January 11th, 2021.

Councillor Sean Macleod writes:

Hearing the news that Brighton Racecourse will be the vaccination location centre for Newhaven residents left people thinking just who thought that was a sensible location for elderly and vulnerable residents to access from Newhaven?

If residents don’t have access to vehicles they are left with the option of taking two buses to Brighton Racecourse and two buses back; both journeys taking well over an hour. So after doing research and contacting local taxi providers the cost of a taxi to Brighton Racecourse from Newhaven is a £50 return.

This just isn't an acceptable location for a vaccination site especially with UTC Building in Newhaven sitting empty, which is a government-owned building. It has great access links for the whole of the Seahaven area with bus services, train services and decent parking on site. This location could provide an obvious solution so residents are not travelling to Brighton Racecourse and Seaford residents are not travelling to Eastbourne and Hampden Park.

There are many logistical issues around the vaccine rollout and while we accept that these are creating headaches, if the Government is able to set up a vaccination site at a racecourse then there should be little reason why they are not able to at the UTC building in Newhaven.

We are fortunate also to have charities like Haven Community Cars CIO who provide a fantastic volunteer driver service for local residents, but despite offering their services to CCG and health providers they have been widely ignored.

This government has bodged this Covid 19 crisis. Newhaven is only just getting a testing location which is only for two days. Previously residents have had to travel to Plumpton racecourse or Brighton Tennis club for a test, and is now being let down with regards to vaccinations and access. It's one of the biggest frustrations with the Government's handling of this Covid19 crisis is that there has been no forward thinking.

Whilst some residents can afford a £50 taxi or be happy to take a number of buses for a vaccination our most elderly and vulnerable will struggle with this, so this government and local health providers need to start taking notice of local support services and actually research the locations they are offering people.

Lib Dem Councillor Sean Macleod “ For some this site won't be a problem but for many, it will be. It has the real possibility for putting residents off from getting vaccinated. The local health providers and the government should also be reaching out to local volunteer services and charities such as Haven Community Cars CIO who provide a vital service to the most vulnerable residents. While many will see this as an attack on the government and playing politics it isn’t; my huge concerns is for the welfare of local residents and I feel they are being put at risk here. Today we have seen our local MP and other Conservatives Councillors attack local GP surgeries and other health care providers such as those in Newick accusing them if refusing to provide the vaccine this just isn't acceptable and show they are already trying to pass the blame.”

Independent Cllr Paula Woolven “As Chair of Trustees of Havens Community Cars CIO, I emailed the CCG before Christmas, anticipating the need for transport for the first wave of people to be listed for the vaccination. As these were people in the oldest age bracket, it stands to reason that lack of mobility and transportation would be a big issue and I could not understand why Community Transport operators were not being contacted to ‘join the dots’ to ensure the highest take up of this vaccination roll-out. Despite being assured that someone would be in touch in due course, the mass centre for the Havens has been opened today with no further contact to us regarding transport for the most vulnerable and isolated residents. We are trying to reach as many people as possible ourselves, telling them about our support, but most of those being called will not be on social media or the internet. It’s a very disappointing lack of joined-up thinking.”

Lib Dem Deputy Mayor for Newhaven, Cllr Lesley Boniface - “whilst I’m delighted that we finally have a mass vaccination site in Sussex it does appear that very little thought has been given to access by the most vulnerable in our community who are the first to receive the vaccine. The Havens have been left behind once again. Fingers crossed that those who are called will have support bubbles that can get them to the Racecourse, I would urge anyone who is able to join the volunteer effort provided by Havens Community Cars to contact them to register, and the CCG need to urgently review the provision and find somewhere closer.”

NOTE. East Sussex County Council has aparently issued a statement saying that a Covid-19 mobile testing unit will be at Lower Place car park in Newhaven from today - Monday 11th January to Wednesday 13th January. Haven News has not received any release or notice from ESCC.

To Contact Haven Community Cars CIC email or ring 01273 918226.
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