With stilt walkers and African drummers, this coastal town’s Festival of Fire was more Brighton than Eastbourne and the event drew thousands of visitors. Eastbourne is certainly upping the competition stakes and Brighton shouldn’t be complacent.
Eastbourne Borough Council has initiated an entire campaign - called Change Your View - to drag the town into the 21st Century and play to its many strengths, not least of which affordable property prices, cheaper commercial rents than Brighton and pristine public realm. It is part of a 10-year strategy to build awareness among the 35+ age group. The most prominent demographic is now 30 to 49 year olds which belies the old tag of “God’s waiting room”.
But while Eastbourne is keen to maintain its enviable reputation as a city where the streets are so clean you could eat off the floor it is also branching out into Brighton’s natural territory. Witness the two events hosted last summer – Eastbourne Extreme and Airborne - featuring BMX riders, skateboarders, windsurfers and cutting edge aero technology.
Significantly, like Brighton, Eastbourne is also in the process of establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) to capitalise on a multi million pound redevelopment of the city centre.
Eastbourne’s stated aim is to stem the haemorrhage of shoppers and tourists to places like Brighton. The town has been identified by SEEDA as one of the pearls in a string along the south coast and its development potential is obvious to all who take a closer look at the town.
We must wish Eastbourne well in its regeneration programme and note that a great many coastal towns across the entire UK look upon Brighton & Hove with envious eyes. A bit of complacency on our part could be fatal.
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