Eastbourne RBS branch closure makes no economic sense

Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne
Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne

I am very disappointed to hear that RBS is proposing to close its branch in Eastbourne. It’s had a presence in the town for many years and with such a major investment as the new shopping centre opening in a matter of months, I am very surprised at the decision.

It doesn’t make economic sense frankly. Consequently I have written to the chief executive asking for a meeting so that RBS may re-consider. To close a town-centre branch in what is clearly a growing and successful town seems short-sighted to me.

From one economic story to another, and one that epitomises the get-up-and-go attitude of so many small businesses in Eastbourne. An attitude perhaps the senior management of RBS may consider emulating. I recently attended the 10th anniversary celebration of Laptop Station, the computer retail and repair shop in the Enterprise Centre. I’ve known and supported the two owners, Brandon and Liam, almost from the beginning when they had little more than a dream, an idea. And boy, has that idea paid dividends for them and their brilliant young team. Laptop Station’s success has come from sheer hard work and an absolute dedication to good customer service. Well done lads. I look forward to your turnover exceeding £1million - and from our discussion the other day - that’s coming very soon! Another fine Eastbourne company growing from strength to strength. See their website: www.laptopstation.co.uk

No doubt you’ll have read that Parliament is consumed with the ongoing saga of Brexit - is the PM’s Chequers plan a dead duck or not - Jeremy Corbyn’s seemingly interminable battle over allegations of anti-Semitism, and my own party leader’s proposal to potentially open up the leadership of the Lib Dems to outsiders. A lot going on. As I said to a young man who was keen to study politics at A level, at least politics can’t be said to be boring at the minute. And that doesn’t even include the ongoing shenanigans across the Pond of one Donald J Trump. As a classic middle of the road moderate, I’d like perhaps a little less noise with maybe a little more light. Nonetheless, other matters progress in Westminster and this week one of my colleagues got her upskirting bill through to third reading, which is an important step. This will make it illegal for someone to use their mobile phone to clandestinely take a photo up a woman’s skirt. Something I and many others were horrified to learn has become common. An awful mix of prurience and technology.

I also co-sponsored a meeting in Parliament with some of the relatives of those who had died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital 20 years and more ago. The shocking report from Bishop James Jones’ investigation published in the summer had laid bare the full horror of what had happened. At least 456 people had died from an inappropriate use of opiates. It was humbling to listen to the relatives, including my own constituent, Mrs Gillian MacKenzie, as they reiterated what had happened and also how badly statutory authorities and some leading politicians of the time had treated their original allegations. And how they were proved right. Bluntly their relatives were unlawfully killed and I believe the perpetrators should face the consequences in court. The government has finally announced a criminal investigation, so I hope and pray the living relatives get justice on behalf of the loved ones they lost. An utterly deplorable episode which my 10-year campaign, alongside Mrs MacKenzie’s 20-year battle, has taught me that even if the establishment tries to close ranks, truth will out if there are enough people prepared to keep fighting.

I was delighted to step aboard Maritime Volunteers Service boat, East Sussex 1, as it was moored in Sovereign Harbour recently. I met some of the members of our local MVS, along with the head of unit, David Hughes. The splendid 17-metre long ex-Navy launch has been ashore prior to the summer for an overhaul and maintenance check so it was a joy to see over the craft. I grew up on boats having being brought up in Mombasa, Kenya, where my father had been a shipping agent. Consequently I’ve always had a soft spot for vessels of all shapes and sizes, and this fine boat was no exception. David brought me up to speed with the work the MVS does, particularly focussed toward giving youngsters an opportunity to see what being at sea can be like. They do a lot of work with the local Sea Cadets but he also told me school groups often go on trips and I can see why. Students get a chance to helm the boat, learn navigation skills, take part in training drills at sea and more; an outing which could well develop interest in some youngsters to having a career in the maritime sector perhaps? Anyway, their season is now winding down - they tend to take the young people out in the summer evenings - but he emphasised that the present is as good a time as any if youth groups or schools want to make enquiries for next year. See their website at https://www.mvs.org.uk Thank you David and all your colleagues. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat (and the sausage roll); it was really satisfying to be aboard a motor-boat again.

That’s it folks. Have a good weekend and I hope to see you around town.