Weekly news from Caroline Ansell
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Welcome to my e news!

A slightly belated, hello! 

With a global pandemic, this is going to be an undeniably difficult time to navigate but I’m a great believer in the power of people coming together and we’re doing just that.

You can find out more about how to keep safe from the following link.

On that pulling together, can I ask you to support Eastbourne duo, Barry and Bella the Brichon Frisse?  Bella is an assistance dog extremely well known in Eastbourne visiting the DGH and also working with Combat Stress.  Last year Barry & Bella won a Crufts award and this year they are up for another award, 'Soldiering On'. This is all voted for by the public and you can find the link here:

Again on the local front, I've just returned from new town centre business, Wards, which opened today. Owners Neil and Adele have made a beautiful job of the shop itself and the lines they carry are stylish and contemporary. It’s just the sort of independent business that will give Eastbourne retail character and personality. With concerns over the virus spread, it’s not now the easiest trading environment in which to launch, but they are, for sure, a new light on the high street. Please do step in and support them. I did today by persuading my very shy Nick to buy a waistcoat! If you're quick, there may still be cake! 
With the cancellation of the Lifestyle Show this afternoon, I have a quieter Saturday ahead than planned, perfect for catching up on correspondence and preparation for next week’s ‘line by line’ consideration of the Environment Bill which is a good inch thick!
 From House to Home 
I understand why security fears mean that many MPs have decided against holding drop by surgeries in shopping centres and supermarkets.
I promised myself, back in the day when I experienced the death threat made against me, that I wouldn’t let that change the way I lived or how I viewed the world so I held my latest surgery, last Saturday, at The Beacon. It was so busy, it felt like the world was out shopping until I went up to a packed out Town Hall for an International Women’s Day celebration which was every bit a lively!
It’s been a week of breakthroughs and set backs.
A date has now been published for the demolition of the derelict former St Elisabeth’s in Old Town – the programme starts next week.  It will be sad in all sorts of ways but having lobbied church commissioners when I was first MP to finally decide its fate, I can but embrace the future – it’s a  valuable brownfield site which will deliver much needed new homes.
Conversely, we are a step closer to seeing the fisherman’s quay go up at the Harbour!  I’ve been a supporter of this project and ironically, my new boss, the Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, came down to meet the fishermen behind the project back in 2014.
It was sad to see Moria House announce its closure after such a long history in Eastbourne and I have written to the Head to offer my support whose first thought, as was mine, will be for the girls’ future and his staff team.
The week in Westminster meantime has been dominated by the Budget and by Coronavirus and the important provisions made to safeguard against its economic impact. 
‘Social distancing’ has entered the language even as it makes us realise just how close and connected our world is; the move by the US to suspend all travel from mainland Europe marks a new level.
I will keep providing general updates and have made specific enquires on self employment and on the impact of delay in language testing and the visa application process.  Our international students are hugely important to our town.
Eastbourne Station Health Centre 
As you know I have concerns over a key driver behind proposals to close the station health centre.
Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has started a consultation over the plans to shut the doors of the walk-in facility.
The authority is suggesting that the around 3,400 patients registered at the centre’s GP surgery would be able to go to other surgeries in the town.
However, research by my office suggests Arlington Road, Bolton Road and Lighthouse surgeries have suspended their lists and are not open to new patients, Grove Road is full and a doctor has left and only Enys Road - which is moving out of the town centre - has a small number of places.
When I went to the Station walk-in centre myself and talked with staff and patients, I was given a copy of the consultation and the list of potential GP practices patients could move to; that list has seemingly turned to dust in the face of these findings. It is a real concern to me that those registered at the station will be left without a local GP practice to join.
I have written to the CCG to ask for their response to my findings.
My concern is also for future town centre residents. What account has been made of potential new housing development at the heart of the town centre, at Debenhams and TJ Hughes? The pressure on GP surgeries will only increase.
I respect that this plan for closure has been put forward by health officials and doctors in the CCG. They are the experts. I also understand that with new technologies and specialisms, services need to evolve but in my first challenge to the proposal to close, I need to know just how the centre’s GP patients can be registered elsewhere.
The consultation ends on 30th April and is at this link:
The Budget 
Business owners have been in touch these last two days since the Budget to express their thanks at the provisions the Chancellor has made. This is a budget package designed to help with the temporary but very serious economic shock that Covid-19 has brought to the UK and it is to be applauded in its scope and purpose.

The Chancellor made it plain the NHS will get all the money it needs to fight this virus with £5 billion immediately and more if necessary. This is absolutely the response needed.

A further £18 billion will be made available in the shape of “fiscal loosening” to stimulate the economy this year.
On a smaller scale, businesses with fewer than 250 employees will see the government providing statutory sick pay to those off work due to coronavirus. There will also be statutory sick pay for workers who have to self-isolate even if they do not have symptoms of the virus. Business rates are suspended for a year for companies and retailers under the £51,000 threshold to help them cope with a fall in demand.

In addition, local authorities will gain access to a £500m hardship fund to help vulnerable people in their areas while Coronavirus is a problem.

Allied to a 0.5% cut in interest rates, this is a sensible package totalling around £30 billion to see the country through this difficulty. It is the job of government to safeguard its people at times like this and I believe it is doing just that.

As the Chancellor said: "We will get through this together". I am very pleased the government has acted in this way and moved quickly and decisively to mitigate the challenges ahead.
And finally...
I’m stepping out now to support my son on the hockey field. He’s very good, both at the sport and also in embracing the fact that he has a vocal, cheerleading mum on the sidelines. I try to restrain myself but who knew I was so competitive?!
Take care and until next time,

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