Langney Shopping Centre are pleased to announce plans for a partnership scheme to provide a Changing Places toilet as well as additional toilets on the ground floor level in the Shopping Centre. The scheme is being introduced as part of a partnership bid for a Match Funding grant support from a Government Changing Places scheme.
As Centre Manager, Neil Avis, said:
“We have been working with Langney Councillor Alan Shuttleworth and officers from Eastbourne Borough Council to put forward a bid for some Government support for the project. We recognise the importance of providing more accessible toilets for those people who use the Centre, which is a community hub for Langney.”
Councillor Alan Shuttleworth commented,
“These proposals are the culmination of months of work. I pay tribute to the Eastbourne Access Group who have been pressing for improvements for a long time. When this new provision is in place it will be a tremendous benefit for those people who have disabilities and mobility problems and for families with young children and babies.”
The scheme involves a bid for some of the cost from Central Government as part of a national Changing Places programme. The bid is being submitted by Eastbourne Borough Council and includes a bid for a Changing Places toilet in the Congress theatre.
The Eastbourne Access group fully supports the changing places bid for funding for changing places facilities in Eastbourne.
Brian Day, Chairman of Eastbourne Access Group said,
“Changing places facilities are urgently needed at Langney Shopping centre and in the Congress theatre as well as in other locations. Changing places facilities at Langney shopping centre would transform the shopping and eating out experience at Langney for disabled adults, young people and their families. We trust that the funding application will be successful to ensure accessible changing places facilities can be made a reality for people with disabilities in Eastbourne.”
Listening to the Prime Minister it appears that there could be some fairly tough times ahead. We know that the changes in rules on overseas workers following Brexit has had an impact on HGV drivers, which has already resulted in fuel shortages. The hospitality industry and caring professions are finding it difficult to fill vacancies, as is the farming industry, which is having to allow food to rot. This has had a knock-on impact in terms of supplies on supermarket shelves and we have also been told that some foods might be in short supply over the Christmas period. When the increase in gas prices is added to this list, there is plenty to keep Boris Johnson and his Government busy. These issues will of course affect us all, but as is so often the case, those who have the least will be hit the hardest. The removal of the £20 per week top up of Universal Credit at a time when prices are pushing up inflation will leave many struggling this winter.
The Government will also be breaking another election pledge as it is suspending the triple lock on pensions. This is a formula used to guarantee pensioners’ incomes rise by either September’s rate of inflation, earnings growth, or a guaranteed minimum of 2.5% – whichever is larger. Surely, in difficult times, the most vulnerable should be placed at the top of the list of those that we should protect, not the bottom.
I’ve been in close contact with those behind Eastbourne’s Lightning Fibre Ice Rink since tickets went on sale last week. The rink doesn’t open until the 1st of December, but the sales have already been strong, with over 1,000 tickets having been purchased. This fully covered real ice rink is a partnership between Your Eastbourne BID and Visit Eastbourne and will be located at the Enterprise Shopping Centre. This is the first time in a decade that Eastbourne’s had its own real ice rink. Tickets can be purchased online at www.visiteastbournetickets.co.uk. Alternatively, you can buy your tickets at the Welcome Building and the Seafront Office next to the Bandstand. I am sure that it will be a huge success and look forward to watching with a glass of mulled wine from one of the fantastic local traders who will also be at the site.
Opposition parties at East Sussex County Council united to angrily condemn a last minute change of heart by Conservatives on a cross party Notice of Motion on climate change which councillors were given a 20 minute adjournment to consider. Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Cllr Colin Swansborough explains:
“Cllr Nick Bennett, Conservative Lead Member, agreed with the Notice of Motion that asked the County Council to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. However, when this came to full council for debate on 12 October, Cllr Bennett issued a last minute set of recommendations that were completely different to his initial response.
This kind of political skulduggery has no place in this council and also raises warnings for COP26. Will the Conservatives change their mind nationally as well as locally?”
Labour Cllr Chris Collier agreed:
“This was a cynical and hypocritical misuse of the democratic process. It was extraordinary that a substantial change like this should have been thrown at Council at the very point at which this item was about to be discussed. We had no notice of this substantial change and no opportunity to give it proper scrutiny.”
Green Cllr Wendy Maples added:
“We were sorely disappointed in our Conservative colleagues who seem to think point-scoring is more important than the planet.”
Green Cllr Georgia Taylor noted:
“This could have been an historic moment of cooperation in the interests of people and planet”.
Independent Cllr Stephen Shing agreed:
“We should stick to the 2030 target. The Bill has cross party support and party politics should be put aside with an emphasis on the future of the planet.
Opposition parties at the Council demanded an adjournment but realised that more time was needed to consider Cllr Bennett’s recommendations fully. A proposal to defer discussion to the next County Council was voted down by the Conservatives.
At the recent election our County’s residents elected green party Councillors for the first time on this Council, indicating a concern for green issues. It is pleasing that everyone could eventually work together on this important issue to protect our environment, so that real change can take place”.
Following several years of campaigning, Upperton Lib Dem councillors Pat Rodohan, Robin Maxted and Sammy Choudhury and the Chair of Upperton Neighbourhood Panel, Kathy Ballard, gained funding from Sussex Police’s Community Safety Partnership fund to make Gildredge Park safer. The funding will ensure eight heritage style lampposts are added along the paths between the entrances at The Goffs and Compton Place Road, and from that path to the entrance at Saffrons Road.
With national news highlighting Sarah Everard’s violent end, the case for the safety of women is not difficult to make. The case for the children, teenagers and parents crossing the park to and from Gildredge House School is compelling too. Gildredge House and students also supported the Councillors’ bid. Since its establishment in 2013, school numbers have grown to a capacity 1,200 students and many now cross the park from home to school, even in the darker winter months.
Eastbourne students and their parents are being encouraged to walk, scoot or cycle to school, and Upperton Lib Dem councillors want them to be able to do so safely. Upperton Lib Dem councillors are campaigning for the area around Gildredge House School to become a School Safety Zone, and improved lighting through this important access route will be a critical improvement in that project.
Kathy Ballard as Chair of the Upperton Neighbourhood Panel said,
“I am delighted that Gildredge Park has received this funding for much needed lighting. This will go some way to making the park feel safer.”
I have always been grateful that here in the UK we live in a democratic society. One where those who make decisions over our lives are elected and where, if we believe that they are not doing a good job, we can collectively remove them at the next election, by voting for someone else. It might not be perfect, indeed I would prefer to see changes to the method of electing our representatives from the current first past the post system, to a form of proportional representation, but it certainly beats some of the alternatives. I am therefore concerned that we are once again witnessing more public money going into Quangos.
These semi-public administrative bodies are funded by Government, but we as voters have no ability to remove those who run them. Quangos were rife 20 years ago under the Labour Government, costing a staggering £38.4bn by the time that they left office. The coalition government promised to cull them and more than halved this expenditure to £18.6bn. However, under Boris Johnson this has once again been rising steeply and stood at £29bn in 2020. Many of those who run bodies such as: HS2, Visit Britain and Homes England are earning six figure salaries, well in excess of that earned by the Prime Minister, and some for working only a two-day week. Surely those responsible for spending this public money, should like those of us who have been elected, also be accountable to the public. Whilst possibly not the most pressing issue on the Governments agenda, I nevertheless hope that it is one which they will address.
Last week I was fortunate to be invited to the opening of the new Bonners store in Faraday Close, Hampden Park. I can remember the early days of Bonners from when I was a teenager and have watched them move from location to location within the town as they have expanded. They are a real Eastbourne success story, their new store offers a very wide range of guitars, pianos and keyboards and is staffed by a knowledgeable team who are passionate about music. It is great to have them in town.
Looking at the current rate of Covid infections in Eastbourne, I find that there have been 167 new cases confirmed within the past 7 days. This is much higher than 12 months ago, when we were heading for the second lockdown. The difference of course is that the impact has lessened. This time last year, we were all hoping that a vaccine would be found, which would help to combat the effects of the pandemic and now, just a year later, three quarters of local residents have received at least one jab. This is a remarkable feat and credit must go to everyone who has helped to make this possible. It does not of course mean that the danger from Covid has gone away. There are currently 33 local people in hospital and 3 people have died from Covid in the past week. So particularly with winter coming, when more people will be gathering at indoor events, we must resist the temptation to be complacent. It has been good to enjoy additional freedoms again, let’s make sure that we remain alert to the risks.
During the Covid pandemic, the Government took the positive decision to pay an additional £20 per week to those in receipt of Universal Credit. That scheme is due to end on 6 October. Currently, just over 10% of people in Eastbourne receive benefits and with the impact of Covid still with us, gas prices soaring and the new National Insurance rates coming into effect next April, I hope that even at this late stage, the Government will rethink and continue to make these payments in order to help those most in need.
From the 13th-17th October, a spectacular new musical makes its world premiere at The Congress Theatre. Based on the Disney classic, “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” will take to the stage. Be prepared to enter a world of magic and fantasy as you witness the adventures of three orphaned children, evacuated from wartime London. The Congress has a reputation for having staged some exceptional shows and I am sure that this will be another.
I am sure that there must have been much excitement at Westminster last week, as Boris Johnson reshuffled his Cabinet. As the dust settles on the changes, we will be looking to see what differences these will bring. Personally, one of my hopes is that the change from Robert Jenrick to Michael Gove as Housing Secretary, combined with Conservative discontent following their defeat in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, might bring about an end to the disastrous Planning Bill. I wouldn’t want you to misunderstand me, I am not a great fan on many of the current planning rules. I especially dislike the fact that appeals are determined by the Planning Inspectorate, which is based in Bristol, instead of local people who know the town, but I believe that changes in the Planning Bill would put many green spaces at risk and allow much building to take place without requiring planning consent. This is clearly a fear shared by many around the country and we now wait to see how Michael Gove will address his new responsibilities.
I was speaking to former Mayor and Eastbourne Walking Champion, Gill Mattock at the weekend. After last year's disappointment, Gill is delighted that, with the help and support of the Events Team, she has been able to deliver the annual WalkFest this year. Now in its 8th year, the festival offered a varied programme of over 70 walks over a period of 10 days and was blessed with mostly good weather.
The walks have attracted local residents and visitors alike, who have all enjoyed being guided by an enthusiastic team of volunteer Walk Leaders. Gill asked me to pass on her thanks publicly to all of them - they give up their time to share their specialist knowledge and love of the town or countryside with other walkers and without them there would be no festival.
Gill is dedicated to promoting walking in all its forms in the local area. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter where she gives advice about walking safely, highlights walking issues or where you can just follow her exploits.
Following the success of the road closure on International Car Free Day September 2020, Upperton Councillors are working with Gildredge House School parents, governors, pupils and residents to hold another car free event on Wednesday, 22nd September.
This will again coincide with International Car Free Day 2021, as well as taking place during the Eastbourne Walking Festival. Upperton's councillors and team are looking to close the same section of Compton Place Road as before (between the junctions with Park Close and Beechwood Crescent) between 07.45hrs and 10.00hrs.
Whilst vehicular access will still be maintained to the school during these hours (via Paradise Drive end), it is hoped the road closure will encourage more pupils and parents to walk, cycle or skate to and from school.
This is a further step towards the creation of a permanent School Safe Zone, which would restrict access for vehicles during pick-up and drop-off times every school day, creating a safer, healthier and more secure environment for all.