CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Milestones and winter contingency plans for Eastbourne

The shorter days are upon us and Bonfire Night is this week (Friday November 5). I have had a series of important opportunities to engage with organisations who deliver services in our town and their plans for the winter. I’ve also been helping celebrate some interesting milestones this last week.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 1:44 pm

St Wilfrid’s Hospice celebrated its 40th birthday on October 29 and I had the pleasure to present the “because you matter” award.

Founded in 1981, the hospice cares for anyone with a life limiting illness and is a much loved local charity that has touched the lives of many people. It was very moving to hear how the team had rallied over lockdown. Here’s to their next 40 years of dedicated compassionate care.

A much older institution also celebrated a birthday - its 357th! I was delighted to join the Royal Marine Association, Eastbourne Branch last Thursday at The Oval to mark the moment and celebrate the local branch’s first anniversary. To be totally accurate, 357 years relates to the formation of the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot, The Lord High Admiral’s Regiment that then developed into the world-renowned fighting force we know today by its green beret. The formal part of the evening included a welcome from the President Bernard Stonestreet, a toast to the Queen from Chairman Stephen Williams and a minute’s silence with the Last Post beautifully played by young Cadet, Scott.

I also had update meetings with local services to be briefed on winter plans and Covid preparations. First stop was the borough council to talk about support for the homeless.

The council said Government funding to help those on the streets was generous. Ministers have announced a £600,000 support grant for homelessness and also an additional £149,000 for renters over the winter. The Rough Sleeper Initiative has been extended for three years allowing rough sleepers to be supported into sustainable housing. I was also told the number of homeless from Brighton housed in Eastbourne continues to fall and this is easing pressure on services linked to their support.

On the health front, I met with hospital leaders. I also met South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). The service is under sustained pressure due to Covid shortages but it has been increasing the workforce. They talked about winter contingencies and the service has been given additional funding to build staffing capacity. SECAmb is also the only ambulance trust in the country to have a separate Covid booster hub and is ahead of other trusts in getting their workforce better protected.

Nationally the COP26 environmental conference in Glasgow has dominated the headlines and I am really pleased about action to cut methane production and reverse deforestation. Locally, there was a big success on the environmental front. Treebourne has been awarded £418,000 by the Urban Tree Challenge Fund to plant 1,000 street trees in Eastbourne over the next two years.

The organisation is inviting people to suggest where the trees will be planted. Many congratulations to everyone involved in securing these funds that will make a difference to our carbon footprint and enhance our local environment. There’s a great deal of work ahead to plant 500 trees by April!