Fears over safety of Eastbourne Bandstand

Concerns over safety at Eastbourne Bandstand have been quashed by the council.

Eastbourne Bandstand is in need of repairs
Eastbourne Bandstand is in need of repairs

There has been a flurry of letters in the Herald recently from members of the public anxious about the “serious deterioration” of the seafront landmark, which is due to reopen with regular live music concerts from Friday May 21 with an ELO tribute band.

The council admits repairs are necessary but insists the venue is safe to open.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

The authority also said a long term plan by the Environment Agency could “positively impact the structures and fabric of the promenade”.

File photo: Eastbourne seafront 17/6/20 Eastbourne bandstand SUS-200617-150440001

Reader David Jeffery, an engineer, said recently he was very concerned about the safety of the Bandstand and seafront shelters.

He said, “There is ample evidence of the serious deterioration of these structures, and all that has been done to date is to put in propping and to mask the defects with plywood and scaffold planks.

“This is not a sensible response to the decay of iconic seafront structures. How can the council convince the public that they are safe to use or be near to?

“The council has, in recent years, spent large amounts of money on purchasing retail units in Hampden Park and properties in Terminus Road, whilst neglecting assets that would only require a fraction of that money to be brought back into service safely, and which would then be a key part of our entertainment offering.

“The council is also delaying the re-opening of the Devonshire Park Theatre, which has always been one of the key attractions that Eastbourne can offer to visitors and residents.

“Motcombe Pool is not set to re-open yet – essential maintenance is evidently needed. Is this yet another vital asset that the council is going to let deteriorate until it requires closure?

“I appeal to the council to get its act together – concentrate on securing the long term future of key assets needed for residents and visitors and forget trying to be very clever property developers.”

Old Town resident Kevin Bowles described the Bandstand saga as a fiasco.

He said, “Anyone walking along the seafront can see the extensive propping that has been installed to stop the shelters and Bandstand falling down. This terrible state of repair has been kicked around the grass for many years now and we are at risk of having the Bandstand going the same way the Wish Tower cafe went – demolition.

“The Liberal Democrats were rightly critical of the then ruling Conservative council when the Wish Tower cafe was closed due to neglect. Now the Liberal Democrat have put a vital piece of the town’s tourism infrastructure at great risk.

And please Liberal Democrats do not say it is due to the Covid-19 pandemic restricting financial resource, this fiasco has been known for years now.”

In response a council spokesperson said, “We are looking forward to welcoming audiences to the Bandstand throughout the coming summer months.

“The Bandstand is nearly 100 years old and every winter over that time has been exposed to the most powerful and damaging winter storms and high seas. Consequently, while the Bandstand is safe to open, repairs are required. These have been reported to the council’s cabinet committee, including the costs.

“Most recently, the Environment Agency has announced it will work in partnership with local councils and communities to develop a sustainable flagship coastal flood risk management project along the Pevensey and Eastbourne frontage, that could have significance for the longer term maintenance of the Bandstand. In due course the full scope of this extensive project and how it will positively impact the structures and fabric of the promenade, will be known.

“It should also be remembered that councils across the UK, particularly seaside resorts, have borne the brunt of huge extra costs and loss of income due to the pandemic. Clearly, the need for major capital expenditure to maintain historic landmarks, has to be balanced with our number one priority to deliver the frontline council services that residents rely on.”