EASTBOURNE has topped the sunshine league for another year, but with a slight dampener, after a squabble broke out between rival hotspots Jersey and neighbouring East Sussex town Hastings.
The town’s status as the sunniest place in the UK was reaffirmed this week when a weather expert announced Eastbourne had the highest number of sunshine hours for 2011.
Eastbourne has a history of record-breaking sunshine statistics as a popular holiday destination attracting more than 4.9 million visitors a year.
Over the past 12 months, Eastbourne has recorded an average five hours 23 minutes per day with 273.9 hours of sunshine in April 2011, almost 100 hours more than the long-term average.
The research has been done by Philip Eden, a meteorologist who has written for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph as well as managing his own websites weather-uk.com and climate-uk.com.
This week he confirmed Eastbourne recorded a huge 1,962 hours of sunshine during 2011, significantly ahead of rival sunny destinations Jersey and Guernsey.
But despite Mr Eden’s expertise, Jersey’s Met Department is challenging his findings.
The island’s tourism department uses the tagline ‘the warmest place in the British Isles’ in it adverts and David de Carteret, Jersey tourism director, said, “We are regularly challenged on our claims to be the warmest and sunniest place in Britain.
“It is a status we pride the island upon as it is a natural advantage we have over all our UK competitors.
“The scientific facts speak for themselves. We are happy to counter any challenges to our great record.”
Reports in the island’s local media say the Jersey Met Office has recorded 2,235 hours of sunshine which ‘blow Eastbourne’s out of the water’.
Hastings Borough Council has also questioned the results insisting people do not need to go to Eastbourne for sun.
Arun District Council has said it was disappointed not to see Bognor Regis on the list.
But the tourism department at Eastbourne Borough Council says it is ‘absolutely delighted’ to be given the title and seems unconcerned about the challenges made.
Cllr Neil Stanley, Eastbourne Borough Council cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said “News this week that Eastbourne recorded the highest number of sunshine hours during 2011 was confirmed by a leading meteorologist.
“With several other sunshine accolades behind us over the past few years, including a live feature on GMTV and news that we have the sunniest street in Great Britain, we are confident in our status as a leading destination for sunshine.
“We haven’t compared our temperatures with Jersey but for Eastbourne, we did record a higher average temperature in 2011, which for us was the warmest on record.”
He added, “We are absolutely delighted to hear that we are yet again the sunniest place in the UK with our unique microclimate bringing us more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the country.
“Eastbourne is lucky to be protected by Beachy Head and the South Downs and while sunshine has long been synonymous with Eastbourne, it’s always exciting to hear that we really are the sunshine coast.”
Weather presenter and Eastbourne resident Michael Fish has often boasted about the sunshine the town enjoys and is featured on the council’s website and in tourism leaflets saying, “The beauty of being sheltered by Beachy Head means that Eastbourne has a unique microclimate and really is sunny all year round.”
Cllr Stanley said, “With an exciting year coming up in Eastbourne in 2012, we are hoping our top sunshine hours, combined with a diverse range of attractions, including six theatres, award-winning art gallery, iconic bandstand, glorious seafront, South Downs National Park and historic sites such as the Redoubt Fortress, will continue to attract new visitors into the town.”