Weekly news from Caroline Ansell
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Dear friends,

The sun is shining as I write and living practically on the prom, I’ve just stepped out for ten minutes to simply breath.  Life on zoom can sometimes feel just a bit oppressive.  This is that moment, caught above.

The demolition crew were at the site of the Claremont and there’s a prospect that the deep trench dug out for gas works could be filled early next week and the road re-opened, what a fantastic – and symbolic - release that would be!

We’re going to need to talk about cycling too..

Nick & I and the boys are house hunting in a hurry as our time in our little lockdown haven comes to a close so I was very pleased with the Secretary of State’s announcement on Wednesday that a (safe and considered) restart to the property market was in prospect.

On property, there are signs of new life in Old Town. The scaffolding is up on the former St Elisabeth’s in Victoria Drive – it’s coming down and soon. I say soon, but it’s been years in the consideration.  I even raised it with the Archbishop of Canterbury when I was first in Parliament!  The community of the church itself, is thriving in the building next door, and now won’t be overshadowed by its former shell.  I will miss it, but it is time. What takes its place, is about to become the new story. And just a few hundred yards down Victoria Drive, the new Green Street Clinic is rapidly taking form and the structure is up.  Ups and downs, it’s all happening, and change is in the air.

From House to Home 

So this week we have had some limited lifting of lockdown measures by the Prime Minister and I’m sure many people will be relieved we are perhaps reaching the end of this first phase of the coronavirus pandemic. There is an end in sight and other countries have trod this path before us. The reopening of schools in Denmark is a good point in question. There's a window on their experience here  

Garden centres have opened, some sports such as golf and tennis, can now take place. More recreational activities are permitted within a family. It’s a cautious start. I fear notwithstanding the creativity of the person responsible for the re branding in the photo above (!) pubs and restaurants will be in the last wave. 

The government’s job retention, or furlough, scheme has been extended until October (details below) which is a huge relief in many quarters, combined with a new expectation and understanding that some businesses need to bring some employees back on a part-time basis.

It is progress.  It's also a dangerous and delicate time even though infection rates and deaths are falling. We must do all we can to avoid a second wave of this virus and that means we must also keep to social distancing guidelines too and soon, through track and trace.  

That much I think we can all agree on but there is no doubt some have very definite - but opposing - views around what the government should do in this sensitive phase as we endeavour to move towards recovery and move we must - on multiple levels, the lockdown has come at a great personal cost to many and to the country. 

Some who write to me make the case for an immediate lifting of restrictions, others remain very fearful for themselves and their families and are anxious about any easing. 

I understand both of these views. 

Move too fast, and infection rates will go up and people – many of them vulnerable - will die. Move too slowly and diagnoses of illnesses like cancer will not happen - costing lives that could have been saved. There is no easy answer other than to tread carefully and stay focused on the medical advice.

In essence, the right way here is the middle way and that's what the government is doing.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have worked throughout this period to keep the lights on and to pay tribute to our new army of volunteers, with a special mention this week for Box Full of Rainbows, and to the ingenuity and resilience of many local entrepreneurs who are even now mobilising and adapting to bounce back. There’s going to be a great deal of rebuilding work to do from here on in, but we can do anything, if we do it together. 

International Nurses Day - Thank you!

Tuesday marked International Nurses Day, and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, pioneer of modern nursing.

Nightingale rose to national prominence during the Crimean War (1854-1856), where she led a team of nurses that improved the sanitary conditions of the British military hospital in Scutari. 

Returning home a hero, she spent the rest of her life driving reforms in nursing and hospital design, writing books, and corresponding on public health, theology and politics. The principles and practices she established remain the foundation of modern nursing globally to this day.

Find out more about Florence’s life and work here.

Thank you to all of our amazing nurses in Eastbourne, and across the country, who take care of us, especially in this very difficult time. The image is from my last visit to the Hospital before lockdown.  


📣 Job Retention Scheme extension

📣 The job retention scheme will be extended, for four months, until the end of October.

➡️ From August to October the scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.

➡️ Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

➡️ We will ask employers to start sharing, with the government, the costs of paying people’s salaries.

➡️ Further details will follow in May, but workers will, through the combined efforts of government and employers, continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their salary, up to £2,500.

Read more about the announcement here.

Need Help? Help is at hand

If you’re feeling isolated, anxious or unwell at home and don’t have anyone that can help you, the Eastbourne community hub may be able to help. 

📞 For Eastbourne:                                          dial 01323 679722
📞 For Willingdon, Wannock and Jevington :   dial 01323 443322

And finally...

It was good to get the Agriculture Bill through its last stage in Parliament this week. It will bring the biggest change in agriculture policy in half a century.  It was to a very great extent the work of now Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, who I support in Parliament.  George himself is from six generations of farmers in West Cornwall.  Now that we have left the EU and the much criticised Common Agricultural Policy, we have the opportunity to reset for a prosperous future for British agriculture.  I want to stress too that food safety and high animal welfare remain at the forefront.

There’s been talk this week of the antibody test to come and that will herald still further advance. We’re a way off business as normal and quite possibly some things will be changed forever – and actually for the better - but we are moving forward and we will beat this.

Take good care, keep in touch and til we meet again,

Copyright © 2020 *Caroline Ansell*, All rights reserved.