Full letter to all local LP members from our chair, Paul Barnett

We did publish a shorter version of this last week on the expectation that all members would be receiving a complete letter via their branch secretaries in the usual weekly mailings. The email address lists are those forwarded by the national Labour Party. We are advised that some members have not received this mailing. Accordingly we post in full.

Paul’s email is hastingsandryelabourchair@mail.com

To all members of Hastings and Rye Labour Party

Dear Member,

It is now 6 months since I was elected Chair of the Hastings and Rye Labour Party, along with Sarah Owen (vice chair) and Jonathan Lee (secretary). Dee Daly continues as treasurer, and the four of us meet regularly to discuss the best ways of navigating through the political oceans!

So much has happened in this short time, both nationally and locally. In May we had our best ever local election results, with terrific wins for Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council candidates.Then came the depressing set back of the Referendum result, where our electorate voted 5/4 to leave.

But ever since last years leadership election our membership has been growing remarkably. We had under 500 members this time last year: today we have well over 2000 members and registered supporters. This is great for local democracy, and reflects the way society is generally talking politics now. But this also presents logistical challenges, and I know we have to improve how we communicate with you all. I want our Labour party to feel like your party, where you can meet like-minded members to debate politics, shape local and national policy and socialise. We are planning changes to make this more possible!

It has been frustrating to have to cancel Branch meetings while the leadership election takes place this summer, but we have been using the time to plan for the East Sussex County Council elections coming up next May, and complete a funding application to the national party for a paid organiser. We have agreed a new role, Equalities Officer, which will be advertised to you all soon, and are sending two delegates to the party conference in Liverpool next month.

We have been trying things out, with Sarah Owen leading two well attended national policy evenings (on defence, and mental health), socials in pubs, political debates in branch meetings, and a re-organised Campaign Committee with all 5 Branch Chairs included.

We are improving our website, with a wide range of news stories, and better information about which branch you are in, and when all the meetings take place. We have been moving our General Committee meetings around the constituency, with recent packed meetings in Rye and Hollington. We held our first leadership nomination meeting, where a large majority voted to support Jeremy Corbyn in the current election. The next General Committee ( you are all welcome to attend on September 27 at White Rock Theatre) will debate a proposal from Central Branch to set up a Hastings Anti-Poverty Commission to tackle deprivation in our poorest areas by giving residents a louder and more effective voice

I hope long standing members can see and like the difference, and also that our many new members feel welcome. But there is much more to do. We need to get much better at welcoming those of you who have just moved here, and introducing you to others.I will be trying to find ways you can all participate more over the next few months, and it would help to get some feedback.

So even if you are already regulars at Branch meetings and other events, and especially if you are not, please let me know what you would like your Labour Party here in Hastings and Rye to be doing. And how you would like to contribute.

Look forward to reading lots of responses, and taking your ideas to the Executive and General Committees.

Paul Barnett