Eastbourne MP’s e-newsletter: Arndale investment, DGH future, Drug Driving and wi-fi

IT’S a big weekend for Eastbourne with the carnival tomorrow, Race for Life on Sunday and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations next week.

And with the Olympic Games, Eastbourne Tennis Week and Airbourne just around the corner, summer has just begun.

Eastbourne MP, Stephen Lloyd, has reflected on these key events as well as other issues in the town in his e-newsletter to the community:

Dear Eastbourne

Well, it’s shaping up to be a bumper summer, the Carnival, the Jubilee, the Olympics, the Tennis, Airbourne, everything is happening in our fantastic town. But before we can turn our attention to the great festivities we’ve got planned, unfortunately there is one serious note that I must mention.

No doubt you would have heard the news about the DGH. Most of the proposals being put to the Hospital Board are not good. After our comprehensive cross-party victory in 2008 which reversed planned changes to Maternity, the threat has now raised its ugly head again. But this time it is not just Maternity but also Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, General Surgery, and Strokes being targeted. Thankfully the fantastic cross-party SavetheDGH campaign is once again rolling up its sleeves. Under Liz Walke’s expert leadership we will make sure that these proposals are assessed rigorously, and where we disagree, fought against hard! But we won’t be able to make a difference if our supporters stay silent. I’ll be fighting in Eastbourne and up in Parliament, and we are likely to need each of you to grab a placard, write a letter and raise your voices to protect our local hospital. Click here or here for more information, or here to offer your support to the SavetheDGH Campaign.

Back to better news, this weekend sees the return of the mighty Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival. It is going to be a tremendous event that I am confident will once again become a permanent fixture of our sunny summers. It kicks off at 6pm and runs from Fishermans Green all along the sea front and ending at the Western Lawns. Around 1,800 people will be involved in this fantastic parade, and 50% of all proceeds raised go to charity, as well as 50% to support next year’s Carnival; so please come along and bring your money for the collection buckets! Hopefully you will have received your complementary carnival map in this week’s Herald. See here for more information.

I’m sure you will have also heard the excellent news about the Arndale Centre. The owners have reaffirmed their commitment to the £70m extension and regeneration programme for the centre of Eastbourne. They remain fully committed to this scheme which will significantly improve shopping facilities in the town centre, attracting new retailers and investment, and in turn facilitating its wider regeneration. I met with Simon Russian and Andrew Rice from the Performance Retail Limited Partnership in Parliament a few weeks ago and I was genuinely impressed at their commitment to our town. This large investment at the very heart of our town demonstrates how outside investors are also confident in the long term future of our local economy, and justifiably so! Click here for more information.

With the Queen’s speech opening the new Parliamentary sitting at the beginning of this month, I was extremely glad to hear in her speech plans for a new law to prevent drug driving. This is an area of legislation that has been overlooked for too long, but it has been increasingly in the media recently under the name of Lillian’s Law. As you may know, sadly, Lillian Groves was a 14 year old who was hit by a car being driven by a man who had smoked cannabis before getting behind the wheel. For this crime, he served only 4 months in jail. Lillian’s grandparents, Pam and Peter Sanders, are Eastbourne residents and they had launched a petition to outlaw drug driving that received well over 15,000 signatures. I am extremely glad to see that all their hard work has finally paid off and I look forward to seeing it enshrined in law. This is a desperately sad case which has led to something good. Click here for more information.

If you’ll excuse me getting on my party political horse briefly, you may have seen in the news recently accusations of ‘Communist Clegg and Socialist Vince’. I can’t help but feel that these allegations are rather bizarre: if the Deputy Prime Minister is accused nonsensically of being a communist because he’s coming up with innovative and practical ideas to improve social mobility then I’m one as well! This will surprise supporters of mine who sometimes wish I wasn’t quite such a ‘business wing liberal.’ As for Vince Cable, I think this story in the Telegraph is pretty spot on.

Last Friday saw the launch of CloudConnx, an exciting new internet provider unique to Eastbourne. The Hon Ed Vaisey MP, in his role as Minister in charge of Communications, launched this community broadband service supported by Eastbourne Borough Council, and managed as a commercial business. Not only will the service provide state of the art fibre optic broadband facilities for local businesses, it will also offer high-tech cloud capabilities that will allow them to avoid costly in-house computer systems. I am extremely excited we are able to benefit from this fantastic system that puts Eastbourne at the cutting edge of new technology, and will allow local businesses to compete in any market they choose, be it regional, national or global. Click here for more information.

I have been extremely busy in Westminster over the last few weeks. Because I feel passionately about charities and the need for philanthropy to come from a sense of goodwill as opposed to a tax incentive, I raised the issue with David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions. You can see the full question here. I have also recently chaired meetings of the Equitable Life All Party Parliamentary Group, and roundtable discussions on best practice in the field of international development for the Microfinance All Party Parliamentary Group. I also recently chaired a meeting of the Work and Pensions Select Committee which oversees and monitors the expenditure, administration and policies of the Department of Work and Pensions. The issue concerned EU Pensions policy. While at first glance this may not be terribly interesting or important, actually if the EU fails to take account of the Coalition Government’s policy we are concerned that the impact on the UK pensions sector could be pretty devastating. Consequently, the questioning by the committee was very robust! See here for more information.

Finally, you will have seen on the news that the Olympic Torch Relay has already started winding its way across the country. Of course they couldn’t miss our picturesque town, and it will be coming our way on the afternoon of the 17th July. There will be more info on this closer to the time, but it should be yet another wonderful outdoor event that is able to show off Eastbourne.

But before then, I’ll see all of you along the seafront for the Sunshine Carnival to kick off the extended Bank Holiday weekend this coming Saturday. It will be a great evening, so do bring your friends and families along, and most importantly, have a lovely time.