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Claremont Hotel Fire

Friday 22 November 2019 was a really difficult day for Eastbourne as we saw another major fire on the seafront, just five years after our beloved Pier suffered the same fate. I'll post important info I hear below.

WED 27 NOV 2019

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As we all know, thank god, no-one was seriously injured from the awful fire a few days ago as our emergency services and the staff did a fantastic job. There are ongoing concerns around those likely affected from an employment perspective and also the future of the building. All of which I will keep you, my Facebook friends and Eastbourne, in the loop with.

Meanwhile - such a devastating fire has a knock-on impact and one of those worse affected is our wonderful Belgium Mussels cafe at the top of Terminus Road.

I've just had a meeting with the owner (Greg Corona), an old friend who many of you will know well. And they're in a tough position!

As they are next door to the hotel buildings they obviously had to turn their electricity off for four days, as well as urgently evacuate the premises. This means a busy restaurant's frozen and chilled food stock is all destroyed. In addition:

  • the popular micro brewery they run in the basement is also affected, with around half of the beer being brewed having gone off.
  • two Xmas parties booked for last weekend had to be cancelled.
  • they're insured of course but with the loss adjuster not being able to come until next Monday and then it taking as long as it takes, this is a real blow for Greg and his business partner Stephane Larruat. Both of whom have been here for years, are massively committed to our town and so I am asking folk for help.

They are re-opening again today (Wed) from 13.00hrs and then normal times.

Basically for the next few weeks, as they wait for the insurance claim to be settled, Greg and Stephane will be paying their staff directly from money going into the till on a day by day basis. Not forgetting he needs to re-stock from scratch.

So my friends. Can you help all the lovely team at the Belgian Cafe by swinging by for a meal over the next couple of weeks? You won't be let down, it's a restaurant that Cherine and I have used numerous times and the food is great.

And do give them a wee hug so they know our community is there for them!

Thank you.

TUE 26 NOV 2019

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I had a good catch-up chat with the manager of the Claremont Hotel today. He confirmed their business interruption insurance will cover all the staffs wages up to and including Xmas. The company will try to move as many as possible within the group.

I reiterated that as soon as he knew how many may, because of the fire, not be able to be retained he let me know so I can go to Eastbourne to ask other employers to step up to ensure folk still have jobs.

He agreed and also stressed again to me just how grateful everyone is at the Hotel and the company by our community's determination to help.

Eastbourne at its best...

SUN 24 NOV 2019

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Good morning folks. I just wanted to bring you up to speed with a couple of conversations I had yesterday. I met both the manager of the Claremont and the owner of the hotel (Daish's Holidays) who gave me an update.

First off though, they wanted to praise the incredibly quick and expert response of our local Fire Services who, with great skill and professionalism, not only extinguished a major conflagration but, crucially, stopped it spreading. I couldn't agree more!!

The owner made a specific point of telling me how bowled over he has been at the support shown by our town. He asked me to send his thanks and appreciation to you all. And also for the tremendous work the hotel staff did in getting the guests out quickly and safety.

Eastbourne at its community best. Thank you.

Onto some of the nuts and bolts:

1/ He confirmed that yesterday the bottom of the hotel was still too hot for a proper assessment to be made but as soon as that cools, hopefully by today, that process will begin.

2/ I asked him about my and others concerns re the staff's future, coming up to Christmas etc. He confirmed to me the business has what's called comprehensive 'Business Interruption Insurance', so all affected employees will be covered and paid, certainly up to and including Christmas. The company in the meantime will be doing everything it can to move them to other jobs within the Group.

3/ He agreed to keep me in the loop because if down the line there are job losses, I will be keen to put the word out there as I feel sure our local employers will step up to help. He agreed.

4/ Cause and effect. He and they 'think' they know what caused the fire but but he said he'd rather keep that under wraps until confirmed.

5/ He also confirmed that such a major fire and the resulting significant damage, means it would take a few weeks for a proper needs assessment to be made of the building and next steps. He's well aware of the historical significance of the building (mid 19th century) to our seafront and I felt confident in listening to him that all will be done to retain it, if humanely possible. Frankly it's all now down to the level of structural damage, which we will find out about in due course.

Thank you George and David. It was a pleasure to meet you both, albeit I'm just sorry it's under such trying circumstances. This must have been an utterly appalling time for you and all your colleagues in the hotel, and in the wider company.

Please be reassured that Eastbourne is there to support and help you, and the staff, in any way we can to get through this awful episode, and to come out positively the other end. 🙏

SAT 23 NOV 2019

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It was a really difficult day yesterday for Eastbourne as we saw another major fire on the seafront, just five years after our beloved Pier suffered the same fate.

And once again our emergency services swung into action. Thank you to the police who quickly cordoned off the area, to the hotel staff who I saw with my own eyes swiftly but kindly moving the, often elderly and no doubt shocked, hotel guests to safety. Our ambulance service being as expert and prompt as ever, and to the council staff who immediately set up post in the town Hall for residents who had to move out of their nearby apartments. A cup of tea and a quiet word of encouragement goes a long way!

Most of all though, to our firefighters at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. It's clear your prompt and expert actions not only extinguished what was a major conflagration but, critically, also prevented it spreading to any of the other adjacent buildings. Thank you. Truly.

For those of you who've been reading my updates on the previous post you'll know that most of the hotel guests have now departed Eastbourne back to their homes. Those who are still awaiting transport were kindly put up by other local hotels under the co-ordination of the Eastbourne Hospitality Association. Well done all.

Many other facebooker have also contacted me to ask how they can help and I've been advised to pass on the info that we hold for the time being so a proper needs assessment can be made. I have been in touch with the Hotel manager asking him to let me know if there's anything else the Town can do for the staff whose jobs may now be at risk.

He and the company are taking stock and will be back if they need assistance. He knows that we, Eastbourne, will step up to help if necessary, and was appreciative of the offer.

That's it for the mo my friends. I will continue to keep you all in the loop.

And to Phil Burrowes for sending me the photos. Very powerful and evocative. 👍

Finally - thank you again to our brilliant firefighters for successfully putting out and containing what could have been - well - it doesn't bear thinking about...

FRI 22 NOV 2019

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Very worrying events on the seafront at the Claremont Hotel this morning. It appears, God willing, everyone is safe and accounted for.

I've spoken to the emergency services. Advice is to
1. Please stay clear as it's a live situation.
2. Close windows, especially if you have asthma or a breathing condition
3. Avoid nearby roads

The fire service are working hard to get the fire under control and ensure people are safe. Please follow comments and we'll update on any developments.

ps @ 13.44: I dropped into the Town Hall to see how those residents who live nearby are being taken care of. All good I'm pleased to say. The excellent council staff are not only sorting them tea/coffee and biscuits but also ensuring the couple o f family pets with them are also fed. Well done EBC!!

I'm told that for the time being most of the hotel residents are remaining at the Queens Hotel for the time being. I'll keep you all in the loop. Thank god it does appear that no-one has been hurt in the fire. 🤞

pps: another update: People are now being loaded onto coaches and are heading home so most if not all guests will be safe. A message has been passed to me "please hold fire on bringing donations, as the Queens hotel is getting engulfed by kind residents." Thanks folks. It's wonderful that our town is immediately doing what it alwys does - Stepping up for the community - but we need to get it right please. Thx.

When I know clearly what folk need I will let you all know.