I am writing this piece before the Chancellor speaks in his Autumn statement, and the Prime Minister’s statement on our response following the Paris attacks - so I will comment elsewhere on those issues.
So for today, I will deal with the slightly less important issue of Christmas activities in Eastbourne! Not that this is unimportant to the local economy - it will indeed drive a good deal of traffic to our town centre, and this is much needed especially at the peak trading time of the year.
I have written before about Neon Noel. This extraordinary light show that has been created by West End Studios to celebrate the 700th Anniversary of Eastbourne as a shopping destination will certainly draw some big crowds.
This show, starting at the Little Christmas event on December 4 and ending with a wonderful firework display (sponsored by Parker Building supplies) on December 13, as well as some of the other activities were made possible thanks to the money offered by the Prime Minister following the Pier fire. I have been determined as MP that Eastbourne should become a major Christmas destination for shopping, tourism and the wider Eastbourne economy, not least because this will build on work that has already been done by the ‘Town Team’, the Chamber and others to encourage locals and visitors alike to spend here in Eastbourne, rather than elsewhere or online.
Other activities taking place including 66,000 sparkling LEDs throughout the town centre, a traditional Christmas Market on the Bandstand and the famous Coca Cola Truck in town on December 18!
You may have noticed that the traditional wooden stalls have already started to appear at the bandstand in preparation for the mulled wine, gifts, festive food, roast chestnuts, jugglers and fire-breathing street entertainers that will occupy them in the run up to Christmas.
Santa Claus will be visiting his Grotto between 4pm and 6pm each day, and Eastbourne’s schools will be singing carols on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
So it promises to be a superb Christmas, and in closing can I put out a big plug for the wonderful ‘Meads Magic’ event that is taking place this afternoon/evening (Friday) in Meads Street from 2.30pm.
This festive street market includes stalls showcasing mainly local handcrafts, seasonal gifts, tasty street food and much more, all accompanied by live tunes from the fantastic Dirty Martinis.
There will also be plenty of fun for the children too, including Santa’s grotto, a magic show, the Elves’ pottery workshop, gingerbread decorating and much more. And from 4pm, there’s the traditional Harvey’s dray with Monty and Winston the horses making their grand arrival through the high street with a very special passenger!