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This week in Westminster has been dominated by the Chancellor’s budget. A top local win was the success of our £19.8m bid to the government’s Levelling Up fund. Elements of our bid have real potential to bring transformation to our town by linking the downland to the seafront and the seafront to the town centre - three major moving parts of the Eastbourne engine. We may also now finally secure our identity as Eastern Gateway Town to the South Downs National Park and harness the national and international attraction this inspires. 
Other measures and investments in the Budget will boost skills and productivity, there was more funding for special education places and rate relief for hospitality.  I was especially pleased with the change to the ‘taper rate’ for those on Universal Credit. Essentially, building up your hours will start to work for you.     

Access to face to face GP appointments has been very much in the news and raised also in Parliament this week. I have been speaking to GPs across Eastbourne and Willingdon over many months and their dedication to their patients should not be in doubt.

Surgeries have been operating under unprecedented challenges for more than 18 months. They are playing a vital part in the successful vaccine roll out. Now they are front and centre of the NHS’s Covid recovery and I would like to express my support for them. I have been very unhappy to see the attacks they have received on social media, in particular around appointments.  One surgery has had to call for Police assistance three weeks in a row. 

I know some patients are frustrated they have not seen a GP face-to-face, and I understand that frustration. There are no easy answers in dealing with such increased demand. It is important to recognize that of the 66% of patients who want face to face appointments, 58% and rising are being seen.      

But in part what we are experiencing is change.  Alongside our GPs, a host of health and wellbeing professionals will increasingly come into play. Technology in the form of e-consult and telephone calls are here to stay and can be a very effective way to access services in many cases.

I do not think the British Medical Association’s threat of strike action is helpful. What will help is us appreciating the stress practices are under, the tremendous work they do and on a practical level, pivoting to pharmacies in the first instance, especially for the more minor ailments. 

And can I take this opportunity to thank all our key workers in Eastbourne & Willingdon who have worked tirelessly for so long now.


I am delighted that the Government is looking to directly invest in Eastbourne to open up new life chances here. It very much shows coastal towns like ours are in the thoughts of ministers and it is yet another boost as we recover from the pandemic.
The Government pledged to level up and here is an important commitment.  Our local plans need to be rolled out by Spring 2025 so we should see results in a relatively short space of time.
When I gave my endorsement to the bid, the council gave me a commitment that should we be successful, this Levelling Up bid money would be invested in ways which will reach those in our town who need new opportunities, skills and jobs to open up to them.
I am excited about the apprenticeship opportunities in the creative and digital fields, construction and land management. The new jobs envisaged are vitally important too, both direct and indirect. Likewise the opportunities for new start-ups.
Elements of the bid have real potential to bring transformation to our town by linking the downland to the seafront and the seafront to the town centre - three major moving parts of the Eastbourne engine.
We may also now finally secure our identity as Eastern Gateway Town to the South Downs National Park and harness the national and international attraction this inspires. 
Importantly, the investment to come in Victoria Place extends the season, promotes the night time economy and will be a springboard for the important developments to come at the strategic sites of the former TG Hughes and Debenhams.
I have extended my thanks to the minister and will be keeping him up to date on our progress. 

Click on the link to see a summary of the bid

Where to pick them up and how to do the test.

Our vaccination programme is rightly a big driver in getting back to normality but so is testing and we need to make it as normal as brushing our teeth to protect our progress against the virus and community transmission. 

Recent openings will inevitably mean more cases, but free testing for those without symptoms is an important new line of defence to protect our recovery.  I now TEST regularly.  It is pretty easy and comforting to see a negative result when so many can have the virus without symptoms.  You still have to keep the usual safety measures but it feels good to step out knowing.

✅ Testing will help us
✅ Keep on the roadmap to freedom👣
✅ Stop the spread
✅ Protect the NHS 💙

TESTS: Now available free to all without symptoms and you can do 🏠 at home, order online or collect locally.

You can get a pack of 7 tests sent to your home. Order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK
If you do tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone.

The video below explains how to do the test.

How to do a COVID-19 Self Test (rapid antigen test)

Community Collect Site

Fort Fun Princes Park Car Park, Royal Parade, BN22 7LQ site is operating as a test site for symptomatic testing  but only in the mornings.  In the afternoons 2:30pm – 8:00pm, following a clean down, it is operating as a Community Collect site for people to collect home test kits and supports the Government statements on providing universal asymptomatic testing.

Eastbourne Pharmacies

✅ A.E. Pharma Limited, 11 Grand Hotel Buildings, Compton Street, BN21 4EJ - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ A & S Shillam Limited, 82 Seaside,  BN22 7QP - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Asda, Crumbles Harbour Village, BN23 6JH - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Boots, Princes Park Health Ctr, Wartling Road, BN22 7PG - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Day Lewis, 2 Furness Road, BN21 4EY - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Day Lewis, 10 Freshwater Square, BN22 0PS - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Osbon Medicals Limited, 116-118 Cavendish Place,  BN21 3TZ - Pick up site - for at home test kits

✅ Tesco Stores, Lottbridge Drove, BN23 6QD - Pick up site - for at home test kits

You can find further details 

Vaccination Information
How & Where to get a Test
Community Help & Support
Free Transport for Covid-19 Vaccinations
Vaccination Scam Information
Mental Health & Wellbeing
Support for Businesses
Test & Trace Support Payment

On Thursday I was delighted to join the Royal Marine Association, Eastbourne Branch to celebrate the 357th birthday of the Royal Marines. To be more accurate, the 357th anniversary of the formation of the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot, The Lord High Admiral's Regiment.

The formal part of the evening included a welcome from the President Bernard Stonestreet, a toast to the Queen from Chairman Stephen Williams and a minutes silence with the Last post beautifully played by young  Cadet, Jim.

I had a lovely time meeting the members, especially veteran Brian Perry as we discussed this year's Poppy Appeal. The Eastbourne Branch was formed just a year ago. I would like to thank them for their welcome and I look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength. 

Last Friday I was delighted to visit the Friends of Eastbourne Hospital for the grand opening of their art exhibition which was open at St Andrew's Prep over the weekend. 

The exhibition featured work by local artists and while there, I bumped into Margaret whilst admiring her beautiful watercolours of the Seven Sisters, and of Hampden Park.
Below a small selection of the artwork on display!
This is very disappointing news after such a successful long-term partnership with the town. (the photo is from one of my visits to the campus)

I  spoke with the university’s vice-chancellor on Wednesday who answered many of my questions but I will have others in the weeks to come.

The university is a valued partner in Eastbourne and an important part of the economy, and there will be some concern locally, especially around jobs. There is a consultation and everyone can give their views. I will be doing that too.

You can give your views at:


And finally...

Friday was the 40th birthday for St Wilfred's Hospice, marking four decades of compassionate end of life care in Eastbourne and beyond.  I was delighted to attend a celebratory event for staff and volunteers in the evening.

Today I will be paying a visit to Newart Gallery in Hyde Gardens having already been, this morning, to the Macmillan Coffee Morning at The Beacon. More on all these next week.

Take good care and keep in touch,


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Caroline Ansell MP · Eastbourne Town Hall · Grove Road · EASTBOURNE, EAST SUSSEX BN21 4TX · United Kingdom