I’m the first person to handcuff myself to railings when there is a cause, a campaign or battle to be fought and I have the utmost respect for the historians and people fighting to save Kempston, a beautiful old house in Meads which was used as a Red Cross hospital in the First World War. But sometimes you just have to recognise when that war is over and sadly the fight to save Kempston from demolition and replace it with a block of ugly flats is looking like a bit of a lost battle. It has also turned into a political hot potato with what can only be an unhappy ending ahead in the months to come. On Tuesday night, highly experienced and knowledgeable planning officers at Eastbourne council warned councillors there were NO sustainable grounds whatsoever for standing in the way of demolition and that to do so could land council tax payers with a very expensive bill should the developers go to appeal. Regardless of that advice, and no doubt buoyed on by the public show of anger and upset by demonstrators, councillors refused the plans. The decision left the developer fuming but the campaigners happy. For now. Doubtless the developer will challenge the council’s decision and the residents of Eastbourne will be paying yet another £50,000 appeal bill (think back to the disaster of the former Co-op store in Terminus Road becoming a hotel) if a government inspector rules in the developer’s favour instead of the council’s. It seems rather a foolhardy decision by councillors. But then there is a borough council election looming in May and I suspect many of those councillors who voted against demolition on Tuesday are hoping they will come out of this smelling of roses in time for Thursday May 2.
Back from Bali and anyone would have thought I had brought the glorious sunshine back with me if the last few days of blue skies and soaring temperatures were anything to go by. The good weather meant a planned trip out Sunday morning on Eastbourne’s all weather lifeboat Diamond Jubilee was just perfect and it was fabulous to see the dedicated volunteers in action during their weekly exercise. These wonderful men and women are ready to man the lifeboat 24/7 365 days a year to keep us all safe along our glorious coastline. Last year the crew was called out 174 times at all times of the day and night – with many holding down full-time jobs too. It just goes to prove once again that not all heroes wear capes.
Talking of mild temperatures, I gather that as the balmy temperatures continue, there could well be a shortage of daffodils this Easter as the warm weather triggers the flowers to sprout early and cause a surge in demand. Daffodils are usually planted in autumn and spend several months developing roots before the flowers burst open between March and May but with the mild conditions outdoors and temperatures creeping up in the high teens locally there has been a surge in demand for the humble yellow bloom. No doubt our lovely flower seller in the middle of the town centre will keep us well supplied.