I think the honesty from the Chancellor about how we pay for all the pandemic support was really important and there will be targeted tax rises to plug the country’s finances. I also very much welcome the extension of the five per cent VAT reduction until September and the tapering after that into next year. I have been very keen to tell Rishi Sunak that I wanted this reduction for our town which is so dependent on tourism and hospitality and I do welcome it. Eastbourne Hospitality Association also agreed.
However, since I first became an MP in 2015, I have wanted a permanent five per cent VAT rate for the tourism industry. I will continue this campaign and now we have a chance to make the case with real data from this reduction. I would also add I made it clear to the government I wanted the £20 uplift in Universal Credit to be extended and I am pleased this has happened.
I think it is now fair to say we have a clear roadmap out of lockdown and a clear economic road map to balance the books, invest in green technology and infrastructure, protect jobs and businesses and support the vulnerable.
It was great to speak again with Eastbourne Borough FC Chairman David Blackmore about plans and prospects at the club. With the roadmap now published, it is really good news that the youth section will be returning soon.
I fully supported the challenge Borough made to their governing body’s vote to end the season. There’s going to be wider, longer term reform on governance in the sport, and opportunities for chairmen like David to input. I raised this with Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston who I have invited to Eastbourne. I will be introducing him to David and looking forward to stepping back to Priory Lane!
Until those freedoms return, invention is the name of the game and it being National Careers Guidance Week, I spoke to a fantastic bubble of young apprentices working from my scaffolding! It was great to hear about their training and from their boss, about the opportunities for them ahead. There’s a future to build, for some, quite literally. For parents out there, there’s a run of resources at www.nationalcareersweek.com
The right development however is key.
In Willingdon, the news this week is that a previously rejected proposal for a major development at Mornings Mill farm has come back.
My view is we absolutely need to see a new, purpose built medical centre to serve the community in this area - and I am meeting GPs - but there is a risk of serious overdevelopment of Willingdon and a threat of critical loss of precious green spaces. Closing date for comments on the application is March 28.
Meantime, the vaccine programme advances but we are not out of the woods yet. Until then take every care and keep safe.