IF there is one thing which sets Eastbourne apart from other towns it is our seafront. A delightful (and unlike Hastings, still open) pier; the beautiful Carpet Gardens; a lovely promenade and a picturesque bandstand – not to mention an unbeatable array of spots from which to enjoy a cup of tea and a breathtaking sea view.
However, that may soon be about to change. Eastbourne seafront, it seems, is going to the dogs.
Last week the council agreed to demolish the Wish Tower restaurant – in itself, not that big a loss. But there are as yet no concrete plans on what will replace it apart from a temporary offering which, to put it politely, looks like something from a kids TV show. Smack bang in the middle of a conservation area and likely to be taking up a large chunk of the Western Lawns.
Then earlier this week our mid-week paper, The Gazette, revealed that this year’s Airbourne would not include a display by the Red Arrows. As the town’s number one free event Airbourne plays a key role in generating tourism. Now though it will have to do so without its main attraction. The council says it will be OK. We will have to wait and see if they are right.
As if that wasn’t enough we then find the bandstand closed for repairs with the summer season fast approaching. The Herald threw its weight behind Eastbourne’s Peter Goldsmith and his campaign to restore the town’s memorial to a local Titanic victim which is in the bandstand site. The council planned a concert to mark the occasion. That will now have to take place somewhere else because they could not plan the works round the anniversary – an anniversary which has hardly been sprung on people being, as it is, 100 years in the planning.
The most optimistic estimate is that the bandstand will stay shut until June at the earliest, although nobody is holding their breath on that one.
So, no Wish Tower restaurant, no Red Arrows at Airbourne, no concerts at the bandstand and a Western Lawns which is likely to be less lawn and more temporary cafe. Add to that the likely impact the hosepipe ban will have on the seafront lawns and flowerbeds and things are looking far from rosy for Eastbourne’s famous prom.
Hotels are also warning that a new 65-bed town centre hotel will force them out of business.
Eastbourne is a wonderful place to live – we all know that. The worry is that it might not always be such a great place to visit.