Lewes District Council, after 8 years of Conservative leadership, is now controlled by a Co-operative Alliance of councillors from the Green, Liberal Democrat, and Labour parties plus two Independents (Monday, 15th July). Liberal Democrat Councillor, James MacCleary and Labour Councillor Chris Collier proposed the new Leader of Lewes District Council, Councillor Zoe Nicholson, leader of the Green Party group in a move to take control of the council. The Alliance voted unanimously for the new leadership arrangements with Councillor James MacCleary, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, as Deputy Leader.
The Alliance has an overall majority on the councillors and is the result of joint working that has been ongoing since the local elections in May. The Alliance will operate on a shared leadership arrangement with the Green Party and Liberal Democrats rotating the leadership annually.
The new Leader of the council, Zoe Nicholson, who leads the Green Party group, said: "I am very much looking forward to getting to work with our Alliance colleagues and focusing on what matters to local people. I’m excited about working with our new Cabinet of skilled local people who really have the district in their DNA. The support we have received from local people has been really inspiring, we will be completely focussed on living up to people’s expectations.”
The council’s new Deputy Leader, James MacCleary, who leads the Liberal Democrat group, said: “It’s taken some hard work to get to this point, and we were determined to build this alliance on firm foundations. No party was returned with an overall majority on the council in May so building an alliance with a clear majority of seats was crucial to ensure stability for residents and our hardworking council staff. We have a lot of work to do and this alliance represents a chance to create opportunity and release the potential of our communities.”
Labour group leader, Chris Collier, who will serve in the new Cabinet, said: “Forming the Co-operative Alliance was just the first step in building a more collaborative, forward thinking administration. We’ve worked hard to put in place a solid platform for the next four years. From here, it’s about delivering on our manifesto commitments as a shared vision across all our communities.”
Ruth O’Keeffe, co-leader of the Independent group who will also serve on the Cabinet, said: "In our discussions as a Co-operative Alliance we find that we agree on a lot concerning what matters to local people. We have already found that we will be able to put the interests of local people first and manage to work out positive solutions if there are things that not everyone in the group can agree on."
Independent group co-leader, Steve Saunders, added: “I’m looking forward to giving a voice to those I represent. Joining with like-minded colleagues across the District, to change the way decisions are made and help make the Council work for each and every one of its residents.”
• The parties that make up the Co-operative Alliance won a total of 22 seats on Lewes District Council representing an overall majority. The Conservatives have 19 seats.
• Those 22 seats break down as: 9 Green Party, 8 Liberal Democrat, 3 Labour Party, and 2 Independent.
• Leadership of the council will be rotated between the Green Party and Liberal Democrats on an annual basis.
• The council’s Cabinet will be composed of 9 Cabinet members, four Green Party councillors, three Liberal Democrats, one Labour and one Independent councillor. Between them these parties hold 22 of the 41 seats on Lewes District Council giving them a controlling majority.