Like a lot of residents I was appalled to hear this week that East Sussex County Council are proposing to close two outstanding local care and rehabilitation homes in Eastbourne - Milton Grange in Old Town and Firwood House in Hampden Park.
Make no mistake these are two important service providers - in Milton Grange’s case offering crucial and highly skilled respite care for people with dementia, and with Firwood House, rehabilitation prior to returning to independent living. Firwood plays a key role in the prevention of excess hospital admissions as well as assisting timely discharges from the DGH. Consequently it is essential we stop the county council taking what I and many others believe would be a fundamentally wrong decision for our town. How do we do this? I am told the consultation will be launched around February 6 so when the papers are published we must all make our opposition to the closures crystal clear. Meanwhile we also need to lobby the relevant Eastbourne politicians who are influential in the making of these decisions, which will have such a bad affect locally. The two key individuals are Councillor David Elkin, who, being in charge of resources and financial management at the county council, decides where the resources are spent; and senior local councillor and former chairman of County Hall, Cllr Colin Belsey, who I am told has a lot of heft with his colleagues. They’re also the former and current chairs of the Eastbourne Conservative Party so one can logically assume they’ve some pull with the Conservative Government when it come to additional resources? As we all saw at the county elections last May they certainly had enough influence to secure a surprise visit to Eastbourne from Prime Minister Theresa May, before her ill-fated snap general election, so I believe it’s time now for them to fight Eastbourne’s corner irrespective of party politics. I’ll be writing to both urging they take the necessary steps to stop the proposed closures of Milton Grange and Firwood House before it is too late.
Furthermore if you have been a patient at either, know someone who has, or are a member of staff then please email or write to me, confidentially, with information how this could adversely affect you or someone you know. My email is email@example.com or to my office address at 100 Seaside Road, Eastbourne BN21 1HZ. Thank you.
In Justice questions this week in Parliament, I asked the Minister to meet with myself and legal representatives from Eastbourne to discuss the failure of the Courts and Tribunals Service to provide alternatives to Eastbourne Courthouse when it was closed, as they had apparently originally promised. Unfortunately our local court was shut when I wasn’t your MP but subsequently a number of people who were involved in liaising with the Ministry of Justice told me since my re-election that the MOJ had failed in their commitment to provide adequate, alternative provision. I questioned the Minister over this whole “unsatisfactory situation” and demanded a meeting with myself and representatives of Eastbourne’s legal professions. I’m pleased to say that this was agreed. It’s bad enough the government closed our courts but it’s even worse if they didn’t live up to their alternative provision commitment! I will hold them to account for this.
This Saturday (January 27) will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, (including Eastbourne), remembering the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is to be The Power Of Words. I believe that Holocaust Memorial Day is an important moment for us to reflect on the tragic events of that awful moment in history, and of other genocides such as what happened in Rwanda or Cambodia. As these move from living history, to just history, it becomes ever more important we take the time to remember the victims and pay tribute to the survivors.
I had the privilege of signing the Book of Commitment in Parliament as well as co-sponsoring a debate in the Chamber. An honour to do both. I was also able to tell the House during the debate a little about a local Eastbourne resident called Dorit Oliver-Wolff. A remarkable lady who many of you will know. A Holocaust survivor herself who has flourished in Eastbourne and made it her home. See Dorit’s remarkable story here: http://www.doritoliverwolff.com I was very supportive of HMD when last your MP so it was a good to be invited by the Holocaust Educational Trust to co-sponsor their debate again. A bleak commemoration for sure but as we do at 11am on the 11th of the 11th, we can all pay tribute to people long gone, and remember them.
That’s it folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.