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Government must address ‘unique challenges faced by seaside towns’

Cabinet members at Eastbourne Borough Council are to consider the progress being made to implement a wide range of ‘radical changes’ to services and assets in order to address the acute financial challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis.

The meeting (4th November) will hear how the impact of the coronavirus on Eastbourne’s tourism sector and costs incurred by supporting residents during the pandemic, has left the authority with an estimated £30m budget gap over the next four years.  The coronavirus has had and continues to have, a severe impact on income the council would normally receive from theatres, conferences and other tourism related activities.

Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “To tackle the scale of the challenges we are facing we quickly initiated a root and branch review of all council services, systems of delivery, organisational structures and asset management strategy. Radical changes and very tough decisions have already been taken and more will inevitably follow. 

“We are doing what we can, but government must now do what they promised to do at the start of the pandemic and meet the huge loss of income we’ve seen and our Covid related costs. They must recognise and accept the unique challenges faced by seaside towns like Eastbourne where tourism is the mainstay of our economy.”

An independent report by Grant Thornton accountants was recently commissioned to look at the factors affecting a council’s ability to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.  The study showed that Eastbourne has been particularly impacted by the high number of businesses and employment in risk areas, such as tourism and hospitality.

Councillor Tutt added: “Our challenges are greater than many towns because of our tourism reliant economy, but we will overcome this insidious and devastating virus and be ready to welcome millions of visitors to our wonderful town again, when it is safe to do so.”