On Friday 4th March, representatives of Eastbourne People's Assembly Against Austerity and The Matthew 25 Mission met with Eastbourne Police Commander, Chief Inspector Emma Brice, PC Dan Cloake, and Eastbourne MP, Caroline Ansell at Brodie Hall, Seaside, to discuss the impacts of austerity cuts upon local people. The discussion focussed especially on those most vulnerable as a result of poverty, deprivation, homelessness, and predatory criminal gangs. In a wide-ranging, constructive, in-depth discussion, there was much sharing of information, frank exchange of views, and exploration of ideas for possible practical solutions. A shared commitment emerged to establishing an ongoing consultation on the issues raised and on building local engagement about them with the widest possible range of partners within Eastbourne, from local councils to local community groups.
The good work of local police in dealing with the criminal gangs involved in drug dealing was noted, as was the amazing work of Matthew 25, which gives 18,000 free meals a year, as well as personal and practical support, to people who have fallen through the welfare safety net. But the need for greater civic resilience in dealing with the wave of further austerity cuts coming over the next few years, such as the nearly £40 million social care cuts by East Sussex County Council, which will increase the number of vulnerable people locally, was highlighted. The consensus was that the impact of the austerity cuts must be closely monitored, and a town-wide, non-partisan, evidence-based strategy for better protecting vulnerable people from those impacts is urgent.
Caroline Ansell said, after the meeting:
“It was very good to meet all the groups and the police and this was a very constructive meeting and I thank them for inviting me. The outcome was that we need to work together. We all care very much about our town and its people, especially the vulnerable, even if we do not always agree on how the problems can be solved or what has caused them. Solutions will not happen overnight, but having so many well motivated and caring people able to help in Eastbourne is certainly a big positive. I look forward to keeping in touch with all the organisations and being kept up to date with their work.”
Member since: 28th October 2013
Having left behind careers as a professional nurse and a charity administrator, and deftly weaving a delicate path through the existential crises of middle age and semi-retirement, I am currently Co-ordinator...