As excited as I am about the new Bistrot Pierre restaurant being built soon at the Wish Tower, I do feel Eastbourne council has somewhat dropped the ball and been a little too hasty in closing the hugely popular Western View cafe on the seafront site. It shut its doors at the close of play on Sunday afternoon and council bosses say that only through closing the Western View can preparatory site explorations begin. The eatery was hugely popular and brought in a lot of money to council coffers. Fear not though as you won’t go thirsty if you are visiting because the lovely silver Airstream vehicle will be serving refreshments instead. But bearing in mind the planning application for Bistrot Pierre has only just gone in to the council and won’t be decided upon until at least September, lots of folk will be keeping a beady eye out at the Wish Tower to make sure the exploratory work gets underway sooner rather than later.
I was one of the sceptics who assumed that council consultations were ‘all puff no steam’ and the decision had already been made: a done deal in the corridors of power. So, it is refreshing to hear that East Sussex County Council, which operates the parking scheme in Eastbourne, has shelved plans to introduce mainly unpopular restrictions in Lower Meads and especially around Eastbourne College. While I have the greatest sympathy for residents living in the area who wanted permits to park outside their front door, that area is of course where the vast majority of people who work in the town centre park all day and they would have been faced with having to move their cars every four hours had the scheme been voted through. The county council says it has listened and changed its plans. It all reminds me of that old BBC television sitcom Citizen Smith when star Robert Lindsay as the self-styled Che Guevara of Tooting would shout power to the people. People power wins the day again and fair play to the council for actually listening.
As the Herald was going to press yesterday (Thursday), news reached us that a man arrested at Sovereign Harbour for trying to smuggle eight Albanian nationals into the UK in a small inflatable boat had been found guilty and jailed for six years. Afrim Xhekaliu, himself an Albanian, made an emergency call to police in the early hours of January 31 this year as the rigid hulled inflatable boat he was sailing got lost in the freezing English Channel close to the busy shipping lane after setting off from France. I remember standing at the quayside at the harbour as the poor terrified individuals were brought off the lifeboat that had rescued them . Xhekaliu, says the National Crime Agency was an important part of an organised crime group smuggling people into the UK; he was ill-prepared to transport people across the Channel in the depths of winter and very dangerous conditions and his lack of maritime skill and experience placed the lives of those aboard in danger. People like Xhekaliu exploit vulnerable people so it is good to see justice has been done.