As one of the four volunteers who run the existing centre, I have had the privilege of being included in several meetings.
These have been with both officers and councillors of Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and with the project manager appointed by Groundwork South.
This is the charity, with experience of community builds and running visitor centres on a charitable basis, that was appointed to manage the centre once up and running and which will organise and oversee the build.
The income streams generated from the sale of refreshments, gifts, tourist memorabilia, local history books and the hire of educational and possible event space (much restricted due to the external outline plan for a 250 square metre building and the walls being a minimum of 35 centimetres deep) will be used by Groundwork South for the running of the centre, not as a ‘cash cow for the council’.
I am at a loss as to know what on earth Mr Paine of Bexhill means by ‘Disneyfication’ unless it’s the prospect of encouraging more school children to visit the park for educational and welfare needs now that they will have all weather facilities.
As regards Ms Alderson’s comments, the new centre will take up a maximum of 250 square metres, as already noted, whereas the undeveloped area covers some 345 hectares (853 acres). Surely enough room for people to enjoy fresh air and so on? As regards the comment about the need for a visitor centre, the 8,711 people (mainly tourists) who were warmly greeted and given a map of the park last year would probably say otherwise.
Although the current visitors centre is perfectly fit for purpose (I should know, I’ve been a volunteer there for nearly eight years) we are looking forward to having a toilet on site and proper heating in the winter. So come on Hastings and Fairlight, enough of the moaning and negative comments – think positive and be one of the volunteers to help build your new, ecologically and environmentally friendly centre.
Think of the pride when you can say to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as you enter the visitors centre: “I helped to build this!”