CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Hopes that we are finally on top of this virus

I have had an incredibly busy week as Eastbourne really starts to get in the swing of a staycation summer and a big dose of normality.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 11:27 am

I had a visit from the tourism minister Nigel Huddleston and introduced him to Kristian and Catherine who lead the Eastbourne Hospitality Association.

We held a roundtable meeting on the Eye - four revolutions of the big wheel later and we had covered the issues.

It was good to hear his thoughts on how we are bouncing back and I spoke about the challenge we face to make Eastbourne a 365 destination. It was a very successful visit.

The minister also went to the tennis at Devonshire Park and, as I write these words, I feel a surge of confidence that we are finally on top of this virus.

Not the tournament as we know it, but a logistical feat for organisers. Next year, when they can throw wide the gates again, is going to be great.

On Friday I went to West Rise Junior School to talk to pupils about climate change and answer questions about government policy.

It was amazing to hear from such passionate and knowledgeable young people. I pledged to take up the challenge of Plastic Free July again!

I also dropped into the job centre to receive an update about the government’s £2 billion Kickstart scheme to find work for 16 to 24-year-olds.

I have committed to doing my bit and I will take on a Kickstarter in September in a research and admin role.

My day ended at Leo Leisure Bingo! It was a treat to be there and to have a go at calling. I was really impressed with how Michael and the team had looked out for their ‘community’. It reminded me of Cheers, where everyone knows your name.

Armed Forces Day was last week too and it was an important opportunity to honour our veterans, servicemen and cadets right here in Eastbourne.

In dramatic style, the RAF Tornadoes swept in, the bands played and the Lord Lieutenant took the salute.

For some, this was a first event out which made it all the more special and it was a great atmosphere.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all who serve. The sacrifices they and their families make I’m sure got real for us when we experienced our own enforced separations these past months.

Our Armed Forces have also underpinned the pandemic response itself, in PPE distribution, manning the pop-up test centre for key workers in Devonshire Park, and in the vaccine rollout. Their expertise and ability to deliver is second to none and I salute them.

It was right that Matt Hancock resigned as health secretary after breaking social distancing rules as his position was untenable. I certainly welcome Sajid Javid as his successor. Sajid is no stranger to Eastbourne – having been here on several occasions. He is an experienced minister and I am sure he’ll do a good job.

Take care everyone.