Action needed to halt slow decline

AS I sat in a cafe opposite the Devonshire Theatre on Sunday morning I noticed a dilapidated facade in front of me.

To my left I could see the Congress Theatre covered in scaffolding. Since moving to Eastbourne a year and half ago I’ve not seen it any different.

The interiors of Eastbourne Theatres also look dated and tired, although provide a glimpse of an elegant heyday.

Along with the Wish Tower and Bandstand there is a clear sense of decay in important public buildings – neglect, lack of vision and growing public dissatisfaction.

Eastbourne desperately needs a vision for major investment to bring its iconic public buildings into the 21st century and to ensure a modern vibrant tourist economy is maintained and developed.

It is easy to have a vision for change but in an age of austerity where is the money to come from to completely revamp or rebuild major public buildings?

Does Eastbourne Borough Council have a capital projects fund, can it invest reserves, issue local authority bonds or add a small levy to Council Tax?

If not more creative ownership, management and funding strategies are required. What about commercial investors?

Would a pension fund for instance be interested to buy and develop a site as part of their commercial property portfolio?

Each time I have been to the Congress for a concert it has been packed to the rafters – so there is a strong revenue stream which could be enhanced to provide attractive returns for investors.

What about overseas investors, sovereign wealth funds? How about twining Abu Dhabi with Eastbourne, what about a partnership and a renamed Emirates or Etihad Congress Theatre?!

Would anyone care about a name if we got state of the art facilities? Is anyone in charge thinking outside the box and exploring all options?

If not I fear we are destined for the status quo – the slow decline of Eastbourne.


Caroline Way