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despite these specific requests for powers to deal with this, the Conservative government is continuing to push out the outdated and unrealistic responses which are the same as those we have received from the MP.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!”

Churchill advertise Seaford homes without planning permission

Homes in Sutton Road Seaford are being advertised for sale by Churchill Retirement Living even though planning permission has not been granted.

carolyn_lambert_insta.jpgSign our petition here about this development

Cllr Carolyn Lambert comments: "I am shocked that Churchill are apparently assuming that planning permission will go through and are advertising homes that haven’t even been built yet.

"This proposed site requires the demolition of four substantial detached family homes. It was not put forward as a development site in Lewes District Council’s recent call for sites nor is it in the Neighbourhood Plan as a development site. Other similar developments in the town remain unsold so there is an over-provision of this type of accommodation which will only put added pressure on our GP services."

chrisbrettleft.jpgCllr Christine Brett adds:

"Churchill’s advertisement of these homes which are still going through the planning process appears to be a cynical attempt to put pressure on Lewes District Council’s Planning Committee in the face of local opposition. They have not answered any of the local concerns raised and are clearly simply trying to steamroller this application through.

"In addition, they are advertising free parking which will only add to congestion on this very busy and dangerous road.

"Cllr Lambert and I continue to urge residents to oppose this opportunistic and unwanted development which will mean the loss of family homes and huge environmental damage."


Jon Freeman


Seaford Liberal Democrats were saddened to hear of the sudden death of former County, District and Town councillor Jon Freeman.

Jon Freeman made a huge contribution to the life of Seaford and to the local Lib Dems. He was a fantastic campaigner, helped a great many local people in his role as a councillor, and did more than anyone else to turn Seaford into a Lib Dem town. He was quirky, funny, and a real one-off. Jon guided many of the local Liberal Democrat Councillors past and present. His advice was invaluable. It is very sad that we have lost him. We offer our deepest sympathies to his family.

Where Are Bishopstone's Promised Traffic Lights?

james_maccleary02_cropped_1000.jpgLiberal Democrat County Councillors for Seaford and Bishopstone are demanding to know where the traffic lights promised by Maria Caulfield MP have got to. Cllr James MacCleary, County Councillor for Newhaven and Bishopstone explains: “Following two serious accidents which closed the A259, Maria Caulfield promised residents traffic lights which she believes will sort out the issues of these dangerous junctions at Bishopstone.

"During the election campaign, Maria said that she had met with the County Council who had agreed to look at installing traffic lights as a solution. Residents would be consulted but so far nothing has happened.

"We know that the County Council is undertaking studies of traffic on the A259 but it will take years before anything happens and meanwhile residents are having to deal with these dangerous junctions on a daily basis. It is unfair to raise expectations and make promises if these can’t be delivered.”

CL_Beach_huts_600.jpgCouncillor Carolyn Lambert, County Councillor for Seaford South adds: “We are very concerned about the length of time it will take to get any action at all to make the A259 junctions safer, let alone finding the money for the costly investment the County Council seems to be considering.

"Cllr MacCleary and I would like to see some cost-effective interim measures put in place now. These could include putting in a light controlled pedestrian crossing at the main Bishopstone junction which would also help traffic exiting from Bishopstone. We are also calling for a speed camera on the Buckle by-pass to slow traffic down, change driver behaviour and reduce the risk of accidents.”

Positive discussions help keep some banking services in Seaford

Liberal Democrat councillors Carolyn Lambert and Stephen Gauntlett met with representatives of Barclays Bank to discuss the bank’s decision to close its Seaford branch.

20210201_115953.jpgCllr Lambert says: “We made it clear to Barclays that Seaford is the biggest town in Lewes District. Barclays have told us that one in five residents in Seaford bank at Barclays and many of these are likely to be older customers who both need and value personal banking services. Many do not have access to online banking and are also very vulnerable to scams. There are other banks in Seaford who are continuing to offer personal face to face banking services so Barclays needed to consider the impact of their decision.”

stephen_gauntlett.jpgCllr Gauntlett adds: “I described the decision to close the Seaford branch of Barclays as “brutal”. I was pleased that Barclays accept that this should have been handled better and are now calling the customers who regularly use the branch to see how they can be helped to adjust to the change”.

Barclays told the councillors that they are now looking at bringing in a mobile banking van to offer some face to face advice services and that this could also be provided by them on a regular basis at Seaford library. Cllrs Gauntlett and Lambert are offering to work with the bank to assist with this provision which should help residents who will be affected by the closure.”

Conservative Government Ignores Seaford

talland_600.jpgLiberal Democrat County Councillors say that the Conservative government is ignoring the plight of Seaford town centre which has been blighted by a scaffolding skyscraper for almost a decade.

Councillor Carolyn Lambert, County Councillor for Seaford South explains: “As residents of Seaford we are all fed up with this immoveable blight in our town centre. We have been let down by the Conservative government and by our MP. The fact that we have not even had an acknowledgement of our concerns is beyond discourteous and shows how little the government cares about places like Seaford.”

Cllr James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson adds: “Lewes District Council has written to Robert Jenrick MP, the appropriate Minister to ask the government to consider changing planning legislation so that the council can take action to end this blight."

CL_Beach_huts_600.jpgNo response was received so Councillor Carolyn Lambert, as the local County Councillor wrote again. Neither Carolyn nor Lewes District Council has even received an acknowledgement. "We have asked Maria Caulfield, our MP, to intervene and help, but despite her repeated claims that the council has the powers to deal with this, she has not been able to tell us anything that we have not already tried. Her claims that other councils have dealt successfully with these kinds of issues are not supported by any evidence."

Lib Dem Councillors Fight To Keep Bank In Seaford

Liberal Democrat councillors are fighting to keep Barclays Bank services in Seaford.

CL_Yellow_reverse_1000.jpgCouncillor Carolyn Lambert explains: “I have contacted Barclays Bank to point out that Seaford is not only the largest town in Lewes District but that it has a high population of older people not all of whom are connected to the internet or who are comfortable with online banking services. They value face to face contact with their bank. This group of residents are also particularly vulnerable to scams which makes it even more important that they can access bank services directly.

"I am also very concerned about this large scale building in the town centre being left empty.”

stephen_gauntlett.jpgCouncillor Stephen Gauntlett adds: “Local organisations such as the church use banking services provided by Barclays. It is not appropriate to ask volunteers to carry sums of cash. As we discovered during the vaccine rollout, many residents simply cannot afford to travel to Eastbourne or Brighton to access banking facilities.”

Both councillors welcomed Barclays response to their concerns and hope that a forthcoming meeting they are having with bank staff will prove productive.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Welcomes Trees For Seaford

CL_Yellow_1000.jpgLiberal Democrat Councillor Carolyn Lambert welcomed the reply to her question about trees in East Sussex.

Councillor Lambert explains: “I have consistently raised with the County Council the question of trees in Seaford. We are losing many of our lovely tree-lined roads and instead seeing unsightly stumps. East Sussex County Council has now applied for the maximum grant of £300,000 from the government’s fund for tree planting. If this is successful, the money will all be spent in Seaford.

"I am delighted by this response and very much hope that the bid will be successful”.

Seaford MP Fails To Give Answers To Planning Blight

Conservative MP Maria Caulfield has repeatedly failed to answer questions about the planning blight at Talland Parade Seaford which has now been in place ever since the Conservative administration approved the planning application in January 2012.

carolyn_lambert_insta.jpgCouncillor Carolyn Lambert explains: “Maria Caulfield and Cllr Sam Adeniji continue to claim that Lewes District Council could take action to remove the planning blight by forcing the developer to complete the project.

"However, they repeatedly fail to specify exactly what action they believe the Council could take. Nor can they give any examples of councils elsewhere with similar problems who have successfully solved them.

"If Maria Caulfield and Cllr Adeniji have relevant information, then they should pass this on to the District Council. Otherwise, they should stop misleading residents. In addition, Maria Caulfield needs to lobby her government for an answer to the letter sent by the District Council to the Secretary of State asking for enhanced powers.

"Given the proposed planning reforms, this situation can only get worse with more examples of planning blight appearing as developers rush to take advantage of the Tory licence to build and projects are left half-built”.

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