Concern County Hall could quit Lewes

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FURTHER evidence that East Sussex County Council intends to quit Lewes emerged this week.

Lewes Town Councillor Matt Kent, who has been campaigning to establish what the future holds for County Hall, was told that in the long term the administration would prefer to move.

He was told by the Lead Member of the county council, Cllr Peter Jones, that County Hall could move to a more central location in East Sussex “and create a smaller facility which could be shared with other councils and public services”.

Cllr Jones said this could provide more “joined up” and cost effective public services and be more accessible for people across the county. Meanwhile, the administration would remain in Lewes until conditions in the local real estate market made such a move viable.

Cllr Kent said he was concerned about the reference to sharing with other councils. “If this were to hypothetically combine the Tory-led Lewes District Council as well – plus Wealden possibly – this could be the final nail in Lewes’s economic coffin.”

He added: “It does highlight potential economic doom for Lewes in the medium to long term as many of us know Lewes District Council is selling off some of its assets and planning to downscale.”

His concerns were shared by fellow Town Councillor Stephen Catlin, who said: “The future for Lewes could look extremely bleak if the term ‘other councils’ includes Lewes District Council. I ask them to come clean on their plans.

“As we know, they are at present engaged in reviewing properties which may be suitable for sale, but unlike the County, the District appears to want to do it now, whereas the County would wait for a more favourable property market. The future of Lewes as a thriving town could be at stake.

“I would urge County and District officers to consider the impact of such a move would have on this town as well as considering any speedy financial benefits to the councils involved.”