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Together with their partners Groundwork South and the School of Natural Building Hastings Borough Council have been awarded £890,000 towards building a new centre at Hastings Country Park.

The new visitor centre will be part of a major European funded project to construct public buildings from straw.  Other countries involved in the project are Germany, Belgium, Netherlands and France.    The aim of the project is to showcase sustainable building projects with reduced carbon footprints.  The new visitor centre will be the first straw build building in the borough and will be a focus for new interpretation and events at the Country Park.hastings-country-park-nature-reserve

The partners submitted an initial expression of interest to Interreg North West Europe for the programme in February 2016 and were one of only 4 projects out of 79 applicants under the Low Carbon funding stream invited to submit a further, full application.

Providing a new visitor centre at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is a top priority for the council.  Planning permission was granted in 2015 so the council is keen to progress with the project as soon as possible.

The Interreg (NWE) Programme is a transnational European Territorial Cooperation Programme funded by the European Commission.  This grant is worth £540,000 to the council and its partner Groundwork South and £350,000 for the School of Natural Building, the UK’s lead organisation for straw buildings.

Councillor Colin Fitzgerald, the council’s new lead member for environment and place explained:

“This is absolutely fantastic news for the council.  We have had an ambition to build a new centre at Hastings Country Park for a number of years and with our partners Groundwork South have been working on grant applications to realise this ambition.  We hope to have the new centre open to the public early in 2018.  The new centre will be a completely sustainable straw building; a fitting building for the country park and its visitors and one which our residents can rightly be proud of”.

Executive director of Groundwork, Gary Jacobs added:

“I’m thrilled that our partnership has been successful in securing this grant award despite the tough competition. We believe a first class nature reserve deserves a first class visitor centre.  Working with the Friends of Hastings Country Park and the council we can now take forward this exciting opportunity to build one of the first public straw bale buildings in the UK which will help educate and inform local people and visitors of the truly amazing local heritage and wildlife on their doorstep.”

Eileen Sutherland from the School of Natural Building (SNaB) commented:

“This project is a significant milestone on the road to sustainable building across NW Europe.

By working with other European specialists, SNaB will deliver workforce skills and curriculum innovation in the field of Natural Building”

 

The second stage of coastal protection works are due to start on the seafront in Hastings this week.

To help keep the beach in place and to protect the sea wall,  two new rock groynes will be constructed along the Carlisle Parade frontage. Added to this, beach will be moved from the harbour arm area and a new set of timber access steps to the beach will be installed.granite-coastal

“Funded by the Environment Agency’s Flood Defence Grant in Aid (FDGiA) and Hastings Borough Council 5,000 tonnes of Larvik granite rocks from Norway will be delivered by sea to complete the construction of the rock groynes. Delivery of rock by sea can only take place at high tide, so this may take place at any time of the day or night according to the state of the tide; we are expecting the delivery early next week” said Cllr Dawn Poole, Hastings Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration.

She added: “Once the granite is delivered and the new rock groynes have been completed, 25,000 tonnes of beach will be moved back from the harbour arm area to protect the sea wall  – all essential works to protect our coastline.”

Working through East Kent Engineering Partnership who has expertise in marine construction and coastal protection, Canterbury City Council’s engineering services will be supervising the works on behalf of the council. The works will last for approximately 10 weeks, depending on the weather.

Visit http://www.hastings.gov.uk/coastalprotection/ for more information or contact the council’s resort services manager Nick Sangster nick.sangster@hastings.gov.uk

Hastings Borough Council in its aims to support local businesses and increase jobs in the town has invested in the build of a new factory unit at Castleham Industrial Estate, Hastings.

Built by Westridge Construction Ltd the new unit due for completion at the end of this year will provide much needed extra space for a local business already operating from other units in the area, BD Foods.

Hastings Borough Council’s leader, Cllr Peter Chowney recently attended the ‘topping out’ ceremony; the age old tradition of bestowing luck and thanks to builders when a structure reaches its topmost point. He commented: “This unit is a great addition to the offer at Castleham and we are very pleased that BD Foods will be the new tenants. They currently occupy eight units at Castleham and this one will enable them to expand their food production, creating 50 new jobs in the process.”

BD Foods plan to start working from the unit in the New Year.

Hastings-based Hivac Engineering is a well-established specialist in the manufacture of ultra-high vacuum chambers and equipment used in surface science, semi-conductor and synchrotron particle acceleration. For the latter think CERN and the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, or closer to home Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.

The type of work that Hivac Engineering undertakes, therefore, is generally low-volume, R&D, but to extremely tight tolerances on large components.

Many of the products manufactured by Hivac Engineering are welded assemblies, made up from a number of machined components, some of which are straightforward, others can be complex. This work is a mix of made to drawing and in-house design, where it employs 3D CAD and Finite Element Analysis. A common thread throughout, though, is the finished accuracy of the welded assemblies, which have to be finished machined, creating a requirement for large capacity, and accurate, machine tools. “Our investment in machine tools is driven by market requirements, if we need a machine we will buy it, but due to the nature of our work, the majority of it being stainless steel, but we also machine refractory materials such as tantalum, molybdenum and high temperature ceramics, such as Boron, Macor and Shapal. As a result we need robust machines that are capable of not only accommodating the parts we make, but also of being able to achieve the quality of machine finish that our customers and products require,” says Paul Lennard, Managing Director, Hivac Engineering.

Investment in machine capacity at Hivac Engineering backs up this point with a heavyweight XYZ 2010 vertical machining centre and an XYZ XL 1100 extra-large lathe being the most recent additions. Key to the decision to buy the XYZ 2010 VMC was its construction, which features a solid cast base, rather than a fabricated one. This 20,000 kg machine provides Hivac with a robust machining platform, added to which is the standard 1000 mm travel in the y-axis, which when combined with the 2000 mm and 800 mm travel in the x and z axes creates a large machining envelope, yet the footprint of the machine is relatively compact for a machine of this capacity. Hivac also took the 4 th axis option with the machine as well for even greater versatility. “We need machines that are capable of machining straightforward and complex parts, and with the XYZ machines this is what you get. This is helped by the use of the Siemens ShopMill 828D control system, which we find extremely easy to use thanks to the conversational programming and operators who are unfamiliar with it quickly get up to speed.”

Changes in personnel and production requirements were also a driver in the choice of the XYZ XL 1100 lathe that was installed in October 2015. Much of the large diameter turning work at Hivac Engineering had been done on manual machines and due to the skill requirement for this work this was becoming a bottleneck. This led to Paul Lennard looking for an alternative and the criteria for the lathe was much the same as for the machining centre, it had to be robust, easy to use and have a relatively compact footprint. “The XYZ XL 1100 met all those criteria as it is an 8000 kg machine, with a solid cast construction, with the bed length that we specified the footprint is only 3930 mm by 2300 mm by 2200 mm, but we can swing 1100 mm over the bed.”

The XL 1100 makes use of the Siemens 840D control, in this case with the ShopTurn variant. Both the ShopTurn and ShopMill controls make use of Siemens JobShop Concept that simplifies all of the on-screen prompts ensuring that programming is quick and easy.

Confidence in the resulting program is enhanced by Siemens’ Line trace graphics that allow the operator to view the program as it progresses through each stage of the cycle, with full 3D graphics assisting the process. “When it comes to investing in machine tools we generally know what we want and with XYZ Machine Tools we know what we will get. The machines are well constructed, the  service and support is excellent and we feel that we get looked after. We must do as these latest two machines take our XYZ plant list to nine machines now, a mixture of five CNC lathes and machining centres with the Siemens control and four ProtoTRAK controlled mills and lathes,” says Paul Lennard.

UK manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in three years in April due to concerns about the strength of the global economy.

The Markit/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell from 49.2 in April from 50.7 in March, which is the first time that activity in the manufacturing section has dropped since March 2013. Anything under the 50 mark indicates falling output.

Firms have said that a fall in new business from overseas and uncertainty due to the EU referendum are to blame. As the oil and gas industry is currently slowed, it is hitting production as this is a major company for UK businesses.

Matching February’s three-year low, the index for new orders fell to 50.4 in April, which is lower than 51.9 the previous month.

Official figures revealed last week that UK economic growth slowed to 0.4% in the first quarter of the year from 0.6% later in 2015.

manufacturing-laser

Check out the pictures that we managed to take today whilst at Hastings Pier.

Bringing a new modern vibe to the town.

 

Passengers will face difficulty over Easter as there will be no trains running from Victoria to Sussex and Gatwick Airport.

There are plans for Network Rail to rebuild a critical junction at Battersea Park and as a result there will be no Gatwick Express or Southern trains from Victoria.

There will be services from Southern and Thameslink, which will run trains from London to the coast and Gatwick Airport. Trains will run from London Bridge and London Blackfriars.

Subject to improvement work further afield in Kent, Southeastern services from the station will run as normal.

Buses will replace trains on the Horsham line to Arundel in West Sussex. This is due to work to replace timbers on a railway bridge over the River Arun. Passengers are advised that this will add around one hour to their journey times on that route.Southern

UK house prices rose by 9.5% in the year to December, according to lender Halifax.  This makes it the fastest annual increase in nine years and also seems to give us more confirmation that homes in the UK are unaffordable.

According to Halifax in the last month, prices went up by 1.7% bringing the average house for sale signsprice to £208,286, but there are signs that the pace of price growth is softening slightly with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors figures showing that the supply of homes is at a record low.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the government plans to spend £1.2bn preparing former industrial sites for house building as part of an effort to bring down the cost of home ownership for young people.

This policy will deliver 30,000 cheaper homes over the next five years, with the government saying that work has already started on more than half of  these homes.

Oil prices fell to $32.62 per barrel on Thursday due to rising US energy stockpiles and a weakening currency in China.

US oil was at its lowest point since December 2008 when it reached $32.40 per barrel during the financial crisis.

Brent crude fell 4.7%, which is a new low in 11-years as the last time it was this low was during April 2004.

Oil prices have been affected by a huge oversupply and near-record outputs, which are currently 70% lower in value than in June 2014 when the downturn first started.

This is not good news for companies and governments who rely on oil revenues and they have suffered as a result of the falling prices. It was also affected by China, who depreciated the yuan on Thursday as this sent regional currencies and stock markets plummeting.

Countries are running out of storage for the amount of oil because it is so heavily oversupplied and the demand for crude usually falls when the US dollar is stronger against currencies of purchasing countries.

The US Department of Energy’s weekly reported showed that US commercial crude inventories dropped from 5.1 million barrels to 482.3 million. However, government data showed a fourth consecutive week of increases as US crude production gained 17,000 barrels a day, taking it to 9.22 million barrels each day.

 

 

 

 

Chancellor George Osborne announced the spending plans for the next four years in the Spending Review and the current state of the economy in the Autumn Statement.

According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, public finances are set to be £27 billion better off by 2020.

It was revealed that the government is expected to borrow £8 billion less than forecast due to it hoping to secure £10.1 billion budget surplus by 2020.

The statement brings disappointing news for transport, energy, business and the environment as resource budgets will fall by 37%, 22%, 17% and 15% respectively.

In terms of policing in England and Wales, there are not any plans to make any cuts but the government aims for a rise in spending by £900 million by 2020.

From April 2017 there will be a two-child limit on child tax credit claims and the family element of tax credits will be scrapped for new claimants.

Healthcare is vital for any country and so the health budget will rise to £120 billion by 2020-21, which now stands at £101 billion. The NHS in England will receive an upfront cash injection of £3.8 billion next year as part of £8 billion added funding between next year and 2020-21.

The education budget will rise by £10 billion by 2020 and there will be a new 30-hour free childcare subsidy for parents of three and four-year-olds but this will be limited to parents working more than 16 hours each week.

From April 2016, there will be a 3% surcharge on stamp duty for buy-to-let properties and second homes however, there are plans to hand £2.3 billion to private developers to build 400,000 new homes in England.

State pension will rise by £3.35 a week to £119.30 next year and each individual and small business will have their own digital tax account by the end of the decade.

Transportation could be on the mend with capital funding of transport projects set to rise by 50% by 2020 and £250 million to make sure motorways and other roads in Kent are supported.