The weather has changed, the leaves are falling from the trees, autumn has clearly arrived and the nightmare, which is the Coronavirus is still very much with us. Indeed, much of 2020 has felt like a bad dream which we long to wake up from. Among the few bright spots have been the way that the Eastbourne community has rallied round to support those in need and the dedication of key workers to protect us and keep essential services operating. The pandemic has been extremely costly, many businesses have closed and there has been a big surge in unemployment. No layer of Government has escaped. At the Borough Council, when the cost and the loss of income are combined, they come to more than £10m, of which Government has so far paid £1.3m. At East Sussex there is a £7m gap between cost and reimbursement. At the start of the lockdown Government promised to reimburse Councils for both cost and loss of income, I hope that they deliver on that promise, but they are not without their problems as the national debt now exceeds an eye watering £2 trillion. The greater cost however has been the loss of human lives. I am sure that the thoughts of us all are with those who have lost loved ones. This pandemic is far from over. Speaking with the Leader of a Northern Council this week, he was telling me about the speed at which it is once again spreading. Clearly, we all still need to do all we can to tackle this.
Just before sitting down to write this article, I read the news that due to the delay in the release of new ‘blockbuster’ films, Cineworld is considering closing all of their cinemas. This would be a dreadful blow to the economy and result in more job losses, I sincerely hope that it can be avoided. There is however some good news as Towner are reopening their cinema. One of the films to be screened on 17th October is ‘Hope Gap’. Filmed at Seaford, the setting reminded me of one of the walks I took during my ‘staycation’ this year. It has a good storyline around relationships and if you can get tickets, it is worth seeing for the local scenery.
It is now 25 years since Eastbourne hosted the first International Children’s Conference on the Environment. This was a far-sighted event and drew together children from around the world to consider how to tackle the environmental challenges of the day under the banner ‘Leave it to us’. I was talking to Antonia Lucas this week. Together with her husband, Lord Ralph Lucas, she is working on a celebration of this event during the anniversary in November. More about this in a future article. In the meantime.