As the new year arrives, few will be sad to see the back of 2020. It has been a year like no other in my lifetime. The Coronavirus has impacted everyone, changing our way of life, curtailing our freedom and causing suffering to millions. More than 70,000 people have died in the UK as a result of the virus and the financial impact has hit individuals, businesses and all levels of Government. It has also hit the education of a generation of schoolchildren and whilst schools have done a sterling job providing teaching over the internet, it is not the same as classroom teaching. As I write this the Government is insisting that all children will return to school in the new year and this is clearly desirable, but despite the educational benefits of this, I would question the wisdom at a time when the virus is spreading so rapidly. I am sure that teachers will have spent much of their break wrestling with how this can be achieved, as added to the challenge of social distancing, their own numbers are likely to be depleted while colleagues are self-isolating.
On a more positive note, congratulations go to the Eastbourne Eco Action Network who are coordinating the ‘Treebourne’ project. This aims to plant 14,000 new trees at land off Sevenoaks Road and at Hampden Park. The project has received financial support from a number of sources, including Devolved Budget contributions from: St Anthonys, Langney and Hampden Park Wards. Thanks go to all of the volunteers who got this project off to a flying start by planting trees in December.
Our hopes now turn to 2021. New Year celebrations will be different as there will be no group partying, instead I am sure that ‘Auld Lang Syne’ will be sung in houses throughout the town. With vaccines having been approved and an ambitious vaccination programme planned there is good cause for optimism. The next couple of months will however be tough, the new strain of the virus is spreading at an alarming rate and the best that we can all do is to minimise the amount of contact we have with others until the majority of people have been vaccinated. We need to do this, not only for our own protection, but to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed during what is traditionally their busiest time of the year.
My very best wishes for the New Year – I hope that it brings good things to us all.