CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Bandstand bid, Ukraine, and the foreign students are back

How to fund the repair, refurbishment and restoration of the bandstand continues to be discussed, with the latest proposal a bid to the second round of the Levelling Up Fund.

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Eastbourne must really win one of only two available £50 million culture bids ‘of national significance’.

It’s ambitious!

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But I am pleased to say that the newly formed Friends of Eastbourne Seafront, arisen out of the Save Eastbourne Bandstand campaign, will now play a part in developing this bid.

I too will play my part to land further government investment in Eastbourne which is all the more important given the council’s finances remain a serious concern.

The Friends have rightly identified that there is huge potential for investment along the seafront front from Holywell to the Harbour which could warrant the £50 million mark investment but with so little time to submit, the pressure is on.

There are also the Levelling Up round one projects in Victoria Place and Black Robin Farm to deliver with the new apprenticeships and jobs I pushed for.

The war in Ukraine looks to have entered a new phase as Putin concentrates his forces in the east after pulling away from the capital Kyiv.

The UK continues to offer real leadership as the West supports Ukraine and President Zelensky and I think the Prime Minister deserves credit for his work.

The latest support comes in the form of heavy weapons to be sent to the country and the setbacks Russia is experiencing is due to a mixture of the tremendous Ukrainian fighting spirit and the weapons the West is supplying.

News that Sweden and Finland are considering joining NATO in response to Putin’s aggression shows just how badly his actions have backfired.

I hope for peace and the end to the bloodshed, but I fear this conflict will continue for some time yet.

Significant work is being done behind the scenes to help sponsor families prepare to welcome Ukrainians to Eastbourne and to safety and I thank all involved for their commitment and generosity.

I have this week received good news that visas have been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and guests will be arriving soon.

It has also been heartening to see international language students return to study in Eastbourne this Easter holiday.

This is a hugely important part of our town’s economy and a sector I very much support through my work in Parliament.

It’s vital we remain internationally competitive.

As part of their cultural experience, I hope students will see some local celebrations on Saturday, it is St George’s Day.

I have a busy programme of events and visits to make but I’ll certainly be raising a pint at one stop!