Witnessing the sudden changes in Government policy, with regard to the need for people to quarantine when entering the UK from some destinations and the stricter measures being applied in parts of the north of England, make us aware that the Covid pandemic is far from over. In order to prevent the spread of the virus and a return to lockdown in Eastbourne it is important that we continue to take steps to minimise risk. One way is for those of use who have debit or credit cards to use them instead of cash. In our town centre market, where cash is traditionally used, it is good to see that many traders have invested in card readers. They have done this to help protect us, so let’s recognise this and for those of us who have cards, have them ready when we pay.
I am concerned that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have decided to reopen the consultation over the future of the walk-in centre at the Railway Station. Personally, I am strongly opposed to the removal of this important facility. It not only provides a service to residents in the heart of Eastbourne but also: serves visitors to the town; those without a permanent address and those who need to see a G.P. urgently, but cannot get a timely appointment at their own health centre. If the current location is a problem, I am sure that a central alternative can be found. Without this I believe that there will be increased pressure on A&E at the DGH. We have until 14 September to respond to the consultation.
My fears rose last week as I received a number of messages to tell me that there was a fire on the pier. Fortunately, on this occasion it was a relatively small fire. As always, the Fire Service responded swiftly and it was extinguished. My thanks go to all concerned for the efficient way that this was dealt with. It did however remind me of the major fire which destroyed the Blue Room in 2014. Following that incident, the whole town rallied round in a most impressive way, but the last thing Eastbourne needs in the wake of Covid-19 is a repeat of that tragic event.
As the Covid lockdown is lifted, I believe that it is inevitable that there will be an increase in the number of cases in certain areas. This has already been seen in Leicester in the UK. More recently, a spike in cases in Spain has led the UK Government to reintroduce a 2-week quarantine period, for those arriving here from Spain, including people returning from holiday. I have received a number of questions about the infection rate in Eastbourne as some people had heard that it is high. I have checked with public health and this is currently running at a rate of 4.22 cases per 1000 of the population, which, whilst higher than the average for East Sussex, is below the 4.56 figure for the UK as a whole.
With some swimming pools reopening around the country, I have been asked when the Sovereign Centre will be open. During the lockdown, the Council took over the running of the centre, from The Eastbourne Leisure Trust and Serco, who have run the facility so well for the past 16 years. We are now preparing to reopen in September. Initially, this will be the gala pool only, as it is virtually impossible to comply with social distancing in a fun pool. We will also be revisiting the design plans for the new pool, as these will need to be amended due to the implications of Covid.
One of the few benefits from the lockdown has been the improved air quality, as there have been fewer cars on the streets. This is of course changing as more people return to work and the highways fill up once again. Looking ahead, “Car Free Day” will create the opportunity to enjoy less traffic once again, albeit for just one day. This takes place on the 22nd September. I have pledged to leave my car at home that day, will you join me?
A consultation is taking place on the Exceat Bridge Replacement in the South Downs National Park. See below the information provided by East Sussex County Council and contribute to the consultation using the links provided to feed your views in:
"We write to advise you of the forthcoming Public Engagement Exercise for the Exceat Bridge Replacement project. The Planning Authority (South Downs National Park) recommends that this event takes place now and the responses will be used to inform the ongoing design. The planning application will be submitted in early 2021 and we anticipate a decision from the South Downs National Park Authority in summer 2021.
The event will run from 13 July to 7 August and, due to the current climate, will be conducted online only. Posters will be positioned around the Exceat Bridge and Seven Sisters Country Park Visitors' Centre signposting people to details of the engagement, which will be found here: consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk.
We welcome all comments and would appreciate your support with this. Should you receive any comments directly, please send these on to [email protected]"
At an East Sussex County Council Cabinet meeting, it came to light that the Council faces a budget deficit of £31 million. The Council has not yet said how they will find this money.
Old Town's Cllr John Ungar said "Following this information I am very concerned that unless the Government bail the County Council out, it will face going bankrupt or cutting services to a point where it could be that they would be acting unlawfully."
Cllr Peter Diplock added: "East Sussex County Council must urgently outline their plan for how they will resolve this budget deficit."
Sovereign Ward Lib Dem County Council Candidate Kathy Ballard said "Without robust action, the Tory-run County Council is on the road to being bailed out by the Government. County Council fiscal probity is extremely worrying”.
Old Town Councillor John Ungar is handing a petition to a Stagecoach Director. (Pictured before Lockdown)
Councillor John Ungar organised a petition calling on Stagecoach to extend the route of the number 4 bus to Sainsbury's and the Hospice.
John has achieved a promise that, when the routes and timetables are next reviewed, the bus company will take the petition into account.
The number 4 bus has been running again for the last few weeks. Earlier in the lockdown it was temporarily suspended. It is running between the town and the DGH and taking in Hill Road and other Old Town destinations.If people want to check the times the phone number for the Birch Road depot is: 01323 416416. Or they can use [email protected]
At the beginning of the lockdown the Liberal Democrats launched the #EBtogether Community Call Centre - our telephone drive to call vulnerable Eastbournians and signpost them to the support they need.
Thanks to the passion, commitment, and determination of our team of 40+ volunteers we hit our target of contacting 5,000 residents across town, including 700+ in Old Town.
The Eastbourne and Willingdon Lib Dems' response to Coronavirus, has won the award for being the best telephone drive in the UK during the lockdown - and a place in the Liberal Democrat Community Champions Hall of Fame.
The Liberal Democrat Community Champions Hall of Fame initiative has been launched by Sir Stuart Etherington, the former Chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisation and Chair of the Liberal Democrat Coronavirus Community Taskforce. As well as helping people with basic supplies the EBtogether have been doing a range of work from sharing best practice and ideas to organising volunteers to call over 5,000 people, (700 plus in Old Town) across Eastbourne to offer assistance.
Old Town County Councillor Cllr. John Ungar said "I am so impressed at the way so many Old Town people have come together to help in our community. When I was phoning local vulnerable residents I was so pleased that people were determent to beat the virus by following National guidelines. I also heard about the high level of help friends and neighbours were providing to them. I would like to say "thank you".
If you need help and support during this most difficult time, you can contact Eastbourne's Community Hub. The hub has been working hard supporting residents across Eastbourne.
Phone: 01323 679722 (option 1)
There is also a large variety of information and links; go to https://www.eastbournelibdems.org.uk/coronavirus
If you would like to hear more about Eastbourne, you can also go to https://www.facebook.com/eastbournevoice
For all those book worms here in Old Town, the good news is that the Old Town Library is open again although with reduced hours. Library users are asked to adhere to social distancing and other protections put in place. Remember the Library has other services apart from lending books, so why not pop in and find out more?
Tuesday 10 AM - 1:30 PM
Wednesday 10 AM - 1:30 PM
Thursday 10 AM - 1:30 PM
Friday 10 AM - 1:30 PM
Residents across Old Town have mixed feelings about the demolition of the old St Elisabeth's Church on Victoria Drive. The Church is a landmark, not only across Old Town but also Eastbourne. Unfortunately, it has a number of defects which make it unsafe, it has not been used as a church for many years. The work is due to take 5-6 months. The Church Diocese, which owns the site, hopes to submit plans in due course, but it's likely that the site will be empty for a while once demolition is complete.
As the work goes on at St Elisabeth's Church we also have the rise of the new Medical Centre on Victoria Drive next to Sainsbury's where the old bowling greens use to be. The new centre is due to be completed in April next year.
One of the best ways we can band together in Eastbourne and Willingdon is to ensure that we queue apart when we’re in our local shops.
That’s why we’ve been working closely with corner shops to develop our newest initiative: #EBtogether queue markers.
These special stickers are placed on shop floors, two metres apart, to help guide shoppers to queue a safe distance apart. A simple but effective way to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
The response from shops and shoppers alike has been incredible! Shopkeepers are telling us that they’re now better able to manage their queues, and shoppers report feeling more safe when buying essentials.
This is what #EBtogether is all about - working with people right across our community to achieve the best for Eastbourne and Willingdon.
Can you help to spot small shops where #EBtogether queue markers might be needed?
We can arrange to get some to you so that you can offer them to your local shop, and help prevent the spread of the virus. Do let us know here and we'll be in touch.
The Cabinets of both Eastbourne Borough and East Sussex County Councils have met recently by way of video conferences. Both reacted swiftly to the Coronavirus, spent large sums to address this and as a consequence have significant financial challenges ahead. For their part the Government have given some extra monies to local government but these fall a long way short of covering the additional expenditure, so how can they make ends meet? I believe that one way is to look at the differences that the pandemic has brought about in the way that we work and question, given the success that has been achieved in terms of remote working, whether they need all of the office accommodation they currently occupy. Let’s not simply drift back to the old ways of working before fully assessing the opportunities to do things differently in the future.
One of the important issues that the County considered was an inspection report into multi-agency response to children’s mental health. The inspection report made many positive comments about how this issue is addressed but also identified 18 areas for development and these have been responded to in a multi-agency action plan. It is good that mental health is now more widely understood. I believe that the long-term impact of CV19 is likely to mean an increase in the mental health challenges that people face and the more that these are discussed openly, the better.
At the Borough Council, the Cabinet considered the draft plan for the Downland estate. This sets out the vision for the downs over the next 25 years, conserving this iconic landscape and the cultural heritage of which we are custodians. To deliver this will mean working closely with partners such as The South Downs National Park; the trustees of the Beachy Head Countryside Centre and local farmers. Collectively, we can ensure the preservation of this important part of our heritage for the enjoyment of future generations.