. Some of these have gone right through the tarmac to the underlying original cobble surface of the old Victorian street. Most of these have been reported to East Sussex County Council before, but they don’t consider them serious enough to warrant repair. From here, we walked up the steps to St Thomas’s Road, and back to Whitefriars Road. St Thomas’s Road had little litter and looked good, although with a few more potholes and poor surfacing.
From there, we crossed Priory Road to walk a short section of Croft Road to Bembrook Road. It’s only this short section of Croft Road that’s in Tressell ward, but includes Curve Pusher, a small recording studio and one of Hastings’ recent creative businesses – they moved here from London. They have two original vinyl master disc cutter machines – as there are fewer than a hundred of these machines left in the world (last I heard, no new ones had been built, despite the vinyl revival) it’s good to have two of them in Tressell ward! On Bembrook Road, we had a look at the West Hill Community Centre. This was a thriving community centre, before lockdown. Its local committee have been maintaining the building, and I’m sure it will re-open as soon as lockdown restrictions allow. Grass here is the responsibility of Hastings Council to maintain, so we were pleased to see it had been recently cut, and was mostly free from litter. Bembrook Road, too, has suffered from potholes. Some of the potholes here have been there so long that they’re developing their own ecosystem. There have been attempts to patch it up, but it’s still a pretty bumpy road. We also investigated the Bembrook Road play area. This, and the surrounding open space, is maintained by Hastings Council. Ali had already reported that the steps down to the play area were getting rather overgrown and that there was a lot of litter by the main steps, when she brought her son here to play yesterday. This has now been passed to the council’s landscape contractor, who have said they’ll deal with it tomorrow morning. Another long-standing problem on Bembrook Road is the litter that accumulates at the bottom of hedges at the edge of the western footway. We’ll get on to that.
From there, we walked along the footpath that traces the edge of Tressell ward, back up to Bembrook Road, and along Egremont Place, back to where we started. We’ll be out again next week, weather permitting. We’ll do Priory Road, Mount Pleasant, Calvert Road, and Broomgrove Road. As we’re now allowed to meet with up to six people, get in touch if you’d like to join us, and meet your councillors and candidates. Starting time will be 10am, Tuesday 6th April.