CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Eastbourne puts in £20m bid for government cash

Last weekend there was a brilliant atmosphere in town and this really gave me hope that we are finally coming out of the darkness of the pandemic.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 12:47 pm

It’s wonderful to say Eastbourne is set for a much-needed and most welcome staycation boom. Part of this great atmosphere was our first ever youth market – a national programme designed to promote young entrepreneurs.

I had the pleasure of helping to judge the best local market trader who will now have the chance to compete at the national finals in London. It was a tough gig but Healing Timber won and I bought bamboo straws!

Young people have had a tough time during Covid and I was really pleased to see these 15 young traders set up shop alongside more established ones and sell their wares. Goodies on offer included sugar cane mocktails and artisan breads and the young traders had great stories to tell. I’m sure they all have good futures ahead too. The staycation boom is most welcome and many places need staff to be able to re-open fully. There are jobs right now in hospitality, which is great news, and further evidence Eastbourne is bouncing back. I am now working with East Sussex College, Jobcentre Plus, Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce and Eastbourne BID to help connect local people with local opportunities and employers.

Last week saw the borough council put in its £20 million bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. For the bid to have its best chance of success it needed my endorsement, which I gave on Friday. It is the combined work of many key organisations in the town and supported by the Eden Project with whom we hope to work ever more closely in the years to come.

Elements of the proposal have real potential to bring transformation and link the downland to the seafront and the seafront to the town centre - three important moving parts of the Eastbourne engine. Also, of importance is how this proposed investment compliments, completes and more fully realises the value of major recent infrastructure investments in the town including significant government investment in the development at Devonshire Park and substantial East Sussex County Council investment in the town centre. My concern from the start of the process has been for those who need new opportunities, skills and jobs to open up to them and I am pleased those concerns helped shape the final bid. We need to make sure any investment has lasting benefit in Eastbourne and I am especially pleased to see new apprenticeship opportunities in the creative and digital fields, construction and land management. I look forward to seeing how the bid is received.

Finally, I received my second AstraZeneca Covid jab last week and I would urge everyone to make sure they get the two doses as it gives the best protection from the now dominant Delta variant. The more people who go and book their vaccination the better the chance we have of being back to normal this summer.