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UK govt to turn Hastings into ‘e-city’

Huge waste of money (£100m) on horizon, one in the eye for Harold

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The UK government is considering spending £100 million to turn East Sussex coast town Hastings into an "e-city".

What's an e-city? Well, presumably a town kitted out with the latest digital technology and broadband Internet access so that companies working over the Internet (and hot-desking employees) will move there and regenerate the area.

And Hastings - which, let's be honest, has seen much better times - may be the first lucky recipient of this wonderful new scheme. The transport minister Stephen Byers is right behind it and reckons he will install new train tracks that will make a journey to London take "up to" 45 minutes less (it currently takes one-and-a-half hours). But then can you believe anything Stevie Byers says these days?

That other great political hero Lord Falconer is in on it as well. The man that was behind the Millennium Dome is regeneration minister and he's thinks it's a great idea.

Any other reasons why this is going to be a hopeless waste of money?

Yes. While Hastings is a pretty seaside town (with a recently done-up seafront), it is a nightmare to get to. Trains run from London once an hour during peak times from Charing Cross, they take an hour and a half and it would take years for the train tracks to be improved down to the coast. Not only that but the roads are just as bad if not worse and it takes two hours to drive to or from London.

And even after the years it will take to sort these out, will there be any guarantee that BT will have managed to install ADSL down there?

Hastings' glory days were at the start of the last millennium and we only know of the town now because William the Conqueror was so lazy he took the shortest possible route across the Channel. King at the time Harold never liked the look of the place either - even though it was last one he saw stereoscopically. There was the anarchist's bookshop, but we're not even sure that's there anymore.

If the government wants to waste £100 million, perhaps it should do it making the facilities better in places where companies that use the Internet already exist. ®

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