A few weeks ago, I wrote about the shock announcement by The University of Brighton, that they plan to move out of Eastbourne and concentrate all of their activities upon their Brighton campus. This news, which came out of the blue, was followed by a period of public consultation which ended last week. The university occupies a vast number of buildings and sporting facilities in Meads and if they leave, I believe that this will have a very negative impact on the town. I therefore responded strongly to the consultation, opposing their plans. I pointed out:
- the economic impact that this will have, not only in terms of the money that the students spend locally, but also the number of people who rely either directly or indirectly on the University for their employment. This includes all of those who work for businesses that supply them with goods and services
- the change that this will bring in terms of the age demographics to the town, as 1500 predominantly young students move to Brighton
- the lack of clarity over the future of the sporting facilities if the university continue with their plans. Many of these were formerly part of Chelsea College and not only serve the students but also provide an excellent programme for the over 60s in the town
In meetings with representatives of the university, they state clearly that they must put their students first, but I would question whether these proposals do that. The cost of living in Brighton is much higher than in Eastbourne and if the university wish to be inclusive, they need to take into account those from the east of the county, (not just Eastbourne) who can attend courses here by way of daily travel, but for whom Brighton would be too distant.
The Borough Council are not the only organisation to oppose these plans. All the Liberal Democrat County Councillors representing the town, spoke at a meeting of the Lead Member for Economy at East Sussex and I am grateful to Councillor Rupert Simmons for adding the weight of the County Council to this cause. Team East Sussex (TES), who are a group of local councils, businesses and community bodies, have also called for the Eastbourne Campus to be retained. The decision is now in the hands of those who run the university, but I hope that they will see the wisdom and benefits of retaining a wider geographical base for their activities.
Pictured L to R: Councillors Pat Rodohan, Colin Swansborough, Rupert Simmons (Cabinet member for Economy at ESCC), John Ungar, Stephen Holt, David Tutt (Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council) and Alan Shuttleworth.