CAROLINE ANSELL MP: A real shame panic buying set in at petrol pumps

There’s hope on the horizon for a ‘changing places’ facility at Langney Shopping Centre in the form of a bid to a new government fund.

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I hope it proves successful but I am going to push for these facilities to be required as standard in new developments when planning permission is sought.

If we want to build a truly inclusive society, providing fully accessible toilets is not a luxury and shouldn’t be an afterthought. It was the top issue raised with me at my advice surgery on Saturday, at the centre. There was also quite a queue at the petrol station there that day.

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It appears the situation across Eastbourne’s filing stations is starting to ease with fuel supplies now becoming more available. With community nurses, school run drivers and so many more dependent on everyday fuel, it couldn’t be soon enough.

It is a real shame panic buying set in when there was never any shortage of petrol or diesel at the refineries and enough tanker drivers to deliver it to forecourts in the vast majority of cases. The national media painted such a misleading picture of the situation it was no wonder people reacted and fuel shortage quickly became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The issue of a shortage of HGV drivers is an ongoing, long standing problem and one that is affecting many countries in Europe and the US. The industry needs to respond and it appears pay has risen significantly and that’s a good start; better roadside facilities also need to come online. HGV drivers are vital, they did an amazing job keeping us supplied during lockdown and they need to be treated better if more people are to consider going into the industry or return to it. Just one per cent of drivers are women. There’s potential there, too.

I had a virtual call with some of the very dedicated team at Eastbourne’s JobCentre Plus this week.

I asked if the centre could now look to prioritise care jobs in the same way it highlighted tourism and hospitality work opportunities in the summer. Care is a big sector in Eastbourne and there are vacancies.

I was also briefed about the £2 billion Kickstart scheme to find work for 16 to 24-year-olds with the Government paying the wages and costs for six months to give young people much needed work experience.

The scheme is fully up and running in Eastbourne and Willingdon and I was delighted to hear the town’s first Kickstarter, who took a position at a local nursery, has now been taken on there as an apprentice.

I also visited Ocklynge Junior School this week to speak to the head, staff and pupils.

I remember it all very well back from when I was a school governor there and fed back the good work going on in our town to the new Education Secretary when I saw him on Friday.