Lib Dem James MacCleary challenges Maria Caulfield to keep election promise to world’s poorest

James MacClearyJames MacCleary, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Lewes, has written to Maria Caulfield, Lewes's Conservative MP, urging her not to break her election commitment on international development spending by voting to abandon the UK’s 0.7% of GNI target in a potential vote today.

In the 2019 General Election, Conservative MPs including Maria Caulfield stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”. 

The Government announced plans in 2020 to cut the development budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI. 

On Monday 7 June, if selected by the Speaker, a vote will be held in the House of Commons on whether to reinstate the 0.7% target. Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Lewes, James MacCleary, has challenged Maria Caulfield to follow through on their election pledge to support the 0.7%, and vote to retain the target.

James MacCleary said:

"We need an MP who will keep their word. When Maria Caulfield stood for Parliament in 2019, she pledged to support the 0.7% target on aid spending. Now she has an opportunity to deliver on that promise.

“If Maria Caulfield fails to support the target, she will be breaking a promise to constituents and the world’s poorest. Every vote will matter - so Maria Caulfield's decision could have a huge impact on the millions of people around the world that need our help. It will also reinforce the growing view amongst local residents that Maria Caulfield cannot be trusted to keep her promises to voters.

"Other Conservative MPs including Theresa May and David Davis have joined call on the government to retain the 0.7% target. It is something this country can comfortably afford to do and cutting it will cost lives and devastate some of the poorest communities around the world. The government has made a promise and, for once, I hope they will actually keep it.

“The Liberal Democrats have supported international development spending for over sixty years and enshrined the 0.7% target into law in 2015. It is the right thing to do, both for the UK, and those who need our help. Today, Maria Caulfield must vote to reinstate the 0.7% target.” 

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

“The Conservative Government’s decision to cut development spending has done extraordinary damage to Britain’s reputation with our allies and partners from across the globe. Now is the time for leadership - but instead, the Conservatives want Britain to hide from its responsibilities during a global pandemic.

“Every Conservative MP stood on a manifesto commitment to the 0.7% target. If they vote to cut the development budget next week, they will be breaking a promise to their constituents and to the world’s poorest. 

“Liberal Democrats will vote to reinstate the 0.7% target, which we enshrined in law. International development spending protects the most vulnerable people around the world and gives them a better chance at life.

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The letter sent to Maria Caulfield MP.

Dear Maria,

I am writing to you regarding your party’s plans to abandon the 0.7% of GNI target for international development spending.

This month the eyes of the world are on the UK, as we host the G7 summit in Cornwall. The last two times the UK has hosted the G7/G8 - in 2005 and in 2013 - we have used our platform on the world stage to advocate that the world’s largest economies should meet their obligations to the world’s poorest. Yet this year, the Conservatives are shirking from our legal and moral responsibilities, in the middle of a global pandemic. This does huge damage to Britain’s reputation.

In 2019, you stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”. But, despite the commitment you made to the people of Lewes constituency your party has tried to force through a cut to our development spending and abandoned the 0.7% target.

However, now there is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you will stand by the commitment you made in 2019. Today, a vote will likely be held in Parliament on whether to reinstate the 0.7% target. If selected, it is of utmost importance that this vote succeeds. How you vote will make a huge difference. You could be the person that ensures that the UK does meet its commitments to protect millions of the most vulnerable people around the world - from war zones like Yemen to supporting girls’ education.

If you vote to cut our development spending, you will be breaking a promise to your constituents and to the world’s poorest. Will you commit to vote to retain the 0.7% target today?

Liberal Democrats have been making the case for UK development spending for almost sixty years. It’s not just the morally right thing to do, it’s the sensible step to take. As the pandemic has taught us, we are not safe until we are all safe. That’s why we enshrined the 0.7% target in law in 2015. And that’s why all Liberal Democrat MPs will stand by their manifesto promises to their constituents, and vote to reinstate the target on 7th June.

I urge you to do likewise - to vote to reinstate the 0.7% target, fulfilling your promise to the people of Lewes constituency and helping millions of people around the world.

Yours sincerely,

James MacCleary

Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Lewes constituency

Christine Brett is new LDC Chair

christine_brett_chair_200.jpgLewes District Councillors have elected Liberal Democrat Christine Brett as their new Chair.

Her Chair’s theme for the year is about improving food security for all and she will be supporting all groups and charities who aim to do this and make our District a place where healthy food for all is more accessible.

Christine was born and brought up in East Sussex where her Brett family roots can be traced back to 1530 working in the farming community. She lived in many county wide police houses including 3 in Lewes in her formative years before college and embarking on a career in teaching.

A lifelong learner who worked in the private and public sector, she taught initially in Sociology then retrained to deliver Food Technology. In a career of over 30 years she taught in many challenging city schools, latterly leading a Design and Technology faculty .

She has long been involved in community activity and support having been a Samaritan, member of a collective which established an East London Women’s centre, a Dorset Rape Crisis support group and a Food bank volunteer.

Returning to East Sussex in 2013 she settled in Seaford and became involved in community politics, joining the Lib Dems in 2017 to support a friend she had made in a local election campaign.

christine_brett_200.jpgShe cares deeply about the environment and set up the Refill Scheme for Seaford and Newhaven in 2018 to raise awareness about single use plastics. The highlight of this has been the establishment of 5 new public waterpoints in the town. She continues to engage with local environmentally based groups with a particular interest in avoiding food waste.

She relaxes by putting her nose in a book primarily historical fiction and has made many local links though her membership of The National Women’s Register where she developed a book worms group. Eating out, developing a salt wind resistant garden and fibre arts are also delights.

She has also researched her family history and spent long hours poring over Parish records at Pelham house in her youth. The development of the Ancestry website has advanced her knowledge and on getting her DNA tested she discovered she has over 30% East European Jewish genes. (presumably from her Lancastrian mother’ s side of the family). Lithuania is the source and one day she plans to visit the area.

Travel to the dark skies and wildlife of Southern Africa is another keen interest and at home she enjoys walking locally and the South Downs.

They're going to sell your data

You need to take action now.

A new register of NHS patient data has been created, the "General Practice Data for Planning and Research".

Patient data from doctors' surgeries in England will be shared from 1 July 2021 unless patients opt out by 23 June 2021.

The overt reason for this is, among other things, to "enable many different areas of research". That is laudable, and most patients will not argue with their data being used in this way. But there is no doubt that the government also plans to sell the data if it can. In 2019 the government had a meeting with Amazon, Microsoft, AstraZeneca and others in which they discussed how to package our data.

We in the LibDems have no problem with our data being used for medical research. But the fundamental principle with all data is that it should be under the control of the subject.

You are the patient. Your data should belong to you. You should be the person who gets to decide how your data is used. 

If you do not opt out by 23rd June you will lose control of your data. After that time, you will only be able to prevent the government adding new data to its database; you will not be able to liberate previous data.

medConfidential has produced a guide to opting out of the new data grab. We advise everyone reading this to go to their guide and use it to opt out. That is the only way to keep your data safe. medConfidential also has a full guide to the issue for patients, available here.

More details about this issue are available in this article by The Register.

Newhaven Mayor

Welcome to the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Newhaven, LibDems Lesley Boniface and George Taylor.


Lesley says, "It's an absolute honour to be elected and I'm looking forward to representing the town over the next 12 months.

"Congratulations to Cllr George Taylor - For Denton who was elected as Deputy Mayor. I hope that we can work together to celebrate our amazing town."


George says, "Thanks to everyone who believed in me and trusted me. I look forward to working with Lesley to continue the amazing work the town council does to showcase Newhaven, its people and its organisations."

Safety for women

The text of a letter sent to Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Chief Constable Jo Shiner by Liberal Democrats in Lewes, Seaford and Newhaven. To lend your voice to ours, sign our petition at

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Dear Ms Bourne and Ms Shiner,

We write to you to express our concern at the treatment of protesters at the vigil to highlight the murder of Sarah Everard.

As women, you cannot be unaware of the strength of feeling among women and girls across the UK and in Sussex and of their shared stories of sexual attacks, threats, domestic violence and street harassment following the terrible murder of Sarah Everard and charging of a Metropolitan Police officer. A testimony that shows what a common daily experience this is for women and girls of all ages and from all sections of society. A very recent report showed that 94% of women between 16 and 24 have experienced sexual harassment and women of all ages report all types of violence, harassment and assaults against them that happen solely on the basis of their sex.

As Police and Crime Commissioner, Ms Bourne, you have raised the amount paid to support the police by very high rates in the last two years, 7.5% for the year 2021/22 following a 20% rise for the year 2020/21. We would like to see you set out how you will spend some of this increase in police spending on the protection of women and girls across our county.

It is not good enough that police forces, including Sussex, often only fully engage and intervene after an assault or murder has occurred. We have had too many incidents where women have reported violent, threatening and stalking behaviour to the police for it not to be acted on sufficiently seriously. In some terrible cases, inaction by the police has resulted in serious assault and at worst, murder. As political representatives of a party representing a wide section of the constituents of Lewes District, we would like your response to the following points.

i) An explanation of the policing at the Brighton vigil and why it was thought to be necessary to be so heavy handed. We would like assurances that any future protests by women and girls highlighting issues around female safety should be policed in a collaborative way with organisers and with a community-focused approach. We would not expect to see any arrests or cautions at such peaceful protests and vigils.

ii) That part of the increase in police funding, paid for by all residents of our county, should be directed towards improving responses and actions on violence towards women and girls, and this should encompass all aspects from serious sexual or violent assault by strangers, to domestic violence, danger from partners, stalking and street harassment.

iii) That the police must not further entrench ideas about victims holding responsibility for their attack or bringing it on themselves by ‘being in the wrong place’, ‘going out at night by themselves’ or ‘wearing the wrong clothes’. As we are sure you are both aware, to hold down a job or visit or go out with friends, virtually all women and girls will find themselves in the situations above if they are to live normal lives. Women should not be expected to adopt a form of modern purdah in order to protect themselves from violent attacks.

iv) That we would like both of you, as leaders in policing and setting standards for the Sussex Constabulary, to set a standard that tackles institutional sexism and misogynist attitudes within the force. The fact that statues are being offered greater protection in law than women with heavier prison terms than those given out to perpetrators of sexual assault says much about how half the population have their basic human rights infringed.

You will be aware that Cllr Carolyn Lambert has twice raised concerns about the numbers of Sussex Police subject to misconduct hearings including for matters of a sexual nature. The response provided by you as the Police and Crime Commissioner was an attack on Fire and Rescue Services. Perhaps these concerns could now be treated with the respect they deserve and a more constructive approach taken towards these concerns.

In 2016, the UK Parliament voted in favour of the adoption of the Istanbul Convention to the UK statute book. The Convention seeks not just to act after women have experienced violence but to set a standard that sets out that governments have a legal duty to act to discourage violence against women, and protect women from assault, harassment and sexual violence. We would like to see the principles of the convention applied in policing across Sussex so that women are protected from assault and that the police no longer only seek to intervene after serious incidents and harm have occurred.

With regards,

Cllr Kate Wood, Lewes Town Council
Helena Pickup, vice chair, Lewes Liberal Democrats
Rt Hon Norman Baker
Cllr Carolyn Lambert, East Sussex County Council
Cllr Jamie Bennett, Liberal Democrat candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner
Cllr Sarah Osborne, East Sussex County Council
Cllr Sean Macleod, Lewes District Council
Cllr Rob Banks, Lewes District Council
Cllr Julie Carr, Lewes District Council
Cllr Janet Baah, Lewes Town Council
Cllr Christine Brett, Lewes District Council
Cllr Olivia Honeyman, Seaford Town Council
Cllr Oli Henman, Lewes Town Council
Rob Parsons
Imogen Taylor
Kevin West
Peter Flake
Gina Hawthorne

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To help do something about this appalling state of affairs, sign our petition.

Massive increase in house building on the cards as part of government planning power grab

powergrab400.jpgLocal Liberal Democrats are opposing the Government power grab on planning. Under an existing government formula, the number of houses the District has to find land for outside the National Park could more than double.

County Councillor Sarah Osborne (Ouse Valley West and Downs) says, “Housing numbers should be decided on local need not what someone in London thinks is the right figure. In addition to this, a new law could mean local people and councils will have their voices gagged if a system of “zoning” is introduced – at the moment the need to get planning permission means residents can have a say in what happens.”

More houses, fewer affordable houses
Councillor Sean Macleod (Ringmer and Ouse Valley) says, “Currently in the District we have hundreds of sites with planning permission but not a single brick has been laid so we have developers sitting on agreed sites that just are not building. Instead of triggering an algorithm to produce a completely unrealistic new figure, the government should ensure that existing sites are built on first."

Lewes Bridge and Ringmer campaigner Janet Baah adds, “Our current housing supply numbers are around 300 a year. This has them jumping to over 700 a year. It’s just unacceptable, especially when you have so many agreed planning locations with permission to build sitting empty.”

And Chailey division campaigner Hazel Fell-Rayner says, “It’s not just more housing, it’s more unaffordable housing. The Government plans to increase the number of dwellings in a development before there is a requirement to deliver affordable housing from 10 to 40 or even 50!” This would mean Lewes District would have had over 37% fewer affordable homes built over the last 5 years.

Sign our petition here and help to stop the Tory government's building power grab.

Climate Change Emergency At The Heart Of Lib Dem Capital Budget Proposals

david-tutt.pngThe Liberal Democrat budget proposals for East Sussex County Council tackle climate change head on. Cllr David Tutt, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, explains:

“Despite the fact that East Sussex County Council, under pressure from the Liberal Democrats, declared a climate change emergency there is nothing in the Conservative budget to fund measures that will actively support this. This could explain why they set the target date as 2050 as opposed to the Liberal Democrat proposal of 2030.

It is time for radical change and for some decisive action to tackle what most residents see as essential for all our futures.

We therefore propose to spend £1 million next year on a capital programme to reduce carbon emissions that arise from County Council activities.

We will start with three main projects. We will install electric vehicle charging points, put in low-carbon heating conversions for buildings owned by the County Council and will install solar panels and electrical storage.

We will also take £250,000 from revenue spending next year to create a fund to remedy environmental damage, for example by converting felled tree sites into habitats for insects and to accelerate the preparation of the County Council’s Climate Emergency Plan.

Finally, we will increase expenditure on pavement repairs by £200,000 to make pavements safer for everyone in the wider community as this will assist climate change as people will be encouraged to walk more”.

Cllr Kathryn Field, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat group adds:

“People are tired of empty promises from the Conservatives and of the way in which they are cynically kicking climate change into a future date which is far too late. We need action now and proposals that will help to bring about economic recovery as well as benefit the environment”.

Liberal Democrat Revenue Budget Proposals Put East Sussex Residents First

Liberal Democrat budget proposals focus on the most vulnerable residents. Cllr David Tutt, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group, explains:

“Conservatives talk about vulnerable people, but Liberal Democrats take action to support them. Our budget proposals are aimed at putting money back into the budget to support some of the people who have suffered most during Covid 19.

We will add £200,000 from the County’s Covid 19 money to support children’s mental health assessments and services. Many of our children have been badly affected by the lack of school attendance and it is vital that we help them to recover and catch up with their learning.

The Conservatives have put aside £880,000 for additional social services but have not said what this will be spent on. Liberal Democrats are proposing that this money should go towards providing training and information on respite services for carers, setting up a grant fund to support the voluntary sector, enhancing adult mental health support and most of all enabling the successful Community Hubs who have done so much for our local communities in the last year to grow and develop.

The £100,000 that has been set aside for economic development should go to help our local businesses by supporting business associations and their members.

Cllr Philip Daniel, Liberal Democrat Lead on Finance and Resources adds:

“Our climate change emergency initiatives are vital and fully in tune with cross-party thinking in the Council. It is bewildering that the Conservative Leadership put nothing in the budget to support those. We have done that while also putting forward social care measures that make a huge difference to our residents and are affordable. Why don’t the Conservatives get it in the first place?”

Lib Dems call for urgent action plan to boost vaccine rollout in Lewes District

Local Liberal Democrats have released a three point action plan to support the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in our area after it became clear that Lewes District has fewer vaccination centres than any other area of East Sussex.

They are calling for more action to boost rollout in Lewes District, particularly in Newhaven and Seaford where there are currently no local vaccination centres.

Their plan to improve confidence in the process and access to vaccines for residents calls for:
1. Urgently opening a local vaccination centre in Seaford or Newhaven
2. Making use of local pharmacies and, where possible, GP surgeries to administer the vaccines across our area
3. Adding people undertaking caring responsibilities to the priority list

james_maccleary01_600.jpgNewhaven councillor and Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Lewes, James MacCleary, says: “People living in Lewes District have the most difficult access to Covid-19 vaccinations. We know that we have high numbers of elderly people in the district who are becoming increasingly anxious as they wait to be contacted.

“They have listened to government advice warning against travel and are understandably very concerned about being asked to travel to Brighton or Eastbourne, often at very short notice. In addition, the cost of travel by taxi is prohibitive for many and the only other option for those who cannot drive is to take two buses to the nearest vaccination centre. All exposing them to increased risk of infection. There are places like the former UTC building in Newhaven and the Downs Leisure Centre in Seaford standing unused that seem like ideal locations.

Once again Lewes District, in particular Newhaven and Seaford, seem to be at the back of the queue. Residents are asking for help and all that Lewes MP, Maria Caulfield, seems able to do is to blame overworked and exhausted GPs. We want to work with our overstretched health authorities to support the roll out in our community.”

carolyn_lambert_insta.jpgCouncillor Carolyn Lambert, Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Seaford South adds: “I have been ringing round as many of my residents as possible and have spoken to people in their nineties who cannot understand why they can’t have the jab in Seaford.

“I have also spoken to a number of people who are taking a huge pressure off the NHS and Adult Social Care by looking after older or clinically vulnerable relatives in their own homes. These people should be treated in the same way as those working in care homes and given the Covid vaccination as a priority, preferably at the same time as those for whom they are caring. It’s a question of common sense”.

School Meal Box Disgrace

So-called food parcels distributed to children in need are a national disgrace. Cllr Kathryn Field Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Children and Families on East Sussex County Council says: “The amount of food parents have received to feed their children is not anything like enough to provide an adequate, nutritious lunch every day. Nor do they appear to represent value for money, given what the parcels should theoretically be worth”.

Cllr Alan Shuttleworth adds: “Yet again, children and families in East Sussex have been let down by this chaotic Conservative government. Only last week I raised concerns about how the government failed to manage the return to school, putting hardworking teachers into an impossible position, and now we see another government failure in the basic need to keep children fed. I am also calling on the Lead Member for Education and Inclusion to provide a urgent update on the situation in schools.”

Cllr Carolyn Lambert comments: “The Conservatives should stop trying to defend the indefensible. Why on earth don’t they simply give the contract to our local Food Banks where volunteers now have years of experience in putting together boxes of nutritional and balanced food parcels and can step in where government has clearly failed?" 

Cllr James MacCleary, Parliamentary Spokesperson adds: “Liberal Democrat MPs are calling on the on Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education to investigate the situation urgently and replace these abysmal hampers with food vouchers.

Maria Caulfield should join us in this campaign to ensure that children in her constituency can be properly fed”.

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