Lib Dems fight to save Newhaven Post Office

Post Office Ltd has outlined how they are looking for a local business to take over the Post Office in Newhaven - most probably as a concession within an existing shop. With no local businesses with sufficient space to take this on, there are concerns that the Post Office will simply be closed and Newhaven residents, yet again, will lose a vital and regularly used service that they depend on. 

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Liberal Democrats on Lewes District Council are set to call for Southern Rail to lose its franchise to run rail services at a meeting of Lewes District Council this Thursday (21st July).

Cllr Vic Ient (Lib Dem, Kingston Ward) said: "Enough is enough. They have made a compete mess of running our rail services. Too many people's lives have been disrupted. It is time for Govia Thameslink Railways to lose their franchise."


Seaford Lib Dem Councillor Olivia Honeyman (pictured above with Cllr Ient) added: "I think is important for GTR to understand how this mess is affecting everyone. Employees and businesses are being affected in Seaford and elsewhere across the District because of the commuting difficulties. Prolonged disruption will affect tourism and put people off from having days out to our towns, and especially at the start of the school holiday."


And in a letter to the new Secretary of State for Transport, Cllr Ient says: "GTR’s main focus should have been to tackle things such as how to overcome the problems at London Bridge by closer working with Network Rail; getting down to detail on the problems of the critical Brighton mainline service; introducing extra coaches to overcome crowding on services like the Brighton to Ashford link as well as in other parts of the network. Instead we’ve ended up with a bus service operating between Lewes and Seaford, a reduced timetable to places like Brighton and Lewes, ticket offices closed or closing and disgruntled passengers and workforce."

"New management for Southern Railways is urgently needed...The government should immediately bring in a management team focused on the service and not on fighting the unions."

A full copy of Cllr Ient's letter to the Secretary of State is below:


GTR franchise and the problems on Southern Railways

Southern Railways wasn’t without its problems before Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) fully took over the network in July 2015 but since then things have gone from bad to worse. With an already overloaded network, particularly the Brighton mainline, and with no plans to expand the number of rail tracks in the near future along with the problems of the delays in the works at London Bridge station, the directors of GTR should have been concentrating on how to get trains to run on time without cancellations and delays. Instead they chose to focus on things like boosting the staff of their Twitter team, giving computer tablets to their station staff, and closing ticket offices. I can verify that these were the priorities as they were spoken about by Alex Foulds, the Passenger Service Director of Southern Railway at the East Sussex Transport Summit called by Amber Rudd, MP, for Hastings & Rye back in March. Along with Alex Foulds was his boss Charles Horton, CEO of GTR and also David Statham, the managing director of Southeastern Rail.

At no time in the meeting did Charles Horton or his colleagues refer to proposals to change the role of the guards on the trains. Nor did they refer to actually closing ticket offices. They alluded to ticket offices by way of talking about bringing staff out of the ticket office to help customers around the station.

Whilst acknowledging that there were problems running the trains they did not provide any significant information as to what they were going to do about the fact that only 20% of Southern trains arrived on time in the year from April 2015 to March 2016.

Clearly they’ve shown themselves unable to manage the real problems in the network and at the same time quite able to manufacture problems and make the situation worse.

The mess that we the public have been caught up in has been entirely artificially created by the directors and the senior management of GTR. What they should have been doing is getting out themselves onto the network and talking to staff as to how they can overcome the critical problems of trains arriving late or being cancelled.

In just over a year GTR have brought the network to its knees whilst at the same time introducing a troublesome and bug ridden web ticket service. Neither have they looked into the integration of contactless card payment at ticket barriers on the Southern network which is what has been already been introduced across London. This would speed up passenger flow at stations.

GTR’s main focus should have been to tackle things such as how to overcome the problems at London Bridge by closer working with Network Rail; getting down to detail on the problems of the critical Brighton mainline service; introducing extra coaches to overcome crowding on services like the Brighton to Ashford link as well as in other parts of the network. Instead we’ve ended up with a bus service operating between Lewes and Seaford, a reduced timetable to places like Brighton and Lewes, ticket offices closed or closing and disgruntled passengers and workforce.

New management for Southern Railways is urgently needed. I understand the government is simply paying a fee to this organisation for them to run the service so there isn’t a question of loss of profit as such. The government should immediately bring in a management team focused on the service and not on fighting the unions. Whilst we are getting the service back to a reasonable norm the government should reassess the franchise with key criteria as to what the franchisee is supposed to achieve and not what senior management have as a bee in their bonnet about unions.

Ticket office closures were bad enough but then getting rid of the guards when they provide a useful service on a busy network keeping passengers safe seems to be a crazy measure, especially in these times of heightened security. Please act swiftly and allow people to commute to work across the South and to London without being caught in the middle of this unnecessary dispute.

Yours Sincerely


Victor S Ient

Lewes District Councillor



Southern Rail has come under fire for its handling of its train services with Lib Dems calling on it to lose its franchise. It comes as Southern took the decision to cut 341 trains a day in a revised timetable for a month - including many train services to Newhaven and Seaford. The Conservative Government has agreed to allowing Southern to make these cuts.

Some passengers have lost their jobs because of delays to their trains, with others facing unacceptable disruption and delay in getting to work.

Many travellers are also angry at not getting home on time - for example, to see their children - because of delays and cancellations.

The disruption has been caused by staff shortages and industrial action.

Sussex based Liberal Democrat peer Lord Dholakia argued it was time for the minister to summon the firm's management and tell them "they are not fit and proper persons to run our railways and the only thing that should be slashed is their franchise".

Liberal Democrat peer and Transport Spokesperson Baroness Randerson added that: "beleaguered passengers are being used as hostages in the power struggle" between the operator and RMT.

Lib Dems pledge to take Britain back into Europe

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has pledged to fight the next General Election on a platform taking Britain back into Europe.

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Lewes Liberal Democrats have been making the case for Britain to stay in Europe. 


Remaining in Europe safeguards millions of UK jobs

Three million UK jobs are linked to trade with Europe. That’s one in every ten UK jobs. 200,000 UK businesses trade with Europe.

Lower prices

Families save an average of £450 a year because the UK is in Europe.
We get a better deal on everything from food to flights by negotiating as part of Europe - strength in numbers.

Fighting crime - and a peaceful Europe

7,000 criminals have been deported from the UK to face justice at home thanks to the European Arrest Warrant.
And working with our European neighbours has led to decades of peace after the bloodshed of WW2.

Lib Dem District Councillor Will Elliott added: “We are safer here in Lewes because we are in Europe. It means our police can access intelligence from across the continent.

“And the European Arrest Warrant ensures criminals have nowhere to hide. Thousands have been sent home to face justice. UK criminals that have tried to flee abroad have been brought back to face the courts. If we leave Europe, we make life easier for criminals.”


Liberal Democrats have won both the District Council and the Town Council Lewes Bridge by-elections in a hard fought contest. Local voters picked up on our message that the Lib Dems were the team that gets things done for Lewes Bridge.

Will Elliott held the District Council seat with 543 votes (44.4% of the total) and Janet Baah held the Town Council seat with 498 votes (39.8% of the total). You can see the full results for the District Council seat here and the results for the Town Council seat here.

Will said: "I'd like to say a big 'thank you' to everyone who voted for us and who helped in our campaign". Janet added her appreciation and said: "The Lib Dem team will continue with our record of action for Lewes Bridge and getting things done for local people".


Lib Dem candidates Will Elliott and Janet Baah have issued a final message to voters in Lewes Bridge ward in advance of Polling Day on Thursday June 2nd. They write:

"Our town is changing faster than ever before and we know how hard we have to fight to keep its character and protect vital services.

Locally, Lewes Liberal Democrats are the official opposition to the Tories. After months of campaigning we forced them to stop their bodged attempts to sell-off the '49 sites' and to apologise for wasting £600,000 of tax-payers money. We also secured their backing for our plan to ring-fence £50,000 to help businesses in the Phoenix Estate relocate locally. As the official opposition, a vote for us is a vote to challenge the local Tories and hold them to account.


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Lewes Lib Dems have chosen their candidates for the Lewes Bridge Ward District and Town Council by-election on June 2nd - Will Elliott and Janet Baah. They are campaigning to support our local library and post office, to ensure local people's views are heard over planning issues.


Will Elliott is standing for District Council. He currently serves on the Town Council and has successfully campaigned to reinstate late bus services back from Brighton to Lewes.


Will is involved with the campaign to save the Crown Post Office, and opposes plans to build on the Old Malling Farm site.


Will and his partner Huw are both pub managers with a keen interest in environmental issues and live on Albion Street.
Janet Baah is standing to be on the Town Council and wants to make sure the people of Lewes get the representation they deserve. Janet knows the area well having lived in Malling since 2001.


Janet has been a member of Adult Social Care's Inclusion Advisory Group since 2009, and a non executive Director of Breaking Down Barriers' CIC for the past 3 years. She is currently studying for a PhD in Education focusing on access to education for slum dwellers in Ghana.


Will and Janet want to see more affordable housing locally, especially for key workers in Lewes and the surrounding area.



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Lib Dem County Councillor Carla Butler defends local school and wins!

At the full Council meeting of East Sussex County Council, Lib Dem County Councillor Carla Butler won the Council's backing to halt the closure of Rodmell Primary School and Pells Primary School.

Carla says “The parents, governing body, staff and protesters should be proud of their achievement of running an excellent campaign."

Cllr Butler successfully called for the schools to stay open and to stop the plans to close them at the end of the consultation period.

Carla Butler opened her speech by quoting Ofsted on Rodmell school “Rodmell Primary is a welcoming, inclusive community. Pupils of different ages get on well, happily playing and learning together.” She accused the Conservative Council of wanting to close a school that was rated as 'Good' in all areas by Ofsted. She went on to support the governors who had said that the county council has put into the public domain information which is biased and misleading. Carla said the governors and school have not been fairly represented.

She said “I am disappointed that the final consultation document was not shared with the school prior to going out in the public domain as some of the information could have challenged before”. She supported the governors in her speech saying that the school was now rated as good school moving towards outstanding!


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Thursday’s election is your chance to vote to cut crime in our part of Sussex and to ensure our local communities receive the support they deserve.

That’s why more and more local people are saying they will back James Walsh to be our new local Police and Crime Commissioner.

With more than 40 years experience as a Sussex Councillor as well as having served as Chairman of the Police Authority, James is the best choice to keep our towns and villages safe.

Please give James your first preference vote at Thursday’s crucial election and together we can make Sussex an even safer place to live, work and to raise a family.

You can see more information on James' campaign here.



Published and promoted by D. Purchese on behalf of J. Walsh (Liberal Democrats), all at 32 The Street,
Rustington, W Sussex, BN16 3NX. Printed [hosted by] NationBuilder

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