The truth must be told about Eastbourne Bandstand: Out in the Field

Nobody likes having the proverbial wool pulled over their eyes. Me especially, But that is what appears to be happening with our much loved Bandstand.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 10:21 am
Eastbourne Bandstand by Barry Davis

Last Thursday – at the eleventh hour and before the first band of the season, ELO Tribute, or should that be EL-No, was to take to the stage on the Friday – Eastbourne council announced it was postponing the programme of concerts until at least June 21, when lockdown restrictions are likely to be eased even further.

The council blamed the possible spread of the Indian variant of the coronavirus. It seemed a strange decision given that other venues across the country, including the Amex Stadium, were allowing thousands of people inside and operating within the guidelines and social distancing.

Kris Rose penned a letter over the weekend which summed up the whole situation rather succinctly. Kris, from Leigh On Sea in Essex, having booked a hotel break in the town to enjoy some live music was disappointed and frustrated with the council’s decision.

Eastbourne's Iconic Bandstand is in need of serious maintenance (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190108-111457008

Like countless others no doubt, Kris was looking forward to the opening of the Bandstand and the beginning of a delayed concert season, only to be sent an email less than 36 hours before warning the opening had been cancelled.

Stuck in a hotel, the receptionist suggested Kris visit a vintage car show and fair which was going ahead on the seafront.

Kris writes, “How can this be? As there will NO control of public spaces outside the fair and people will be able to walk in and out as they wish. Will there be no risk to the public there also? The Bandstand had made all the necessary changes and limited the capacity inside the venue and it was outside. How can the council cancel this but allow an outdoor event go ahead? Is there something different in the air quality at this vintage show and fair? Am I missing something as I can’t see the difference between holding a controlled concert in a controlled area, to having every Tom, Dick and Harry walking in and out of a vintage show and fair?”

Kris has a very valid point and isn’t the only one flabbergasted at this decision by the council.

I along with many others would like to know the real reason this decision was made and whether it has anything to do with the fact that the landmark needs millions of pounds spending on it.

You only have to walk around it to see the countless acros holding it up, columns and ceilings covered in plywood and parts of the building crumbling away. I won’t walk under the Bandstand and warn my friends with children especially to avoid it at all costs.

I have yet to see the latest structural report for the Bandstand – even though I have asked – but I suspect it doesn’t make very happy reading.

Understandably so: the Bandstand is a very old building and due to its location is battered by the elements every year.

Historically it has been overlooked by both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat administrations which have not taken as much care as they could have done with our valuable assets.

I have no doubt the Bandstand will be hosting tribute bands long after we’re all gone and future generations keeping the music of Status Quo in the public consciousness. That said, the time has come for the council to be honest and straight with the public. And give us the real reason for the sudden postponement.