Erica Smith

I joined the Labour Party on 6th May 2017 as a result of listening to too much right-wing reportage on Radio 4, plus David Francis pointing out in a Facebook post that we had the unique opportunity of making the Home Secretary unemployed.

St Helens – Antonia Berelson hopes to join Andy Batsford to make a dynamic Labour duo

I wouldn’t sign up for the earlier £3 supporting member deal. My thinking is that if you join a political party, you should commit. I go to enough meetings already to erase any desire to attend local branch meetings, constituency Labour Party meetings and executive committee meetings. But there you go, thanks to Dave The Anarchist, the last 11 months have been taken up with the Labour Party. Thanks a bunch, Dave.

Surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed it. Like any family, there are differences of opinion, but I’m delighted to see that recent public meetings about topical issues like anti-semitism within the Labour Party and the Gender Reassignment Act are getting people to listen to each other rather than just abusing each other on Facebook. These issues are definitely important, but the most important thing about being a member of a political party is to unite for the purpose of democratically electing representatives who share your views and will work to make your party’s policies become reality.

Currently, Hastings Borough Council is made up of 23 Labour party councillors, 8 Conservatives and 1 independent. That’s nearly 75% Labour. Under Peter Chowney’s leadership, the Council has worked hard to counter the swingeing cuts from the Conservative government. Whilst canvassing, the biggest complaint people have made to me is about the closure of the town centre toilets. Yet the closure is a direct result of the Tory Party’s Austerity policy. HBC’s decision to close the toilets was supported by all the councillors, including the Conservatives, and was made very reluctantly. It was a choice between town centre toilets or keeping Council staff employed.

I spoke to Paul Barnett who is standing in Hollington ward, alongside Maya Evans. He said “The issues that are coming up on doorsteps are overwhelmingly local, not national or international ones. Local residents are having to deal with the impact of the austerity measures – it’s about the basic building blocks of their lives. They are very aware of the cut-backs which mean, for instance, that there is no longer a visible police presence on the streets.”

Potholes in Hollington – Maya Evans and Paul Barnett get to grips with the corroding Tory infrastructure

I asked him why we should vote for a Labour controlled local Council in the face of a Conservative controlled county council and government. He replied “because Hastings Borough Council is being creative and entrepreneurial about generating income. Unlike most other Councils in the country, there have been no cuts to services in this year’s budget – which is because the Labour-led council has developed other ways of generating income.”

Today I racked up my 10,000 steps leafletting the streets of Bulverhythe for West St Leonards’ candidates Anne Rouse and Julia Price. These two new candidates promise to be an excellent team for the ward. Currently Mike Howard holds one of the two seats as a Labour Councillor, and a Conservative holds the other. Other wards to watch are St Helens where first time candidate Antonia Berelson hopes to oust a Tory and join Andy Batsford to make a Labour duo, Castle where Leah Levane hopes to replace the current Independent to join Judy Rogers as a Labour team and Ore where Heather Bishop and Andy Battley plan to take over from the two existing Labour councillors.

Wherever you live, if you want to fight Austerity and take control away from this Government, vote Labour.


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