The first of a string of local hustings debates kicked off at the Grand Hotel on Thursday, with local candidates battling questions from the local business community.
The hustings was organised by the Eastbourne & District Business Lunch Club and hosted by Cobb PR, with a 60 minutes question and answer session to the Eastbourne parliamentary candidates.
Sitting MP, Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd, was joined by Conservative Caroline Ansell, UKIP candidate Nigel Jones, The Green Party’s Andrew Durling, and independent candidate Paul Howard. Labour candidate Jake Lambert sent his apologises as he was unable to make the lunchtime event.
Candidates were quizzed on a number of issues, including road and rail links, the future of the DGH, attracting tourism to the town, and business rates.
Bill Plumridge, manager of the Arndale Centre, said, “In your view is there more that can be achieved within the town to increase its popularity in order to compete with neighbouring destinations such as Brighton and Tunbridge Wells?”
Andrew Durling said, “What I think urgently needs doing in Eastbourne is massively improving the cycling and pedestrian routes around Eastbourne. If you’re at the station and you want to go to the Arndale Centre you have to take your life in your own hands crossing several busy roads. We need a town with the cycling and pedestrian infrastructure which will make it a pleasure for people to move around.”
There is so much going for us [Eastbourne]. I’m not convinced that we tell a good enough story about just how good we are.Caroline Ansell
Caroline Ansell said, “There is so much going for us. I’m not convinced that we tell a good enough story about just how good we are. We have everything going for us, we have huge potential. We need to really reach out and we need to tell the world just what an incredible place this is.”
Paul Howard said, “I would like to see the way that it’s presented to the rest of the world and indeed to the citizens to Eastbourne itself because I don’t think the people in this town necessarily themselves make full use of what this town can offer.”
Stephen Lloyd said, “People are realising that the town is transforming. I think from business rates, a lot more effort strategically needs to go into town centres. Town centres are the heart of the town.”
Nigel Jones said, “I think PR is enormously important I think Eastbourne has a message to get out. I think we ought to shed our image as an elderly demographic we are a young town a vibrant town. We’re attracting new business, we’re attracting new enterprise. Park and ride schemes could be I think the image of Eastbourne is transforming. We’re a young town, we’re going places and I think that message needs to get out.”