CAROLINE ANSELL MP: It’s time to start living again

The Lockdown Roadmap is due to end in a little over two weeks and I know from conversations across town how much people are looking forward to the end of Covid restrictions.

There is a big debate raging over whether the June 21 date should be delayed because of the Indian variant.

My own view is the Government must be cautious but, unless there is a big rise in infections across the country leading to serious illness and hospitalisations, then the date must stay.

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Data from the Indian variant hotspots show that the vaccines are breaking the link between infections and serious illness. We have to live with Covid.

The issue is whether there is a continuing risk of the virus overwhelming the NHS. The data suggests not and so it is time to start living again.

There is wider ‘data’ to factor in too. I am concerned about the untold damage in terms of untreated and undiagnosed health conditions, loneliness, broken marriages, bankrupt businesses, and children unschooled.

If the vaccines work, and it appears they do, then it is time to shift focus towards these very pressing concerns.

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The deadline for applying to the Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up fund is approaching and the borough council is putting the finishing touches to a bid that I need to endorse to give it the best chance of success.

Their lead proposal is for an art-based visitor attraction at Black Robin Farm.

I believe this idea has real merit in its own right but I am concerned whether it really is speaking to the criteria of the Levelling Up Fund.

New jobs, apprenticeships, and work experience – all these are mission critical elements for me and need to be on the face on the Bid.

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Connecting Black Robin Farm in its downland setting with the town centre is another pass or fail measure if the new attraction is to turbo boost our visitor economy on which so much of our town’s prosperity rests.

This last week, I met with Education Minister Baroness Berridge about the new special school to come to Eastbourne and Transport Minister Robert Courts about Eastbourne’s air quality.

I have also worked with our vaccine programme team, Police Crime Commissioner and the Environment Agency boss about coastal defence plans to protect our town for the next 100 years.

I have had a day off too!

I spent Bank Holiday Monday at Gildredge Park Bowls Club which was alive with the sound of returning players and curious new visitors - all part of a national ‘Bowls Big weekend’.

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Clubs like these are going to be important to recovery and for some people, a first step back out into the world after lockdown. It was also good to learn just how vital government support had been to the club.

In every part of town, it’s been wonderful to meet people out enjoying the sunshine and we can help to protect this return to ‘old’ freedoms: routine testing and when the invite comes, vaccination.