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Eastbourne COBRA Meeting - May 2021

Darrell Gale PHE/NHS Update

• East Sussex cases are very low.  2 new cases in Eastbourne this week.  Last week Eastbourne was the lowest Tier Authority in the country at zero!  Lewes is slightly high at 13 new cases and Rother is slightly higher this week.  All in all, these are great results.

• N.B. Eastbourne went up to 1034 new infections when the Kent variant spread so we need to watch the spread of the Indian variant.   Bolton, Blackburn and Bedford are particularly high so any contact with these areas needs to be monitored, particularly as this is 1.5 times more infectious than the Kent variant.

• In EBC area deaths are at zero.  The reason for this is the vaccination roll out and the care everyone is taking.  Eastbourne has a high testing rate so get your test kits from your local pharmacy and carry out your lateral flow tests twice a week.  

• If you have any symptoms you must book a test online at the centre in the Fort Fun car park on the seafront.  Just follow this link:

• SH offered a test distribution point at Chamber House in Gildredge Road and at the Borough Market on Wednesdays.  

Rachell Barrow Police Update

• The events calendar is open and so the Police are in demand.

• The Eastbourne Pride event is going ahead at Princes Park in July.

• Airbourne is not going ahead but the tennis will be on in June, with smaller audiences.

Mark Cannon South Downs Health & Care Vaccination Update

• The vaccination programme is going well in Eastbourne.  For groups 1-9 (50+) they are at just below 90% vaccinated.   Cohort 6 is the “at risk” category.  They are at only 81% but are sometimes slow to respond or refuse the jab.  

• 1400 more people will achieve 90% but some people are refusing to accept the jab.  The overseas hotel workers in the Pier area are tending to refuse and need more support to put their minds at rest.

• Groups 8-12 are the 18 to 49 age groups.

• Astra Zeneca is not recommended for the under 49 age group but Pfizer is absolutely fine.

• Now going to outreach centres to contact hard to reach groups in Hampden Park.  

• From the 29th there will be a mobile centre in Langney Shopping Centre.  They will also be going into a mosque and into Hyde Gardens to attract people.

• The Police will be available to support these outreach activities in case there are any protests.

• Please encourage all your friends, family and business contacts to have a vaccination.  

Vincent ESFRS Update

• Lateral flow tests are carried out each week by all ESFRS staff.

• Face to face visits and inspections have restarted and they will be working with the EHA to make sure hospitality venues are ready to open safely.  

Tim Whelan EBC Update

• New team structure to deal with licencing to help businesses open up.

• Engaging direct with the hospitality sector.  The Covid Ready scheme is being taken up nationally.

• Covid Marshalls are in place to make sure everyone stays safe and manage crowds.  Catherine Clifford said they are very helpful.

• Income maximisation team in place.

• Administered 13 different grants   Need to spend 100% of ARG by June to qualify for a top up.  £2.9 million spent for exceptional hardship.  

• New rates relief fund for any business affected by covid is due in the autumn for a material change in circumstances.  (Not just retail or hospitality.)  Do not appeal your rates however as property revaluations will not be accepted until the next general rates review.  EBC will hold a rates surgery to help but the decisions are outside their control as they are taken by the VAO.

Catherine Clifford EHA Update

• Larger hotels are disappointed that the hardship fund is skewed towards small businesses.   The overheads of buildings like The Lansdowne have been huge and they feel unsupported by the relatively small hardship grants paid out.  

• The fund of £1.4 million was a relatively small pot which had to be shared across the town.  

• CE asked for extra support to businesses, like the Lansdowne and Closs & Hamblin, who employ large numbers of people.  

Nick Taylor MP’s Update

• Caroline has been working to support the vaccine rollout.  She is also working with the NHS, business and schools to support them out of lockdown.  

• 51% of adults have received their 2nd vaccination, which is really helping to break the infection, hospitalisation, fatality chain.  

• East Sussex Hospitals are keeping on top of non-Covid operations.  

• CA will take up the business rates issue.

• Sector specific support has been requested for English Language Schools.

• Positive signs in economic growth shown in March figures.  

Stephen Holt and Christina Ewbank Business Update

• CE said that digital communication is vital as we come out of lockdown.  The Visitor Survey demonstrated how important SEO, an interactive website  and social media are.  The High Streets Task Force data shows that Eastbourne businesses are well behind both Hastings and Brighton for digital communication and so we need funding to redress this imbalance and give Eastbourne the chance to develop more effective digital marketing.

• CE is meeting Caroline Ansell tomorrow to finalise the Levelling Up Fund which is very exciting for the town.

• SH asked everyone to visit the new Urban Art installation in the town centre.  The latest is on the hoardings along T J Hughes in Seaside Road and looks spectacular.  

• Luke Johnson and the BID are working with the Police and BID Ambassadors to manage anti-social behaviour.  

• The Bid is working with Lisa Rawlinson at EBC to make best use of the Welcome Back Fund.

• Sussex Community Foundation (SCF)is offering a recruitment programme including work ready modules like Food Hygiene and First Aid.  Their service is fully funded.  

• The Chamber is working with the East Sussex College Group and SCF to hold a recruitment assessment day to help retailers and hospitality find staff and recruitment since Brexit and Furlough is a real problem.

Tim Cobb PR and Communications Update

• Tim Cobb can help PHE find distribution points for flow tests.  He suggested the Beacon, the Market and Langney Shopping Centre.  They are all Chamber members and so we can help

Christina Ewbank 19.05.2021

Main Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay