This week I went up to Westminster a little later than usual as I was at County Hall in Lewes presenting and speaking on a petition by St Anthony’s resident Maria Galt, demanding East Sussex County Council don’t follow through on their current proposals to cut key service providers, Milton Grange and Firwood House. I urged all the County Councillors and in particular the Conservative Group who run ESCC, and who will be making the decision, that they must listen to local residents - and keep Milton Grange and Firwood House open. Well over 10,000 people have signed my and Mrs Galt’s petitions insisting these two highly acclaimed homes which make such a positive difference when it comes to dementia respite, after-hospital rehabilitation, mental health support, therapy and more, should remain to continue providing the vital care our town and the surrounding area needs. The final decision will be taken at the County Council’s cabinet meeting on June 26. It’s essential we continue pushing to make sure the ‘right’ decision is taken, so even if you have already emailed Cllrs David Elkin and Colin Belsey, please do so again. I need these two influential Eastbourne Conservative County Councillors to really take on board just how determined we all are to keep open these outstanding service providers. Their email addresses are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d like to thank the many readers of the Herald who have come forward to support my campaign to secure the future of these two fine homes. Now it’s time for the county council to listen to us. I hope and pray they come to the right decision.
One of the other issues I’ve been campaigning on recently has been on behalf of a local elderly couple who had been told by Santander Bank that now they were over the age of 75, they could no longer retain their interest-only mortgage. This despite many people living much longer nowadays and other significant high street mortgage players such as Nationwide, moving the age limit up to 85. The good news is Santander have pulled back from the court case and this thoroughly decent Eastbourne couple are secure for the moment whilst we negotiate a sensible arrangement. However their case opened the floodgates and numerous other couples from across the country have been in touch with me. I am now in discussions with other companies in the sector and their trade group, UK Finance, to look at how the industry itself can do a better job at ensuring the tens of thousands of other retirees who are in the same interest-only mortgage position are able to keep living in their own houses. This week in Westminster I had a meeting with the trade body who are keen to resolve the broader problem satisfactorily before their members are deluged in negative publicity, and next week I’ve a meeting with the Treasury Minister to explore any possible regulatory frameworks. As my dear old mum used to say when I was a child; ‘from bad will often come good Stephen, you just have to learn to look for it, find it and then act on it.’
An excellent body I have been working with in Eastbourne since being re-elected as your MP is the Marine Conservation Society. In particular with assisting in the enthusiasm and can-do determination of at least six or seven new groups which have sprung up in Eastbourne recently, all keen to ensure our beach is clean and free of plastic/litter. The MCS launched a campaign in Parliament this week along those lines, so it was a pleasure for me to meet their chief executive to update her on what we are doing locally. Also to catch up on my support for their vision of securing a marine conservation area just off our own coast.. We must also all thank the remarkable David Attenborough and his recent documentary series, Blue Planet, for lighting the torch paper, The Marine Conservation Society are an excellent and highly skilled UK conduit so it was useful to meet their CEO and receive a briefing. There’s a long way to go and many seas are in a bad way, but to reach the end of a journey you first have to make a start, and we are certainly doing that locally with support from many across town determined to improve our own wonderful beach. Thank you for all you are doing for Eastbourne.
I was absolutely delighted to visit Ocklynge School the other day. It’s always a pleasure but this time it was for something really special. The highly successful Ocklynge under 11, seven a side boys football team, have reached the finals of the national schools tournament. It’s to be held at the magnificent RICOH stadium in Coventry this Saturday and I know the whole town will be rooting for them. It was great to meet the team, their coach Neil Thoms, their sponsor Linzey Gas Services and Manager, John Piercy. A quite astonishing achievement already. Good luck lads. You’ve already done the town and your school proud by reaching the last few places out of almost 15,000 schools. Go out there, enjoy yourselves and keep the memory of the day for the rest of your lives.
That’s it folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.