Press release

A motion from the new Hastings Independents Group submitted to Hastings Council for last night’s Full Council meeting was not debated for two reasons:

Firstly, it wasn’t allowed onto the published agenda by officers in consultation with the Mayor who ruled it not relevant to Hastings residents.
Secondly, public who attended to ask about this were not listened to. Instead, both Labour and Conservative groups walked out, and after Police were called, the Mayor abandoned the meeting.

Our motion called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, and for the council to support the ongoing work by Hastings Mosque to build bridges between residents of Hastings and tackle the rise in Islamophobia which is impacting on the lives of Muslims in Hastings.

Given that this motion comes after conversations with the Mosque, and reflects the views about a ceasefire of the majority of residents, this is a totally unacceptable position that denies the performance of local democracy.

Councils throughout the UK have recently discussed Gaza, and most of these have then agreed calls for a ceasefire. Hastings Independents believe that Hastings Council should also be allowed to hold this debate and will call for an amendment to the council’s constitution to ensure that motions cannot be blocked in this way in future.

Leader of Hastings Independents, Cllr. Paul Barnett, said:
‘Before becoming a councillor, I worked in local government since 1985, and have never seen a meeting abandoned like this before. The lifeblood of local democracy is engaging residents who we are there to represent. When I became council leader, I introduced open public questions at Cabinet meetings and believe that if the public care enough to attend council meetings they should be listened to. What happened last night is unacceptable and Hastings Independents will campaign for changes to ensure that Hastings Council doesn’t behave like this again’?

What follows is the Motion submitted in time for this Full council meeting.

MOTION for the Full Council meeting on March 20th


The events of October 7th, and the subsequent horrific and ongoing attack on Gaza, have had a profound impact internationally, nationally and here in Hastings.

This war has not only destroyed Gaza, killing more than 30,000 residents, but led to further bombing of Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. No agreement has been reached at the UN to enable a ceasefire, nor
has a meaningful flow of aid been allowed by Israel. Global tension has been dramatically raised as a result.

The UK has been split politically about how to stop the war. But public opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of an immediate ceasefire. 76% of UK residents now support this.

Hastings has seen a series of well-attended protests about the war, organised by community groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and by the Hastings Mosque. In January, a motion calling for Hastings to twin with Al Mawasi (a small coastal fishing community in Gaza) wasn’t allowed to be
debated because officers decided it wasn’t relevant local business.

Now this week, a threat of violence has been received by Hastings Mosque, threatening to target their Sunday School, attended every week by 150 children. As a result, 100 residents attended the Mosque on Sunday March 3 to show support for the Muslim community. Following discussions with
the Mosque, we now ask that Hastings Borough Council:

  1. Supports the significant Muslim community of Hastings by calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza;
  2. Expresses deep sympathy for all those affected by the conflict in Palestine and Israel. We offer our support in this difficult time to everyone in the Hastings area who has been affected, including the Jewish and Muslim communities.
  3. Repudiates all forms of hate speech, specifically including expressions of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
  4. Condemns any antisemitic and Islamophobic violence and abuse in the UK.
  5. Calls for the unrestricted flow of aid into Gaza.
  6. Acknowledges the importance of the sustained education development being done by Hastings PSC, Hastings and Rother Refugee Buddy Project and Hastings Mosque between the children of Hastings and Al Mawasi in Gaza;
  7. Welcomes the commitment of Hastings Mosque to widen their conversations with residents of Hastings to include talks and discussions about the history and meaning of Islam, event planning (such as street parties and debates;) to embrace all local communities; to foster dialogue with other religions including the local Jewish community; and to undertake long-term planning for further education links between young people in Hastings and Gaza.

Proposed by Hastings Independents.

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