Mugsborough Revisited

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Mugsborough Revisited

Postby Richard » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:46 pm

Is Hastings still a 'Mugsborough' after more than 100 years?
'Mugsborough' was the title given by Robert Tressell, in his writings, (The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists) to the Hastings Borough Council of his day.
Exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors were the main backdrop of his novel set in the Edwardian era.
In those days, around 1910, Tory councillors dominated Hastings Borough Council, whereas now Labour ones do.

Today we have the following issues:

1. Ecclesbourne Glen (Rocklands) planning fiasco.
2. The Pier
3. Jerwood
4. Observer Building
5. Blind support for Sea-Change (formerly Sea-Space) grants to developers to build Office Blocks
6. Brighton University fiasco.

Support for developers against the wishes of local people have resulted in many 'White Elephant' schemes today, in a similar vein as suggested by Alfred Cobb (A Mugsborough rebel in Tressell's novel) who deliberately set himself up as a public muckraker to uncover the truth behind allegations of corrupt local practice.

I have some sympathy for the efforts of the late Jeremy Birch and his former deputy, now leader, Peter Chowney, but there are still some remarkable similarities that Robert Tressell would have recognised, even though the councillors of today are not conservatives and instead would align themselves strongly with socialist causes.

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Derek Jempson
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Re: Mugsborough Revisited

Postby Derek Jempson » Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:23 am

And all the social evils of Tressell's time are still with us, but to a lesser degree. We have a large proportion of residents on benefits, some are still homeless, some are forced to rely upon food banks to survive. Employment prospects are not good, and despite universal education, there are still many that are poorly educated and unable to cope with basic English and maths. In addition, we have ever-increasing numbers of immigrants, straining the NHS, schools and social services, and worsening the employment situation.

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Re: Mugsborough Revisited

Postby moonjiver » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:13 pm

It is hard to think of any major project of the last few years, initiated or overseen by the council, which could really be called successful. One exception might be the Sussex Coast College, quite an imposing building inside and out although a little pretentious maybe for a small seaside town.

But several "issues" are listed by Richard - the Jerwood which is still resented by many and regarded as ugly and in the wrong location, the Observer building which is a largely empty shell, bare concrete walls everywhere (you don't win kudos by vague promises of what you might do later ..). And the joke of a pier,
I haven't so far heard anything good said about it. A couple of fairground attractions hardly turn it into something wonderful!

There was a mention in the Hastings Independent Press of the Grotbuster "campaign". You can walk down almost any street and see buildings in a disgraceful state, unpainted and weeds growing out of the gutters. Not only that but, in a town of homeless people, there are empty properties in every street, some empty for many years. Look carefully and you will also see countless empty floors above shops and offices. Obviously in some cases that is because there is no separate entrance enabling some residential use of the building. But in many cases that does not apply - if landlords were encouraged or made to let out those spaces, it would greatly impact the housing problems.

There has always been mismanagement by those in power - I am old and cynical enough to believe that unfortunately human nature doesn't change!

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Re: Mugsborough Revisited

Postby Richard » Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:16 pm

It's an impossible situation to get landlords to free up vacant properties to the housing market at low rents.
The Council would have to fund the improvements (to acceptable standards) and then help with the rent and the Council has no money to spare as it is, after the recent cuts.
In the unlikely event that this did happen then it would be difficult to legally prevent such landlords from cynically using a free-cash-boost to improve their properties and then letting them out on the open market for good money, well beyond the reach of the needy.
As it is I know we have numerous landlords in Hastings who are not even registered with the Council and rent out unsafe accomodation, for example, without adequate fire-safety standards.
Even if these landlords are brought to book they can just turn round and put their property on the open market and sell it off at a good profit.
There is no easy answer I fear.

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