Eastbourne Bandstand will remain closed for 2022

Eastbourne residents have called on the council to save the bandstand, which is set to remain closed for this year.

Eastbourne Bandstand is normally used for regular outdoor live music shows and seats up to 1,400 people.

The attraction’s website says it’s the ‘busiest bandstand in the UK’.

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The bandstand has been closed for shows due to covid restrictions and started off the year by cancelling three shows.

Eastbourne Bandstand (Pic by Jon Rigby, taken 25-1-22) SUS-220126-121556001

Now residents are worried for the future of the one-of-a-kind venue because on its website it says, “Eastbourne Bandstand will remain closed for 2022. We are looking to put on some pop-up events around town if we can secure some venues, please watch this space.”

Resident Debbie Nicholls suspects the site is staying closed because it’s been ‘neglected with hardly any investment over the years’ and ‘it is now most probably a health and safety issue’.

She said, “The demise of this fabulous landmark is such a great loss to Eastbourne. It is such an iconic place to visit for tourists and brings much revenue to the area.”

Debbie said when she shared the news on Facebook, the vast majority of residents were ‘shocked and saddened’ to learn it wouldn’t be opening this year.

Eastbourne Bandstand (Pic by Jon Rigby, taken 25-1-22) SUS-220126-121622001

She said it will have an impact on the tourism industry, with restaurants and bars being hit by the loss of visitors coming to the shows.

Debbie said, “If the council intend to carry out the repairs, they need to act now, not fill us with false promises and no timescales. Another summer lost.”

Eastbourne Bandstand (Pic by Jon Rigby, taken 25-1-22) SUS-220126-121610001

At this time is was revealed the repair programme could cost as much as £8m and plans to include a ‘heritage contribution’ on top of the ticket price for events at the bandstand were approved by the council.

Kay Warner pointed out that there is also a voluntary donations tab on the bandstand website and questioned where that money goes.

The Conservative councillors for Eastbourne have branded the council ‘incompetent’ for closing the site.

Councillor Paul Metcalfe, shadow cabinet member for tourism, said, “Why was the work was not carried out during the past couple of years during the pandemic when the bandstand was not in use?”

Cllr Robert Smart, Conservative group leader, criticised the council two years ago for the ‘unacceptable delays’. He said, “As Eastbourne can open up its tourist facilities for 2022 the iconic bandstand in its central location will lay idle as a lifeless monument. Sadly it will no longer be the UK’s busiest bandstand.”

A Eastbourne Borough Council spokesperson said, “Subject to cabinet approval in February, we will soon begin a £750,000 project to repair the stage area and parts of the main structure. We have been very clear that a temporary closure is required during this time.

“We look forward to welcoming audiences back to the bandstand when this essential work is completed.

“Bandstand shows are continuing at the Welcome Building and proving extremely popular with residents and visitors to the town.”