I fear we have missed the boat

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EVERY week I read with interest your letters page - a wonderful forum for the residents of Eastbourne and surrounding area to air their views of current affairs that affect our town.

The latest news item to grace the page is the proposed development of the town centre.

There are many arguments for and against. Eastbourne’s main shopping district is indeed tired and in need of some TLC, but is this scheme just a little short sighted?

The idea to pave over the so-called ‘diesel alley’ certainly has merit, but where will the bus stops be relocated to?

They were moved temporarily to Gildredge Road earlier this year while gas works were on-going but because of the traffic flow there, this would be totally inappropriate as a permanent site, but where else is there?

The town’s infrastructure is already groaning under the strain and the lack of parking only adds to that.

And then when we have our swanky new shopping centre, will they be able to fill all the units?

So many existing units are empty already and several of the well-established chain stores which inhabit the Arndale Centre may face closure.

This point was raised by Robert Cowan last week (July 22), who rightly said Eastbourne had “lost its sparkle”, although his claim of excessive charity shops and pound stores worried me.

Charity shops are vital to certain groups within our own community, and Eastbourne only has one true pound shop, Poundland, without which I would still be claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

These shops are also vital in generating footfall in the town centre and the much-needed business tax paid to the council.

But Eastbourne has been failing for many years, and the tourism and planning departments both missed a huge opportunity to capitalise on Eastbourne’s tourism potential, and save the Herald letters page from a 15-year barrage of complaints about the housing development on the Crumbles and the Harbour, namely the building of a Butlin’s/Pontins style holiday park, which would have created hundreds of jobs and career opportunities and brought millions of pounds of revenue to the town year on year.

That revenue could then have been used to fund facilities for families and young people which are being cut out altogether, or to restore the crumbling theatres, and other buildings of interest and we may have been spared that awful eyesore they call The Towner Gallery.

I have lived in Eastbourne for 25 years, and have watched its decline, which is speeding up, and I’m sorry to say I don’t see how a new shopping centre can save it.

Robin Carey

Woburn Way