With Covid restrictions lifted, the local economy has been in recovery mode. In Eastbourne, the largest private sector employer is hospitality. Sadly, the Covid pandemic hit these businesses harder than most, establishments were closed and many staff laid off. It has therefore been good to see that most hotels and restaurants have now reopened. Their trade will have been boosted by many people choosing “Staycations” this year over foreign holidays and further helped by the Government decision to reduce the rate of VAT on the hospitality sector from 20% to 5% on a temporary basis. Regrettably, this reduction only lasts until the 30th September, just when the holiday season is coming to an end. Personally I believe that there is a strong argument for the lower rate being applied on a permanent basis, as this would be consistent with many other countries, but at the very least I hope that the Government will extend the period that 5% is levied, in order to help these businesses to get back on their feet.
A local issue that several people have contacted me about in recent days concerns parking at the shops in Beatty Road. Several weeks ago, the owner of the car park outside of the shops erected signs to say that in future there would be a charge for parking, but that the first hour would be free. This makes some sense as these spaces are intended for shoppers visiting these stores and so I can understand them wanting to discourage long term parking. These signs have however now been altered and charges will apply whatever the length of stay. To make matters worse, payment can only be made by phone. As this is private land, East Sussex County Council have no control over this decision. I do however hope that the owners of the land will rethink as the consequences are likely to be an inconvenience for some who don’t have a phone with them; congestion outside the homes of neighbouring residents as others choose to park on the street and the loss of trade for the shops as some people will undoubtedly go elsewhere.
This weekend the popular “Beer and Cider by the Sea” event takes place on the Western Lawns. With over 100 Real Ales, Ciders and Perries to choose from and a variety of music, it promises a good time for all who attend. Tickets can be purchased from the “Visit Eastbourne” website at www.visiteastbournetickets.co.uk/beercider
Stay safe and enjoy summer!