CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Vaccines hope and cladding issues

We have reached a major milestone – 10 million vaccines given. There has been more excellent vaccine news this week with initial studies showing the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab can stop two thirds of people from catching Covid.


The real vaccination challenge has always been to stop transmission of the virus so this is great news and there is hope other vaccines will do the same.

However, we have some way to go before we can be absolutely confident the vaccines are working to reduce infections, hospitalisations and deaths. There are also concerns around new variants of the virus but experts remain confident the vaccines will remain effective against them.

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All this means we must still be cautious and we must stick to lockdown, which is also doing its good work. Please do keep to the restrictions and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Our hospital is still under pressure but there too, there is cause for some optimism and that home births and our midwife-led unit will very soon return. Babies will be born in Eastbourne and that gladdens my heart. We’re expecting a little one in my family any time soon.

With three teenage sons at home, education and the experience of home schooling parents, has been very much on my mind. I know from speaking with headteachers across the town, how important catch-up funds are going to be to provide the more intensive, individual teaching that will help to bridge the learning loss of these last Covid months; I have the Easter and Summer Holiday Food and Activities programmes for those children in receipt of free school meals firmly in my sights too. In this same spirit, I asked in Defence Questions in the Commons on Monday, what additional support was being made for the children of armed forces families? Having been in loco parentis for service children during my teaching career, I know a great deal about the sacrifices the whole family make and the potential adverse impact to their children’s learning. I am pleased our Military Covenant, soon to be enshrined in law, recognises this.

In other news, my campaign to help Eastbourne leaseholders affected by huge bills to remove cladding and other fire safety hazards saw me speak on the issue in Parliament.

I have also signed an amendment to the Fire Safety Bill to make it illegal for developers to pass on the cost of removing dangerous cladding from buildings. Around 40 properties across the town have this issue after the 2017 Grenfell tragedy brought the issue to light. Some local bills run into the tens of thousands of pounds for each flat and it is hugely worrying for many residents.

Many leasehold owners cannot re-mortgage or move because they face the remedial works, not just for cladding, but also for other newly revealed fire safety issues such as wooden balconies. This is unfair and I continue to lobby the government to resolve the issue. Developers need to be pursued for the costs and a bigger fund is needed to help those with the bills. Watch this space for further updates.