Eastbourne’s Lib Dems have today called on Boris Johnson to resign as the damning Sue Gray report is published and the Partygate scandal comes to a head.
The local Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of “failing the country” and added that while thousands in Eastbourne made sacrifices, Boris Johnson’s Number 10 partied.
The Liberal Democrats have also branded Conservative MPs supporting Boris Johnson as “insulting local people’s sacrifices.”
Today, the Sue Gray report includes pictures of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak together at a birthday party. The report came with a damning line to Boris Johnson’s Government saying, “the senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.”
Responding to the news, Cllr Josh Babarinde, Liberal Democrat Councillor and Parliamentary Spokesperson said:
“Our area has been completely taken for granted. While local residents made sacrifices, Johnson’s Number 10 partied. They think it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.
“The Sue Gray report is an insult to local people’s sacrifices during the pandemic. We have all seen the pictures. It’s clear they think they can take the British public for fools.
“Whilst people in Eastbourne were making heart-breaking sacrifices, we know Boris Johnson’s Downing Street was the scene of raucous parties and disgraceful behaviour. It is time Johnson did the decent thing and resigned.
“At the next election here it will be a clear choice between Boris Johnson’s Conservative candidate and the hard working local Liberal Democrats. It is time we restored decency and integrity to our politics and finally get rid of this out of touch Conservative Government.”
Responding to the Sue Gray report, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey added:
“This report lays bare the shocking failures of leadership by Boris Johnson and shows why he's not fit to be prime minister of our country.
“Johnson has dragged his entire government through the mud to protect his own job.
“He didn’t care while he laughed and broke the rules while the country was in lockdown. And he doesn’t care now when every household in Britain faces eye-watering costs at the petrol pumps, sky-rocketing food prices and massive energy bills.
"Any other Prime Minister would be forced to resign by a report as damaging as this, yet still Conservative MPs defend the Prime Minister and allow him to cling on.”
Cllr Josh Babarinde OBE on the Cost of Living Emergency:
"It breaks my heart that Eastbourne’s Foodbank has become the busiest in the country, according to the Trussell Trust. The Foodbank does incredible work but, in this day and age, it shouldn't need to exist in our town.
"It’s clear that the cost of living is spiralling out of control, with energy bills skyrocketing and so many struggling to make ends meet. For local pensioners like Jeanne (below), who I met with earlier in the week to hear her concerns rising bills, this is made worse by the pension triple lock being broken by the government – she’s been left even more out-of-pocket.
"For months, I’ve been campaigning for the Government and our MP to step up and make a dramatic intervention to support struggling families and pensioners. The response from Conservative MPs: ‘earn more money’, ‘work more hours’, ‘buy cheaper food’, ‘learn how to cook’. This demonstrates an appalling lack of awareness and compassion when it’s needed most.
"That’s why, this week, I led the charge to officially declare a ‘Cost of Living Emergency’ in Eastbourne to force the Government and our MP to wake up and act immediately.
"I did this through a formal motion at Eastbourne Borough Council on Wednesday 18th May. Together with an official 'Cost of Living Emergency' declaration, my motion called for the Government to:
- Immediately impose a ‘Windfall Tax’ on the super profits of oil and gas companies and use this to take an average of £600 off Eastbournians’ energy bills this year
- Immediately reduce the standard rate of VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year, saving the average Eastbourne household a further £600 this year
- Immediately re-introduce the pensions triple lock to support Eastbourne’s pensioners
"Thanks to the support of Eastbourne Liberal Democrat councillors, a ‘Cost of Living Emergency’ was officially declared, with the inspiring Howard Wardle (CEO at Eastbourne Foodbank) supporting this significant measure.
"In so doing, we have made history as the first town in the UK to make such a declaration, making regional and national news.
"Thank you to BBC News, ITV News, The Mirror, The Express, The Independent, Times Radio, GB News (and of course the Eastbourne Herald!) for amplifying my campaign and helping to make Eastbourne’s voice impossible to ignore. I’m disappointed (to put it mildly) that the local Conservatives refused to support this vital campaign.
"Many councils across the country have already been in touch with me to say they are going to pile on the pressure by making emergency declarations of their own.
"I’m convinced that this campaign will pressure the Government to provide more support for those struggling in this cost of living emergency. I will keep fighting for just that, as well as ensuring the Council plays its part, too.
"This declaration has also triggered the convening of the ‘Cost of Living Emergency’ summit that I am to host for our town.
"The summit will bring together those on the frontline of poverty-fighting locally to brainstorm local solutions to this emergency and speak with a united voice to push for a fairer deal for those struggling in our town. Invitations for this are already starting to go out. Watch this space."
Liberal Democrat Eastbourne Borough Councillors called for the government to honour its commitment of a brand new hospital for Eastbourne.
The councillors advocated for this by passing a motion at Eastbourne Borough Council’s Full Council meeting on the evening of Wednesday 18th May. No Conservative councillor voted in favour of this proposal.
In October 2020, the government announced that Eastbourne was to be the site of one of the 40 new hospitals pledged in its last manifesto. This was celebrated by Eastbourne and Willingdon’s Conservative MP, Caroline Ansell.
The motion also calls on East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust to share the plans that have ben drawn up so far.
Cllr Josh Babarinde OBE, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate, who proposed the motion said:
“The government promised Eastbourne a brand new hospital nearly two years ago but there is no sign of it whatsoever. That is not good enough.
“Our town needs and deserves a new hospital. This will put us in the best position to bring back the critical services we have lost to Hastings and elsewhere.
“Me and my Liberal Democrat team will hold the government to account on this new hospital pledge and will not allow them to scapegoat anyone else if they fail to deliver on the promise that they made.”
Cllr Babarinde’s motion is supported by the Save The DGH Campaign group, which has been campaigning to protect local hospital services and restore core services to Eastbourne since 2006.
Last week, I took the opportunity to catch-up with the changes that have been taking place at the Towner art gallery. If you haven’t visited for a while, you will notice the difference as soon as you arrive. The shop area has moved, providing much more space in the foyer where groups can meet, and new signage creates a more modern environment. Most of the exhibitions are free, including the Ravilious Gallery and the current display by multi-skilled painter, printmaker, illustrator, and tapestry designer Eileen Mayo. Entitled “A Natural History”, it runs until 3 July. Towner is also the location of Eastbourne’s independent cinema. Recently reopened, this fully soundproofed cinema has extremely comfortable seating. The diverse schedule has something for everyone. “The Duke”, “River”, “Operation Mincemeat” and “Downton Abbey: A New Era” are just some of the films showing during the next 2 weeks. So, why not plan a visit?
The 2022 Springwater Festival organised by Plastic Free Eastbourne, comes to an end this weekend, but there is still time to get involved. You could help clear our beaches of plastic waste washed up on our shores between 10.00-12.00 this Saturday. Saturday also features: Mermaids Purse Challenge; Big Seaweed Search Survey; Micro and Meso Plastic Surveys and Studio on the Beach. Booking details for all events can be found at https://www.plasticfreeeastbourne.co.uk/spring-water-festival-events
The beginning of June starts with a long weekend to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and preparations are already underway to dress the town in red, white and blue. Thanks go to the Eastbourne BID, who will be putting bunting up throughout the town centre. I know that many households will be making their own plans and that there will also be many street parties across the town. As part of our street party, residents in my road will be making a collection for Foodbank who are in need of: tinned fruit; tinned meat; tinned vegetables (peas, carrots, sweetcorn); biscuits and tinned tomatoes. It would be wonderful if other parties could do the same.
From questions I received, both before and after the local elections from people wanting to vote, the fact that there were no elections in Eastbourne caused some confusion. To explain, there is not a standard method for electing Councils in England. Some Councils elect by thirds, so a third of the Council is elected each year for three years, for a four-year term of office. In two-tier areas such as East Sussex County Council, County Council elections are held on the fourth year. In Hastings, half of the Council is elected every two years. Here at Eastbourne Borough Council, as in Lewes, the whole Council is elected once every four years, with our next elections taking place in May 2023. Turning to the results of the elections that did take place, I am obviously delighted to see Liberal Democrat colleagues gaining a total of 191 seats in England and 221 across the UK as a whole. Whilst I suspect that national issues had some impact upon these results, I also believe that they were largely down to the work that Liberal Democrats do in local areas.
Eastbourne Borough Council and Sussex Police have recently opened a small satellite office along Eastbourne seafront, on the promenade just to the east of the Pier. Although not staffed around the clock, officers will use this office as a base when carrying out patrols along the seafront and be present on an ad hoc basis to observe activities in this busy area and ensuring a safe environment for everyone to enjoy our seafront.
I am delighted that Plastic Free Eastbourne who are working so hard to eradicate plastic in our seas and oceans are running their “Springwater Festival – Celebrating Water” from 13-22 May. With a wide range of activities including walks; a Beach Clean; Pilgrimages; Art Exhibitions; a Concert; a Conference; Science Studies; Studios on the Beach and Water Sports, there is plenty to get involved in. For more information and tickets, visit https://www.plasticfreeeastbourne.co.uk or phone 07971 909 454. Please do get involved.
Fortunately, the weather stayed fine for Magnificent Motors and this event together with Bible on the Beach, which attracted people from all over the country meant that thousands of people enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend on Eastbourne seafront. With the prospects of a good summer ahead, the next large event at the Western Lawns is Beer and Cider by the Sea. This popular event, which provides an opportunity to sample over 100 real ales and cask ciders and perries will take place between the 20-22 May, this is only one of the many events that will be taking place in Eastbourne this year.
If you are interested in local history and art, you might like to visit the “Holidaying at Beachy Head – a Place to Remember” exhibition which is running at the Beachy Head Countryside Centre between 7 May and 15 July. The exhibition includes hand drawn sketches of the Garland Family who visited Eastbourne in the 1870s, Mary Thomas' travel diary written in the 1830s, and Lewis Carroll's bed desk made for his regular holidays in Eastbourne.
Once seen as the answer to many issues, plastic, especially that which is only used once is now recognised as a major problem to the future of our planet. Despite our attempts to recycle, a massive 91% of plastic waste is still not recycled and is causing mass pollution. Research published in 2015 estimated that 8 million metric tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans each year. In an attempt to establish just how much is thrown away, Greenpeace is conducting “The Big Plastic Count” for a week, between 16-22 May. They are encouraging schools; businesses; community groups and individual households to take part. I have signed-up, if you would like to join in, you can do so at https://thebigplasticcount.com/sign-up/digital?source=PM&subsource=OCPOPSOAPM01FZ you will be provided with a free pack to record the different types of plastic that you throw away. By helping to establish the extent of the problem, you could be helping to bring pressure on Governments to take more action to address it.
As I have mentioned before the Government announced a Council Tax Rebate payment of £150 for households within Council bands A-D. Several people have asked me if I can provide an update on how and when this will be paid. The Council will begin the process of administering the £150 payment this week, starting with those who pay by direct debit. If you pay by direct debit you won’t need to contact the Council as they already hold your bank account details. Therefore, the Council will notify you by letter over the course of the next few weeks once the payment has been made.
For residents who don’t pay by direct debit, it will take a little longer to process your payments as the Council don’t currently hold your bank details. Once most of the direct debit payers have had their payments processed, the Council will write to you with details on how to obtain your payment, this will take place during May. The letter will include a unique code that you will be required to submit when you make the application through an online portal. Please can I ask you not to try and make an application until you have received this letter.
You may have read in the national press recently that scammers have been cold calling people asking for bank details who purport to be from a local Council. The Council will never ask for your details over the phone in order to pay the energy payment and if they do need to contact you, they will do so either by letter or email.
The Environment Agency are continuing their engagement with local residents on the Pevensey to Eastbourne Coastal Management scheme. This is the plan that they are creating in order to enhance flood defences to protect us for the next 100 years. One of the events which explains why this work is necessary will be held in the Johnson room at the Welcome Centre this Saturday 30 April between 2-3.30pm. if you would like to attend you can register at www.trybooking.com/uk/events
Have a good Bank Holiday weekend!
Sadly, the war in the Ukraine continues with a devastating impact on the lives of the local population. Towns and cities have been destroyed and many thousands of civilians have lost their lives. Reports suggest that more than four million people have left the country in search of safety. These are mostly women and children and the majority have gone to neighbouring countries such as Poland. For those seeking to come to the UK, there are two possible routes. The Ukraine Family Scheme, where the applicant has an existing family member here, or via the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, which requires a sponsor in the UK who is independently matched with refugees. So far, approximately 1000 people are coming to East Sussex via this route, most of them to various parts of Wealden. All the Councils in the county are working together with voluntary groups in order to ensure that appropriate support is in place and they are made to feel welcome.
It seems as if Bank Holidays are coming thick and fast at present. Fortunately, the weather stayed fine for the Easter weekend and I hope that the same will be true at the end of the month, when one of the attractions is Magnificent Motors. Taking place on the Western Lawns, on Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May, this is an opportunity to view some truly amazing vehicles. Some six hundred classic motors are expected across the weekend, including classic and vintage cars; steam engines; motor bikes and scooters. Entrance to the event is free, but you will need a ticket. This is in order to ensure that numbers can be managed safely. Tickets can be obtained via the ‘Visit Eastbourne’ website. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/magnificent-motors-2022-tickets-249184707167 If you are not interested in cars, you can always enjoy the seafront market or a ride on the big wheel. There is also a funfair for the kids.
A local Community Interest Company (CIC) who do some great work helping people to understand technology is Tech Resort. One of their projects has been to refurbish old laptops and provide these free of charge to people in need, particularly young people who need them for their education. They are currently looking for donations of second hand laptops which are less than ten years old and run Windows. If you are able to help them, please drop them a line via their website https://techresort.org/contact/ I know that they would be pleased to hear from you.
Liberal Democrat MP candidate Cllr Josh Babarinde OBE is campaigning for the return of Eastbourne’s Dotto Train in time for the summer season.
Operated by Stagecoach, the Dotto Train service runs along Eastbourne’s promenade during the summer months. The two trains run between Holywell and the Sovereign Harbour.
The Dotto Trains are currently undergoing maintenance works, and Stagecoach are experiencing driver shortages, which are causing delays in their return.
Cllr Babarinde has called for a meeting with senior executives at Stagecoach to pressure the company to bring the Dotto Train back for the summer.
In a letter to Stagecoach, Cllr Babarinde requested a timeline for the completion of the maintenance works. He also requested that the company supply an action plan for the recruitment of new drivers.
Cllr Babarinde said,
“As a born and bred Eastbournian, the iconic Dotto Train has been part our seafront experience for as long as I can remember.
The Dotto Train also a critical part of our transport and economic infrastructure, which is why I have called a meeting to urge Stagecoach to bring it back into action as soon as possible.
“I’ve offered to do everything I can to work with Stagecoach to bring the Dotto Train back to where it belongs on our stunning seafront.”