OUT IN THE FIELD: Daniel O’Donnell, trees lost in Meads and Willingdon, Eastbourne cabbies and lockdown fines

If like me you regularly walk the downland, you will be familiar with the piles of diseased trees which have been cut down between Meads and Willingdon and left in sad piles all about the place.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 9:18 am
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 9:20 am
Daniel O'Donnell

I know there is no other remedy than to cut down those trees with the airborne fungus, ash dieback. If Eastbourne council and the Forestry Commission hadn’t acted so quickly, the diseased trees would have become weakened with branches or the tree itself at risk of falling onto footpaths, roads and property.

I understand they have to be felled but the sight of so many lost is a very sad sight. The landscape is changing so much with every walk.

And for someone who was neither born with a sense of direction or has managed to acquire one in my 50 plus years on Planet Earth, it makes a walk up Butts Lane and down through the woods a different experience every single time.

I see Irish hearthrob Daniel O’Donnell is planning to return to Eastbourne when the world returns to some sort of normality – fingers crossed – in October.

I am afraid I won’t be going to his concert at the Congress this time.

The amount of fans in the audience who at his last appearance spent more time filming the event with their mobile phones held high – and with much egging on from the man himself – made my brain ache and my hands itch.

I feel rather sorry for some of the town’s cabbies.

Eastbourne council, which licenses the private hire and Hackney Carriage trade in the town, is consulting as it wants to make changes to its licensing guidance. One of the proposals is that it will be mandatory for CCTV to be installed in all vehicles by October 2022 in a bid to protect the travelling public and drivers. While CCTV can be a valuable deterrent and useful to confirm or rebut complaints made against drivers – and there are a good measure in every town each year sadly – it doesn’t come cheap.

The average cost, say cabbies, is in the region of £400 and after a horrendous year which has seen their takings dive due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, it’s a cost they can do without in the present economic climate.

It’s also interesting to see the council is bringing in a penalty points scheme for drivers and operators to record misdemeanours and drivers’ behaviour. It’s a shame it wasn’t in force when one unscrupulous cabbie charged a foreign student just under 50 quid to go from the town centre to Hampden Park.

The consultation is ongoing and Joe Public can also take part and give their thoughts on the proposals until the end of March.

It now appears the woman who got cut off by the tide at Birling Gap recently – sparking a rescue which led to Eastbourne’s inshore lifeboat capsizing – was not local and had travelled from outside the area for a little stroll along the beach during lockdown.

Not being from these parts, the woman obviously wasn’t aware of the tides at the beautyspot. Hence the major and costly operation to rescue her involving two other lifeboats, coastguard crews and not one but two helicopters. The afternoon ended with a surfing hero, who helped, losing his board and the lifeboat badly damaged and in need of repair.

I do hope the lady has put her hand in her pocket and helped pay for the consequences of her actions.