Home Arms Trade Climate Emergency Environmental Costs of Militarisation Covid-19 Drones General Dynamics
Hiroshima Commemoration The Jolly George Nuclear Treaties Trident Picture Archive

Hastings Council supports the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

The motion was carried by 23 votes. All Conservative councillors voted against it.

Screen shot from full meeting of Hastings Borough Council on Zoom on 21st October 2020.

On 21 October Councillor Maya Evans proposed the following motion at a full meeting of Hastings Borough Council -
I move - that Hastings Borough Council mark the 75 years since the atomic bombing of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instantly killing an estimated 185,000 civilians, which is more than double the population of Hastings, by a letter of solidarity and friendship to the municipal authorities of both cities. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Hastings Borough Council calls upon the UK government to reverse plans to spend 205bn pounds on the upgrade of our national nuclear arsenal.

As the representatives of our community it is our patriotic duty to ask for this money to be spent on guaranteeing the citizens of deprived coastal towns, such as Hastings, have access to world class health, education and housing. It is our obligation as the stewards of our local environment to call on the government to spend this money in protecting our local, national and global environment.

We recognise the horrors of war for everyone unfortunate enough to be caught up in one, witnessing and experiencing violence which undoubtably scar people for life, both mentally and physically. Many of the homeless people on our streets bravely served in British wars, while refugees from those very same wars now flee for their lives and end up on our shores in Hastings. There are many victims of war.

To this end we resolve to write to the Secretary of State for Defence (Ben Wallace) asking for absolute guarantees that our serving citizens are in receipt of the very best to guarantee their safe return from active duty to family and into satisfying future employment.

We also resolve to write to the Home Office asking for Britain to take its fair responsibility for people displaced in war, which this country has been actively involved with, acknowledging international human rights.

From Hastings, a small town on the global stage, we can still reach out to unite with other voices to promote peace and reconciliation by supporting a Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty. Therefore, we call on our government to sign and ratify it.
You can follow the whole debate here. (Note that the meeting begins a minute or two after the start of the recording).

Here is what Maya told the Council -
Before addressing the substance of this motion I'd like to say this: if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that the planet is connected. A virus breaks out in a wet market on the other side of the world - within a few months it has us all locked up in our homes. At previous council meetings I've made the same point about climate change: melting icecaps on the other side of the planet will eventually mean we, in Hastings, will feel the fallout from rising sea levels and unstoppable floods.

Today we see our global community of scientists working together, sharing information and data on how best to combat Covid-19. And when a vaccine is pioneered, the right thing to do is to share the patent so that everyone in the world is protected. Or the disease will continue to spread.

An isolationist approach in trying to solve global problems does not work. It cannot work for pandemics, it won't work for climate change and indeed it will not work for nuclear weapons.
Just as we face economic depression and a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, it surely makes little sense to invest 205bn pounds renewing the Trident weapons system.

205 billion pounds would be enough to improve the NHS by building 120 state-of-the-art hospitals and employing 150,000 new nurses; it would be enough to build 3 million new homes and install solar panels in every home in the UK, or pay the tuition fees for 8 million students.

Just imagine how much a town like Hastings would benefit from this injection of investment?

This is my answer to people who say "what have nuclear weapons 75 years ago on the other side of the planet got to do with Hastings?"
So why is this motion before us today?
The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now only three signatures short of being ratified.
It is expected that, by the end of this month, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons will be ratified, with its ultimate goal their total elimination.

In the same way landmines and cluster bombs were made illegal, this treaty will delegitimize nuclear states: their banks and corporations will face boycotts and disinvestment as pressure mounts to create a nuclear-weapons-free future.

In passing this motion tonight, Hastings will join the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Cities Appeal, contributing to mounting global pressure and responding to a worldwide changing tide of opinion.
Hastings also calls upon our Government to sign the Treaty which recognises those who have been uniquely impacted by nuclear weapons. This includes British soldiers who were exposed to testing of nuclear weapons between 1956 and 1958 when thousands of British servicemen were flown to Christmas Island for Operation Grapple Y, the testing of Britain's first hydrogen bomb. The only protection for these British soldiers was being told to turn away and cover their eyes. Grapple was 100 times more powerful than the blast which levelled Hiroshima. The lives of those British soldiers were changed forever. Some died early, others experienced decades of illness, their wives reported three times the rate of miscarriages, their children showed 10 times the number of birth defects.

Soldiers have not been the only people tested upon, in South Australia the UK carried out 12 major nuclear tests, and hundreds of smaller ones. Although the testing was shrouded in secrecy, oral history of the Aboriginal people remembers the day the ground shook and the suffocating black mist rolled in. One Aboriginal elder Yami Lester, who was blinded by nuclear fallout, reported: "People in the community had skin infections, rashes, people were violently vomiting. The nuclear tests would happen in the morning and by the evening, people were already sick".

The testing of nuclear weapons on indigenous people has been extensive, from 1947 to 1996, the Pacific underwent 315 nuclear tests and it was indigenous people who felt the brunt of the fallout.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons endorses reparations for all people impacted, both for service personnel and indigenous people, as well as supporting environmental remediation. Like the Treaty, our motion attempts to recognise and fairly address all people impacted by nuclear weapons and the impacts of war in general. Whatever side you are on, it is always ordinary people who experience the brunt, and therefore it should be ordinary people who are prioritised.
In 1983, in a well publicised incident, a quick-thinking Soviet colonel deliberately ignored an early warning system triggered by the sun reflecting off a bank of cloud. Millions could have been killed, and the whole world infected by nuclear fallout.

And it is a little publicised fact that nuclear warheads in this country regularly travel up and down our public motorways in a convoy from Aldermaston in Berkshire to Faslane in Scotland. It is chilling to think that there is more chance of a nuclear incident occurring in an accident on a motorway, or being the target by a domestic terrorist attack, than a rogue state such as North Korea launching a nuclear attack on our shores.

But what if nuclear war did ever break out? Nine nations retain just under 15,000 thermo-nuclear weapons, many of which are thousands of times more powerful than the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Scientists have warned that a nuclear exchange of even 1% of the collective arsenal would have catastrophic effect, immediately killing hundreds of thousands of people.

The 'deterrent' argument for keeping nuclear weapons - 'mutually assured destruction' is just MAD.

Hastings against War is proud of our Council's decision.