CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Operation Save Our Summer is on!

Operation Save Our Summer swings into action in Eastbourne on July 4 when major sections of our hospitality and tourism industries can reopen.

Hotels, self-catering accommodation, bed and breakfasts and campsites can now all get back to business along with pubs, bars, restaurants, hairdressers and museums because of the easing of the two-metre social distancing rule down to one metre plus.

This is brilliant news and I am very relieved because one in five jobs in our town are related to tourism and, already, it appears we are harder hit than many in terms of unemployment.

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But my enthusiasm is also tempered with what has already been lost. This week would have seen visitors from all over the world here in our town for the tennis.

We must, however, remain positive and have faith people will return so that jobs and businesses can restart and make the best of July, August and September.

I would like to express my thanks to the hospitality association and to hoteliers, restaurant owners, bed and breakfast operators and a whole host of others for everything they have done and are doing to make sure Eastbourne can safely open for business next week.

I do understand that some people are concerned about the easing of lockdown and there are fears of an increase of coronavirus cases but this easing is sensible, cautious, proportionate and is balancing the need to keep on top of the virus with the need to save a world to come back to. It is not an easy task and I believe there will be setbacks, but it is progress.

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Much work is now taking place to make sure our hospitality and tourism industry is COVID compliant. It’s vital work if this is going to be a success.

My job is to work with local authorities, the hospitality association and government to get all the support Eastbourne needs.

In that spirit, I asked the Prime Minister in Parliament on Wednesday about a VAT reduction to boost the tourism sector and my next stop will be the Chancellor to make that case.

Moving forwards, Eastbourne needs to restructure too because we have too many economic eggs in one basket. We need to develop a 365-tourism offering and invest and develop digital industries if we are to have a more balanced economy.

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Speaking to our local Job Centre this week, I have pledged my support to find new mentors for job seekers from people right across local economy.

Can I thank East Sussex College for providing such tremendous support for training so local people can find new skills and confidence to connect to local opportunities.

Life will go on, there’s nothing more sure, and no where is that more apparent than in maternity. We have home births back in Eastbourne from this week, another hugely positive step, and the maternity unit at the DGH will return too, of that I was assured when I took it up with the hospital.