Upperton Residents will have seen a letter from Keith Glazier, the Conservative Leader of East Sussex County Council assuring us that in these difficult times there will be no new cuts to services in the new Budget cycle.
What he fails to say is that there are £3.25 million of cuts already announced for next year’s Budget including cuts to Childrens' Services, Early Years, Safeguarding and Library Services.
There are also £7.28 million of cuts already planned for future years; add to this a further £2.8m of savings (oops cuts!) which were not achieved. Pat Rodohan says, “This is a time when we should be adding services - like supporting Youth Employment and Mental Health issues - rather than continuous cutbacks”.
There have been £138 million of cuts to County Council Services during the last 10 years. For the last 30+ years the Conservatives have run East Sussex County Council.
30 wasted years of residents paying more and getting less.
County Council rates have increased by 24% while average earnings increased by only 13%
Meanwhile we’ve had our libraries, our specialist facilities for older people and amenities for children with learning difficulties all closed or cut.
This cannot be right – it's time for a change
The Hermitage is a Georgian “folly” situated in Manor Gardens. It’s a Grade II listed building and is truly a classic example of Georgian architecture inside and out.
Originally built at the end of the 18th century, this unique Georgian building, local historians believe, could have actually originally housed a Hermit! The Hermit would have been supported by the family in the Gildredge Manor located nearby. The Hermitage is thought to have been built slightly after the Manor House and early images show The Hermitage in open fields, long before Eastbourne was built and the Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park laid out. Over the intervening years, The Hermitage fell into a state of great disrepair, requiring a full restoration by Eastbourne Borough Council in 1990. Memorial plaques confirming this can be found by and inside The Hermitage.
Sadly, over recent winters The Hermitage was severely vandalised to the extinct that, if left, its future could have been in jeopardy.
The Friends of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park with the invaluable support of Upperton Councillors Pat Rodohan and Robin Maxted collaborated with the Council and brought about a refurbishment of the exterior of the building, restoring it to its former glory and preserving it for the future.
Now nearly in perfect original condition, the Friends have taken over the care of this special building from the Council and have many plans to care for and enhance the Hermitage and preserve it for future generations. Fundraising and other events will be held at The Hermitage by the Friends - Covid allowing - when The Hermitage will be opened to the public. Follow the Friends on Facebook for more information or contact Annie on [email protected]
Pat Rodohan commented “I would like to thank the Eastbourne Borough Council Heritage Team for the care they took in restoring the exterior of The Hermitage. I am delighted that The Friends have taken over the care of this special building. I know that they have many plans to enhance and preserve it for future generations, and to open it to the public”.
Josh Babarinde has been awarded an OBE in recognition for his social enterprise business, Cracked IT, working with London gang members to help turn their lives around.
Josh led the Award winning #EBtogether Campaign which telephoned over 5000 elderly residents across the town, 500+ in Upperton, during the first Lockdown. The project connected those in need with local support services and volunteer help.
Josh and his firm also launched a scheme to provide free video phones to Eastbourne Care Home Residents so they could stay connected with their families during the lockdown and see their GPs online.
Pat Rodohan says "I've known Josh since he was a bright young Head Boy at Cavendish School. He continued to return to Eastbourne, supporting Stephen Lloyd’s campaigns. What’s impressed me about Josh is his commitment to making Eastbourne a better place for all residents, his easy manner and his ability to organise".
As part of the Eastbourne Walking Festival, and to mark World Car Free Day on 22nd September 2020, a section of Compton Place Road was closed to through traffic between 8am and 5pm. This was designed to encourage children attending Gildredge House School (and their parents) to walk, scoot or cycle to school and, by closing the part of the road that runs alongside Manor Gardens, to provide a safer, cleaner and secure environment for them to do so.
A steering group was created some months beforehand which comprised local resident Antonia Lucas, Tom Nevill (organiser of Eastbourne Car Free Day) and Cllr Robin Maxted, also a local resident. The local council were extremely supportive, especially Neil Peters from Neighbourhood First and Peter Martin, acting manager at EBC Events Team. We would also like to thank the people who volunteered to help on the day.
Cllr Robin Maxted said “It was liberating for children who have to endure the stress of mixing with, and avoiding, heavy traffic along this potentially dangerous road on a daily basis. The happiness, relief and newly-found security felt by the children was palpable, as some sang and danced down the middle of the road to school”. Sounds of enjoyment were mixed with some memorable and poignant quotes from the children, such as “I’ve never seen such a wide pavement” and “why can’t it be like this everyday?”
With the support of local residents, staff, governors, parents and pupils of Gildredge House School, Upperton Councillors are working towards creating a School Safe Zone, where this road closure could eventually happen every school day between 8am to 9am, and 3pm to 4pm.
If you watched the Prime Ministerial broadcast on Saturday evening, like me you may have breathed a large sigh when the fresh lockdown was announced. This has been a tough year and the thought of returning to tighter restrictions is wearying for us as individuals and worrying for businesses, who were seeking to recover from the first lockdown. When however you look at the reasons for the decision, based on the rapid spread of the virus, rise in the number of deaths and expert predictions of the impact if we continue to live the way we have recently, the need for these measures is obvious and I am supportive of them. In truth they should probably have been implemented sooner, but these are difficult decisions to make as the evidence upon which they are based changes quickly.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned the 25th Anniversary of the International Children’s Conference. This event, which was staged in Eastbourne was led by my late colleague Maurice Skilton, together with Michael and Kitty Ann who were then the owners of Drusillas. In many ways this event was ahead of its time as it recognised the environmental challenges which face our planet and brought together young people from around the world to discuss the measures required for sustainability. In celebration of the anniversary of this event and recognition of the town’s Environmental programme, Lord Ralph Lucas and his wife Antonia, supported by the Council, have organised a programme of environmental events running from the 9th to the 20th November. Michael and Kitty return to share their memories of the conference, as do a number of the young people who participated and are now in their mid to late 30s. Others taking part include: Sir Tim Smit (founder of the Eden Project), Dr William Bird (from Beat the Street) and Baroness Floella Benjamin. These events are on-line so can take place despite the lockdown. Details can be found at: www.crowdcast.io/makingnaturalhistory so why not take a look and join in?
Covid-19 cases have continued to rise again this week with the number in Eastbourne being 44 per 100,000 of the population, roughly in line with the average for East Sussex. Mercifully, this remains well below the average for England at 192 and as a result we continue to enjoy greater freedoms than many other areas. It is important for our health and economy that we do not become complacent and remember the mantra of ‘hands, face, space’ in all that we do. I know that the rules have changed many times and I was asked this week about family gatherings. The current rule is that whether family or not, groups meeting up from different households indoors or out, should not exceed 6 people.
The team at the Council-run Environmental Services Company (SEESL) have done a fantastic job keeping our bins empty during the pandemic and deserve our thanks for all of their hard work. They also do their best to keep our streets clean, but this can be a hard task as some people irresponsibly drop their litter. I remember when I was young the item I was most likely to see discarded were cigarette ends, then when the number of smokers reduced, it became plastic carrier bags, the introduction of a charge at supermarkets tackled this. Now, it appears to be disposable face masks. Please think of others when your mask reaches the end of its useful life and pop it in a bin instead of dropping it on the pavement for someone else to clear up. If there is a street that you believe needs to be swept, this can be reported either via the Council website or by using the smartphone ‘report it’ app.
We are now entering the final week of ‘Beat the Street’, which ends on 4 November. This has been a huge success and congratulations go to all involved in making this possible, especially Dr William Bird at Intelligent Health, who organised the event. As it comes to a close, I have no doubt that it will have left many (myself included) much fitter. The challenge now is to maintain this level of exercise!
An early start last weekend in order to ‘Beat the Street’, and whilst watching the sunrise on our glorious seafront I couldn’t help reflecting on how lucky we are living where we do. This year has been both worrying and restricting as a result of Covid-19, but we are fortunate to live in an area with so much natural beauty on our doorstep. I can’t help but feel sorry for those you have spent 2020 in a tower block in an inner city!
Back to 'Beat the Street' - this has really taken off as more than 8500 people are hitting the beatboxes around Eastbourne. Let’s hope that the weather stays fine for the school holidays as this will provide a healthy activity for children at a time when many other activities have been curtailed. Someone did however tell me that during their walk they saw a car pull up, a woman jump-out and flash three cards under the scanner. ‘Beat the Street’ is suppose to be a bit of fun and to help us keep fit by walking and cycling and cutting down on carbon emissions, so it is sad to hear that some are ignoring the rules.
I was delighted to hear that The Queen’s Birthday Honours list brought the award of an MBE for local resident Ian Westgate. Ian has worked tirelessly for the local community, especially those with disabilities, for very many years without any thought of reward. He is a worthy recipient of this honour.
Looking at the number of known Covid-19 cases at the time I write, Eastbourne remains mercifully low in comparison with much of the UK. As I have said before however this virus spreads extremely fast and there is no room for complacency. A test centre has returned to the car park at Devonshire Park, so if you think that you have developed any symptoms of Covid, play safe and book a test.
Conservatives on East Sussex County Council refused to support a Notice of Motion asking them to sign up to the UNISON Ethical Care Charter as soon as possible.
Liberal Democrat and Labour County Councillors pointed to the huge contribution made by carers during the pandemic and argued that it was high time that they were properly rewarded.
Cllr John Ungar, Shadow Spokesperson for Adult Social Care, said:
“It seems that the Conservatives are happy to clap for carers but don’t care enough about them to pay them properly. There is no reason why the County Council should not sign up to this Ethical Charter as many other authorities have done, and it would give a strong message to our carers that we recognise the value of the work they are doing”.
Cllr David Tutt, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group adds:
“Boris Johnson came to power promising to sort out Adult Social Care. Signing the Charter would set a firm framework for improving conditions for hard-pressed care workers at a local level and services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community”.
Some additional context: Unison launched the Ethical Care Charter in 2013. The Charter calls for councils to commission homecare services which establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care by ensuring employment conditions which:
- do not routinely short change clients, and
- ensure the recruitment and retention of a more stable workforce through more sustainable pay, conditions and training levels.
Since it was launched in 2013, 46 councils with responsibility for social care have signed the Charter.
I was very pleased to hear the announcement that Eastbourne is going to get a new hospital. If this materialises and is indeed a new hospital and not just an add-on to the existing DGH, it will be great, not just for Eastbourne, but for the surrounding countryside that looks to the town for health care. I look forward to receiving details of the plans and sincerely trust that these will include the return of Consultant led Maternity services to the town. In a new hospital serving a community the size of Eastbourne, this must be seen as an essential service and failure to include this would be something for which the Government would not be forgiven.
Massive congratulations to local entrepreneur Josh Babarinde, who has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to criminal justice, social enterprise and the economy. I have been fortunate to have known Josh for over 10 years and been extremely impressed by his work and his commitment to the community. This award is richly deserved.
‘Beat the Street’ continues in town until the 4 November and has already attracted over 8,000 players, who have covered over 63,000 miles. I went out to hit a few beat boxes with Stephen Lloyd last week. It was slow progress as he stopped to talk to so many people on the way, but really good exercise. I am certain that we had earned the ice cream we stopped for at Fusciardi’s as we walked along the seafront. They make great gelato and it was good to see them doing well.
At the time I wrote my Herald column last week I had just read the news that Cineworld might close and expressed the hope that this could be avoided. As we now know that proved to be impossible. We are told that the closure is temporary and I hope that this is true and that it will be able to reopen soon. In the meantime, the Council are considering screening some films at The Congress Theatre. Whilst social distancing makes it difficult for the theatre to stages shows where margins are already tight, films have been screened there in the past and I hope that is something that can be repeated in the coming months.
Mural and Walks in Shinewater Park
Cllr Candy Vaughan is working with YMCA and Causeway School on a youth project to paint a mural under Golden Jubilee Way, in the park. Candy leads the Shinewater Friday Walk group. If you would like to join this group please contact Candy. [email protected]
Sevenoaks Road Recreation Ground – an 8000+ trees scheme
The plan of the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 Campaign is to reduce carbon emissions in response to the climate emergency. It includes plans to plant over 8000 trees in the Sevenoaks Road Recreation Ground as part of a project linking Eastbourne ECO Action Network & Eastbourne Borough Council with the Forestry Commission Urban Challenge Fund.
The planting will involve a variety of species and a mix of different sizes of trees, as well as hedges, shrubs and wildflowers, and creation of wildlife habitats. The bulk of the planting will be in the southern section of the park leaving a substantial amount of open space.
The scheme will involve consultation with the local community including schools and local residents. ECO Action Network volunteers will help with planting and maintenance stages of the project. Help from the wider community would be much appreciated.
Further details: [email protected]