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Eastbourne COBR Meeting 24th March

COBR Meeting Notes – 24/03/2021


Attendees; Cllr David Tutt, Cllr Robert Smart, Darrell Gale, Inspector Rachel Barrow, Alan Bruzon, Paul Corney, Tim Whelan, Tim Cobb, Annemarie Field and Graeme Bunn.

Apologies from Caroline Ansell, Nick Taylor (a written update from the MPs office will follow), 3VA, Miles Berkley, Stephen Holt and the EHA.


Darrell  Gale PHE / NHS Update

Weekly  Infection Rate
EB hit low infection numbers at 13 a couple of week s ago (well down from 1034 at the height)  but figures have increased to 33 in EB since schools went back.  Also there was an outbreak in Lewes  prison.  Numbers are still  low however; Crawley, Arun, Chichester areas are higher.  

 Super output areas here are Ratton and East of Seaford.  Clusters tend to be around schools.  Primary schools are conducting lateral flow  tests which are very important.   Childrens symptoms include diarrhoea and headache (not symptoms  experienced by adults).  Families must isolate  if anyone tests positive.

Death Rate

Zero deaths  in EB last week and very low deaths for 3 weeks which is great.  

There is also  a real reduction in flu deaths this winter due to social distancing.  

Vaccination  data
EB is doing better than most in younger age groups, less well in older  age groups.  Still concentrating on getting  older age groups in.  AstraZeneca  supply is expected to dip in April.  Under  50s have received cancellations for these reasons.  

This is an  NHS programme which is showing fantastic rates of inoculation with much  valued volunteers too.  Now planning  staffing for longer term vaccination  programme.  

Previously hesitant  residents are now coming forward for vaccination because they are hearing  good reports from their friends and neighbours.   This  is necessary for herd immunity. PHE are happy  with overall numbers vaccinated.  

EB Tennis  Planning
PHE are working  on a Risk Assessment with the LTA.   Also working with public transport, town centre management, and others  to manage return from lockdown.



Rachel  Barrow Police Update

Good to hear  about vaccine data.  Police are  supporting these centres with general policing and any potential terrorist  threat.  

Staff numbers  are back on an even keel, although there is a backlog of leave which will be  carried over to 2022.  They are aware  of the welfare impact on staff working long hours under pressure.

Town Centre  ASB,  begging and street drinking is  up.  They are focusing on this as the town  centre reopens.  

Bristol  protests.  
 Contingency plan in place in East Sussex.   They are not expected a protest in Eastbourne, more likely in  Brighton.  There was a vigil in  Brighton in memory of Sarah Everard, RB will share the report about the proportionate  police response.  She mentioned that  the Battersea vigil was very peaceful for several hours before it turned  nasty.  

Violence  against women is high on their agenda.   RB shared this report:

Police  were made aware of a gathering of around 150 people in Valley Gardens,  Brighton, shortly after 6pm on Saturday (March 13).
Officers  attended and engaged with those present, explaining the government’s  coronavirus regulations and encouraging them to move on from the area. Where  this wasn’t successful, officers moved to necessary and proportionate  enforcement action. This is consistent with our policing approach throughout  the pandemic.
An  18-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of failing to comply  with a direction in order to control coronavirus. He has been taken into  custody.
Eight  Fixed Penalty Notices were issued to people for breaches of the government’s  coronavirus regulations.  
We  recognise the desire to come together at this time, to mourn the death of  Sarah Everard in London and to make a statement on the issue of women’s  safety, and we absolutely understand the importance of this message. Everyone  should feel safe to walk our streets and we hear that many of you do not.
We  acknowledge many women have experienced violence, abuse or harassment and  this is not acceptable. Protecting our communities is a top priority for  Sussex Police, and we will do what it takes to ensure you feel safe in the  county where you live.
However,  we remain firmly in a public health emergency and the Covid-19 regulations  continue to disallow large gatherings because of the continued, and very  real, risks of the virus. A High Court judgement on Friday (March 12) ruled  planned vigils would not be an exception to the government’s legislation  around gatherings during the national lockdown.
We  are grateful to everyone who has found a safe and alternative way to express  their feelings at this difficult and emotional time.
Tim Whelan  EBC Update



The Exceptional  Hardship Scheme has seen low take up so EBC have emailed companies they think  will be eligible. This grant closes on Sunday.

From next Wednesday,  all other grants will close.

The Restart  Scheme will commence in April.  They  are awaiting details and will be keeping us informed.  The deadline for the Restart Scheme will be  30th June, so quite tight..  


B&H  Council Placements

There were 205  placements at the peak is now down by 74 to 131 placements.  Eastbourne appears to have been prioritised  as Lewes numbers have not changed.  

The trend is  downwards and since our involvement 250 bedspaces have been found in Brighton.  EBC have reported hotels for a breach of  planning and suggest that B&H move placements before the hotels are  forced to close.

Pre covid 70 people  were placed from B&H without complaint so EBC are expecting a reurn to  this level.

The Scrutiny meeting  tonight will see what level of action is likely from B&H.

DT thanked everyone  for the pressure kept up by all organisations.  

Cllr Smart gave  his full support for the Chamber letter sent to Geoff Raw.


Landlord evictions  were due to restart on 31st March – now extended to 31st  May.  The Housing Needs team are preparing  for this.  TW thinks the courts will be  unlikely to evict tenants in the current climate.


Customer  First restructure to save £400K per year.   Most jobs have been taken from natural wastage.  Only 4 jobs are at risk of redundancy with  12 new skilled posts likely. There is also an annual leave backlog which will  roll over.


The Bandstand  Renovation update was due from IF or PE.   As they were not in attendance this will be brought forward to the  next meeting.



Business  Update – Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce


CE reiterated  the need to support large independent businesses who are in real difficulty as  we come out of lockdown.  For example  The Lansdowne, Shades Group, C&H Fabrics and the Crown & Anchor.  Between them they employ 200 people.  CE asked TW to consider increasing the proportion  of support for them to protect jobs and the household that would be affected  if they are lost.  They would also  leave major gaps in the town centre.   TW agreed to look at this after Sunday.


CE also  confirmed that she would be speaking at the Scrutiny Meeting about the level  of damage B&H Placements and anti-social behaviour are doing to the  town.  We are a visitor lead economy  and cannot afford to frighten visitors away.


CAB Voluntary  Sector Update

CAB volunteers  have assisted over 3000 people during the pandemic. They have handled 10,000  different issues.  £3M has been raised  to help those people.  Their Debt  Advice resource has been increased  and  video links made available to residents.   Also in psychiatric wards where people have suffered stress related  episodes.


There is a new  campaign “Say Yes to DSS” to encourage landlords to accept people on  benefits.  There is a huge increase in people  on UC who may need housing.  


Tim Cobb  prepared a press release about evictions encouraging people to contact the  council sooner rather than later.  


Next  meeting will be after Easter