MP’s views on 651 deaths


Like many people on March 23 last year I was sat with my family waiting for the prime minister to appear on our TV screens at 8pm with the latest update on coronavirus. Then a few minutes after eight we heard those shocking words,

“From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home.”

That short and direct sentence then changed our lives immeasurably. Nobody would have thought then that we would still be in some form of lockdown a year later, but we are, and today (March 23, 2021) we have an opportunity as a community, as a nation, to reflect and remember.

It has been a year of immense sadness, struggle and stress for so many individuals and families. Across Hastings and Rother, since the pandemic began, over eleven thousand people have tested positive for Covid-19, of which over two thousand ended up needing the excellent care of our NHS nurses and doctors, but sadly 651 people lost their lives.

The scale of the impact that coronavirus has had on our communities is hard to process, and each one of those 651 deaths is an individual lost, leaving behind a grieving family, and today I want to take moment to remember them all and send my deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.

Glimmers of hope in past year

As we come together today to remember and reflect, I also want to take this opportunity to highlight the glimmers of hope that sprung up across our communities in the last year – from the compassion and care of our NHS and social care workers; to the ingenuity and dynamism of local businesses; to the dedication and drive of our teachers and school support staff; to the selflessness and generosity of local volunteers helping the elderly and vulnerable.

Throughout this pandemic I have been inspired by the acts of kindness and altruism shown by total strangers towards one another as we all tried so hard to ensure we pulled together to get through the pandemic. I want to send my thanks to everyone who has played a role in our battle against the virus and who has sacrificed so much.

Each and every one embodies the spirit and determination we all saw as a nation in Captain Sir Tom Moore – that willingness to keep going, supporting one another, and never losing faith that one day things will be better.

Well, now as the vaccine rollout continues at a pace, hitting nearly thirty million first doses being delivered, we can see the light shining brightly at the end of the tunnel. Infection rates have come right down, pressure on our local hospitals is easing, and death rates continue to fall.

The vaccines are safe, and working

The vaccines are working, and they are safe. It was never certain a year ago that an effective and safe vaccine would be developed, but with the genius of our scientists and commitment from the government and pharmaceutical companies, we are seeing several effective vaccines now being used around the globe.

We waited on the science to pull us out of this pandemic, and the scientists have delivered. But ultimately, what stands out for me in this last year is the sacrifice every single person has made, day in and day out, to help get this country through these dark times.

By staying at home, not seeing your loved ones, closing your businesses and not sending your children to school – all of these acts are individually extremely difficult to do, and taken together they required a resolve and resilience this country has not needed for many decades.

Across our nation, and especially here in Hastings and Rye, that resilience was on show every single day and it has filled me with a confidence and conviction that through all the dark moments of the last year, we as a community will come out of this stronger and more united than ever before.

“We will meet again”

I started with the shattering words from the prime minister a year ago today as we entered the first lockdown, and I now want to finish with the words of Her Majesty the Queen, who on April 5 2020 said:

“We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us. We should take comfort, that while we still have more to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.”

These words remain true now as they did almost a year ago. Back then the path seemed uncertain and scary, but today we see the end is now in sight, and the success that has brought us to this point can be shared with us all in Hastings and Rye, as we have shown remarkable spirit and will to do all that is necessary to battle this awful virus.

In the months to come we will have the opportunity to once again meet with families and friends, and to come together, as we are today, to reflect and remember.

Source: Office of Sally-Ann Hart MP

Image Credits: UK Parliament

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  1. It would be appreciated if our elected representative could also reflect upon this Conservative government’s blunders, bad decisions, and blatant cronyism which have all contributed to 100,000+ unnecessary deaths nationwide.

  2. Yes, very interesting – no reflections on the disatrous highest death rate in Europe; the track and trace, PPE scandals and incompetent open this shut that … oh but then open it and shut it again decisions (still awaiting a lessons learnt review). The only thing that has gone right is the magnificent vaccination programme – true overseen by the government, and credit where it is due to their commissioning, but thank heavens they didn’t let a private contractor run it and decided to trust the NHS.

  3. You’ve done it again!
    The piece of propaganda was not by a Rye News Reporter as stated. It was a ‘copy and paste’ press release from the MP’s office.

  4. This is the 4th Conservative party press release within a few months. What is going on? Or is this journal an unashamed wing of the Tory party?

  5. For goodness sake let’s all stop moaning shall we, we have all been through enough it was a pandemic, a once in a lifetime occurrence, we don’t need any more negativity we’ve all had enough of that, our government had only just been voted in when it began and were dealing with the eu concerning Brexit, as if that wasn’t hard enough with no co operation from them.
    How can anyone know how to deal with a situation like a pandemic when you have had no previous experience, certainly there were mistakes made but everyone has done their best, can’t we just look forward now and enjoy the fact that we are on our way out of it, there’s not much point in going backwards or going over it all in fine detail and making constant accusations, It happened now let’s get on with our lives while we can, a lot of people haven’t been able to as they are not with us any more, let’s look forward not back and be grateful.

    • Apparently Mr Johnson considered that neglecting to attend vital COBRA meetings and ignoring scientific advice was “doing his best.” I’d hate to see the results of less than his best…

      And I have to disagree—there is every point in going over it all in fine detail and in making accusations of illegality and ineptitude. This government’s agenda is doing great harm to our country and its ministers need to be held to account.

  6. Please could Rye News respond to concerns regarding what looks like ongoing conservative propaganda. It is increasingly looking like this site is the channel for the Sally-Ann/conservative party political broadcast rather than the usual more balanced approach taken by your good standard of journalism.

  7. Whether Rye News have copied and paste press release, who cares. She was elected our MP, and any posotive news from her is welcoming, if Labour had been successful i am sure Rye news would have also given them coverage, sadly the scars and bitterness after the general election whitewash, are still there,i say get over it, and help your respective party get elected at the next general election, instead of keep bleating on a lost cause, whatever Sally ann does,it seems she is damned if she does a broadcast, and damned if she doesn’t.

    • If Ms Hart wants to play Conservative cheerleader, with never a peep of criticism, that’s fine, but what some people are questioning is why Rye News is also playing the same role.

    • This is presented as a news story in a newspaper written by a staff writer. It is none of those. Press releases printed in full, offer no criticism of policies but become propaganda and advertisements. It’s not about a particular political party but the disingenuousness of how Rye News continues to do this whilst labelling it as news. Why not simply a url link to our MPs website? It is particularly disturbing to continue to offer an uncritical view of the Government’s handling of the pandemic via reproducing verbatim press releases when we have the highest per capita death rate in the world, PPE contracts given out for billions of pounds without competitive bidding and an appalling one percent pay rise for nurses. Ms Hart doesn’t do press releases about these issues but Rye News should be questioning her about them and reporting on that. It’s called news.

  8. Rye News gets bludgeoned if it posts anything of any political persuasion. It actually publishes perspectives from both sides of the political spectrum, and so it should. That’s good, representative, pluralist journalism which reflects our community’s varied opinions. That’s pretty rare in these days of tribal politics and media and precisely what Rye News should do. If folk want to insulate themselves from alternative perspectives or just have their own entrenched opinions reflected and hardened, they should stick to Facebook. The media is not social media. You might have to confront facts and opinions you don’t share. That’s healthy.

  9. Rye News has no staff. We are all volunteers. We welcome stories, thoughts and opinions from everyone. We are actually a mirror and reflect what contributors submit.
    Sally Ann Hart’s press releases are published, but are clearly marked as such. Look above – can you see this at the bottom of the story?
    “Source: Office of Sally-Ann Hart MP”
    It hardly takes a Miss Marple or a Lord Peter Wimsey to work out where the story is from. Because it says so.
    If you have a different opinion or experience, then send it in. We would be delighted to welcome more contributors. Or if you prefer, carry on slagging off volunteers who are spending many hours each week to get this weekly free newspaper out. Your call.
    On a more positive and encouraging note, one of our most persistent and vocal critics has written a couple of stories in the last few months which have been very well received and were fascinating. If you have something you want to get off your chest, please send it to us. Comments are great, but we also would love to receive and publish articles from a wide and wider variety of people.

    • The byline, just under the headline, clearly reads “By Rye News Reporter.”

      Not true. Misleading. Disingenuous. If one is simply going to copy a political press release, then state it clearly, and up front.

    • I do send in my opinions but they don’t always get published, it does give the impression that if the editor doesn’t agree with your opinion then it’s not going to be published and I don’t buy the “We’re protecting you” line
      An email is mandatory on sending in an opinion so an explanation from you would be nice.

      [Note: The Editor has delegated the task of moderating comments to me. I do try and let people know why some comments are not published but admit that I do not always find the time to do this. Decisions are based on the comment guidelines Christopher Strangeways]

  10. Well said Seana, many years ago Rye relied on the Sussex Express for our local news, slowly that changed and we were starved of news as that was more centralized for East Sussex, the birth of the Rye Observer was an exciting time for Rye, plenty of local news at the beginning, but slowly that went the same way as the Express, very little news of what was happening in the town,and many of us cancelled our local paper,which we looked forward to on a friday morning. So Rye news was born an important news line for Rye,keeping us all updated on local news, don’t lets lose this important life line for Rye, because some object too the stories, the reporters are doing their best for us all, and if you do not like the content,don’t read it, its that simple.

  11. The usual practice in all newspapers is to flag up who the story is by in the byline at the top, not buried away at the end.
    In this and all instances of similar ‘stories’ the byline is ‘Rye News Reporter’, which gives the clear impression it is by a volunteer journalist on the paper’s staff. It says what it is on the tin.
    It is then written in the first person, which to the more clued up shows it is an example of (often dreary) ‘op ed’ rather than real news journalism. But the reader has been lead to believe before the story starts that it is by a reporter and may have some independence of thought and purpose.
    But if you get to the end you will be rewarded by the tucked away message that it is ‘from the office of Sally Ann Hart MP’. Quite apart from the fact that offices can’t write, it makes very clear that the story hasn’t been written by a ‘Rye News Reporter.

    How much better to simply and clearly flag up to your readers at the outset who it is by. Ditch the ‘Rye News Reporter’ byline and insert ‘Sally Ann Hart MP’ in your standfirst! At that point the reader can decide whether to take it or leave it, and cannot be angered when the real author is revealed only at the end of the piece.

  12. Well said Rosemary and Seana! Obviously the impact of the corona virus has been tragic for so many people BUT we are in unprecedented times and we need to be able to move forward with HOPE for the future!

  13. Absolutely no criticism of the great team of volunteers and I for one really appreciate all the work done and think you are doing a great job.
    I agree the only issue is the misleading and incorrect writing at the top saying that the article is by a “Rye news reporter” when it is by Sally-Ann Hart/ her press office.
    Please keep up the good work.

  14. In the old days Amber Rudd used to write a weekly column in the Hastings Observer – clearly labelled, maybe it would be better if Ms. Hart could do that for Rye news: at least everyone would know it was by her. I realise it is still COVID and all that but has anyone actually ever seen Ms Hart attend anything local? We haven’t been in lockdown all the time she has been representing us. Our old MP was always around and about?


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