The decision of the Conservative East Sussex County Council to grant a 999 year lease on the St Anne’s school site in Lewes to the Subud organisation has been strongly criticised by Liberal Democrat councillors.

Councillor Carolyn Lambert, who questioned the decision at the County Council meeting on 9 February in support of Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre who has been working with local residents on their concerns says:

“I fail to understand why we are still apparently waiting for an organisation to complete a transaction two and a half years after their tender for the site was accepted by the County Council. This was a controversial decision at the time and is more so now, given the pressure on local authority budgets and the need for affordable housing in Lewes.

"The decision to award a 999 year lease is an extraordinary one which is not in accordance with the County Council’s policy of awarding leases of a maximum period of 99 years and prevents the County Council carrying out its responsibility to achieve best value for the site, particularly in this time of austerity when a combination of Conservative, UKIP and Independent councillors has just voted through a highly damaging budget which will mean the withdrawal of frontline services for the most vulnerable members of our community."

"It is extremely disappointing that the ward councillor, Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe, is not supporting us in our calls for reviewing this deeply unsatisfactory contract and supporting her residents in their need to address housing issues in the town.”

Local Liberal Democrats are so concerned about the County Council's decision that they have also reported the matter to the District Auditor for independent investigation.

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