CAROLINE ANSELL MP COLUMN: Encouraging figures on Covid

If the data continues to improve, the Prime Minister has indicated that all Covid restrictions will cease at the end of this month – one month earlier than we thought.

After the Parliamentary recess he will also unveil the living with Covid strategy as we look to return to normal. We need to live with the virus and the vaccines, the less severe Omicron variant and better treatments have made this possible.

The big change is the scrapping of the legal requirement to self-isolate if you have a positive Covid test.

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This was a big announcement and comes on the back of very encouraging figures about infections, hospitalisations and death rates.

We have all had very tough times these last two years with some dark days in March and April 2020 and January and February 2021 in particular. A return to normal is now going to be the policy and I really welcome this even though we know we cannot be complacent. It means we are set to have a good summer season here in Eastbourne, which is brilliant news for our tourism and hospitality industries.

That the Bandstand is to remain silent for the season is a dark cloud in that blue sky. The challenge on why we are in this position continues to be fought out but what is clear, is that the council’s decimated financial position underpins this deeply disappointing delay to any works.

On our visitor economy I will also be speaking to ministers about restrictions for foreign tourists and whether they will be lifted or changed. This is important for our language schools – a sector that has been one of the hardest hit of any by the pandemic. It needs some good news.

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Last Friday, I went out on patrol in the town centre with Eastbourne’s police commander to look at the night-time economy, and how violence against women and girls is being addressed.

I speak regularly to our Chief Inspector and this is important for the questions I raise in Parliament and the investment I lobby for; being out on patrol really brings this work into technicolour when I see officers engaging with partners like the Street Pastors and doormen and being approached by the public for advice and support.

It was also good to see first hand the dedicated, proactive work going into tackling anti social behaviour which we must turn round. Eastbourne is a safe place to live, work and visit but that is not to say we don’t have challenges too.

I pay tribute to all the officers I met.

I gave a shout out to Eastbourne’s brilliant work coaches in parliament this week. When I spent time at our Job Centre, I saw Victor and Harlon doing a magnificent job supporting local people in finding work.

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The untold story perhaps, is how the Job Centre can help employers to find staff. If you are a local business, of any size, please do get in touch, they stand ready to assist.

As do I at my advice surgeries.

Just drop a line to my office to arrange for us to talk.

Until then, take care and keep in touch.