Easter freeze scuppers town’s holiday weekend

It’s officially British Summer Time but with snow flurries and freezing temperatures, Eastbourne has seen the coldest Easter weekend on record.

Temperatures plummeted over the Bank Holiday and a biting north easterly wind made it feel even colder. It is in stark contrast to the same day last year when the town enjoyed a balmy 20C on March 29. And on Easter weekend in 2011, which fell on the second weekend in April, temperatures made 23C on the Saturday (April 7).

Eastbourne residents and visitors usually flock to the seaside over the four-day weekend. The hotels are usally full and seafront kiosks do a roaring trade.

Tourism is a major part of the Eastbourne economy – however, tourism relies on good weather and campsites, ice cream parlours and hotels have noticed a big drop on last year’s profits. Elaine Harrison, the warden at Bay View Park camping and caravan park in Pevensey Bay, said, “This time last year is was about 20C and we were packed. I would say we are about 40 per cent down this year. We have got two fields here. Last year they were both full and this year we just have caravans and motorhomes in one. There are no tents at all this year because it is just too cold and without electricity they have no way of staying warm.

“We have a shop here selling eggs and bacon and I have really noticed a difference in there over the weekend. Last year we had children running in buying their sweets but this year there has been nothing. I think it is also partly to do with the recession but the weather has just been the icing on the cake, or should I say the frost on the ground.”

Marino Pesce, who runs Fusciardi’s ice-cream parlour on the seafront, said, “We have seen an increase in hot chocolate sales but the ice creams are not selling too well at the moment. I am assuming that as soon as the weather cheers up people will just flock to the beach because they are so fed up. I know I will be at the beach. It is just so miserable at the moment and there is no-one about. The wind on your face along the seafront is bitterly cold.”

Jerome Farrow is chairman of Eastbourne Hospitality Association and says hoteliers expect to be full over the Easter weekend but this year has been a struggle.

He said, “Even if people have got the money to go away, they are sitting at home and aren’t even thinking about it when it is 3C outside. A March Easter is no good for hoteliers.”