From: David Tomlinson, Park Avenue
It seems the letters keep rolling in about the appalling state of our town centre but that appears to be the only action being taken to date to address the situation.
The letter from Michael Jeffrey that appeared in last week’s edition of the Herald was spot on when he described how horrified his friends from London were to see the seedier side of Eastbourne but this was not some back street experience on a run-down estate, he and his friends were at the very centre of what is to be the town’s, soon to be completed, flag ship retail development.
Surely the time is right to restore some pride in our community and confidence in our local politics.
Moreover, there is little if any point in complaining if we don’t know what outcome we want to achieve and who has the capability to achieve that outcome.
It is not the council that litter our town centre with rubbish and graffiti, it is us the public.
However, those who commit criminal acts such as criminal damage to shop windows, drunkenness and urinating in a public place and furthermore, those whose actions fall under the broad heading of ‘anti-social behaviour, must expect a quite different and more positive response.
Criminologists have long held the view that crime is influenced by the physical environment.
When an area starts to look run down these types of criminal acts are more likely to take place because there is a feeling that no one cares.
In spite of a growing number of concerns from residents and visitors alike about the state of the town centre, a malaise appears to have set in on the part of those responsible for its upkeep and the preservation of good order and in that I include those of the public who thoughtlessly discard many types of litter and rubbish.
Such acts of criminal conduct as I have already referred to are in danger of becoming the accepted norms at a time when many other towns and cities are working hard to get to grips with similar problems.
It is not enough to just brush aside those persons who do not appear to fit what many of us consider to be the social norms.
We should be asking ourselves why some in society have fallen on bad times and been dealt such a bad hand.
We are then more able to consider what support is needed.
These issues transcend party politics and yet the infighting goes on at the expense of us the voting public.
We need to dispense with a feeling of nostalgia that somehow there was a golden age that some believe will return.
Instead we need to have the confidence to know that we can succeed and then start looking to the future.
In that way, we can establish a set of principles that addresses the issue of accountability for dealing with rubbish, graffiti, street cleanliness and appearance of the town on the one hand and swift and effective response to criminality on the other.
We must also ensure that we can identify ways in which statutory agencies are better able to interact with the public and prioritise response to incidents, to improve communication and quicker response to reports.
The facilities are in place notwithstanding recent cutbacks.
It’s just a question of how we use them more effectively and even more importantly to ask ourselves how we the public should also be doing more if we want our town to be the town we would all want it to be the future.