Thursday, 17 May 2012

New Councillors Surgery in Sovereign

In Sovereign Ward, we believe in being as accessible to our constituents as possible. Two surgeries are held, one in Sovereign Harbour at 11am on the third Saturday of every month at Simply Italian on the Waterfront and one in Langney Point on a weekday evening.

In order to improve accessibility of the Langney Point surgery, from June we will be moving to The Beatty Cafe on the parade of shops in Beatty Road and the new timings for these will be the second Wednesday of every month from 6pm to 7pm.

Constituents are welcome to come along with any concerns relating to either Eastbourne Borough Council or East Sussex County Council. You don't have to vote Conservative, we welcome constituents with all views.

In addition to the fixed surgery locations, we are also happy to arrange a home visit appointment if this is easier for you or to see a problem at first hand. I will also be trialling a Twitter Surgery from 7pm to 8pm following each of the Langney Point Surgeries so feel free to Tweet or Direct Message me on Twitter @CllrWarner

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

New threat to Langney Point's Five Acre Field

My constituents in Langney Point, close to Five Acre Field (opposite the Sovereign Centre between Princes Road and Lottbridge Drove) have been extremely patient over the years. They have tolerated a number of incursions by the Travelling Community where they have experienced noise, damage to property and litter strewn around after they have been forced to leave. My ward colleagues and I were then recently consulted about what we thought about an expression of interest the council had recieved about Monster Truck Racing, which we very quickly said no to fearing horrendous noise and damage to the field.

Now we understand that due to a clash of dates, the Mosco State Circus which is usually located on the events field at Princes Park is to be moved to Five Acre Field so that the Queens Diamond Jubillee celebrations can take place as planned at Princes Park. The Licensing Application includes an achohol license and would we believe cause an unacceptable nuisance to residents, especially if as it seems, further events are also being planned for the remainder of the year, depriving residents of this much valued local amenity space which is enjoyed by dog walkers, sports teams and local youngsters.

We are hopeful that a mediation meeting can be arranged with the Council's Licensing Manager before the application is considered and I have asked that a one off license be considered for the Queens Diamond Jubillee celebrations to take place on Five Acre Field if there is no where else more appropriate, enabling the Circus to take place at Princes Park. Residents should be assured that your Councillors take the protection of Five Acre Field very seriously and will do everything in our power to preserve and protect it as a community open space.

Policy made on the hoof, is rarely good policy

One of the frustrations of Local Government in the modern cabinet system for Opposition Members is that unless you get the opportunity to pick up seats at by-elections during a four year term of an administration, you have little chance of changing policy made by those in control of the council unless you are able to influence sufficient numbers of their back bench Councillors to vote with the opposition on a specific topic. Some of you will I am sure say, I would not complain if my party were in control so I'll not make any further comment on this, other than to set the scene and explain to those not familiar with this system of local Government why as Councillors we may not always be able to wave a wand and fix things immediately. Indeed many people may not realise what the make up of our Council in Eastbourne is so I hope this helps (Lib-Dems 15 v Conservatives 12).

To give the Lib-Dems in Eastbourne credit where it is due, if you were to go along to see a Cabinet Meeting in action, it looks organised with each agenda item proceeding smoothly with supportive comments made by members at all the right intervals - some might even say stage managed! This impression is no accident because if a policy or report makes it to Cabinet then it is very unlikely that the contents were not planned beforehand to the last detail and the end result is merely a rubber stamping which either sees the policy or report adopted or implimented or sent on to the next Full Council meeting to be passed. With the numerical majority the administration enjoys, it is never likely to fail at this point.

One such case recently was the proposal to introduce horse and cart rides to our seafront. My children and I ride regularly at a riding school in the local countryside and my first instinct was fantastic, now others may experience the joy of interacting with horses. However, one of my colleagues, Cllr Philip Ede had rather stronger opinions on the plans and gave a very informative speech at the Full Council meeting where the plans were debated following Cabinet approval. Philip clearly had more of an idea of the impacts and his concerns were brushed aside very abruptly by Lib-Dems and the plans were approved.

After that decision was made, the Council was approached by Animal Aid, a charity with lots of experience in campaigning on animal welfare issues and last night members were priviledged to have been offered the opportunity to recieve a briefing on the impacts of adopting such a scheme. The proposed hours of operation (11am to 7pm) represented a very long day for the horses to be performing this work, they showed little acknowledgement of the welfare needs of the horses with no detail about the gallons of water that would need to be available for drinking and cooling, especially given our proud boast as a town for long sunshine hours which would surely have compounded the situation. There is no suitable grazed area anywhere near the proposed route at which the horses could rest in a more natural environment and furthemore the combination of our road infastructure and the conditions the horses would have been working in, would have placed the animals in great risk of permanent injury, discomfort and possibly even lead to very premature death, let alone possible risk of injury to people if the horses became stressed or spooked.

It is a very great shame that more research was not carried out before Cabinet Members recommended Full Council approve the plans but an even greater shame their complacent attitude did not allow them to listen to the sensible advice given by Cllr Ede. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to see the Animal Aid presentation and even more pleased that in the wake of it, local Lib-Dems have been forced to back track on their plans.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Let's bring tourists to Sovereign Harbour

Over the years I have heard a number of people criticise the Council for not promoting Sovereign Harbour sufficiently in their marketing to tourists and whilst I am aware that they do try, I accept that there are many visitors who still do not know what a fantastic facility we have which adds massively to our tourist offer. This is why I have called on the popular local Citysightseeing tour bus operator to include Sovereign Harbour in the destinations served by their Eastbourne Tour. Patrick said “Sovereign Harbour is a fantastic attraction and visitors regularly tell me how much they enjoy the waterfront eateries, shops and watching boating life at first hand but it remains one of Eastbourne’s best kept secrets with people not knowing how to find it or in many cases, even that it exists”.

Sovereign Harbour is currently served by the Dotto Train but the current dropping point behind the restaurants is not the most ideal of welcomes, however with the recent local planning approval for the Retail Park regeneration and Harbour Bus Gate, if the Secretary of State gives the go ahead, the reality of the bus gate may provide just the incentive needed to add an extended bus tour.

The popular Citysightseeing Eastbourne & Beachy Head Tour is going from strength to strength with last year’s extension to cover Birling Gap & East Dean proving successful and further improvements to this year’s offer taking in the Eastern Seafront, Princes Park, Fort Fun & the Sovereign Centre. Local Citysightseeing Manager, AJ Harris said “we are constantly looking at ways of improving and developing our Eastbourne Tour and are really keen to see how we could incorporate Sovereign Harbour in our operation. If the forthcoming Harbour Bus Gate becomes a reality, this would make it much easier to showcase Sovereign Harbour along with the many other wonderful attractions that our Eastbourne Tour offers tourists so we look forward to working with Patrick and his colleagues on Eastbourne Borough Council to explore this opportunity further in the future”.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Election Analysis

I have not hurried to make this blog post because not only did I want to fully digest the results but also with a number of other elections also taking place in France and Greece, I thought it worth considering the fall out and impacts of all.

British Local Elections
Firstly on the local elections throughout Britain, the coalition Government clearly paid a heavy price with hundreds of hard working Councillors of both parties being punished in what I very honestly believe to be a case of the mid-term blues. Mid-term blues are often experienced by the governing party and in the case of this Coalition Government, having to make the level of cuts necessary to get our economy not only out of the danger zone but also back on track was always going to lead to unpopularity as the effects of the cuts started to bite, even though there was no other choice left - remember the famous post-it note left by the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury for the incoming Government which  read "Good luck, there is no money left"?

However I believe the jubilance demonstrated by the Labour Party Leader and his Shadow Chancellor since last Thursday night to be most misplaced. These two characters had their finger prints all over the shambles left by Gordon Brown's Government and whilst some may argue that this was a global financial problem, our ability to prepare for and come through it was severely hampered by the reckless spending spree undertaken by their previous Labour Government. What amazes me and many others I have spoken to in recent years is that the economy left to them by John Major's Government in 1997 was so strong that it took so long to ruin - just imagine how much better prepared we would have been to face the recent recession had these clowns not squandered every last penny!

Whilst there was a clear sign of protest from voters, there was no major sign of faith placed in the Labour Party or their half baked policy statements as could be interpreted from results because the major winner was voter apathy with many people simply choosing to stay at home. The challenge for the Coalition Government is now to reconnect with those who choose to stay at home and the many who never or rarely vote and to communicate far more clearly than it has done since the Budget. Some others also believe that the two respective parties should compromise less and be more true to their political principles and in this regard it won't surprise you to learn that I would like to see more traditional Conservative policies being pursued - however the reality is that if the Coalition remains until the planned General Election in 2015, the politics of compromise is probably here to stay but at least there will be clear choices for the electorate when the time comes.

London Mayoral Election
After the local elections, we saw the re-election of London Mayor, Boris Johnson who in my humble opinion has done a fantastic job for London and I am very pleased that he has been given the opportunity to show what can be achieved during the next four years. Boris has also taught Conservatives a valuable lesson, a lesson which has seen one of the highest levels of deliverance on pre-election promises in my lifetime, despite a very challenging economic climate. He has shown that we can and should be ambitious and can push the boundaries of what those around us believe is possible, he has banished the German made bendy buses that were a danger to many of the capital's cyclists and replaced them with a new Routemaster bus which has been designed to meet the specific needs of Londoners and has some groundbreaking new green technology on board - who would bet against him delivering driverless tube trains or even a new airport now along with then many other important priorities he has set? Above all, he has shown us that strength of character can beat the negative politics of our oponents - watch out Eastbourne Lib-Dems, we've been taking notes!

French Presidential & Greek Parliamentary Elections
Finally, whilst all this has been going on we have had the French Presidential elections and Greek Parliamentary elections. France's outgoing President, Nicholas Sarkozy lost to Socialist challenger Francois Hollande and the Greek situation remains very unclear as whilst I wrote this blog entry earlier today, the second placed left leaning group were trying to form a coalition after the leading right wing group had failed. However these two situations pan out, it seems that we may be heading towards another Eurozone crisis with resistance in France to austerity measures and a now far more likely Greek default. This could present major challenges and threats to our own economic situation but I hope very much that because our Government has taken the difficult decisions and remains committed to seeing them through, that this may actually give us a competitive advantage in many areas with the possibility of some European based businesses considering switching to Britain to benefit from a more stable environment which is not so closely tied to the faltering Euro - time will tell!

What next?
Well that's enough of the bigger picture for the moment. Here in Eastbourne politicians of all parties have much work to do and wouldn't it be great if our oponents in the Labour Party & Green Party were able to stage a breakthrough? I am sure that this would not only ensure much wider political debate but also keep Conservatives and Lib-Dems on their toes.

I remain committed not only to continue working hard for my constituents in Sovereign Ward along with my two ward colleagues Philip & Gordon and our County Councillor, David Elkin but also to play my part in some of the other important big issues in Eastbourne such as the Harbour Retail Park redevelopment, the Town Centre regeneration, delivery of an Asset Management Strategy that prevents many of our key attractions falling into disrepair, preservation and improvement of our wonderful seafront and improving transport links to the town.

As always, I welcome the opportunity to hear your concerns so please feel free to contact me by e-mail at if there is anything I can do to assist.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Take a Tenner Event Success

I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the team at 'Eastbourne Can' for organising their 'Take a Tenner' event in Eastbourne's Independent Retail area, Little Chelsea last weekend.

It was great to see something positive being done to help local businesses in these challenging times and I was happy to take part by purchasing a tasty Chicken & Mushroom Pie and Toffee Muffin from Cavendish Bakery and cutting what little remains of my hair at Ministry of Barbers.

According to today's Twitter feed from @EastbourneNews, the event is believed to have generated an extra £500 worth of trade in the Little Chelsea area which will surely have not only added some extra revenue to businesses but hopefully also raised the profile of the area and the many unique traders within it.

Great work here Eastbourne Can, I look forward to taking part in the next event!