‘Entertainment area’ replacing benches?

Terminus Road benches which will be removed by the council. June 2nd 2011 E22057M
Terminus Road benches which will be removed by the council. June 2nd 2011 E22057M

BENCHES popular with street drinkers may be removed to make way for an entertainment area in Eastbourne’s town centre.

Eastbourne Borough Council is proposing to remove the seats on the corner of Langney Road and Terminus Road, outside the Post Office, and create a new council-managed performance area.

The plans are currently under consultation, with businesses and residents being asked for their views on the plans to turn the pedestrianised area outside Marks & Spencer into Langney Place Cultural Crescent. There will be individual seats, rather than benches, and it is hoped music, theatre and dance will be among the wide variety of arts on display.

The benches are a well- known meeting place for street drinkers and police are often called to deal with incidents in the area. Residents, shoppers and businesses have complained about anti-social behaviour in the past.

Dave Waldock, from Car Care in Langney Road, said he knows people avoid Langney Road because they don’t want to walk past the anti-social behaviour at the benches.

“I have seen the plans for the new area and it seems right,” said Mr Waldock.

“It can’t come quick enough.”

And Sylvia Rimmer, manager of Edinburgh Woollen Mill, said she was pleased something was being done but added, “They need to deal with the root cause really, and I fear this may move the problem elsewhere.”

Sylvia also raised concerns about there not being enough seating in the town centre once the benches have been removed.

Many traders told the Herald the recent Dispersal Order, which allows police officers to ban troublemakers from the town centre for up to 24 hours, had helped greatly.

The council says the anti-social behaviour problem is one of the reasons for the proposed Langney Place Cultural Crescent and it has consulted police on its plans.

Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for the Environment Cllr Steve Wallis said, “Following extensive feedback from Sussex Police, businesses and residents regarding crime and anti-social behaviour in the area, we are now proposing a new and exciting opportunity in the form of a properly managed performance area.

“The Langney Place Cultural Crescent could become a focal point for a diverse range of free entertainment while also addressing local issues, including anti-social behaviour and street drinkers in the vicinity.”

Sergeant Gareth Evans said police welcomed the proposal to remove the benches and added, “We are working with the council to tackle anti-social behaviour, so anything they can do to improve the area and make it less attractive for people gathering who will contribute to anti-social behaviour has got to be a positive thing.

“It helps to reduce anti-social behaviour and makes Eastbourne a nicer place for people to enjoy.”

The consultation period will run until July 4. People can take part on the council website at www.eastbourne.gov.uk/consultation or via email to licensing@eastbourne.gov.uk.