LETTER: This could be a white elephant

I attended the public update meeting on progress for the proposed new museum project at the Redoubt Fortress and was shocked at what I heard. It appears that the original Heritage Lottery Funding bid has had to be stopped due to the poor environment and the cost of raising the Redoubt to the standard required for a museum.

Therefore the new plan is to remove the collections from the Redoubt and reapply to the HLF for funding to refurbish the building to make it watertight and then utilise it as a venue for events.

Meanwhile, it is hoped that funding for a new purpose-built museum can be secured from Eastbourne Borough Council to be built within the Pavilion Gardens area with access to the Fortress via the opened up moat. It was made abundantly clear that the council will only support an ‘Eastbourne Story’ and this leaves the current military museum’s future in doubt. It was stated that in principle the council is prepared to support this proposal, but it wasn’t made clear as to what the likely cost of this would be, or the strength of support this proposal has amongst all councillors.

If the above comes to fruition, I have grave doubts regarding its viability. I visited both the ‘Ancestors’ and the ‘Summerdown Camp’ exhibitions and they were probably the two most uninspiring and unengaging exhibitions it has been my misfortune to see, only one word describes them – ‘lamentable’. If this a sample of the fare to be offered at the new museum, then the hard-pressed Eastbourne taxpayer is going to find themselves funding and subsidising yet another white elephant. Is this really what they want their money spent on?

Let councillors ponder the following. Given the current political climate of ever reducing central grants, is spending vital money on projects such as this a priority given the pressure on resources? Also remember that it is you, not your officers, that are accountable to the public at the ballot box and profligate spending on vanity projects such as this will be remembered come polling day.

Peter Goldsmith

Station Road, Hailsham

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