Is it time for a changein Lewes district?

Many residents in the Lewes parliamentary constituency will have taken delivery of a publication called the South Downs observer.

Under its title is printed the statement: “Local news delivered to you by volunteers”.

This pseudo newspaper, however, is nothing more than an election puff from the Liberal Democrats. Like any political party it is of course entitled to promote itself to the electorate. What it is not entitled to do is knowingly make a false claim. Unless Royal Mail has become a collection of volunteers for the Liberal Democrat party, the statement that the South Downs Observer is “delivered by volunteers” is manifestly untrue.

The blunt truth is that Norman Baker’s crumbling General Election campaign is so bereft of volunteers that it has had to resort to paying Royal Mail to deliver its literature.

And what of the publication itself? Mr Baker tries to deride his Tory opponent on the following points:

1) She “does not live in the constituency”. Taken at face value, this is true but does any serious person object to Maria Caulfield on the grounds that her present home is situated only circa one mile from the constituency boundary?

2) She “stood and lost in Caerphilly (Wales) in 2010”. Many would-be MPs are asked to contest a hopeless seat in the first instance to gain valuable election experience. Caerphilly is a Labour stronghold. Prior to 2010 the incumbent MP had a majority in the region of 27,000. Ms Caulfield reduced this to about 17,000.

3) She “lost her Moulescoomb council seat in 2011 (coming fifth)’. While true, it is a measure of Ms Caulfield’s ability that she won this seat for the Conservatives at all. Moulescoomb is a largely deprived area where many residents need support. Given the Green revolution in Brighton, it is perhaps not surprising that this was one of the many seats in the city which fell. Judging by the antics of the current Green council, Brighton residents may now feel that they themselves were the green ones after all!

4) “?” This question mark indicates the Liberal Democrats’ selective amnesia in relation to Ms Caulfield’s “record of delivery” in the Lewes constituency. Despite not receiving a penny piece from the public purse for political activity, commuting to London at her own expense and working hard as a nurse, Ms Caulfield could point to the following achievements:

a) Helping to bring on stream the Seaford Day Hospital.

b) Promoting, in conjunction with the Eastbourne Tory candidate, Caroline Ansell, a dual-carriageway A27 between Lewes and Polegate.

c) Promoting reinstatement of the rail link between Lewes and Uckfield.

d) Promoting a second rail link between Brighton and London.

Having been the Lewes MP for 18 years and a transport minister in the coalition Government, Mr Baker has not brought to fruition any of the above infrastructure.

lndeed, he opposes blatantly b) and d). lt is clearly time for a change.

Michael J Richards

Lewes