Eastbourne Carpet Gardens are blooming empty and public toilets are closing: Out in the Field

Much has been written in recent weeks about a programme of cuts to services across the town by Eastbourne council as it looks to balance its books in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and a drastic drop in income (see page 5).

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:13 pm

Among the planned cuts is a reduction in the level of maintenance in the town’s parks and seafront; increasing the cost of garden waste collections by £5 a year; less frequent street cleansing; and shorter opening hours for public toilets.

As unpalatable as it is, the increase in the cost of getting your garden rubbish bin emptied equates to less than 10p a week. But as a woman of a certain age, I am more concerned that the loos may not be open as much as they are at the moment.

More worrying though is reducing maintenance on the seafront and in parks and street cleansing.

This week, during a walk on the promenade and when the public toilets at the Bandstand were not open, I noticed the stark and very sorry state of the Carpet Gardens. Aside from a lovely display for the NHS in a small section of the gardens, the rest of the area was devoid of any flowers whatsoever.

As bare as a baby’s bottom, not a bloom in sight.

Our friends at the council say the next phase of planting begins on Tuesday in time for the throngs of summer visitors expected as everyone stays closer to home. I just hope it isn’t the state or shape of things to come as a result of these swingeing cuts.

When it comes to street cleansing, the council contractors do a wonderful job in collecting rubbish along the seafront and keeping it looking tip top. But it’s hard to see how the council can reduce the service any further than it has been already as bins are often overflowing.

Moving further on through the list of cuts and there’s evidence these cuts will affect many, many people. Also for the chop are Eastbourne councillors’ ward grants, which are given to good causes across the town and now set to be reduced from £10k to £5k this year and down to £3k in 22/23. This comes alongside plans to reduce the amount the council gives out in grants to community organisations and to completely suspend both the council’s small grants and disability inclusion fund grant programmes in 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Potentially the most devastating aspect of the cuts is the news that from now on, council events – both within Devonshire Park and its outdoor programme – will only go ahead if they don’t require council subsidy.

Quite what that means for Airbourne, the council-run beer festival and a host of other events heaven only knows.

Some very tough decisions are looming in the weeks ahead and they’re going to be about as popular as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip.

A sad but heartwarming tale reached me this week courtesy of Mrs Robinson from Willingdon.

On returning from a night out at The Wheatsheaf last Saturday she noticed a car pull over after the driver noticed something lying in the road.

A lovely black cat had been hit by a previous driver and the four teenagers in the car behind carefully moved the injured pet, called the owners and sat stroking it while it passed away from its injuries.

People are so quick to criticise young people these days but this restores your faith in them and their efforts have not gone unnoticed.