Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Awful A27 claims another local life

Following on from the positive meeting at Westminster last week when Chamber Chief, Christina Ewbank, Eastbourne's Prospective MP, Cllr Caroline Ansell and I met new Roads Minister, Robert Goodwill MP to discuss long overdue improvements to the A27 between Polegate and Lewes, it was sad to hear that yet another motorist lost their life on the road during rush hour traffic on Monday evening.

Earlier today it was revealed that the motorist in question was 57 year old Peter Sinden of Old Town. Peter was a former customer of mine that I had known for a number of years. A keen motoring enthusiast and fan of MG sports cars, Peter was a gentle man with a great sense of humour who will be missed by his family and the local MG enthusiast community.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to Peter's family and friends at this difficult time and his passing will strengthen my resolve to continue doing all I can to ensure that this road is upgraded in the future.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Questions asked over Towner Art Gallery Trust proposals

Eastbourne's Lib-Dem run Council have been quizzed over plans to transfer the New Towner Art Gallery into a trust. At the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening, Chairman of Scrutiny, Cllr Patrick Warner questioned Cllr Carolyn Heaps the Cabinet Portfolio holder for Tourism about the plans.

Cllr Warner said "given this Council's poor record at managing it's property portfolio along with concerns over the original build of the new Towner Gallery and the deteriorated state of the adjacent Congress Theatre which remains covered in expensive scaffolding, can Cllr Heaps advise us what steps have been taken to ensure that the building will continue to be maintained properly and regular inspections carried out once the transfer to trust takes place". Cllr Warner also added "given the exciting plans to redevelop the Devonshire Complex and restore the Winter Gardens, can Cllr Heaps assure us that rushing ahead with moving the Towner to trust early will not make the wider complex less attractive given that it was first muted that the entire site could be managed by one trust?".

A red faced Cllr Heaps seemed unusually lost for words as first the Leader of the Council sprang to her defence, followed by the Senior Officer responsible for Tourism who admitted that further work needed to be done in this area but that it was possible the Council would retain responsibility for the buildings and that the Towner trust might be able to be rolled into a larger trust or operated as a separate entity within a larger organisation at some stage. 

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Cllr Warner said "I was not convinced that the Cabinet Member had strong grasp of her brief in this area and whilst I accept that trust status could open up opportunities for the flagship art gallery, I will be maintaining a close interest in developments both as Chairman of Scrutiny and in my role on the cross party Strategic Property Board which was tasked with restoring confidence in the management of the property portfolio following the Asset Management Fiasco that surfaced shortly after the 2011 local elections".

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Britain finally deports Abu Qatada to Jordan after decade long saga

Britain deported radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan on Sunday to face terror charges, ending a nearly decade-long legal battle to expel the man once dubbed Osama bin Laden's deputy in Europe.

The Palestinian-born preacher, 53, was taken from prison in an armoured police van to a military airfield on the outskirts of London, where he boarded a privately chartered jet that lifted off into the night sky.

Britain was finally able to expel the father-of-five after the two governments last month formally approved a treaty guaranteeing that evidence obtained by torture would not be used against him in any retrial.

Home Secretary Theresa May said his departure proved that the government's efforts to deport him had been worth the £1.7 million ($2.7 million, two million euros) legal bill and would be "welcomed by the British public."

"This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country," she said in a statement released seconds after Abu Qatada's plane took off.

Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of Abu Qatada (left) at RAF Northolt  in West London boarding a private flight bound for Jordan.
Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence of Abu Qatada (left) at RAF Northolt. Photo: PA

Jordanian officials said they expected him to arrive in Amman later Sunday morning, with the flight taking around five hours, although they have not said what they will do with him when he does arrive.

British newspapers said he would be taken straight to jail near Amman.

Television pictures showed Abu Qatada dressed in a white robe as he boarded the aircraft at the RAF Northolt base in west London. He had earlier left high security Belmarsh jail in southeast London in a blue armoured police van flanked by three police cars.

Abu Qatada was condemned to death in 1999 for conspiracy to carry out terror attacks including on the American school in Amman but the sentence was immediately reduced to life imprisonment with hard labour.

In 2000, he was sentenced to 15 years for plotting to carry out terror attacks on tourists during the millennium celebrations in Jordan.

Under Jordanian law, Abu Qatada faces retrial for the offences on his return, because the original convictions were made in absentia.

The radical cleric has been in and out of British prisons since 2002, although he has never been convicted of any crime, and London has been trying to deport him since 2005.

British and European courts blocked his expulsion on the grounds that evidence might be used against him that had been obtained by torture.

But after years of legal battles his lawyers unexpectedly said in May that he would return there once the fair trial treaty was ratified by the Jordanian parliament.

"I am glad that this government's determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, parliament and the British public have long called for," May said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had previously said he would be "one of the happiest people in Britain" when Abu Qatada was finally deported.

Abu Qatada's wife and five children are expected to remain in Britain, where he first came in 1993 seeking asylum.

Born Omar Mahmud Mohammed Otman in Bethlehem in the now Israeli-occupied West Bank, Abu Qatada is a Jordanian national because the town was part of Jordan when he was born.

Videotapes of his sermons were allegedly found in the Hamburg flat of 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta while top Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon once branded Abu Qatada Osama bin Laden's deputy in Europe, although Abu Qatada denies ever having met the slain al-Qaeda leader.

Jordanian Salafist leader Mohammad Shalabi, who is better known as Abu Sayyaf, told AFP this week that his followers were hopeful Abu Qatada would be allowed to go home instead of returning to jail.

"God willing, he will be declared innocent after a fair and quick trial," Shalabi said.

Theresa May, the fifth successive home secretary to try to expel Abu Qatada, announced the so-called "Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters" with Jordan in April after months of negotiations.

The treaty was then ratified by the British and Jordanian parliaments. It does not specifically mention Abu Qatada, but gives guarantees for cases like his.

Edited by Steve Wilson for

Ministers to seize back 100 powers from Brussels

Around 100 powers are to be permanently seized from Europe in a dramatic move this week.

In the first part of efforts to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union, ministers will announce plans to claw back the powers.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will give MPs details of proposals to opt out of 133 EU measures covering justice, home affairs and the police — including the controversial European Arrest Warrant — by next spring.

Some of the measures that are seen to be in the national interest will then be opted back into, in a complex process, but “more than two thirds” will disappear permanently from British law, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

The move follows last week’s unanimous Commons vote in favour of moves to hold an “in-out” referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU by 2017.

David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum after a major diplomatic drive to redefine the terms of Britain’s relationship with the 27 other countries in the union.

Senior government sources said the announcement on the mass justice and home affairs opt-out, which is expected on Tuesday, should be seen in this context, while Tory Eurosceptics, who originally wanted all 133 measures to be dumped permanently, said that the move was an “acid test” of the Prime Minister’s renegotiation strategy.

It could also open up a new rift with the Liberal Democrats, who oppose Mr Cameron’s referendum plan.

Tuesday’s announcement will be made after months of intense internal wrangling between Tories and Lib Dems over which justice and home affairs powers should be kept and which should be permanently dropped.

Conservative ministers want to exploit Labour’s confusion over whether it will make its own referendum pledge, as well as the party’s wider difficulties surrounding the row over attempts by the Unite union, its biggest paymaster, to influence the selection of parliamentary candidates.

Other flagship coalition measures likely to appeal to Conservative supporters will be spelt out in detail this week — including the new curriculum for five- to 14-year-olds that will see Winston Churchill restored to history lessons and plans for the privatisation of Royal Mail.

Mrs May is expected to tell MPs that the process of opting out of the EU’s justice and home affairs measures by the end of May 2014 — as Britain is entitled to do under the terms of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty — will be followed by a process of opting back into some laws that it is in the national interest to retain.

The most controversial is the European Arrest Warrant, which senior Conservative sources say gives rise to “concerns” — including the fact that Britain currently hands over many more suspects to other countries than it receives to face justice here.

Other concerns include the length of time suspects can be held without trial in some other EU countries and the apparently trivial offences for which British police are asked to arrest people so that they can be sent abroad.

Ministers have been pressing for the warrant to be “reformed”, amid signs that it could be one of the measures that is eventually retained. The Lib Dems are key supporters of the warrant.

Other measures among the scores from which Britain is expected to opt out include DNA profiling and fingerprint checking, some co-operation on cross-border crimes and plans for an EU-wide driving ban.

One plan Britain is particularly keen not to be part of is that of a European-wide public prosecutor with sweeping powers of investigation and arrest across member states.

Although some laws will remain after the “opt back in” process, Conservative sources welcomed the symbolism of the announcement of a major opt-out of EU powers just days after plans for an in/out referendum got a 304-vote unanimous backing in the Commons.

Dominic Raab, a Conservative MP, said: “This is a crucial opportunity to put British law enforcement ahead of Brussels’ thirst for political control and an acid test for the wider Conservative strategy of renegotiating terms with the EU.”


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Grant Shapps MP makes joint appearance with Caroline Ansell inEastbourne Town Centre

Grant Shapps MP makes joint appearance with Caroline Ansell in Eastbourne Town Centre

The Right Honourable Grant Shapps MP,Conservative Party Chairman, today joined Caroline Ansell,  Prospective MP for Eastbourne & Willingdon at Bankers Corner in Terminus Road where they conducted a canvass of public opinion ahead of the vote on James Wharton's Private Members Bill, committing an EU Referendum to law. Voting takes place in Parliament on 5th July.
Caroline said:
“The referendum could be one step closer. The sitting MP has the opportunity on Friday in Westminster to play his part in securing a vote for the 70,000 voters in Eastbourne and Willingdon. If he were to vote in favour that would seem like a good day’s work to me. Our membership of The EU is arguably the biggest political question of our time and we really need to have a national conversation, in a responsible and balanced manner, that for once people can have a direct say in …why deny us that chance?”
Later in the afternoon Caroline Ansell presented the result of at the canvass to the office of sitting MP Stephen Lloyd, urging him to vote in favour of an EU referendum when the bill comes before  parliament tomorrow.
 ‘Independent’s Day’ for Traders
Following the street canvas, Caroline and Grant visited the Enterprise Shopping Centre to tour this example of success story of independent traders in the converted railway building.
“What a pleasure to show Grant around The Enterprise Centre on what is now known Independent’s Day’. The great character and nature of the place was so evident and everywhere we stopped there was a hugely warm welcome. Shopping here is so much more than a transaction, it's an experience”
They then visited The Old Print Works, Wharf Road nearing the completion of its renovation to see a ‘Back to Work’ Seminar in progress and to see how this new premises is providing an opportunity for business start-ups and a new home to Cohub.
After the visit Caroline said: “I was so impressed with the transformation going on at The Old Printworks where they are creating a really exciting workspace and great opportunities for local entrepreneurs”

Friday, 28 June 2013

Classic Eastbourne Buses pressed back into service to celebrate 110years of motor bus operation in the Borough of Eastbourne

Most who know me, know that I'm a bit of a petrol head and whilst this tends to revolve mainly around classic and modern British brands of cars, I also enjoy an occasional ride through our green and pleasant countryside on a steam train and the views you only tend to find from the top deck of a bus.

Recently when meeting with the Commercial Director of Stagecoach South East to discuss bus services in Sovereign Harbour on behalf of my constituents I was very pleased to be shown around the Birch Road workshops at the end of our meeting to discover two freshly restored classic Eastbourne Buses. The 1950 single deck AEC Regal had had to have a small number of mechanical components reproduced in order to breathe new life into it and my personal favourite and a rear platform entranced 1967 Leyland Titan PD2A double decker has had extensive bodywork restoration and interior refurbishment.

The Regal rejoined the old Eastbourne Buses fleet in the 1990's during the late David Howard's era as Managing Director and was lovingly restored and preserved for use on special occasions. An interesting family connection with this bus is that my Stepmother used to catch this bus to school from Black Robin Farm on Beachy Head where she grew up.

The Titan served Eastbourne residents continuously from manufacture by East Lancashire coach works in 1967 until the bodywork and structural underpinnings became so weakened by the sea air that major restoration work became essential in the mid-noughties. I was Chairman of the bus company between 2004 and 2007 as part of my council responsibilities and during this time, former Managing Director, Steve Barnett was successful in negotiating with East Lancs to take the bus back to the factory as a project which saw their apprentices carry out extensive restoration to the chassis, structure and bodywork in return for regular promotional use of the finished bus. This prevented the bus from being scrapped or facing an uncertain future in private preservation whilst enabling it to remain in ownership and use on special occasions by Eastbourne Buses without it becoming an unaffordable financial drain on the company.

By 2008, my successor as Chairman went on to sell Eastbourne Buses to Stagecoach and East Lancs was merged with rival bus builder, Optare. In the intervening period the Titan was returned to Stagecoach with most of the bodywork restoration completed. Stagecoach then arranged for a full repaint in the historic Navy Blue, Primrose Yellow and Cream Eastbourne Corporation livery along with replacement interior panelling and re trimming of the 68 seats - and what a splendid job they have done too!

Both of these classic buses have been returned to the road in time to celebrate the 110th anniversary of motor bus operation in Eastbourne and this milestone was reached in April. Stagecoach Eastbourne and the former Eastbourne Buses are successors to the oldest municipal motor omnibus operation in the world and to celebrate this fantastic achievement and to provide a unique visitor attraction in our wonderful town, Stagecoach are operating classic bus service 110 from the Sovereign Centre at the eastern end of the seafront along the front past The Pier into the Town Centre and around the cultural quarter which boasts the Devonshire Park complex, theatres, Winter Gardens and Towner Art Gallery between the 30th June and the 5th September. 

Residents can also expect brief appearances with crew operation on regular services if there are no spare modern buses available as my constituents in Sovereign Harbour were treated to on May 13th when buses operating service 51 between Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells were held up following a multi-vehicle accident on the A267. 

You can get more information about the classic bus service 110 by clicking on the following link:

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Jaguar Land Rover announce Coronation Festival partnership

As the only automotive manufacturer to hold all three Royal Warrants, it’s fitting that Jaguar Land Rover is will be the official motor partner for the Royal Preview of the Coronation Festival on 11 July.

The Coronation Festival, which takes place in the gardens of Buckingham Palace on 11-14 July, is a celebration of innovation, excellence and industry through trade and craft. Uniquely, it will be the first time that more than 200 companies who hold Royal Warrants of Appointment are brought together on this scale,to showcase their goods, services and skills.

With a prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation for the patented Terrain Response System and a further Queen’s Award for Enterprise, Jaguar Land Rover has affirmed its position as an automotive visionary.

Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Executive Officer said: ‘Jaguar and Land Rover were each granted their first Royal Warrants in 1951, a year before The Queen ascended the Throne. We are honoured and delighted to be celebrating this long and unbroken relationship by supporting the Coronation Festival.’

For more information about the Coronation Festival,


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Get involved and help shape the future of youth services in East Sussex

Young people are being invited to get involved and have their voices heard by joining the Eastbourne Youth Forum.

In a bid to encourage more teenagers to join the group an open evening will be held on Monday 24 June, 2013.

The forum aims to work with organisations to ensure the views of young people living in Eastbourne, aged 12 to 19, are represented in the decision making process, that any gaps in services for young people are addressed and the achievements of young people are celebrated.

Members of the Eastbourne Youth Forum also make decisions about which local groups and schemes share funding from the Eastbourne YouthBank.

Cllr Sylvia Tidy, Lead Member for Children and Families, said: “Young people know what they like or don't like, joining Eastbourne Youth Forum is an excellent way to get your views across to those who make decisions on your behalf.

“Whether you join up and attend every meeting or sign up to the Facebook page, Eastbourne Youth Forum will help you get involved in what's happening in your town.”

Forum meetings are held every two weeks and members are invited to attend these. Those who want to be involved but are not confident about attending these meetings can join the Facebook page and join in discussions and get notifications of events and consultations.

Those interested in joining can drop in to an open evening on Monday 24 June, 2013, at Charlie's (YMCA) at 56 Seaside, Eastbourne between 6 and 7.30pm when members of the youth forum will be on hand to discuss their experiences. If you can't make the open evening contact Jacy Kilvert on 01323 411718 or email to arrange another time!

To find out more about what is happening on the Eastbourne Youth Forum join the Facebook page at

Father’s day discounts in Eastbourne!

This Fathers Day, Eastbourne has many attractions and events for dads to attend with some discounted entry fee.

Dads can visit the Redoubt for FREE, head down to Legends day at the AEGON Tennis or watch a show at the Bandstand for FREE, as well as many other activities.

The Redoubt Fortress had a makeover over the winter months and has recently opened a brand new exciting exhibition called; Tinker Tailor Solider Button Maker. On Sunday 16 June, the fortress and museum is celebrating Fathers Day by offering FREE entry to dads visiting with their children. Tickets can also be used for a FREE return entry before 17 November!

Entry price is £4.50 for adults, £2.50 for children, £3.25 for seniors and students and flexible family ticket is £12.

The Redoubt opens 10am – 5pm on Sunday 16 June.

The Bandstand is in full swing this season with shows ranging from traditional afternoon concerts to tribute nights! To celebrate Fathers day, the Bandstand is welcoming fathers for FREE to any concert from Sunday 16 June – Friday 21 June. Dads attending with their children can watch:

  • Traditional Afternoon Concert with Mayfield Band 16 June 3pm.
  • Sunday Night at the proms with Wealden Brass 16 June 8pm.
  • 1812 Firework Concert with Eastbourne Silver Band 19 June 8pm.
  • Queen tribute show with Mercury 21 June 8pm.
To purchase tickets go to

As Fathers day approaches, so does the AEGON International Tennis Tournament. 12 of the world’s top 20 look set to the return to Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park from 15 – 22 June, whilst BBC broadcast the tournament.

The tournament is also celebrating Fathers day with Legends day at the Tennis! Legends day makes a welcome return on Sunday 16 June with Greg Rusedski and Mark Phillippoussis facing off in a Fathers Day tussle, before they team up with former world number 1 Lindsay Davenport and two time Wimbledon doubles champion Rennae Stubbs in mixed doubles. For tickets go to

Award winning contemporary art museum, Towner is currently exhibiting some great pieces and exhibitions. Including Fiona Rae; Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century the People and Portraits collection. This Fathers Day, Dads get a FREE drink in the Towner café located upstairs offering a balcony with beautiful views of the Devonshire Park area of Eastbourne.

Dads can also get in FREE at Drusillas Park on Fathers day! Drusillas are inviting Dads to get in FREE by signing up to with their name, postal address and email address by 4pm on Monday 10 June.

Why not take your dad to Lloyds Lanes for bowling or laser quest? Dads go free! Book now on 01323 509999.

For an alternative Fathers day treat what about Tea at Batemans?

Afternoon tea at Batemans is not just dainty cakes and pastries, its hot mini Yorkshire pudding with gravy, posh fish finger roll, home made mini pastry served with rustic sandwich and the ever popular Bateman’s classic cream tea, washed down with a good strong cup of tea. All for just £12.50 per person. Call 01435 882302 to find out more.

All offers are for Fathers visiting with their children.

For more information go to

F-16 Selects Eastbourne Airshow For Only Mainland UK Seaside Display

The Belgian Air Component F-16 is set to join a thrilling line up of the Red Arrows, Eurofighter Typhoon and Chinook at Airbourne: Eastbourne International Airshow on 15 – 18 August.

The rip-roaring fast jet has signalled a return to the UK’s Best FREE Airshow (as voted by Airscene), with Eastbourne’s seafront display being the only free airshow in the mainland UK set to welcome the team this year.

The heavy metal jet joins an international line up with the Royal Netherlands Air Force AB412 and a new display from a pair of Dassault Flamants from France, who make their UK debut in Eastbourne. The Red Arrows will also fly on all four days of the show, the only UK airshow to receive an incredible four displays.

The four day airshow last year enjoyed the busiest day ever in its 20 year history, and this year looks even more promising with a strong line up of RAF displays from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Tutor, Tucano, Eurofighter Typhoon, Red Arrows and a brand new routine for 2013, for fans of the Chinook.

Parachute teams from The Tigers and Royal Navy Raiders will be dropping in on all the action, plus displays from the Lynx and Sea King will entertain at close range. World record holders, The Blades, will be zooming across the skies, along with more close formation aerobatics from the SWIP Silence Twister team, Rv8tors and the Breitling Wingwalkers, providing daring feats.

For historic and classic jet fans, the iconic Spitfire will be joined by the Jet Provost, Kittyhawk and the unique ‘Miss Demeanour’ Hunter jet.

On the ground, budding aviators can climb aboard a replica Chinook or Hawk in the military exhibition, featuring the best of the RAF, Army and Navy. Arena events and children’s entertainment beaches keep all of the family entertained, including a special free concert in the arena on Thursday and Friday by the Central Band of the RAF.

For top flight hospitality, the Aviator Club and Cirrus Rooms offer fabulous views and great food in the heart of all the action with a buffet lunch or 3 course meal option. Or reserve your place with exclusive seating at the Bandstand for uninterrupted views of all the action.

Fans can also get a birds eye view of the flying from iconic beauty spot Beachy Head or take to the skies with a helicopter pleasure flight over the scenic South Downs National Park.

In the evening Bandstand concerts entertain each night, along with an outdoor film screening at the arena and a seafront firework spectacular over the weekend.

The Red Arrows are due to perform on Thursday 4pm, Friday 4pm, Saturday 5pm and Sunday 3pm (times are subject to change).

Airbourne takes place on Eastbourne seafront with arena and ground displays on the Western Lawns over all four days, and entry is free. For more information visit or telephone 0871 663 0031.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Net immigration now down by over a third

We believe that Britain needs an immigration system which works in our national interest, that’s why we are fixing the broken system left behind by Labour.

The latest figures from the independent Office for National Statistics show that net immigration has fallen by more than a third since the general election. Immigration is now at its lowest level for a decade. Instead of the uncontrolled immigration we saw under Labour, we are bringing the numbers down.

At the same time as we cut out abuse of the system, we are encouraging the brightest and best migrants who make a real contribution to our country. More genuine students are coming to our world-class universities and more highly skilled workers are receiving visas, helping Britain to compete in the global race for economic success.

Ed Miliband and Labour have opposed every single step we’ve taken to fix the immigration system. A Labour government would throw all our progress away.

Crossrail: A project that stands tall with Everest? Just look under your feet

At the next coronation we will be able to celebrate a great feat of British engineering

I was looking at those amazing pictures of Hillary and Tenzing yesterday, and I could see how the news must have broken over London like a thunderclap. Just imagine. The beautiful young Queen is on the verge of being crowned. After years of post-war privation the country is already buzzing – and then word comes from Kathmandu, a coded message that takes two days to arrive.

For millions, if not billions, of years, Mount Everest has been the highest place on Earth, a sacred and implacable place, a white goddess of the clouds; and in all that time no human being has ever set foot on its summit – until today. Today the people hear that a team of alpinists has made it, and, by Jove, they are British! Well, one of them is a New Zealander and the other is Nepalese, but the expedition is British, all right. Hooray!

At the next coronation we will be able to celebrate a great feat of British engineering

I was looking at those amazing pictures of Hillary and Tenzing yesterday, and I could see how the news must have broken over London like a thunderclap. Just imagine. The beautiful young Queen is on the verge of being crowned. After years of post-war privation the country is already buzzing – and then word comes from Kathmandu, a coded message that takes two days to arrive.

For millions, if not billions, of years, Mount Everest has been the highest place on Earth, a sacred and implacable place, a white goddess of the clouds; and in all that time no human being has ever set foot on its summit – until today. Today the people hear that a team of alpinists has made it, and, by Jove, they are British! Well, one of them is a New Zealander and the other is Nepalese, but the expedition is British, all right. Hooray!

After all the anxiety of the Second World War, after all that feeling that we weren’t quite up to it any more – there we were, literally and figuratively on top of the world. I looked at those photos of the summiteers, and I wished I had been around to feel that surge of collective serotonin, the incredulous pride. And then I wondered about our generation, and I asked myself: how do we top Everest? I mean, at some stage in the dim, distant future, there will be a new coronation, of a new monarch – and I wonder what kind of simultaneous triumph we can pull off?

What deed will Britons do, to show their new king that they still have the mettle? What feat can we perform?

There’s no point in looking to Everest, because the noble peak seems to have become part of the backpackers’ trail, swarming with gap yah students and teams from the local pub.

The Hillary Step is so congested that they are thinking of installing a ladder. In fact, there are so many octogenarians climbing Everest to raise money for the church roof that they might as well fit one of those chair-lifts you see in colour supplements.

As a monument to derring-do, Everest no longer qualifies; so what does that leave? We have plumbed the sea; we have probed the darkest recesses of the rainforest; we have circumnavigated the globe – even now there are probably gap yah students criss-crossing the oceans blindfolded in a pedalo to raise money for some good cause or other.

Perhaps we should make sure a Briton is on the next trip to Mars (and perhaps we could all club together to sponsor Ed Balls). Or instead, perhaps we should concentrate on the amazing things we are already doing, and that we hardly even notice – things right under our feet.

Last week I went to see the Crossrail excavations at Canary Wharf, four years after we had officially got them going, and I remembered how fragile the project had seemed. There was a time when we had to fight for Crossrail, when senior cabinet ministers were denouncing it as a mad plan to build a pointless trench across London. It was an easy way to save £16 billion, they said. Axe it now, they said, and no one will even miss it.

Well, thank heavens we didn’t listen to that guff. Crossrail’s tunnel is now a giant and growing fact, that will revolutionise east-west transit in the greatest city on earth, pinging you from Heathrow to the City in about half an hour. Its fast air-conditioned network will run from Maidenhead in the west to Shenfield in the east.

Crossrail will increase London’s rail capacity by about 10 per cent, and generate an estimated £42 billion worth of growth across the country. Even in its construction phase, Crossrail is good for the whole of Britain. Of its 1,600 contracts, 62 per cent have gone to firms outside London – more than half of them small and medium enterprises (SMEs). There are bridges from Shropshire, cranes from Derbyshire, grouting from Coventry, piling from Oldham, lifts from Preston and vast quantities of lubrication from Bournemouth.

The project is responsible for about 55,000 jobs across the country, and it would have been utter insanity to cancel it – not just because of the jobs it creates, but because it is essential if we are to cope with the demands on our transport network.

London will have a million more people in the next 10 years, and without Crossrail the Central line would become so packed and overheated that it would not be fit, under EU rules, for the transport of live animals. It is a vivid and powerful lesson in the vital importance of investing in transport infrastructure, and of driving on ruthlessly with essential schemes: the

Tube upgrades, new river crossings, Crossrail Two, and others. They are not just good for London, but for the whole of Britain.

And yet none of these Crossrail statistics do justice to what is being achieved. When Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, and I went into the new station box at Canary Wharf, I felt a sense of primeval awe, like a Neanderthal stumbling into the gloom of Lascaux. It is akin to a gigantic subterranean cathedral several times the size of Chartres. The boring machine is like a colossal steel-toothed remora or lamprey, grinding her way through the clay.

I stood beneath her jaws, and fingered some of that thick black Bournemouth lube, and they told me how the machine had driven with such accuracy that when she entered the station box she was only 5mm off target. This is the biggest engineering project in Europe, an amazing advertisement for British construction; and when you look at it you wonder why we are sometimes so prone to self-doubt.

When the next coronation rolls round, we won’t need a new mountain to climb. We’ll have the joy and excitement of Crossrail Two, as she chomps her way from Hackney to Chelsea; and unlike climbing Everest, the scheme will be of practical benefit to all.

In the meantime, we need a proper name for Crossrail, the vast new line on London’s underground network – and who better to give her name to that line than someone who has served her country so unfailingly and well for 60 years?

Musical success for former East Sussex Music Service student

A former East Sussex Music Service pupil is celebrating success after winning a prestigious prize.

Talented tuba player George Ellis impressed a panel of judges to win the Guildhall Brass Prize sponsored by the Armourers and Brasiers.

The 20-year-old, a former Cavendish School student and sixth former at Lewes Performing Arts Centre, is currently in his third year at Guildhall.

He fought off tough competition from a third year trumpet student and two fourth year French horn students to win the final, held at the Music Hall at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Following his win, George said: “I am delighted. It was such a privilege to perform to a large and supportive audience. I am particularly appreciative of my fantastic teacher Patrick Harrild who has aided my professional and artistic development at GSMD.

“It feels a long time ago now, but I remain very grateful to the music service in East Sussex for their great work which has allowed me and many others to gain places at such prestigious institutions.”

George plans to use the £1,000 prize money to help fund the purchase of a second, larger tuba which he said is essential for his planned career as a professional tuba player.

Richard Sigsworth, Acting Head of the East Sussex Music Service, said: “It is always great to hear the success stories of former pupils and I congratulate George on winning this prestigious prize.

“The East Sussex Music Service plays an important role in nurturing the talents of musicians like George and ensuring their skill is developed to the full. We hope George's success inspires other young people to consider learning to play an instrument.”

Further information

Notes to editors

George's prize-winning programme consisted of Three Miniatures- Anthony Plog, Sonata for Unaccompanied Tuba movt. 1- John Kenny Barcarolle et Chanson and Bachique- Jules Semler-Collery.

Other winners of Guildhall Brass Prize have included the celebrated trumpet player Alison Balsom and Elspeth Dutch Principal Horn of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The East Sussex Music Service provides an instrumental teaching scheme in schools, music centre activities, a specialist A level music course, a summer school, consultancy and advisory services to parents and students, orchestral and chamber ensemble concerts, award winning regional and county orchestras, bands and choirs, and international tours and festivals.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Lottery cash boost will improve health of the most vulnerable in Eastbourne & Hastings

A lottery cash boost will help improve the health and wellbeing of some of the county's most vulnerable residents.

East Sussex County Council will share a £1.8 million pot from the Big Lottery Fund with four other authorities, after submitting a joint bid the National Lottery ‘Big well-being' health improvement funding.

The County Council will receive £220,000 over two years to tackle poor health among vulnerable and marginalized people in Hastings and Eastbourne.

The money will help those who have low levels of physical activity, poor mental health and poor diets to be supported by their communities to make changes to their lifestyles and make best use of the facilities and support available in their communities

Helping people to get involved will be a focus of the project, with local people who want to do more in their communities, but don't know how, to be supported to develop activities in their neighbourhoods.

Cllr Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “We are delighted to have secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

“As well as tackling health issues among our most vulnerable residents, the money will encourage communities to work together and support one another to lead healthy lifestyles.”

The aim of the project is to identify and highlight community centres, pubs, church halls and sports club that are available, but not widely used by marginalized groups, encourage residents who would not usually see themselves as volunteers to help their neighbours and help vulnerable people who are socially isolated or have care needs access support.

Dr Diana Grice,Director of Public Health for East Sussex County Council said: “This funding will enable us to recognise and support the skills, qualities and resources in our local communities and make the best use of these to help people improve their own and their communities' health.”

Further information

Notes to editors

Portsmouth City Council, as an existing Big Wellbeing portfolio lead organisation, were asked to co-ordinate a bid for, focussing on vulnerable populations across the South East. East Sussex public health department was one of five public health departments invited to participate by Portsmouth.

The other local authorities were Brighton & Hove, Medway, Portsmouth, Southampton, Slough.
Public Health funding already included in the East Sussex Commissioning Grants Prospectus 2013 was included in the bid as match funding in the first year.

The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40 per cent of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.

Walkers warned of the danger of cows

Walkers are being urged to take care when they come into contact with cows this summer following the death of a pensioner in Wiltshire.

The 66-year-old was walking his dog with his 70-year-old brother in May when he was trampled to death by a herd of cows.

Although there have been no fatalities in East Sussex, there have been incidents of cows attacking walkers, particularly those with dogs.

Following last month's attack, East Sussex County Council is reminding people that the normally docile animals can become aggressive towards walkers with dogs and charge, especially when calves are present.

Councillor Carl Maynard, Lead Member for Transport and Environment, said: “Thankfully serious incidents involving walkers and cattle are very rare. However, we would always recommend walkers take steps to keep themselves as safe as possible.

“We want people to enjoy the beautiful countryside East Sussex has to offer, but we would encourage people to consider taking a mobile phone when out walking so they can call for help if they need to.”
Walkers are advised to follow this simple advice to ensure they stay safe;

• Do be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you
• Do move quickly and quietly and if possible walk around the herd
• Do keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead

• Do not get between cows and their calves
• Do not hang onto your dog. If you are threatened by cattle – let it go as the cattle will chase the dog
• Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way round the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible
• Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.

John Archer, Environment and Land Use Adviser for the NFU in the south east, warned walkers to remember the countryside is a working environment and said it is not always possible to separate grazing animals from public rights of way.

He added: “Walkers should be mindful of their surroundings and especially vigilant on entering a field where the whole field cannot be seen. Follow the advice above and be sympathetic to animals that are rearing their young – please give them space.”

Malcolm McDonnell, East Sussex Footpath Secretary of the Ramblers, said: “Our beautiful East Sussex countryside is working farmland, which helps form its character and make it such a pleasure to walk in. However, with any working environment, there are certain risks, but the incidents of people being attacked by cattle are few and far between.

“We urge everyone out walking to be aware of the ‘dos and don'ts' of walking in fields with cows and their calves at this time of year, but not to let the very low risk of cattle attacks put them off enjoying the countryside when it is, arguably, at its loveliest.”

Hampden Park is the first area in Eastbourne to benefit from new LED street lighting - find out more here!

Residents in Hampden Park will be able to find out how changes to street lighting will affect them at an event on Saturday 8 June, 2013.

Street lights in residential roads in Eastbourne are being replaced with modern LED alternatives as part of a money-saving project.

The work in the town is being carried out on a ward by ward basis and residents will be given the opportunity to raise concerns and asks questions before the changes are made.

Main roads in Hampden Park will continue to be fully lit by the new lights, but street lights in residential areas will be dimmed during the night.

The planned changes have been drawn up by East Sussex County Council in consultation with Eastbourne Borough Council, Sussex Police and other stakeholders.

Changes to street lights across the county are being made in a bid to save £885,000 by 2016.

Members of East Sussex County Council's street lighting team will be on hand to answer questions and listen to people's concerns at the engagement event which runs from 9am to noon on Saturday 8 June, 2013, at Hampden Park Community Centre, Brodrick Road, Hampden Park.

Comments or concerns about the proposed changes in Hampden Park can also be made online by clicking here or at local libraries.

Eastbourne's Congress Theatre to remain shrouded in scaffolding whilst repair costs rocket

Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre has been shrouded in scaffolding for the last three years since lumps of concrete started to drop off the grade two star listed frontage. Council officers presented the Lib-Dem Cabinet with a report detailing various options on how to respond and the bungling Lib-Dems opted to do nothing whilst ambitious plans were drawn up for redevelopment of the wider Devonshire Park site.
Conservatives said that essential repairs costing just over £133,000 should be completed immediately to keep costs down and ensure that the Theatre did not become an unsightly eyesore in this key tourist area of our town but the Lib-Dems ignored this. Three years later, hotels and attractions are finding it harder and harder to justify the monstrosity, scaffolding costs alone have exceeded the cost of the original essential repairs and the further exposure of the damage to the elements has caused a deterioration in the structure of the building.

The Grade Two Star listed status places strict limitations on how the building should be preserved and maintain with no changes to the way the building looks permitted but under recent questioning, the Lib-Dem administration boasted that their snails pace consideration of what action to take had lead to a revolutionary new repair process to become available which will provide a far longer lasting repair than would have been possible three years ago although no details of this new technology have been provided to date.

In an alarming new development, the Lib-Dem Cabinet has now approved a staggering £850,000 repair plan for the frontage of only the two upper floors of the Theatre, choosing to leave the lower floors until such a time as they may get round to further development work in the area with no firm details of why the costs have gone up so much or how such repairs will be funded by tax payers.

Cllr Philip Ede (Shadow Cabinet Member for Tourism) said “I find it staggering that with our local economy so dependent on tourism and the thousands of jobs that provides, the Lib-Dems can neglect such a major part of our tourism offer in this way, and totally unacceptable that it is likely that the repairs may not be completed for a further two years”.

Cllr Patrick Warner (Chairman of Scrutiny & Conservative spokesman on Asset Management) said “the drastic hike in repair costs is extremely concerning, even more so given that we will only see a partial repair in the first instance and the source of funding remains so unclear exposing residents to substantial risks”.

Friday, 31 May 2013

East Sussex County Council signs £35.44 million broadband deal

A multimillion pound contract to bring faster broadband speeds to thousands of homes and businesses in East Sussex was signed with BT on Friday 31 May, 2013.

The ‘e-Sussex' project, led by East Sussex County Council in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council, was launched to improve Internet access for homes and businesses that suffer from poor broadband speeds and, in some cases, no access at all to modern broadband.

The deal between BT and the County Council builds on BT's on-going commercial fibre rollout and means that 96 per cent of homes and businesses in the county are expected to be able to access superfast broadband services (with speeds of at least 24Mbps and above) within the next three years.

The new fibre network will transform broadband speeds across the county and its rural areas. According to Ofcom in November 2012, the average downstream speed in East Sussex was 8.4Mbps whilst 11.7 per cent of premises received less than 2Mbps.

BT has been chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process. The company is contributing £9.8m towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas while East Sussex County Council is contributing £15m towards the project, with £10.64m coming from the Government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “It's absolutely vital this broadband technology is made available to all our residents and small businesses. We want everyone in East Sussex to have access to reliable and faster broadband within the next three years and I'm delighted by this announcement as it's a major step forward in the project.”

“We know how many residents and businesses are frustrated by slow or no broadband access in East Sussex, especially in rural areas; it's one of the biggest issues facing our county.”

“With the contract now signed, work on the project can get underway to bring the county up to speed with faster and more reliable broadband. This will give East Sussex the competitive edge it needs to attract new businesses and will empower our communities by providing access to services, jobs, education.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, added: “This is great news for East Sussex. Fibre broadband will provide a strong, reliable connection to the rest of the world – opening new horizons, helping us to be more efficient and keeping us in touch with vital services.

“Faster broadband will help local businesses grow, attracting inward investment and boosting the local economy. If they thrive then everyone thrives – local businesses are the lifeblood of every community, creating jobs and stimulating growth.”

Jason Kitcat, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “Having better, faster broadband in the city will support our growing digital media and creative sector as well as giving residents greater flexibility to use new technology for learning and entertainment. Improved and faster connectivity will unleash even more of our city's and our region's potential.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Today's announcement is fantastic news for the people and businesses of East Sussex, Brighton & Hove. Widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy and these plans will see 96 per cent of properties benefiting from all the benefits superfast speeds have to offer .”

William Hague to issue Brussels 'red card' on unwanted EU laws

William Hague is set to to demand a new ‘red card’ system that will allow individual nation states be given powers to block unwelcome laws from Brussels.

In a bid to quell Tory turmoil over the UK’s relationship with Brussels, the Foreign Secretary will today outline plans for a new 'red card' system for national parliaments that would result in greater democratic accountability from the European Commission.

In a landmark step, it is the first explicit request of Europe from the Tory-led UK Government since it announced plans to hold an in-out referendum in 2017.

As part of the bickering coalition's attempt to renegotiate powers over Europe, Mr Hague is set to argue that national parliaments should be able to overrule unwanted legislation coming from the European Union in a speech to a foreign policy think tank in Germany today.

In a hard-hitting speech, he will say that only by devolving powers to elected national MPs, rather than MEPs who are far less accountable to their voters, will Europe be able to restore the democratic deficit.

Mr Hague believes that only by reshaping the way the decisions are made in Brussels will Britons be able to see themselves tied into a long-lasting relationship with the EU.

The European Parliament has "failed" to introduce democratic accountability to the EU, he will say later today.

The proposed 'red card', would be an extension of the little-known 'yellow card' system already in place.

At present, parliaments in member states can issue a 'yellow card' to the European Commission, forcing it to reconsider a law. The introduction of the 'red card' would altogether thwart any EU legislation deemed inappropriate.

A senior source said: "He is going to make the case that the European Parliament is not the answer to the democratic deficit in the EU.

"In every treaty over the last 30 years the European Parliament has been given more powers and in every European election turnout has dropped.

"The answer lies in national governments and national parliaments. We need to give them more powers to do things better.