Q&A: Meet Hitchin councillor and former town centre manager Keith Hoskins

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins. Picture: Danny Loo

Hitchin councillor and former town centre manager Keith Hoskins - Credit: Archant

Keith Hoskins has had a long involvement with Hitchin - formerly serving as the town centre and BID manager and now as a district councillor.

As part of our series of Q&As with local figures, we asked Keith what he loves most about living and working in Hitchin.

How would you best describe your job or role in the community?

Well as town centre/BID Manager for 22 years and Highbury councillor since 2019, I’d say my role has always been trying to make things happen by bringing people together.

How long have you lived in Hitchin?

I will celebrate 25 years as a resident of Hitchin in March.

What is your favourite landmark in the area?

St Mary's Church saw record-breaking footfall during this Christmas season. Picture: Anne Senechal

Keith named St Mary's Church as one of his favourite places in Hitchin - Credit: Archant

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There are so many – St Mary’s of course, Windmill Hill and The Dell which we managed to restore as performance space for Hitchin Festival, and the wonderful open spaces which have been so essential to wellbeing this last year – Priory Fields, Oughtonhead Common, Burymead Springs and Hitchin Lavender fields at Ickleford.

Hitchin Lavender Farm will host an open air cinema

Keith Hoskins named Hitchin's Lavender Farm as one of his favourite places - Credit: Archant

What local shops do you most like to visit?

Well emphasising local and independent, my bank statements show that I’ve shopped recently at Halseys, Webbs, Quotidian bakery, The Suit Rail, Wee Vinoteca in The Arcade and Chilli B in Bucklersbury.

What is your favourite place to go out to eat?

I have a slight bias here as I declare a small interest in Los Reyes in Bucklersbury and The Bull at Gosmore - both of which of course I highly recommend. Other regular visits are to Lussmanns in Sun Street and also now to Little Monkey -  a recently-opened Thai restaurant in Bancroft.

What is your favourite pub? 

I’m not a great pub goer but I am always pleased to visit Eric and Charlotte at The Highlander and, as mentioned, Damian and Sophie at The Bull at Gosmore - both of which offer really good food as well.

What do you think makes Hitchin unique? 

I’ve always said that Hitchin is a town with a village feel and it’s that sense of community that makes it unique – there’s a can-do attitude.

What places in Hitchin would you most recommend to visitors?

British Schools Museum, Hitchin

The British Schools Museum in Hitchin - Credit: Archant

Two  fantastic museums – North Herts District Museum in Brand Street and The British Schools Museum in Queen Street; The Market Theatre in Sun Street; the tranquillity of the Peace Garden at The Friends Meeting House or The Physic Garden near the library and the walk across the fields to Charlton and beyond.

The Market Theatre in Hitchin has launched a survival appeal through JustGiving after missing out on

The Market Theatre in Hitchin - Credit: The Market Theatre

Who is your local hero?

This has to be the most difficult question as I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone! There are so many people doing extraordinary things in the community that to single out any one person would be unfair.

However, one person who did inspire me with her resolute determination to get things done was Scilla Douglas, pillar of the Historical Society who is sadly no longer with us.

What would you do if you were mayor for the day?

Pass a local resolution to make it longer than a day!! Truly there is so much I would like to do that 24 hours would merely scratch the surface and there are probably not enough column inches available to set out all the ideas! But I’ll just mention Arts Centre, rail access, Churchgate refurbishment, public realm improvements, town centre trees etc etc.

What impact do you think COVID-19 has had on Hitchin and its businesses or events?

I think Hitchin BID has done an astonishing amount to minimise the impact of COVID on the town and that’s reflected in the comparatively low vacancy rate with plenty of street activities and promotions.

It was great to have Hitchin Festival back this year, albeit slimmed down, but the lunchtime concerts and the opening of The Dell were particularly successful.

What do you love most about Hitchin?

The people, the location, the atmosphere -  a bit nearer the sea would be lovely but hey you can’t have it all!

If you would like to take part or nominate someone you know from our areas for a Q&A, email anne.suslak@archant.co.uk.

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