Langney Shopping Centre hits bum note over toilet issue

Ian Westgate who is unhappy that the refurbishment of Langney shopping centre in Eastbourne does not include a disabled toilet (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190404-093715008
Ian Westgate who is unhappy that the refurbishment of Langney shopping centre in Eastbourne does not include a disabled toilet (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190404-093715008

I am absolutely cock-a-hoop that Langney Shopping Centre is getting a much-needed makeover, writes Annemarie Field. As an anklebiter, I lived in Kingfisher Drive when it first opened way back when – so realise that, like me, it’s getting on a bit and could do with a facelift, uplift, or just a new lease of life. That is now happening and millions are being spent on extending the 1970s building with more shops, a gym and new homes. But alas, no accessible toilets. In the plans you would expect an inside toilet for wheelchair users and mums and dads that need to change their little ones’ nappies. Currently, people needing accessible facilities have to go out of the entrance by Barclays, hang a right past Dominoes and the Kingfisher Pub and around the corner to the back of the pub and then, only if they have a special Radar key, can they get in and spend a penny or use the baby changing facility inside. The disabled toilet (and baby change) has always been outside the building and as such a disabled person often has to brave all weather conditions to go round the outside of the building to access it. That’s no fun if you are in a wheelchair or on a scooter when it’s blowing a gale or raining. There is some good news this week from the centre management though that says it is looking at striking a deal with the new gym owners so customers might be able to use their disabled access toilet if and when it opens. Like I say, some light at the end of the tunnel, but crazy in this day and age. Almost as crazy as the fact that wheelchair users visiting the Devonshire Park Theatre STILL have to use a side entrance at the bottom of a slope and there’s STILL no disabled entrance. But that’s for another day.

Looks like I’m not the only one excited at the fact there will soon be a bus service to Brighton taking in the A27 as opposed to the A259. Yes, it will still take as long as the A259 service but for the first time in a very long time, it will make Drusillas, Middle Farm, Charleston Farmhouse and all the lovely little pubs (Barley Mow, Cricketers, etc) between here and Beddingham much more accessible. Sylvia Porritt shares my joy. “Yippee thank goodness, can’t wait for bus from Eastbourne to Brighton on A27,” she wrote in an email to me. Hear, hear to that.

In 1989 when I was a cub reporter, the remains of a young woman were found in undergrowth at Beachy Head. It was 22-year-old Jessie Earl, an art student who had gone missing from her flat in Upperton Gardens nine years previously. Her killer was never found despite a major police investigation. Next week at The Lamb in Old Town, Jessie’s story will be told in a play entitled Someone Somewhere, the true story of those nine years of searching by her parents, Valerie and John and the nine years of waiting for Jessie to be found so her spirit could rest. The new play mixes Jessie’s evocative diaries, interviews and poetic monologues based on Jessie’s other writings to create a moving portrait of the experience of loss and survival. The play is already sold out but once again raises the question that somebody, somewhere must know what happened all those years ago.