Notes from Open Meeting, Friday 19th October 2018
Venue: Lecture Theatre, Havelock Road Building, Hastings campus of the University of Brighton.
Meeting chaired by Dr. Chris Joyce (Vice Chair, H & St. L Society)
1. Welcome and Apologies
Chris welcomed everybody to the meeting, with special thanks for attendance to Amber Rudd (MP for Hastings & Rye) and John Moore-Bick (High Sheriff East Sussex).
Groups/organisations represented at the meeting: Burtons’ St. Leonards Society; Save Our Heritage Group; Museums Association; Friends of Hastings Country Park; Hastings Voluntary Action; Hastings Independent Press; Business Improvement District; Energise Sussex Coast; Hastings Local History Group; Green Party.
Apologies for absence noted from: Dr. Deborah Madden (Chair, H & St. L Society), Abi Callaghan (H & St. L Society committee); Chris Lewcock (Hastings Urban Design Group), Kevin Boorman and Barbara Browning (HBC), Dick Edwards (Hastings Old Town Residents Assoc.)
Total attendance: 27
- Membership, leaflet and booklet
Steven (secretary) gave details of H & St. L Society membership. New members are now being taken for the Society Year 2019. Subscriptions received as from 1 October do not become due for renewal until 1 January 2019, so up to 3 months free membership on offer. Details of membership and forms for completing are available on the Society’s website.
The Society has produced a Town Centre Walk leaflet, issued free. Also a booklet, ‘A Bellow of Criers’, about the Town Crier Tradition in Hastings is currently on sale. Proceeds from sales of the booklet are donated as prize money for the National Town Criers Championship, held in Hastings annually. It costs £4 and is available from the Tourist Information Centre and Hastings Museum.
- Campaign to bring the Bayeux Tapestry to Hastings (Cllr. Margi O’Callaghan).
It was announced early this year that the authorities in Normandy are allowing the Bayeux Tapestry to be displayed, on loan and therefore temporarily, in a suitable and appropriate place in England in the near future. Cllr. O’Callaghan is looking for support from the community to have the Tapestry brought to Hastings. To bring this about, a suitable building needs to be found, in which the Tapestry will be secure and meet all conservation requirements. No decision about where this may be has yet been made. Amber Rudd confirmed at this meeting that she has been involved in discussions with Normandy about the prospect of the Tapestry being loaned to Hastings, if all requirements can be met. Ms Rudd further mentioned that the MP for Battle is also interested in having the Tapestry displayed in that town. Cllr. O’Callaghan asked for volunteers to take the campaign to bring the Tapestry to Hastings forward, and there was significant support for this.
- Proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site Status application (Julia Hilton)
Julia gave a presentation on the process for applying for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and this was followed by a general discussion. To be considered for World Heritage Site status, justification of outstanding heritage value is foremost. The application process involves a great deal of work and expense, but UNESCO status would benefit tourism, provide employment opportunities and provide a positive way of protecting the heritage and natural environment in the town (via the National Planning Policy Framework).
Hastings Borough Council has indicated that support for a UNESCO application would be given, but it will be necessary for most of the work to be done by volunteers and most of the funding for the application to come from outside grants. However, it has been seen that national funding organisations are willing to support work on UNESCO applications. In the long-term, a successful application should open up further funding opportunities to maintain, promote and improve the World Heritage Site.
Julia stressed that the process for the application would be very time consuming and would require a team of volunteers drawn from the community, especially persons with funding application experience, research skills and knowledge of local heritage. The example of Chatham Dockyards’ UNESCO application, which has stalled at the UK ‘tentative list’ stage since 2012, was given. Despite the amount of work and expense involved and that the bid may ultimately be unsuccessful, Chatham’s team remain positive about the UNESCO application process, for it positively engages the community and emphasises the value of local heritage.
To progress the proposed UNESCO application, it will be necessary to determine a heritage point of focus for an area of Hastings or St. Leonards. To discuss this a ‘scoping group’ is to be set up, with the support of Hastings Voluntary Action. A show of hands at the meeting confirmed that the majority of persons present supported progressing the proposal, and some prospective volunteers came forward. Most especially, it was agreed at this meeting that something needs to be done to protect the very significant historic environment of Hastings and St. Leonards, and to promote that extensive heritage around the world.
Julia Hilton’s presentation is available here. Persons wishing to get involved with the scoping group can contact Julia through the H & St. L Society by using the e-mailing facility on the website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional note: The Hastings & St. Leonards Society is the ‘umbrella’ organisation (civic society) for groups and societies in the Borough concerned with heritage and civic matters. The Society is not the lead for the UNESCO World Heritage Site Status proposal.
Steven Whitford (secretary, H & St. L Society)