Your Langney County Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, together with Cllr Candy Vaughan and Cllr Harun Miah have joined the Lib Dem call for the government to raise Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year. This would help support 2,288 unpaid family carers in Eastbourne during the coronavirus pandemic; an increase of £20 per week to match the recent increase in Universal Credit.
Sign the Stand Up For Carers Petition!
Just 1,529 of Eastbourne’s carers currently receive carer’s allowance and Alan also wants the remaining 759 carers who currently don’t get it due to overlapping benefits to benefit too.
Alan said, "These are mostly older carers on low income who may have been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These wonderful family carers in Eastbourne are doing a incredible job in very difficult circumstances. They deserve our support, but are too often overlooked or ignored. Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society.”
Covid-19 continues to hit Eastbourne very hard. Kathy Ballard, Sovereign Spokesperson said, “Latest figures for Sovereign show an increase in cases from 94.9 per 100,000 on 29th January to 108.5 on 4th February. But set against the overall rate for Eastbourne (361 per 100,000) this suggests the virus is still well contained in our community. Thankfully, figures across East Sussex are dropping.
I pay tribute to the many people who work so hard on behalf of our town during this dreadful pandemic. From the NHS, our care homes, essential retail and not forgetting those many volunteers who have been shopping for vulnerable people in the Ward and across town. Thank you.”
The latest publicity on the dangers of Covid and the need to adhere to the lock-down regulations appear to have reinforced residents’ resolve to protect the NHS and themselves, and Sovereign’s Covid cases have dropped. The core messages seem to be working as people remain at home.
Your Sovereign Spokesperson, Kathy Ballard, says, “Thank you to all residents who are following the rules and guidelines. Please keep it up. If you, or anyone you know, needs help the Eastbourne Borough Council Community Hub helpline on 01323 679722 offers a wide range of advice and support.”
A recent tweet from the Sussex Police:
"We have had a small number of reports of attempted Covid vaccine scams in East Sussex, so we are urging people to be careful. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay."
Your Sovereign Spokesperson, Kathy Ballard, has joined the Lib Dem call for the government to raise Carer’s Allowance by £1,000 a year. This would help support 2,288 unpaid family carers in Eastbourne during the coronavirus pandemic; an increase of £20 per week to match the recent increase in Universal Credit.
Sign the Stand Up For Carers Petition!
Just 1,529 of Eastbourne’s carers currently receive carer’s allowance and Kathy also wants the remaining 759 carers who currently don’t get it due to overlapping benefits to benefit too. Kathy said, "These are mostly older carers on low income whose challenges have been made even harder by coronavirus.
Our wonderful unpaid carers in Eastbourne are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances; they deserve our support, but they are too often forgotten or ignored. Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society.”
As your Sovereign Spokesperson, I am already working for you on key Sovereign issues. The cladding issue is affecting many people in both North & South Harbour. In the absence of help from Caroline Ansell, Eastbourne's MP and Sovereign Councillor, a number of you contacted me.
I started lobbying immediately on your behalf as the financial costs some residents are facing are huge; the change of rules that have happened since you bought your apartments is totally unfair. You should not be held responsible.
Mrs Ansell eventually got in touch with me following my letter to the Herald. I am pleased to hear she has now signed the McPartland Smith amendment to the Fire Safety Bill to support leaseholders, and that this week the Government has earmarked a further £3.5 billion to cover the cost of these works. However, although these are steps in the right direction, it is regrettable Mrs Ansell abstained on the recent relevant vote and the government are still requiring leaseholders in buildings less than 6 stories high (18m) to take out loans to pay for cladding changes; this means paying back £50 a month on these loans. This week’s announcement flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s recent assurance that leaseholders would not be paying out. Government must increase the proposed developer levy to cover these costs, not least because the offer also leaves unresolved the costs for other fire safety defects such as flammable balconies.
Actions speak louder than words! Would you expect your county councillor for Sovereign, Cllr David Elkin to speak out on your behalf? It would appear Mr Elkin has not said a word. Very disappointing.
The government needs to do more to help Sovereign residents trapped in this financial catastrophe. Sovereign residents deserve to be listened to and their issues taken seriously. Something I intend do on your behalf if elected at the county elections on 6th May. Alongside Eastbourne’s Liberal Democrat group, I will put service above party politics. I hope you will vote for me.
The Walk-In service provided unique access to healthcare not replicated elsewhere in the town and was an important safety net for patients who couldn’t get an appointment at other GP surgeries. Our key industry is tourism, and the Walk-in centre provided a vital and accessible facility for sick visitors not needing to go to A&E. It was also an important service for Eastbourne’s most vulnerable, some of whom are unable to book a GP appointment in advance.
Recently Lib Dem councillors on Eastbourne Borough Council put forward a motion calling upon the Health Service Commissioners to halt the closure process. Your Conservative borough councillors’ response? Abstention.
At a Subsequent East Sussex County Council Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee, all Conservative Councillors voted for the health centre’s closure. Despite Lib Dems voting against the closure, they were outvoted by the Tories who hold the majority on this committee.
The Conservatives have now decided the fate of this vital town-wide service.
Kathy Ballard said,” I can’t believe that Conservative councillors voted to allow this much-needed medical centre to close. This move flies in the face of public opinion and shows how out of touch they are.”
Liberal Democrat County Council budget proposals focus on the most vulnerable residents. Conservatives talk about vulnerable people, but Liberal Democrats roll-up their sleeves to take action.
Our 2021-22 budget proposals put money back into the kitty to support people who have suffered most during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the Conservative led Council voted-down our amendments.
We would have added £200,000 from the County’s Covid money to support children’s mental health assessments and services; many of them have been so badly affected by the lack of school attendance.
Lib dems proposed that additional social services money - £880,000 - should go towards providing training and respite services for carers; grant funds for front-line voluntary sector services; adult mental health support, and expansion of the successful Community Hubs.
Dr Kathy Ballard, Sovereign Spokesperson for the County elections, said, “It is bewildering that the Conservative County leadership propose a council tax precept increase of 3% split over two years for adult social care, set £880,000 aside in the budget, but don’t say how it will be spent! Would you run a county in this way?
Comparisons of council tax rises since 2007 show that Lib Dem-led Eastbourne Borough Council has raised council tax by 23% and the Conservatives in Tory-run County Hall by a whopping 42%. A substantial difference hitting your pocket. If elected on 6th May to be Sovereign County Councillor, I would be demanding to know how this can be and ensuring you get some accountability for your money.”
A ‘community fridge’ in neighbouring Langney is helping to fight food poverty, and Kathy showed-up to lend a volunteering hand.
All thanks must go to DB Domestics for donating a fridge freezer to store the cold food alongside the fresh fruit & veg, tins and packaged food.
The Langney Larder is open to all Eastbourne residents who are struggling in these tough times to make ends meet, and is open between 10am and 12 on Tuesday & Wednesday at the Langney Community Centre, Etchingham Road.
Kathy said, “Even without the added pressures of Covid, food poverty and food waste are real issues. It is all good food, in date and is the surplus from supermarkets and food businesses. For £2 a visit you can leave with a large shopping basket of food!”.
To follow the project’s progress and watch out for opening times you can follow Langney Community Centre on Facebook, and if you would like to support this project or set up a fridge in your own church, community centre or another public venue, please email Councillor Helen Burton at [email protected]
Liberal Democrat County Councillors attacked the Conservative budget for spending more on communications than on repairs to pavements and potholes.
Councillor John Ungar, County Councillor for Old Town explains:
“The budget for communications is £100,000 more than the County Council is prepared to spend on mending pavements. People don’t want more glossy leaflets. They want to be able to walk down the road without tripping over broken pavements and to drive cars and bikes, including pushbikes, without falling down potholes.
The Conservatives ridiculed our proposal to spend less on leaflets and more on basic services that people need. This shows their empty values: all show and no delivery”.
There is a gross budget of £1,102,000 for Communications.
In the CET capital budget there is an amount of £1 million for “Highways maintenance e.g. dropped kerbs and patching”.
As you would expect I continue to keep a close eye on the Covid-19 infection rate in Eastbourne. This remains above the national average, but the number of new infections in the past week is now mercifully below 300. This means that from a record high level a few weeks ago, it appears that the current lockdown is having a positive impact on reducing the spread of the virus. This news, coupled with the speed that the vaccination programme is being rolled out, will I am sure be making many of us ask, ‘how much longer the restrictions will be in place?’ We are unlikely to know the answer to this before the 22nd February, which is the date that the Government have published for their next announcement on the way forward. Whatever they decide it will not be an easy decision, as it needs to balance the concerns over the economy and peoples’ mental health of staying in lockdown with the risks of lifting restrictions too soon, only to see infection rates spiral once more. If there is one thing that I am sure most of us are agreed upon, it is that we do not want to see another lockdown later in the year.
Whenever lockdown is finally lifted there will be many challenges for us to face, both as a local community and as a nation. Children have had their education severely disrupted. Many people have lost their jobs, unemployment levels are high; businesses of all sizes have closed and Government at all levels have financial challenges as they have had to borrow to make-up for lost income and to pay for the impact of Covid. Locally it will be important to do all that we can to support our local economy and I will say more about that in a future article.
This week the Government announced that the elections planned for May (in our case those for the County Council and Police and Crime Commissioner) will go ahead. Due to the pandemic, it is not currently clear just how easy this will be. Political parties have not been allowed to deliver literature recently due to the lockdown and so getting their messages across will be more difficult than usual. These elections are however important and with uncertainty over the safety of going out it could be sensible to apply for a postal vote. Anyone can do this, details of how to apply can be found at www.gov.uk/.../publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote or you can contact the electoral registration officer via the Council phone number 01323 410000 for more information. Whichever candidate you might consider voting for I would urge you to take part and vote. Democracy is a precious part of the make-up of our country, you only need to look at places where it does not exist to understand the risk of losing it.
Conservative councillors refused to back Liberal Democrat budget amendments that would have allowed £1.25 million spending (revenue and capital) on initiatives to boost the local economy and respond to the climate change emergency.
Cllr David Tutt, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group explains:
“The County Council declared a climate change emergency, yet the Conservatives made no provision at all in their budget to fund actions to deliver this. Our proposals included installing electric vehicle charging points and putting the County Council’s own house in order by installing low carbon heating and solar energy. This would have had an impact on the local supply chain, helping local businesses.
We should be taking a leadership role in this, not simply making empty statements that mean nothing unless they are backed up by positive action”.
Cllr. John Ungar, Old Town Eastbourne added:
“The recent Scrutiny Review on becoming a carbon neutral council is a start but it was very narrow in scope. There is much more that the County Council should and could be doing. We need to move much faster – the clue is in the word “emergency”.
The response to a question about idling engines outside our schools was frankly complacent. The Conservatives seem unwilling to take any positive action to drive forward what is probably the most important issue for all of us both locally and globally”.
Cllr John Ungar further said:
“We should be adding carbon neutral clauses into all contracts issued by East Sussex County Council. There are opportunities here which the Conservatives are refusing to consider”.