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Weekly news from Caroline Ansell
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Dear All,

I hope this finds you safe and well.

Week two in Westminster has now been and gone and a new normal has settled over proceedings. Socially distant voting isn't the same mission of that first day back trial run which saw the most British of all queues weaving around the corridors of the Palace.  Innovation is all around. 

I was sorry to see in my 'parallel' diary that on Monday of this week, I would have been welcoming my second coach tour party from home!  I started these tours in my first term as MP and they proved hugely popular; in fact, we had a waiting list 300 strong back in 2017!  Just as soon as it's deemed safe, these tours will be back on.  To double down on my disappointment, I was also to have welcomed Langney Primary School to The Commons on Tuesday!   

All of these things will resume in season and on Monday, the opening of non essential shops, marks another cautious step forward.  I'm hoping to hike into town to buy trainers before I jump onto the train.  Wearing face masks on public transport is new guidance for this week. On one journey I had the carriage to myself and on another, I believe, the whole train.      

I'm not sure commuting and 'the office' will ever be the same as we emerge from the impact of the virus and the leap on digital empowerment but people are understandably anxious about the risk of the infection spread and a second wave.   

I support peaceful protest – it’s at the heart of our democratic freedoms - and I support the concept of Black Lives Matter because I believe each and every life matters, but these are not usual times. We have just been through a difficult period of surrendering many of our freedoms to protect the NHS and save lives. Many constituents have written to me to express their dismay and fear.
 
We must all stand up against prejudice, but I hope we don’t all feel the need to join the protest on the day. Any gathering will necessarily come at some potential risk.
 
There are other ways to mark the moment and I commend the Herald for providing one in sharing photos of solidarity taken from home. Another could be making a donation to The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, an amazing charity which challenges disadvantage and discrimination. It works for fairness and justice. It is a positive driver for change. I will donate to it on the day and, I believe, it very much fits in with the wishes of George Floyd’s family. 

Back to School? 
"How on earth are pupils to catch up?" 

Click above to join in on my time with LBC News radio journalist Chris Golds on Wednesday. 

Summer camps?

No matter your age or stage, everyone knows what a return to school in September feels like - a mountain to climb. Skills need to be re found, processing  speeds recovered and mental stamina re built - to say nothing of your writing hand. 

I have engaged with ministers this week for children and young people in Eastbourne and Willingdon and I anticipate new provision to come.       
Addressing the Home Secretary - Let's Take on the Perpetrators

In lock down, much has rightly been made of staying at home to stay safe.  For too many women, and some men also, being at home is not the sanctuary most of us experience, it's a place of imminent danger and threat. 

The first refuge was established the year I was born. Nearly 50 years later and there is a fear we are about to see an explosive increase in reporting with lockdown easing.

It's critically important to provide for victims but is there one untapped key to changing the devastating number victims of this crime? I believe so and that's to take on the perpetrator. Hold them to account? Absolutely. Should they face justice and 'pay' for their crime. Yes -100%. But is there also a place for inspiring behaviour change in perpetrators? I believe there is.

*Save lives, *change the narrative and *break the generational cycle.  This was the substance of my question to the Home Secretary this week.  Only a fraction of the funds to address domestic abuse is spent on tackling perpetrators and working to change offender behaviour.  Some estimates put it at 1% 

In good news on funding, the Government has newly announced an additional £10 million of support for frontline domestic abuse charities, which will provide more than 1,500 bed spaces to support survivors of domestic abuse at risk during the pandemic.  This is part of a wider package of support to be made available over the coming months, and is a key priority in these unprecedented times, providing charities with the vital lifeline they need to help people across England escape abuse and restart their lives.  Over a third of the charities being supported offer specialist services to BAME, LGBT and disabled victims of domestic abuse.

Find support or report abuse online at www.sussex.police.uk

For Better or Worse? The Debate over Statues 

The campaign to remove the nation’s statues of slavers and imperialists has continued this week and it’s making me feel increasingly uneasy because I fear it’s divisive and we will all be poorer for the experience.

A school curriculum classic for decades, George Orwell, in his novel 1984, wrote how the regime constantly destroyed or falsified records, rewrote books and renamed streets and statues to enable history to be stopped with the aim that “nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right”.

We’re not in this dystopian loop yet, but I hope you can see the danger. 

I understand the toppling of statues has been a time-honoured way to express outrage throughout history but, most often, it has been at the end of totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union.

Britain does not fit these criteria, and some of its citizens wanting the removal of statues and road names they now find unacceptable is, I believe, a wrong turn in the road.

If we remove the statues of all the slave owners and imperialists from our public spaces, we risk removing them from our consciousness and we risk losing their ability to inform (with the right educational focus) future generations.

This view doesn’t undermine the Black Lives Matter campaign, which I very much support. I think - if we draw a breath for a moment - it actually complements it and will allow a wider debate about how we can address injustice.

These statues are part of the educational experience if we are to truly confront the outrage and wickedness that is slavery and other wrongs too, as uncomfortable as that is for everyone to admit. They are in our cityscapes and they are part of all our histories. They should instead be amended to tell a more balanced narrative and help us acknowledge wrongs and confront all injustice.

If we remove or destroy them, I fear the damage to our shared understanding. No statues of slavers in our land and, in time, no slavers, no slaves, then no war heroes, no war; no holocaust, no Auschwitz extermination camp in what would become, slowly, 'an endless present' as Orwell predicted? Can people forget? Yes, they can and quite easily.

We could put these statues in museums, and perhaps that’s a compromise, but I don’t think it is as good as leaving them where they are. As I said, they need to be adapted with extra information about what these men did, why they did it and how it affected others. Much could be added with help from local communities.

Another more practical reason to leave them in place is that a lot of people do not visit museums, but everyone walks the streets. The scope to educate is enormous. It is possible to make these statues, that were once a celebration, into a warning, an education and a beacon for progress.

However, the idea to keep these statues and use them to educate, cannot work without much more effort being put into highlighting the achievements of many others who were oppressed or overlooked in our recent history.

Nothing would please me more than to see a statue honouring the Windrush generation, for example, for the tremendous contribution they have made to this country.

All this is a more nuanced way forward and one that will take time – most things good and enduring usually have to be. It’s something that Nelson Mandela recognised when he sought out reconciliation at every turn of his incredible life.

Putting up new statues, recognising the once oppressed, while acknowledging the stories, both good and bad, behind the ones already in existence can bring us together. Removing statues stifles important future debate and understanding and divides us.

I would rather have history that offends, provokes debate and inspires change than no history at all.

Putting Eastbourne on the Map!
 
The Northern Lights of Eastbourne?! Fantastic video captured by Max Thompson. I just had to include this in case you'd missed it.   Eastbourne's beauty, appeal and draw is based on our beautiful natural environment, downland, seascape and sunshine. Could this be a wondrous new draw?!
Government Support in Eastbourne 

Coronavirus employment support in Eastbourne has so far reached OVER THIRTEEN MILLION POUNDS - showing that the government is helping the town’s residents during the pandemic.  

Latest statistics found 12,300 people have been furloughed in Eastbourne with the government paying 80% of their wages up to £2500 a month.

Another 4500 made a claim for the self-Employment Income Support Scheme, worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, again up to £2,500 a month.

The help is in addition to extra money for the borough council to deal with the virus and grants and loans to help businesses hit by lockdown.

These unprecedented times have called for unprecedented support for our town and I am pleased the government has acted so decisively to support jobs and business. 

It was absolutely the right thing to do at such a time of emergency and this support has acted as a safety net and will now be the springboard to help get the country moving again.

Today’s news of a record 20% shrink in the UK economy during the lockdown in April shows the enormity of what has happened due to COVID-19, but the government’s priority to protect jobs and business means we have the ability to bounce back safely and quickly.

The challenge now is to get the hospitality sector – so important to Eastbourne - ready for action and I continue this work with ministers and the Hospitality Association to make this happen.

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...

I had a very purposeful zoom meeting with some of our language school leaders yesterday and my work on their behalf will take me in to next week and beyond.  It involves variously engaging with the Home Office, with the Department for Business Energy Industrial Strategy and DDCMS under a culture banner. What is clear is just how important they are to our local economy.  I've also been working on the walking and cycling strategy and how investment is going to shape the landscape. Both of these activities are key to better health and a more sustainable, greener living. There's a lot at stake but so many opportunities ahead, not least in capturing the community response of the lock down months. 

Enjoy the tentative new freedoms we have, cherish your loved ones and if you need me, call my office on 01323 409000, I stand ready to support you. 
 

Until then, keep in touch, take good care and stay safe.

 

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