Weekly news from Caroline Ansell
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Dear All,

I hope this finds you safe and well.

Not that you would know it, but this week was marked in the calendar as English Tourism Week 2020, “an annual celebration highlighting the importance, value and vast contribution of the sector to the UK Economy”.

There is certainly no doubting its value to Eastbourne’s local economy.  Many local jobs and businesses are both directly and indirectly reliant on our visitors.  Staycation is the first recovery market and innovation the order of the day.

The recently trialled idea, of a drive-in movie event for our July Beach Life festival, is a brilliant example of how the show can go on even under social distancing.  Another excellent proposal is pedestrianising the top end of Terminus Road to allow eateries to spill out and serve their socially distant customers.  There are now new dates to work to in June and July for further lockdown easings – all predicated on a stable and falling R rate, of course – but it does offer some light at the end of the tunnel. 

I will continue to champion this sector in government, last week raising with the Prime Minister the concept of a covid-secure kitemark and the work of the Eastbourne Hospitality Sector - an initiative which is now gaining new national traction. This week I worked with the tourism minister on wider recovery plans. My job is to make sure Eastbourne is firmly on the map.  

Economy Update:

As the Office of National Statistics discusses today, “no part of the economy remains untouched by the impact of the virus”.

They report survey data showing that around 1 in 4 British businesses has temporarily stopped during trading during the pandemic. In a town like Eastbourne, where hospitality, leisure, and tourism businesses have such a large role, we can expect the figure to be even higher.

There is welcome news then in the planned reopening of more businesses to customers, with greater infection control measures in place. Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be reopening from Monday, while a greater list of shops will be able to reopen two weeks later. Shoppers can expect to see new screens, signs and floor markings to inform them of new rules in each shop.

At the moment, we can expect pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels, cinemas and places of worship to be able to open from 4 July at the earliest, if they can meet physical distancing measures. Much will depend on monitoring the progress of the first tentative steps out of lockdown, before giving the final go-ahead for more reopenings.

I spoke with a number of people this week to discuss positive ways forward - economically, socially and environmentally - for Eastbourne. The conversations included a call with the Chancellor and another with the Tourism Minister, where we discussed campaigns for further help for the hospitality sector and coastal communities like ours in particular.

I also spoke with local groups, including Eastbourne’s Eco Action Network, which is keen to improve cycling and walking routes and the prospects for a sustainable recovery were also discussed with dozens of local businesses in a call with the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce

The latest national figures from HMRC, show how vital government action has been to cushioning the economic impact so far. More than 1m employers have claimed £15bn for 8.4m furloughed workers, while 2.3m self-employed workers have received £6.8bn in wage subsidies.

In Eastbourne, rates relief for small businesses means that more than £25m in bills has been waived. Nearly £18m in grants has been paid out to 1,429 local businesses so far, using national money administered by Eastbourne Borough Council. Today, Eastbourne’s discretionary grant scheme goes live, with a further £1.2m to be distributed by the end of that process. Both my work and the news this week, have confirmed the scale of the economic challenge, but also the resolve of businesses, communities and government to work together to recover.

Special mentions go this week to local independent cafés Coffee & Carrot, who already offered a delivery service, but are now also reopening to passing trade for takeaways, and to Urban Ground, who also have new opening hours for great coffee. I look forward to visiting both of them!

COVID-19 Health Update 

In new health guidance issued yesterday, people will be able to meet outside in groups of up to 6 people - from Monday 1 June - as long as they maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from each other. This will allow families, friends and neighbours to meet up in parks, on the beach, or in gardens. It should offer much relief from some of the forced isolation that people have endured since March. Everyone is still advised to not spend time in each other’s houses and not to stay over in another household.

Good news also came in the form of new permissions for dentists. Routine dental care has been suspended since 25 March, but dentists have now been advised that they can reopen for business from Monday 8 June, if they can put in place sufficient precautions. If anyone needs a dentist more urgently and they are in pain, they are advised to call and follow the instructions on their practice’s line or use the NHS 111 service. Eastbourne does have a central dental hub for emergencies, which patients can be referred to.

The NHS ‘test and trace’ processes that are newly in operation should help everyone. Their stated aim is “to help return life more to normal, in a way that is safe and protects our NHS and social care”. This line of medical defence should come to play a major role in protecting Eastbourne and the UK, as we start to open up a little and dare to enjoy summer more.

📣 A big thank you! 
A quick shoutout to the incredible work that our Citizens Advice Bureau and Foodbank have been doing from the offset and throughout this pandemic.  If you feel that you can do anything to support them, or indeed if you need their support, please visit their websites below.
Operation Protect 
Thebestofeastbourne has put together a free guide with advice specifically around preparing to get back to ‘normal’ or the ‘new normal’ which will be particularly helpful to retail and hospitality sectors.
To claim your FREE copy of Operation Protect click on the link

You can also Apply for a Business Marketing Bursary
To find out more click on the link

But don’t delay as applications close on June 3rd!
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...

There is much by way of challenge and opportunity ahead. 

One such important challenge is rough sleeping.  I welcome the government’s ambitious announcement this week of pipeline plans for 6,000 new homes so vulnerable rough sleepers can move into long term stable accommodation after this crisis is over.

I still can’t hold my regular drop-in public advice surgeries but I remain very much available to anyone who needs me. I was to move into offices in the Town Hall in the first week of lockdown and now looking provisionally at the beginning of July, but you can still call my ‘office’ on 01323 409000 to get an appointment.  

Enjoy the sunshine this weekend, stay safe and take care,  

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