DCSIMG

Out in the Field: Arrow into the heart of town’s economy?

WITH local youngsters enjoying the Easter holidays, Annemarie Field is spending a few days with her little treasures, so one of our other Herald reporters steps in to try and fill her sizeable shoes. He hopes you don’t hate him for not being her.

AS SOMEONE relatively new to Eastbourne the news that the Red Arrows would not be coming to this year’s Airborne did not quite stir the same emotions in me as some of my locally born and raised colleagues. A blow, to be sure, but was it really THAT big a deal? Just book some jump jets and move on. Apparently though, it IS that big a deal.

Eastbourne, it seems, has until now enjoyed a special relationship with the flight team. It was evident when one of the Arrows died last year as the town hall flag hung at half mast.

And it is evident each year as thousands of locals head to the seafront to watch their acrobatic exploits over the pier. This year though, when Eastbourne is enjoying the 20th anniversary of Airbourne, the Red Arrows will fly over Red Square, no doubt delighting the crowds of Moscow.

Airbourne will go on without them and while it may not be quite the same spectacle, the loyalty of its audience will probably mean visitor numbers don’t suffer too much this year.

The town needs to hope its love affair with the Arrows is not unrequited for too long. A prolonged absence might start to eat away at the annual boost Airbourne gives the local economy.

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ANOTHER thing which has surprised me about Eastbourne – a town incidentally I am becoming more fond of every day – is it is not twinned with anywhere. My last job was in Hastings which was, quite simply, mad about twinning. Dordrecht and Hastings in Sierra Leone were official overseas links, while the local council was even invited to tie-in with Xiangsheng in China. I may have been wrongly informed about Eastbourne’s lack of a twin town (and if I have been, blame my colleagues...) but it seems strange a town which so benefits from foreign tourists has never bedded down with a town on the continent. Thousands of students head to the Sunshine Coast each year, bringing millions of pounds with them. Isn’t about time Eastbourne branched out and found a town to twin with?

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LAST time Annemarie was off I wrote about getting an ice rink here in Eastbourne. Admittedly I have a vested interest. As a big ice hockey fan I would love to see a team based here in Sussex rather than have to trek to Guildford to get my fix.

The idea seems to have sparked something in some locals because the Herald has been receiving letters saying what a great idea it would be. With a growing population of young people and so many foreign students, a rink would be a brilliant asset for Eastbourne. It wouldn’t even need to be that big, just large enough to house a hockey rink, seats for the crowd and a changing area for public skaters. Come on Eastbourne Borough Council, make it so.

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I HAVE been covering the long-running saga surrounding the Wish Tower and the council decision to demolish the restaurant and have been amazed at how little people think they are being listened to. Councillors on the planning committee have a difficult job. They have to abide by strict guidelines and by the time the plans reached the town hall last week, there really was nothing the councillors could do but vote in favour of knocking it down. That said, more could have been done BEFORE then to engage local people and the fact the temporary replacement – which looks like something you imagine seeing the Telly Tubbies chilling outside – might end up smack bang in the middle of the Western Lawns is only going to annoy people all the more.

There needs to be a culture shift at the council which sees residents listened to more before applications end up at planning meetings because, to put it bluntly, by the time it gets voted on, it is often already too late.

 

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