Lib Dems close to winning back Lewes following Devon by-election win

James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat candidate for Lewes has declared the next election is a clear choice between Boris Johnson’s Conservatives or a local Liberal Democrat champion as the Conservative vote continues to crumble across the country.

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‘Time for Maria Caulfield to come clean over Johnson vote’ says MacCleary

James_Ringmer_shops_blur_crop.jpgLiberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes constituency, James MacCleary, has called on local MP and government minister, Maria Caulfield, to come clean with residents over how she voted in Monday’s vote of confidence in the leadership of Boris Johnson.

Many constituents have written to Ms Caulfield asking how she voted and she has so far refused to say. She is one of just seven government ministers who have not publicly stated their position, although it is widely assumed that she supported Johnson.

James MacCleary says: “Monday’s vote told us one thing for certain, that this is a lame duck government led by a deeply unpopular Prime Minister. What we do not know though is how our own MP, Maria Caulfield, voted.

“As a staunch Johnson loyalist and Brexit backer, Maria Caulfield has been a long-time cheerleader for Boris Johnson. Have the inconvenient facts of Partygate and his unpopularity made Maria Caulfield hide her true loyalties from constituents?

As with many other important issues, she seems to take one position in the House and another in the constituency. Her constituents deserve to know whether she still steadfastly supports Johnson, especially in light of his abject behaviour and his inability to lead our country with the integrity and seriousness we deserve.

“Her constituents deserve to know whether or not she voted to prop up Boris Johnson. We all assume she did, but she needs to come clean with residents. If she thinks Johnson merits her support, she should say so publicly and state why. If she thinks he should be removed, she should have the guts to say so. This weaving and dodging impresses nobody.”

Maria Caulfield must sack Boris Johnson in crunch vote to give Britain proper leadership

James_Ringmer_shops_blur_crop.jpgThe Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Lewes, James MacCleary has called for a new Prime Minister.

The Lewes Liberal Democrats have called on the local MP Maria Caulfield and all Conservative MPs to remove Boris Johnson as Prime Minister this week.

A vote of no-confidence in Boris Johnson is being held by Conservative MPs today after enough Conservative MPs submitted their letters to the 1922 Committee.

The news comes in light of the Metropolitan Police ruling that showed Johnson broke lockdown laws, and also the damning Sue Gray report that effectively blamed his leadership for the parties Downing Street that have caused public outrage.

James said: “When so many people in Lewes, Seaford, Newhaven and Polegate are suffering from spiralling bills and a cost of living emergency, we can’t have a Prime Minister just focussed on saving his own skin.

“It is time Maria Caulfield finally does her patriotic duty and sacks Boris Johnson. Our country needs strong leadership and we can’t have any more of this nonsense.

“The Conservative party is wasting precious time with these internal squabbles. We need an emergency tax cut, not a Westminster soap opera.

“If Maria Caulfield and her colleagues have the courage and decency to act months ago when the rest of the country all knew Boris Johnson had to go, then we wouldn’t be in this mess right now.”

Bus station redevelopment

lewes_bus_station_1000.jpgSeveral dozen residents have submitted objections to the proposed removal and redevelopment of the Bus Station in Lewes following publicity by Lewes Lib Dems.

The good news for those that were unable to make an objection before the original deadline is that the deadline has now been extended to the 15th June.

Please help to save this important community asset by submitting an objection today. Note that this is a new set of plans. If you raised an object to the previous application, then you must object again.

The Generator Group, which now owns the site, is proposing to demolish the bus station and garage buildings and to replace these with 3 houses, 37 flats, and ground floor commercial space for offices or shops in buildings 5 stories high. There will be no affordable housing and the building is completely out of character with our beautiful town.

Your Lib Dem team in Lewes has been working hard behind the scenes with other parties and groups to ensure that Lewes retains a bus station that is both in the centre of town and central to our ability to save our natural world.

Please use the link below to submit an objection by the 15th June 2022. We suggest that you use the following objections:
• The plans do not meet the South Downs National Park's requirements for 50% affordable housing,
• The proposed alternative sites will remove greenspace and cause traffic jams, and do not provide the facilities for drivers or passengers,
• The proposed buildings do not meet the SDNP policy on zero-carbon homes,
• The proposed buildings and number of units are out of scale with the site and the surrounding area, and the design does not fit with the character of the Town.
Please submit your objection today!

SDNP/22/02197/FUL | Demolition of existing buildings and construction of mixed-use development comprising 3 houses (Class C3), 37 self-contained flats (Class C3) and 192m2 of ground floor commercial space (Class E), with associated access alterations, landscaping and parking. | Former Bus Station Eastgate Street Lewes East Sussex BN7 2LP (

If you haven't submitted an objection before, then you can sign up to the planning portal using the link below: and click on “Register”.

Click on register to register and fill out your details. Click on the link in the email they send you to complete the account registration. You can then log in and go to “Search”, “Planning” then “Simple Search”. (They don’t make it easy.) Or just click on this link:

Enter “ SDNP/22/02197/FUL” in the Search box.

An alternative way to object is to send an email to [email protected] titling your email “Objection: SDNP/22/02197/FUL”.
Please include the following in your email:
• your objection,
• your full name and address, and
• state that you are a member of the public.

Thank you,

Your Lewes Town Lib Dem Team

Newhaven and South Heighton Lib Dems win safety upgrade for dangerous junction

Liberal Democrats in Newhaven and South Heighton are claiming a big victory after National Highways confirmed that they would be installing traffic lights at a notorious accident blackspot in the town. 

Local Lib Dem councillors James MacCleary, Sean Macleod and Julie Carr have been pressing for improvements to the junction of the A26 and Avis Road (B2109) and met with National Highways last summer. 

National Highways have now recognised this junction as dangerous and agreed on a 3-year plan to improve safety at the junction. 

Lib Dems in Newhaven and South Heighton have made road safety a priority and over 600 residents signed up to their safer road campaign.


James MacCleary, County Councillor for Newhaven, South Heighton and Bishopstone, says: “It doesn’t take an expert to see how dangerous this junction is. It is brilliant news to be able to report to residents some real safety improvements rather than just hearing more excuses from the government. I hope that this is the first of a number of road safety improvements that residents will see in the coming months and years. It is great news for Newhaven and South Heighton.”

South Heighton District Councillor, Sean Macleod, says: “I'm over the moon with this outcome. We have campaigned so hard for our residents and we are certain this will save people's lives, now if they could only keep on top of the grass until this happens. We are hoping to see detailed plans for the traffic lights in the next few months.”

Cllr Julie Carr, who represents Newhaven North on the District Council, adds: “This is an issue that affects so many residents in my ward and that’s why we’ve made it a priority. We recently voted through some funding at the Town Council to look at other safety projects in the town so we will be looking to push on from here.”

Maria Caulfield MP slammed for voting against Windfall Tax on oil and gas companies

  • Conservative MPs in Parliament voted against a tax on the record profits of oil firms to help cut people’s energy bills*
  • Local Liberal Democrat candidate, James MacCleary, calls for tax cuts and energy bill support to help families in Lewes constituency through cost of living crisis

Last night, Conservative MPs, including Lewes MP Maria Caulfield, voted against a Windfall Tax on oil and gas companies to help people with their energy bills.

Despite 248 MPs voting in favour of the one-off tax on the record profits of multinational oil firms, Conservative MPs voted it down.

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has found a Windfall Tax on Shell and BP alone would have raised a staggering £10bn in the first quarter of this year, enough to slash energy bills for millions of people.

James_Ringmer_green_1_1000.jpgLocal Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lewes, James MacCleary, has criticised the local Conservative MP, Maria Caulfield, for backing tax rises and failing to help people with the cost of living crisis.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for VAT to be cut from 20% to 17.5%, saving the average family £600 a year. Liberal Democrats have also called for a fair deal for our rural communities by bringing in a price cap on heating oil, which is currently unrestricted.

James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Lewes said:

“Time and again we’ve seen Maria Caulfield put her party loyalty ahead of the interests of local residents. On Tuesday she voted against putting £600 back in the pockets of struggling families in our community.

“It is manifestly unfair that oil and gas companies make record profits at our expense. This Conservative Government clearly cares more about the profits of gas companies than struggling people in our local communities.

“Every week I’m on doorsteps in local towns and villages across the constituency and people are telling me the same thing. They are struggling to make ends meet and do not trust this failing Conservative Government to help them one bit.

“Boris Johnson has abandoned families and pensioners who are on the brink as the cost of living crisis worsens. All we’ve had from Boris Johnson is unfair tax hikes and empty promises on helping people, and Maria Caulfield has backed him every step of the way.”


*On Tuesday 17th May Conservative MPs voted against an amendment to the Queen’s Speech which would have introduced a Windfall Tax on oil and gas companies. The amendment read:

“but respectfully regret that the Gracious Speech fails to announce a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas producers, in order to provide much-needed relief from energy price increases for households.”

Lib Dem peer asks for powers for councils to deal with planning blight

Liberal Democrat Peer Baroness Pinnock has raised a question in the House of Lords asking what actions are available to local authorities to take steps to mitigate planning blight.

CL_Yellow_reverse_1000.jpgSeaford Liberal Democrat Cllr Carolyn Lambert explains: “We asked Baroness Pinnock if she could help us and other councils who are faced with the kind of appalling planning blight we are seeing at Talland Parade. Both Lewes District Council and I wrote to the then Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, asking for enhanced legal powers to enable us to deal with this and neither of us even received the courtesy of a reply.

"I am extremely grateful to Baroness Pinnock for her intervention which shows that Liberal Democrats are aware of the damage this sort of blight does to local communities and are actively trying to do something about it”.

talland_600.jpgCllr Stephen Gauntlett, Lewes District Council Cabinet Member for Planning adds: “Unfortunately, it is clear that despite these specific requests for powers to deal with this, the Conservative government is continuing to push out the outdated and unrealistic responses which are the same as those we have received from the MP. We have already tried the remedy suggested by the Minister and have been advised that this would fail in court. Perhaps that explains why the Conservatives didn't take any action on this from 2012 to 2019 when they were in charge of the District Council and residents were complaining about the scaffolding and the length of time the development was taking. Councils up and down the country need proper legislative powers and not the current developer’s charter that the government seems so determined to provide.”

Seaford GP services reach crisis point while minister does nothing

Seaford residents and those providing primary care in the town are being let down by Maria Caulfield, newly promoted Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care.

Both Old School Surgery and Seaford Medical Practice the two doctors’ surgeries in Seaford have put a cap on new patients. There are exceptions for local care homes, immediate family members and newly born or adopted babies.

Liberal Democrats have encouraged use of the car park behind Seaford Medical Practice to redevelop the site to expand provision. The space has been offered by Lewes District Council for free.

The government has been encouraged to urgently address support for GPs after doctors’ numbers have put a strain on those still working.

james_maccleary02_600.jpgJames MacCleary, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson for Seaford explains: “Both the Seaford GP practices have been forced to put a temporary cap on their lists meaning that no new patients can be registered at either practice. Every week I have residents contacting me from Seaford and elsewhere in the constituency about how hard it is to access a GP. These are basic services that we should be able to access when we need them and have always been able to take for granted. The government have allowed this situation to develop despite loud warnings from doctors, nurses and from across the whole medical profession.

“Instead of action, all we get from the local Tory MP (and Health Minister), Maria Caulfield, is excuses and finger pointing. Seaford deserves much better. I will keep pressing for the redevelopment of the Seaford Medical Practice site at Dane Road.”

Cllr Christine Brett adds: “The pressure our GP services have been under will only be made worse by the current planning applications from Churchill Homes and McCarthy Stone who are seeking to impose unwanted and unnecessary accommodation for older people who will increase the demands on these services. At the same time, they are proposing to demolish perfectly good family homes. We need urgent action to support our local health services to support any new houses.”

Cllr Carolyn Lambert adds: “We have known for years about the accommodation problems being experienced by hardworking and committed staff at both practices. It is not the duty of local councils to sort this out – it rests squarely with central government and the Clinical Commissioning Groups who are funded to provide this, yet Maria Caulfield has done nothing to help solve what is clearly now a crisis. It is time that she put local residents ahead of her government job for once!”

Loss of NHS dentists “appalling” says James MacCleary

  • James_Ringmer_shops_blur_crop.jpgNHS dentist numbers are falling nationally and locally
  • Access reduced for patients to NHS treatment

A loss in NHS dentists in the Lewes area has been criticised as “appalling”, by Lib Dem James MacCleary.

The number of dentists in East Sussex CCG has fallen from 336 in 2015, when Maria Caulfield was first elected, to 296 now, in line with the national decline.

Maria Caulfield, the Lewes MP, is the junior health minister responsible for dentistry.

Lib Dem Cllr Sean MacLeod recently contacted NHS dentists in the Lewes District and found a decline in the number of NHS patients being taken.

Figures on the decline were revealed after a question to Lewes MP and health minister Maria Caulfield from Lib Dem leader Ed Davey.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has criticised NHS England over targets and made clear the national circumstances are challenging for dentists with little support to reach them.

Concern about the impact of Brexit has been highlighted by the BDA, with around 17% of dentists in the UK coming from the EU.

James MacCleary, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Lewes, said:

“A local decline in dentists, when our MP is a minister directly responsible for dentist provision, is frankly appalling.

“The NHS dentists who are left are facing huge pressure and need more support. Government targets come with no means to meet them. Money has been announced, which will barely scratch the surface, and will do nothing to change the approach that has brought us here.

“Dentists are a huge part of the NHS and people deserve the right to see them. It’s clear the government’s policies have led to fewer dentists, working in more challenging circumstances, meaning we all get a worse deal.”



Click here for the statistics on dentist numbers 

Here is the BDA's statement on the impacts of Brexit on dentistry

More info on the role of NHS dentists

Councillors pledge to fight sexism and misogyny

Lewes_Town_Councillors_take_a_stand_against_misogyny_and_sexism.jpgLewes Town Councillors unanimously backed Lewes Football Club’s campaign to curb violence against women and girls at a Council meeting last week.

The Rooks CallHimOut campaign aims to persuade men to ‘call out’ sexist and misogynistic behaviour when they encounter it.

“It is up to men to take action,” said Lewes FC Director Karen Dobres. “Fighting sexism and misogyny, so that women can be and feel safe, is the responsibility of men.

“We accept that how all men talk about women contributes to an environment where some men assault women and where all women can feel unsafe in their everyday lives.”

A motion from Cllrs Emily Clarke, Imogen Makepeace and John Lamb called on male Councillors to adopt the campaign, making a pledge to fight sexism and misogyny, adding the CallHimOut logo to their email signatures and learning more through training about how to challenge bad behaviour in a safe way.

“Sexual assault is such a widespread, daily occurrence that it is rare to find a woman who has not experienced some kind of sexual harassment or assault,” said Cllr Clarke.

“The World Health Organisation reports that roughly one in three women around the world has been subjected to physical or sexual violence.”

With the help of two male directors and a male player, Lewes FC is developing a programme for the men’s first team to talk together, and then to mentor under 18 players.

“We commit to making a difference through our own language and behaviour: we will call ourselves out and welcome being ‘called out’ by each other, and we will lead the way in making the world a safer place for women and a better place for us all,” the Club said.

Cllr Lamb presented male Councillors with lapel ribbons in Lewes FC colours. “Repeated surveys reveal a shocking tsunami of hatred against women, which demands action,” said Cllr Lamb.

“Lewes FC deserves our support for its brave stand. The Town Council will do what it can to bring about a much-needed culture change.”

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