Hastings to get share of new £56m Government fund

Hastings is one of a number of coastal towns that will be eligible for funding from the Government to help them reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased.

File: Hastings town centre/Queens Road SUS-210318-120406001
File: Hastings town centre/Queens Road SUS-210318-120406001

A £56m fund has been announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick designed to help high streets and councils across the country welcome visitors back.

Hastings is one of 70 local authority areas which will be eligible for funding.

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The Government said the funding will help councils prepare for the safe return of shoppers and tourists, including employing extra staff to keep festivals and events Covid secure.

Pubs, restaurants and listed buildings will also be given more flexibility to use their land to help more people meet up, including erecting marquees in pub gardens for the whole summer.

Hastings is to get just over £82,000 from the fund, according to Hastings and Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart, plus £65,000 from the extra coastal communities fund.

Cllr Colin Fitzgerald, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “Tourism is vital to Hastings’ economy, generating an estimated £385m in 2019, the last ‘normal’ year.

“It also supported more than 7,000 jobs then, and nearly all of these will have been affected by the Covid pandemic.

“We will therefore look carefully at this fund in detail, and prepare a bid which maximises our benefit, and helps support the many local people employed in tourism and hospitality here in Hastings.”

Mrs Hart said: “I am thrilled that the Government has announced a £56m Welcome Back Fund last weekend to help local authorities prepare high streets and seaside resorts to welcome visitors back this summer.

“This will be of huge benefit to Hastings and Rye as we are so reliant in our part of the South East on tourism.

“I am also particularly pleased to see that Hastings is one of 70 local authorities who are part of the High Streets Taskforce which will see our town receive expert advice on how to improve and enhance the town centre to future proof it for years to come.

“Welcoming back visitors to our area is going to vital if we are going to make a success of turbo-charging our local economy and supporting businesses that have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This new fund will go some way to make sure we can encourage and welcome visitors back to our area.”

Mr Jenrick said: “As we move to the next stage on the roadmap out of lockdown we are all looking forward to being reunited with friends and family outdoors and making a safe and happy return to our favourite shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

“Our Welcome Back Fund gives every city, town and high street support to prepare for a great summer. This funding will help councils and businesses to welcome shoppers, diners and tourists back safely.

“As soon as the roadmap allows, we need to get behind our local businesses and enjoy all that this country has to offer and that we’ve been missing so much.

“I’m allowing every pub in the country to erect a marquee in their garden for the whole summer as a one-off power to support our locals.”

* Got a story? Ring reporters Richard Gladstone on 07803 505794 or Stephen Wynn-Davies on 07393 754494.

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