Campaigners in Eastbourne hit out at council over 'neglected' bandstand

Restoration works on the town's iconic bandstand were shelved when the country went into lockdown. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Campaigners have hit out at Eastbourne Borough Council's lack of investment in restoring the town's iconic bandstand.  

Three million pounds of restoration works were expected to start around two years ago, but they were shelved when the country went into lockdown.

The landmark, along with its 130-year-history, has been crumbling away ever since.

Gaynor Sedgwick from 'Save Eastbourne Bandstand' action group said: "We understand that Covid has been a very difficult time of course, but this was a priority work to them [the council] two years ago, and it is a priority to the people of Eastbourne. It has been neglected for far too long."

An online petition was started two weeks ago, titled 'Save Our Bandstand,' which has received over 2,900 signatures.

The petition states: "We need the local authority to be more transparent in its dealings around the restoration and repair of our Bandstand and tell us why it was allowed to get into this state of ruin and if it’s actually possible to fund this project adequately to bring it back to its former glory!"

The crumbling bandstand is a shadow of its former self

Credit: British Pathe

The existing bandstand was built in 1935 and seats up to 1,400 people.

It has featured in a string of films and TV shows over the years including Little Britain, Foyle's War, and Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging.​

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon said the notion "that the bandstand and the remedial works there can't progress because it's allied to the environment agency is rather a fig leaf I fear."

"There is some synergy and there are some discussions to be had but the work at the bandstand could be progressed and I hope it will be."

A statement from Eastbourne Borough Council reads: "The Environment Agency has confirmed very clearly and on a number of occasions, that it does not know how exactly the £100 million flood defence works will impact on the Bandstand. Their team is developing project options that will be assessed in due course.

"It is not a secret that following the loss in income during the Covid lockdowns, the council cannot afford the wider works this year and given the Environment Agency project, it would be a precarious and potentially reckless use of public money for the council to commit millions of pounds to the Bandstand before the plans are confirmed.  Once we have these, we will be in a position to schedule the work necessary to restore the Bandstand to its former glory, incorporating any requirements that the Environment Agency might identify.

"The Environment Agency has also confirmed that the Bandstand sits at the flood defence level of the existing shingle beach, this means it is at severe risk of flooding. This level of risk will only increase as time progresses.

"We are spending £750,000 over the coming months to ensure a reopening of the Bandstand in 2023 and are committed to maintaining this important venue for many years to come. Any suggestions to the contrary are false."