• On 6th March the planning committee of Hastings Borough Council approved the application made by Sheikh Abid Gulzar, owner of Hastings pier, to erect five sheds on it. Three committee members, Cllrs Beaver, O’Callaghan and Webb, declared prejudicial or personal interests in relation to Mr Gulzar or his agent ‘Lord’ Brett McLean, and barred themselves from taking part in the hearing. The chair Cllr Alan Roberts opted not to do so, despite having apparently close acquaintance with the applicant, including being his Facebook friend. An objector, Chris Hurrell, has lodged a formal complaint requesting review by the council’s Standards Committee. Meanwhile the pier remains closed.

• At the same planning meeting the committee also approved Flamingo Park’s application to proceed with various improvements to the amusement park on the seafront, including raising the roof to accommodate an additional floor for office use and storage, the installation of a new ride in the form of a swinging pirate ship, renewal of the ghost train and, most controversially, narrowing the footpath across it. The park’s landlords, the Foreshore Trust, made no objection nor, so their chair
Sue Beaney has confirmed, have they sought any rent rise or other modification of the existing lease. 

• On 11th March the cabinet of Rother District Council confirmed awards of funding under its Community Grants Scheme, including £25,000 to Battle Local Action Planning to create a “healthy walk/cycle pathway” at Battle Recreation Ground, and another £25,000 to Westfield Parish Council as contribution to the building of a new cricket pavilion.

• The national charity Music for All is promoting a day of free music lessons to all-comers as the feature of its Learn to Play Day across the country this weekend. St Peters Church, Bexhill is the nearest participating venue. Instant tuition is being organised there this Saturday 23rd March by the Royal School of Church Music.

• On the basis of data supplied by the Food Standards Agency and released by online training company High Speed Training, the town of Hastings has the second highest rating of any town in the UK for food hygiene (topped only by Harrogate). Over 94% of food establishments here (including not only restaurants and cafes but take-aways, bed-and-breakfasts etc) were given “good” or “very good” ratings in management of food safety. High Speed were careful to admit that this does not imply any quality in food content. 

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