Notes from Eastbourne COBRA Meeting – 14th July 2021
Tim Whelan Council Update
66% rates relief – 813 businesses were eligible for 100% relief but only 424 have applied for 66% discount. This is for larger hospitality, leisure and retail businesses as those with rateable values of less than £12000 are entitled to 100% Small Business Rates Relief.
Those larger businesses MUST apply for the 66% discount NOW.
The council is now going through the recovery process which could lead to court action. Anyone in difficulty must contact the council now. There are hardship grants available but businesses must raise their hands now.
Track and Trace will continue to September and the £500 isolation grant is now available for students too.
EBC have decided to carry on the full COVID protections to keep all their staff safe. They will require staff to maintain social distancing and wear masks. They will also carry on working from home if they can.
CE explained that self-isolation is causing problems for hospitality with too many people off work isolating.
Rachel Barrow Police Update
Track and Trace is impacting the Police too.
Demand is up and response times are under pressure. Enforcement will disappear on the 19th – “Freedom Day”. Internally they will be maintaining all protective procedures to keep staff safe.
Business Update – Christina Ewbank (on behalf of the Chamber and the BID)
CE brought up Brighton homeless placements. DT asked TW to give numbers; EBC now have 110 emergency housing placements, down from 230 last year. Brighton have 109 emergency placements in the town, down from 220 last year. ESCC Health & Wellbeing Board raised issues about out of town placements. This policy is designed to reduce placement numbers as it is not good for people to shift them away from support networks.
RB mentioned hotspots and confirmed that the Police will always respond to fighting in the streets. They are still working closely with the Rough Sleeper Initiative and with HMO premises. Mental health services need increased funding!
CE mentioned that with staff shortages in hospitality and retail, members were asking for an end to Furlough now, not in September. Questions had also been raised about the £500 isolation grant.
CE went through recovery plans for the town including:
• A new Love Local Shop Local campaign
• Planters and improved greenery in the town centre
• More Urban Art installations
• Support for digital communications
• Support to improve SEO ratings
The Pop-Up Park was a huge success which increased footfall dramatically in Victoria Place, despite the rain.
The Youth and Vegan Markets were also very successful increasing the footfall across the whole town and improving the quality of the stalls on offer.
Catherine Clifford EHA Feedback
All hotels are extremely busy but staff issues are a real problem. They are all having to turn customers away. Track and trace is a concern. Met the Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston and shared their concerns about recruitment.
CE mentioned the ESCG Job Match Service run with the MP and the Chamber of Commerce. Just Google ESCG Job Match Service and follow the links for employers or job seekers. We will help people find jobs in hospitality and retail. An assessment day will also be run once restrictions lift.
Please share this with employers and anyone you know looking for work.
Clubs plan to go fully functional next week.
Darren Gale NHS Update
Eastbourne has the lowest infection peak in Sussex but cases are going up. The increase may be slowing, however. Hastings is higher than the national average and so they have increased the testing resource there.
Meads is very low, as is rural Rother.
They are monitoring numbers and trends very closely.
Age data shows that this is an under 30 spike. Young people are less likely to have had vaccinations and are more likely to meet friends. Also, students returning home is muddying the waters.
Testing has increased locally but our positivity at 4% is the lowest in the county. They are recommending anyone in doubt to get a PCR test. Hospital cases are focused on the Conquest. Deaths are still at zero.
The vaccination rate in Eastbourne is higher than average other than in the seaside area which is a concern.
The communication message is difficult at present. The height of summer, when schools and colleges are on holiday, is probably the best time in the year to release restrictions.
Going forward, we have to rely on data to inform our decisions and we ask for people to carry on wearing marks.
DG asked people to carry on wearing their masks to protect other people.
Vaccination in younger age groups has plateaued. We need to encourage more people to go for it.
PHE/NHS is very uncertain at present. Please self-isolate to protect others. Infections are affecting business continuity. A healthy economy = a healthy community. Keeping businesses open is vital.
RS are there any statistics on self-isolating? Are people ignoring it? DG said the data is not clear. Anecdotally, people are turning off their T&T Apps. DG asked people in positions of influence to continue using the App.
Also, should we invite Brighton Council back, under Scrutiny, to discuss their homeless placements? TW will ask the Chair of Scrutiny about getting Brighton back in to update us.
GB asked about 2nd jabs for young people. DG said they need to wait 8 weeks minimum.
DG confirmed that people who have been double jabbed are less unwell than without. The virus is not as serious, which is why the spread amongst older people is lower than in the past. He also recommended that people visit the Sunshine Coast rather than Cornwall.
Nick Taylor – MP’s Update
Before she left the meeting, Catherine Clifford said that while Levelling Up timescales were very short for creating the LUF bid, despite this the project pulled together is really important for Eastbourne. The project worked on by the group will provide a great improvement to the evening economy all year round and providing a pedestrian route from the station to the seafront is vital.
She asked Caroline to support the bid in Westminster to secure the funding for Eastbourne, especially the Victoria Place installation / pedestrianisation.
NT said CA is supporting the bid. She took the Tourism Minister to Victoria Place and opened the Pop Up Park and is very supportive.
CA is communicating “Grab Your Jab” drop in service at Eastbourne Pier. Booking system is very effective, quick and easy. The link is on CA’s Facebook page.
The next COBRA meeting will be in early September unless there are any dramatic changes. Date to follow.