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Weekly news from Caroline Ansell
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Dear All,

I hope this finds you safe and well.


It was not quite back to business as usual in Parliament this week but it was important for MPs to get back to ‘the office’ after lockdown.  I was happy to do so.  It’s time.  We have a serious programme of legislation to come, not least ahead of the 31st December when the Brexit transition period ends.

The PM this week hosted the Global Vaccine Summit, rallying countries in the fight against infectious diseases and committing £1.65 billion which will reach 75 million children at risk.  It’s vital that we maintain immunisation programmes during the pandemic. 
 
Vaccines were first pioneered by Englishman Edward Jenner (1749-1823) whose discovery, that inoculating patients with cowpox, made them immune to smallpox, a disease that claimed the lives of over 300 million people. 
 
Today’s researchers and scientists are working round the clock in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine, the antibody test is being rolled out, first to front line workers, and very newly, those who have survived the virus, can now donate their plasma to others fighting it right now. 
 
This week also marked World Environment Day and on the day, we pledged to protect rare wildlife and habits including turtles in the British Virgin Islands to coral reefs in the Comoros.
 
Closer to home, my work on the Environment Bill Committee will restart soon with Parliament back in session. This Bill is a key vehicle for delivering a step change in environmental protection and recovery, inspiring a more resilient and sustainable economy and leaving a positive legacy for future generations.  
 
Whilst public health is clearly the world’s major front line and meaningful action on climate crisis is still every bit as pressing as it was before the pandemic what was also brought into searing focus this week is the prejudice and discrimination which persist in our societies.  One in three women experience physical or sexual violence.  Muslim, Christian, Jewish are persecuted to destitution and death for their faith.  And in the shocking and distressing images of George Floyd, killed by a police officer, racism and abuse of power by some were laid bare. 

The officer and those on scene have been arrested; he has been charged with second degree murder and they with aiding and abetting.  That people state-side were inspired to protest such outrage is right but true change will not be brokered by those who under cover of protest, ran riot, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. George Floyd's family themselves appealed for peaceful protect and my heart goes out to them.  
 
Here at home there is genuine concern that those who took to the streets to protest in London in this week put their health and others at risk when we are still under a 2m social distance rule.  It was confined to a small minority but to see incidences of incitement and physical attacks against our own officers, was deeply troubling and wholly unacceptable. 

Looking ahead, I have spoken with our Police Crime Commissioner about the protest to be staged in Eastbourne next Saturday to ensure every measure is in place to protect the public and I thank the officers of Sussex Police who have served and protected us through this pandemic.  I support peaceful protest and I support the concept of Black Lives Matter because I believe each and every life matters.

Speaking to you from my office in Parliament 
Volunteers Week & The Queen's Award for Bramber Bakehouse 

This week has been Volunteers’ Week. The work of volunteers in Eastbourne has been tremendous and I thank everyone for what they have done over the last few months, and would like to pay tribute also to the sterling work of Adam Chugg and Miriam Wilkinson of 3VA for leading on local action. Now the challenge before us is to nurture and sustain this outpouring of community love in action, beyond the pandemic. Loneliness and isolation were serious challenges before but we have an opportunity now to take that on as never before.    

I was also pleased to see the National Citizen Service asking teenagers aged 16 to 18 to take part in its One Million Hours initiative to undertake voluntary work in charity shops. There is an urgent need for these shops to reopen to raise funds for all manner of good causes, but many older volunteers are vulnerable to the virus and cannot help. I hope our young people here in Eastbourne can offer their time.

A huge congratulations to Bramber Bakehouse on winning The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. 

Bramber Bakehouse provides a baking and employability programme for women survivors of human trafficking, equipping and empowering them on their journey to restoration and recovery.

Bounce Back Eastbourne

That some believe we are going too slowly on easing lockdown and others equally concerned we are moving too fast, it strikes me that the government has got it just about right.

But these are decisions informed by the science.  New measures were announced for this week because we had passed the five tests previously set by the PM.  All of these health indicators will be hawkishly monitored in the days and weeks to come. The new freedoms are conditional on them. 

So from 1st June you can expect to see our town centre market setting back up including non-essential items like flowers and from the 15th June all other non-essential retail can reopen so long as the businesses can abide by social distancing rules on their premises. This will be a significant change in the landscape.  From this date, and as things get busier, you'll need to wear a face mask on public transport too. 

A whole run of initiatives are in preparation for a phased reopening of the town.  One aspect of this is Personal Protective Equipment and the Eastbourne Hospitality Association has created an online shop which will be of particular service for those local micro businesses looking to buy items in smaller numbers.  

This is a great example of local initiative and mutual support which will underpin our recovery.
 
For more information, contact Mr Hayter on 07950 782784
or email vicechair@eastbournehospitality.com 
In light of the new easings, I have had a growing number of questions this week about re-opening of Churches. How can we open car showrooms and not churches? It's a number game and the all-important R rate essentially. I understand there's an added concern about singing because of the stronger exhalation.

Their doors might have been closed all this time but churches across the land and here in Eastbourne have been very much alive and often on the front line of meeting community need. Out of necessity they have also found new ways to reach out to people, empowered by technology. 

The UK Blessing, above, is a brilliant example of this and, that the music plays on!  It brought together more than 65 UK churches, from different traditions, and was compiled and mixed by Eastbourne's freelance recording engineer Trevor Michael and Music producer Les Moir.  The production attracted praise from the PM and was featured recently in The Herald.  
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...

Having worked round the clock from home these last lockdown months, my time will now be split between Parliament and Eastbourne. I still can’t restart my public advice surgeries but am still very much here if you need my support or want to raise important issues with me. Just call my office on 01323 409000.

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

 

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