Update from Eastbourne Borough Council Leader David Tutt on 28-Dec-20

As the new year arrives, few will be sad to see the back of 2020.  It has been a year like no other in my lifetime.  The Coronavirus has impacted everyone, changing our way of life, curtailing our freedom and causing suffering to millions.  More than 70,000 people have died in the UK as a result of the virus and the financial impact has hit individuals, businesses and all levels of Government.  It has also hit the education of a generation of schoolchildren and whilst schools have done a sterling job providing teaching over the internet, it is not the same as classroom teaching.  As I write this the Government is insisting that all children will return to school in the new year and this is clearly desirable, but despite the educational benefits of this, I would question the wisdom at a time when the virus is spreading so rapidly.  I am sure that teachers will have spent much of their break wrestling with how this can be achieved, as added to the challenge of social distancing, their own numbers are likely to be depleted while colleagues are self-isolating.

On a more positive note, congratulations go to the Eastbourne Eco Action Network who are coordinating the ‘Treebourne’ project.  This aims to plant 14,000 new trees at land off Sevenoaks Road and at Hampden Park.  The project has received financial support from a number of sources, including Devolved Budget contributions from: St Anthonys, Langney and Hampden Park Wards.  Thanks go to all of the volunteers who got this project off to a flying start by planting trees in December.

Our hopes now turn to 2021.  New Year celebrations will be different as there will be no group partying, instead I am sure that ‘Auld Lang Syne’ will be sung in houses throughout the town.  With vaccines having been approved and an ambitious vaccination programme planned there is good cause for optimism.  The next couple of months will however be tough, the new strain of the virus is spreading at an alarming rate and the best that we can all do is to minimise the amount of contact we have with others until the majority of people have been vaccinated.  We need to do this, not only for our own protection, but to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed during what is traditionally their busiest time of the year.

My very best wishes for the New Year – I hope that it brings good things to us all.

Stay safe!

David Tutt


Update from Eastbourne Borough Council Leader David Tutt on 21-Dec-20

This Christmas will be unlike any in living memory and certainly not one that any of us would have wished for.  The Covid-19 virus, which only a year ago, was nothing more than a minor comment in the news as something which had appeared in a part of China, has since swept the globe, resulting in death to millions.  Distress and hardship have become commonplace and here in England, the Prime Ministerial announcement last weekend will have further disrupted the already curtailed celebrations for many.  I am sure that we will all be reflecting on how life has changed so rapidly.  Christmas is of course a religious festival, but it will not only be those of us who are Christians who will have the many who have suffered, in our thoughts and prayers.

Difficult times such as these do of course bring out the best in so many people.  Those key workers who have selflessly continued during the pandemic:  our brilliant NHS staff, who must have been under immense strain; other members of the emergency services; the refuse collectors who have kept our bins empty the whole year and those who have produced or supply food, they all deserve our grateful thanks, as indeed do the countless volunteers who have helped protect the vulnerable at this time.

Looking ahead to 2021 there is naturally concern over the future.  The virus has demonstrated an ability to mutate and the new strain appears to be spreading more rapidly.  As it has only recently been identified, we have still to learn what impact it will have.  There is however cause for hope.  With vaccines already approved and many others being developed, we can be more optimistic that by this time next year, we will be through the worst of this horrific period and that life, whilst in some respects changed forever, will have returned to that which for many years we have taken for granted.  At that point, the challenge will be to rebuild our economy and create employment for those who have lost theirs as a result of the pandemic. 

As I have already said, this Christmas will be very different for most of us.  I send you my best wishes for an enjoyable time, coupled with hope that we will soon be able to once again meet up with friends, family and loved ones and celebrate.

Happy Christmas – stay safe!

David Tutt

 


Update from Eastbourne Borough Council Leader David Tutt on 13-Dec-20

With Christmas fast approaching and the Government decision to partially relax restrictions following the second lockdown, I am sure that we were all hoping for a short respite from the challenges posed by Covid-19.  Sadly, this is not the case as, whilst the rate of infection remains lower in Eastbourne than the national average, the numbers are increasing.  There is the added concern that a new strain of the virus has been identified and this is spreading in the South East of England and the high infection rates seen a week ago in Kent, are now hitting Hastings and Rother.  The message is clear, we need to remain extremely vigilant, continue to maintain social distancing, wash our hands regularly, wear face masks and resist the temptation to hug friends and families over the Christmas.  The USA saw a spike in infection rates following their thanksgiving break and it is likely that the same will happen here following Christmas.

The restrictions on what we can and cannot do has hit our local eateries hard.  So, I am really disappointed to hear that since reopening many pubs and restaurants have reported that they have been taking bookings from people who just don’t turn up. I know that plans change, but I would ask on their behalf that you let the venue know in advance if you need to cancel.  Being in Tier 2 has hit them badly.  They order food and arrange staffing to cover the numbers that they are expecting to cater for, so please help them at this difficult time.

If you are shopping in the town centre, please don’t forget about the Christmas Cracker raffle.  This is a ticket that money cannot buy, but just spend £40 or more on food or goods and email the receipts to [email protected] or take them to: the Welcome Building; Coffee Republic or Flowers of Eastbourne at The Enterprise Centre,  a and you have the chance to win a magnificent prize which will last the whole of 2021. 

Looking for something to do with the Children over the holiday period, why not pay a visit to the Congress MOVIE theatre?  Congress complies fully with the Government guidelines to protect against the spread of Covid-19 and provides a big screen experience for a range of Christmas films including: The Nightmare before Christmas; Frozen; Nativity; Elf; The Muppet Christmas Carol and more.

Stay safe

David Tutt


Town Centre Walk-in Centre Closure

Conservative County Councillors led by Eastbourne's former Conservative Mayor Colin Belsey recently voted to approve the closure of the popular NHS GP Walk-In Centre at Eastbourne station.

The Walk-In centre has over 3,400 registered patients on its books and comes at a time when GP surgeries are reeling from Covid-19. Your Liberal Democrats led opposition to the proposals but the Conservatives on the County committee voted for closure. Ignoring hundreds of objections from local residents, the Conservatives at County decided to rely instead on the over-stretched 111 phoneline, and a once a week, limited-hour, drop-in service.

The Lighthouse and Grove Road surgeries are under ever increasing pressure, and with the Bolton Road surgery relocating to Old Town early next year, where will these 3,400 registered patients go?

Kathy Ballard said, “This is a real kick in the teeth for residents in the town centre. So many people rely on these services. At the end of the day, Conservative Councillors have voted to close the Walk-In Centre, undercutting what is in the best interests of the people of Eastbourne, and disregarding the vast number of people who raised objections. It's time for change at the County Council.”


Temporary Suspension of Street Parking Charges

In part acknowledging that they made the wrong decision earlier this year, Conservative-run East Sussex County Council have temporarily suspended on-street parking charges in the town centre after 4pm between Thursday to Saturday in the run-up to Christmas.

County Conservatives imposed steep increases in both residents parking permits and on-street parking fees earlier this year. After considerable protest from residents, local businesses and your local Lib Dems, the Conservatives at County seem to have realised that imposing steep increases in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic might not have been the best idea.

Although the fee suspension is only temporary in the run-up to Christmas, Sovereign spokesperson Kathy Ballard said, “Although not the complete u-turn we hoped for, we welcome the County decision as part of a concerted effort to boost local business at a crucial time of year.”


Ethical Care Charter

Conservatives at the County Council refused to support a request asking them to sign up to the UNISON Ethical Care Charter as soon as possible.

Signing the Charter would mean an end to 15 minute appointments; ensuring wherever possible vulnerable residents are routinely visited by the same carer; and that carers are paid for their travel time between appointments. It establishes improved standards for safety, quality and dignity of care.

A cross-party approach made by Liberal Democrat and Labour County Councillors pointed to the huge contribution made by carers during the Covid-19 pandemic and argued that it was high time care-workers were properly rewarded. This was rejected by the Conservatives.

Kathy Ballard said, “Care visits should be scheduled so as not to rush client or the carer, and 15-minute appointments should not be used. Anyone who’s received these 15-minute appointments will tell you it risks undermining the dignity of clients, and carers feel they can’t do a proper job in such a short timescale. There is no reason why the County Council should not sign up to this Ethical Charter as many other local authorities have done. It would give a strong message to our carers that we recognise the value of the work they are doing. I’m really disappointed that Conservative Councillors didn’t support this.”

Since it was launched in 2013, 46 councils responsible for social care have signed the Charter.


Business Networking Meeting

Kathy Ballard was delighted to join Sovereign Business owners at a networking meeting in the Garden Bar. She met Deirdre Glasgow, the organiser, and was really impressed at the enthusiasm in the room.

This meeting was set up for businesses that are based in the Harbour. There will be another meeting in December (Covid permitting), and Kathy said, "this is a very good way for businesses in the harbour area to share ideas. I look forward to working more closely in the future with Deirdre for the promotion of Harbour businesses".


Soil Mound On Martinique Way

Residents from Columbus Point have contacted Kathy Ballard. They're worried about the large soil mound on Martinique Way near the Martello Tower. They complain that it spoils the view and that there are rats living in it which present a hazard.

Eastbourne Borough Council officers and councillors are working with the owner of the site to enable some landscaping to go ahead. An ecology report is required because the soil mound has been there for so long - but subject to that we hope that progress will be made to resolve this situation as soon as possible.


Update from Eastbourne Borough Council Leader David Tutt on 6-Dec-20

Yet again this year Christmas has crept up on me far too fast.  In October I was telling myself that I had plenty of time to prepare and suddenly last weekend, I was hit by the realisation that there was less than three weeks to go.  That was my cue for some frantic activity: the annual trip to the loft to retrieve lights and decorations; the writing of Christmas cards; thinking about making the Christmas cake (well I still have a bit of time left, don’t I?), the buying of presents and deciding what food we will need.  Of course, Christmas will be a bit different this year.  Normally we have a large family gathering but through a series of calls and discussions, we have decided to postpone our usual celebrations in the hope that the vaccination programme will be successful and that we can meet-up for a belated Christmas in the spring.  So, time to scale down the usual food order and store away some crackers for use in a few months’ time.

Whilst the number of Covid-19 cases in Eastbourne is less than half the national average, this virus can spread extremely quickly and it is important that we do not allow ourselves to ‘throw caution to the wind’ over the holiday period.  Viewing scenes from London it is clear that many people are totally ignoring Social Distancing regulations and many have abandoned the use of face masks.  My fear is that this will lead to yet another spike in the rate of infections and many more avoidable deaths. 

I have been asked many questions about the vaccination programme.  People want to know how it will operate; where they will have to go to be vaccinated and which groups will be vaccinated first.  I have asked these questions myself and the answers I have received are that these details are being worked on.  Conducting this programme is going to be a herculean task and the call has gone out for vaccinators and trainee vaccinators in Sussex.  If you are interested you can find the details at www.sussexcommunity.nhs.uk/work-with-us/covid19vaccine.htm

With Christmas Day now just two weeks away, I wish you well with your Christmas preparations.  Things will feel very different this year.  Many more people than usual are likely to be feeling lonely, especially elderly people who live alone and have been isolating to avoid the risk of infection.  If you know someone like this, please give them a call and let them know that you are thinking of them. Hopefully we all have better days ahead.

Stay safe!

David Tutt


Tories Vote to Close NHS Walk-in Centre

Conservative County Councillors led by Eastbourne's former Conservative Mayor Colin Belsey recently voted to approve the closure of the popular NHS GP Walk-In Centre at Eastbourne station.

The Walk-In centre has over 3,400 registered patients on its books and comes at a time when GP surgeries are reeling from Covid-19. Your Liberal Democrats led opposition to the proposals but the Conservatives on the County committee voted for closure. Ignoring hundreds of objections from local residents, the Conservatives at County decided to rely instead on the over-stretched 111 phoneline, and a once a week, limited-hour, drop-in service.

The Lighthouse and Grove Road surgeries are under ever increasing pressure, and with the Bolton Road surgery relocating to Old Town early next year, where will these 3,400 registered patients go?

Peter Diplock said “This is a real kick in the teeth for residents in and around Lower Meads and the town centre. So many people rely on these services. At the end of the day, Conservative Councillors have voted to close the Walk-In Centre, undercutting what is in the best interests of the people of Eastbourne, and disregarding the vast number of people who raised objections. It's time for change at the County Council.”


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