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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Stephen Lloyd's E-Newsletter 24-05-13

May 24, 2013 12:19 PM

Cometh early Summer, cometh the mighty Eastbourne Carnival! And this Saturday sees its long awaited return. But that's not the only thing happening at the moment, with the DGH changes continuing to make headlines, a Post Office consultation also affecting people, and a lot of events and causes that I'm fighting for, from the future of our bees to Lillian's Law.

As I said, the Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival is returning at the weekend following its glorious revival last year. 2013's Carnival promises to be bigger, better and even more colourful under the aegis of our excellent Pageant Master David Cooper and our fantastic team of carnival volunteers. It starts at 4pm from Fishermans Green and ends at the Wish Tower Slopes so I hope to see you all along the seafront. As well as being a really great event, half the proceeds from the bucket collection will be donated to ten of the charities and community groups who have taken part - drawn out of a hat - and the other half will be set aside for next year's Carnival so we can make sure our lovely town never loses the Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival again. Please give generously to all the volunteers who are collecting money for the event. Its future depends on your support! Click here for more information

The DGH continues to be an issue, and the SavetheDGH campaign continues to challenge the core service downgrades. I had an opportunity to ask a question at PMQs last week, and of course I asked about our maternity situation. As you know, in 2007/08 the Healthcare Trust attempted to downgrade maternity services at our hospital. However those proposals were halted by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) in 2008. The IRP felt if Eastbourne's maternity services were reduced from Consultant-led, the resulting journey for many mothers from the DGH to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings 'posed a risk of incidents, especially during unexpected transfers'. I pointed out my concerns that the IRP's recommendations were never fully implemented, and asked if there is any scope for formal oversight of these to ensure recommendations made by the IRP are actually properly introduced. See the full question here.

I'm sure you saw the headlines last week; there was a very worrying incident where a young family from Eastbourne faced the harrowing experience of their baby being delivered as they were driving in their own car to the Conquest Hospital. I can only say how relieved I am that all's well with mum and baby, but this incident does demonstrate to me and others the profound worries that many of us have around the maternity changes at DGH.

- stop press - Top doctors at DGH claim paediatric service is unsafe- see this link

In Westminster recently there have been a number of contentious subjects taking all the headlines and I have been corresponding with many constituents on issues such as the EU and equal marriage legislation. However, many other deserving issues have also been going on which have also taken a lot of my attention. An excellent case in point is the recent success in an area called Lillian's Law. Constituents who've been receiving this newsletter for a while will remember I have been vocal in my support of this bill to outlaw driving under the influence of drugs, named after Lillian Groves following her tragic death in 2010. Lillian's grandparents live in Eastbourne and I was delighted to meet them in Westminster days before the bill passed into law - justice for Lillian finally and for many others in the future. Now at least, people will not be able to evade the law. See here for details.

Still in Parliament; I was delighted to hear in the Queen's speech earlier this month that National Insurance Contributions for small businesses will be cut, which will help 1,170 local businesses. I've been lobbying hard on this and have always said that one of my key priorities locally is jobs and the economy. While Eastbourne continues to buck the economic trend, it is always good to see the Coalition Government giving businesses a further hand to help them employ more people. Click here for more information.

I've also been fighting hard in Westminster for a number of other important causes, including Carers week, Autism, Deaf Children and of course our calling on the government to save our bees - Barnaby has been lobbying me hard on the latter, and I've been doing my bit to ensure that these critical critters are protected and preserved as they play such a key role in our ecology. Quick plug for Eastbourne Borough Council, who have been so proactive in planting 16 bee-friendly plant beds since September last year, and to Friends of the Earth for promoting such an important issue; small, but vital in the broad scheme of nature's diversity.

Speaking of lobbying, I've been doing my bit in Eastbourne around our post offices. As you may know a consultation has been held on the proposed closure of the Freshwater Square Post Office, and the re-opening of the Wish Hill one. It's a bit of a tricky one, as I'm pleased to see the Post Office back in Wish Hill, having campaigned so assiduously to keep it there all those years ago. But I recognise that many people who depended on Freshwater Square will find it very difficult to get to the new location, and I've made this very clear both in my submission and in my meetings and conversations with Post Office Ltd. I wait to see their next move, but you can rest assured that I will always fight to keep our local post offices, local. You can read my submission here.

Finally, I'd like to share with you all a campaign I've been working on for the last few years and which will be coming into fruition in a couple of weeks in Westminster. It's to persuade the government to introduce a hearing screening programme for everyone on reaching 65 years. Age onset hearing loss affects many millions of our fellow citizens and it can be extraordinarily debilitating, not least as the overwhelming majority of people delay doing anything about it until their mid 70s. This makes it difficult to acclimatise to a hearing aid and leads to real isolation. My campaign is supported by a range of charities from Age UK to the MS Society and Action on Hearing Loss to our own, local, Hearing Link.

I'm often asked 'why did you want to become an MP?' and the short answer is so I could try to make a difference for good. I am convinced that hearing screening at 65 years old will make a real positive difference to many people's lives in the future, so fingers crossed my campaign launch goes well on the 5th June in Parliament. I'll keep you all posted.

Meanwhile, let's hope it's sunny this coming Saturday and I look forward to seeing you all at the Carnival.

With best wishes,