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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Stephen Lloyd's E-Newsletter November 2013

November 11, 2013 2:27 PM

As ever, it's been all go in Eastbourne and Willingdon, so apologies for the slightly longer gap since I last updated you. Here are a few of the issues I've been working on: There are some old favourites like Apprenticeships and Fast Trains, but also some excellent news about our town's economic success. Read on.

You all know that since I got elected, one of my absolute priorities has been Jobs, the economy, and getting Eastbourne through the economic downturn. And because we've all been pulling together, our town really has bucked the economic trend, and looks to be coming out the other side of the economic storm with the sort of optimism that befits the sunniest town in the UK! The latest local unemployment figures are very encouraging - in September our unemployment level was 3.8%. That is down almost 35% from its peak during the recession. Critically, youth unemployment is also down significantly, with a 14% reduction compared to last year, which shows that our emphasis on apprenticeships and jobs has really paid off. Furthermore, recently I launched a series of best practice guidelines in Parliament with a Minister from BIS which, using techniques pioneered by our own Sussex Downs College, shows other Further Education Colleges how to best prepare their students for employment. See here for more info.

As always, though, I spend much of my time fighting to save core services at our DGH. The latest challenges come from the CQC's Intelligent Monitoring Report that places East Sussex Healthcare Trust in band 2, out of 6, where band 1 represents trusts with 'serious concerns' or in 'special measures.' What concerned me about the verdict is that their areas of most concern all deal with the management of the Trust - including whistleblowing alerts, under-reporting of patient safety and governance issues. I have absolute faith in the hard-working staff of the hospital who do such excellent clinical work serving our community in difficult circumstances. But it's a different story with the Trust's senior managers. SavetheDGH chair Liz Walke and other representatives from the Cross Party Team came up to London this week to join me in meeting the Health team who oversee NHS Trusts. We made our concerns crystal clear! See here for a recent article on the CQC's verdict.

After a long period of silence, the campaign for a Fast Train to Eastbourne is back on track (excuse the pun). The tendering process was put on hold for a few months following the West Coast hiatus, but it's up and running again, and with it, my lobbying efforts. The tendering document looks positive: clear aspirations for a faster train to Eastbourne, and recognition that Eastbourne made up the second largest cohort of responses, (from a catchment area of the whole of London and the South East) which shows how we all rose to the challenge. The main obstacles are some timetabling issues, so I've already had a series of positive meetings with the Department of Transport bid directors and all the companies applying for the franchise to get them on board, and I'll continue to lobby the Secretary of State over this crucial issue for our town. See here and here for more info.

The Keep Albert Parade Special campaign also continues apace with over 4,300 concerned Old Town residents signing the petition telling Sainsbury's to stay out of the Drive pub so Albert Parade can keep its unique and traditional character. An intrepid band of campaigners joined me in London last week to present the petition to Sainsbury's Head Office, joined to great effect by a 3 foot barracuda (long story!). See here for the details.

In more light hearted news, last week saw the launch of an event I hope to become an institution as it combines my two favourite things - Eastbourne and cake! The inaugural Cake for Eastbourne event was held at the Devonshire Park Tennis Centre. It was a great success with over 40 cakes entered across a variety of styles and judged by 3 experts including local Nigel MacKenzie, owner of the restaurant that invented the world famous Banoffee Pie. The deserving winner was Karen Weston, whose original recipe tartlets went down a storm. Particular praise also went to Olga Talbot whose novelty cake came in a stunning Eastbourne themed design. I can't wait for next year. See here for more details.

Finally, do you remember the headlines last year about a local cowboy cleaning company that was not paying its employees, even when ordered to do so by an employment tribunal? I've been working away at this issue in Westminster for ages now, seeing Ministers, asking questions and working closely with the CAB locally and nationally (I'm the Chair of their All Party Parliamentary group), trying to get the law changed so that the rulings made at employment tribunals can be actually enforced, and we are finally starting to get some movement. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have just releasing a damning report which found that fewer than 50% of people owed money following employment tribunals actually receive full payment. This is absolutely shocking, so the pressure is now on the Ministry of Justice to act, and I'll be chasing them all the way until those affected get justice. See here for the latest.

My heavy involvement in this last issue all stemmed from a letter I received from a concerned constituent 18 month ago. Please do write in, or come to my surgeries (times available here) if you have something you would like my support on - I'm always really happy to help in any way I can.

With best wishes,

Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon