Following strong results in the local elections on 2nd May, the Liberal Democrats make up the largest group on the Town Councils of Lewes, Seaford and Newhaven and have therefore nominated the new mayors for all three towns!
In Seaford, Nazish Adil, known as 'Pinky', has become the town's first ethnic minority British Asian mayor. She is a very active local resident and pledged to work to ensure all voices are heard in planning for the town's future. Pinky said, “The core Lib Dem values of tolerance and respect for diversity are at the heart of my motivation for running for election; so I am delighted to be able to step up and serve the community to deliver on the interests of all our residents.”
In Lewes, John Lamb follows Lewes’ first ethnic minority mayor, Janet Baah, and he has set out a clear demand to deliver on the Lewes Neighbourhood Plan, which includes low cost housing as a key priority for local residents. John said, “It’s a real privilege for me to take over as Mayor after Janet Baah. Janet set a very high bar with her commitment to bringing a fresh perspective to the role and I look forward to continuing to ensure that people of all backgrounds are valued in our town. I have worked for many years on technology for people with disabilities, so accessibility will continue to be a strong focus in my term as Mayor.”
In Newhaven, Graham Amy leads a strong team with an overall Lib Dem majority on the Town Council. He set out priorities to ensure that Newhaven's residents are properly consulted on future priorities for the town and a demand to regenerate the High Street. Graham said, “The Lib Dems are leading the push for a change across Lewes District. We champion local action and listen closely to residents’ views. We will continue to push for better representation of local needs at all levels; by ensuring that the Town Councils are able to support local residents and pushing back against the Tory cuts at District and County Councils and central government.”
You can read John Lamb's full speech given in Lewes Town Hall on 16 May below:
"With its mathematical tiles, the twittens, castle and bonfire it is easy to see Lewes as a very traditional place. This chamber with its high constable’s truncheons on the wall epitomises that connection with the past.
Although nothing stays the same for long. When I first came to Lewes there were two cinemas, a cattle market, a railway line running slap bang through the Precinct and the Crown was a place to get a fancy meal. It was very much a working town.
It is a very different place today. Once the county town for the whole of Sussex, we are still the seat of local government and the law, but the heavy industry is gone and in its place, God willing, a housing estate will rise.
It is all about change.
Again we are on the verge of massive upheaval. I am sure in twenty years’ time we will be living very differently from today. To begin with we will be eating less meat, travelling less, wasting less and heating our homes in a different way. Whether this will be enough to stop or reverse climate change I don’t know.
Lewes will also have to come to terms with big tech changes. The internet has already hollowed out the high street here, perhaps less than in many places. Artificial intelligence is already altering the way we work and will continue to automate previously highly skilled jobs.
But what has all this got to do with the 18 councillors sitting here? First of all, we have got to set an example in the way we go about managing our estate: use less plastic, move away from fossil fuels, reduce our carbon footprint, as we have for example in the design of the new Malling Community Centre. And we must protect our green spaces.
Then we need to reach out to the people in Lewes to encourage them to act as well. We are fortunate in having many groups in the town that are concerned about our environment. Let us give them all the support we can.
In this we have one great ally: our Neighbourhood Plan, which was painstakingly put together by a group led by Susan Murray and Ian Linton and recently ‘made’ by the South Downs National Park. That plan is based on the notion of ecosystems services, a different way of looking at how we approach the built environment.
The plan also contains a blueprint for Lewes Low Cost Housing, which is based on a formula for setting house prices that reflects the average annual salary in the town. At a time when the average house in Lewes costs over £450,000, that has the potential to stem the exodus of people from Lewes who cannot afford to live here anymore.
Of course, the ability of the plan to deliver these benefits will depend on the Town Council’s determination to see it through. As other towns and villages have found, it is by no means certain that outside agencies will stick to the plans that electors voted for in a referendum. It will be up to us to educate, cajole and campaign for our Neighbourhood Plan.
Finally, it is my great good fortune to nominate good causes for the mayoral year. And as earlier speakers pointed out my day job involves promoting the development and use of assistive technology for disabled people.
I have chosen two organisations that support disabled people in very different ways.
The first is the Oyster Project based in Westgate Chapel and founded by John Russell. The Project supports weekly drama groups, a weekly art group and an annual family camp for people with physical disabilities. This year it is also running a series of workshops for people with dementia. The Project collaborates with the Westgate Trust on work with the homeless and Oyster members also founded Radio Lewes.
The second good cause is Lewes FC’s Mental Well-Being sides which play in the Sussex Disability Leagues. Last season the premiership side won the title. Lewes FC also runs Football Therapy, a free, drop-in session every Thursday evening on Lewes’s 3G all-weather pitch. It is aimed at any adult (male or female) who is going through mental well-being issues of any kind. Your contributions will go towards kit and other expenses for the sides.
I thank you for agreeing to make me and Stephen, Mayor and Deputy Mayor. I am looking forward to an enjoyable and active year as your mayor.”