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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Eastbourne Pier fire and DGH update

August 4, 2014 6:03 PM
This past week has been a difficult one for Eastbourne. I wanted to update you on two crucial issues that you are no doubt already well aware of. Firstly, the shocking fire on our beloved pier and secondly, the meeting of the County Council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) which confirmed that consultant-led maternity services and in-patient paediatrics were being permanently sited at the Conquest Hospital, rather than our own DGH.

Eastbourne Pier Fire.
There have been a lot of questions following the appalling fire on our pier. Please see here for key answers that I have drafted to the FAQs that have been sent in to me and others. I was working in my office when I first heard about the fire at 3.30pm. The scenes that many of us witnessed on the seafront were heart breaking. Some comfort can be taken from the fact that two thirds of our pier remains intact, and the important message is that Eastbourne remains well and truly open for business. This was also the overarching theme of the meeting held by the key stakeholders that I called the following morning. At this meeting, I requested the Pier Committee be co-chaired in future by Cllr. David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council and Cllr. David Elkin, Leader of the Opposition. This underpins what I believe is one of our town's greatest strengths - we all pull together for Eastbourne and Willingdon. It also makes practical sense as the Council will have to coordinate much of the process of getting the pier back up and running. The next day (Friday), I chaired a meeting with the Prime Minister and Chancellor of Exchequer, the Borough Council, Chamber of Commerce and other representatives from the Pier Committee. We spoke about how the town responded positively to the fire and also the £2m pledged to support businesses directly affected, and to assist Eastbourne in successfully getting through such a dreadful calamity. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the fire fighters, police officers, RNLI, coastguard and of course the staff of the pier who worked so hard before, during and after the fire. The blaze miraculously resulted in no loss of life which is something we are all grateful for. The pier is insured and it will be rebuilt. In the meantime, the Chamber of Commerce has set up a Pier Benevolent Fund to help those affected by the fire. To donate: please click here. More information on this can be found on the FAQ link above. Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Last week also saw the crucial HOSC meeting which determined the future of consultant-led maternity and in-patient paediatric provision at our DGH. As you will have seen from my previous newsletters, I and the cross-community Save the DGH team had been urging HOSC to retain consultant-led maternity and paediatrics at both the Conquest and the DGH. My colleagues on the Committee, Langney Cllr. Alan Shuttleworth, and Old Town Cllr John Ungar, proposed a motion which said exactly that. Unfortunately, the Committee turned down the motion by 8 votes to 4. Consequently, Independent Cllr. Ruth O'Keeffe proposed that more information be considered at the next HOSC meeting before a final referral decision be made. To my profound disappointment, and frankly, anger, this was lost by just one vote. It had been a 6-6 deadlock but the Chair of the Committee, Cllr Ensor cast his deciding vote against. The Herald covered it well, but if you missed the detail, please click here for an image of their report.
We had a follow up meeting of the Campaign group last Thursday evening to consider next steps. Currently, we are exploring a Judicial Review and I will also be taking this and other issues from within ESHT to the Secretary of State, the CQC and other relevant NHS bodies. I know the ongoing news coming out from the DGH, on almost a weekly basis often does not look encouraging. I am contacted constantly by staff, patients and their relatives with concerns. However, it is absolutely vital that we do not give up our fight. The pier fire, our town centre regeneration, the fantastic work we have all done to get the town's claimant rate down to 3.3% - all show that Eastbourne never gives up; and this remains true in support of our local NHS services. Thank you for all the support and encouragement so many give me, Liz Walke and the Save the DGH campaign team. We really are very grateful. To conclude; I am 100% sure that Eastbourne will have a great summer irrespective of the challenges I've written about today. I look forward to seeing you all at Airbourne and other great events across our town. All the best, Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon