OUT IN THE FIELD: Fur coat no knickers as Winter Garden refurb is cut back

Congress Theatre in Eastbourne undergoing major building works (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170327-104429008
Congress Theatre in Eastbourne undergoing major building works (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-170327-104429008

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The £44 million project to refurbish the Devonshire Park Quarter is going over budget by nine million quid and Eastbourne council will be borrowing a cool £4million on taxpayers’ behalf to make sure it gets finished. Well, finished is perhaps stretching the truth somewhat as we are now being told that some aspects of the scheme will have to fall by the wayside. My first observation is that rather a lot of the budget has been taken up by improving the tennis offering at Devonshire Park. While the court construction works were within budget, the irrigation system for the courts had to be replaced rather than extended and it was decided that rather than refurbish the tennis players’ building, a brand new sparkly one should be built instead to meet the needs of the international player governing bodies. Okay, the investment has secured the women’s tournament for ten years and the tennis players and LTA officials are happy. But it’s of little benefit to your ordinary Joe in the Eastbourne street. The second point is that the refurbishment of the Congress Theatre and the construction of the new Welcome Building are both well underway which will at least benefit local people. But what of the poor Devonshire Park Theatre and the Winter Garden? The former has had its facelift already but it is still so unbelievably “disabled access unfriendly” and in this day and age it is pretty poor when wheelchair bound theatre goers have to enter the theatre via a service road at the side of the theatre. The Winter Garden, we are told, is also coming out looking like the poor relation as while major restoration work is going ahead and a lift installed, there will not be any redecoration and the toilets won’t be refurbished. What a terrible shame that this grand old lady is being treated so unfairly. In my opinion, it’s like buying a Louis Vuitton handbag and putting a purse from Primark inside. All fur coat and no knickers....

How wonderful it is to see the long awaited Eastbourne Civil War Memorial taking pride of place in the Peace Garden at the Wish Tower. But even though it is in place, money is still needed to pay for the steel plaque listing the 180 names of those who died in the Second World War and plants to adorn the garden need to be brought. If you can get involved, details of how to donate are on page five.

And talking of additions to Eastbourne seafront, Mr Gulzar has announced the clock will finally be replaced at the entrance to the pier very soon. And going to chime just like Big Ben in London, apparently. I am sure I am not the only person to be wondering if it will chime every 15 minutes and on the hour every hour morning, noon and night.

At the top of the birthday shout out this week is Warren Barrow, who will be blowing out 50 candles as will my lovely friend and walking partner Sheila Bugler. Others celebrating include Karita Colvin, Rachel Sharp, and Gareth Connolly. Happy birthday to one and all.