Lewes loses two Lib Dems

James Page with Sarah Osborne and Norman Baker
James Page with Sarah Osborne and Norman Baker

Conservative control of Lewes Distict Council was strengthened this week when it lost two Liberal Democrat councillors.

James Page resigned from Lewes District Council and Lewes Town Council while Amanda Dean left the party to continue her term as an independent on both councils.

That leaves 19 Conservative councillors on Lewes District Council, 17 Lib Dems, two UKIP and two independents.

In a controversial move, former district council leader Mr Page, who represented Telscombe, left the Conservatives to join the Lib Dems in March and blames the Tories for his latest move.

“The current political leadership is out of control and I can not be part of a council led by such idiotic twisted people,” he said in a press release.

When the council decided to tender the grounds maintenance contract to a private company it was the ‘final nail in the coffin’.

He said the decision was ‘for dogmatic reasons, even though it was clear that bringing it in-house would have saved local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds’.

“I cannot be part of a council that takes such shockingly bad decisions as the one taken yesterday by the ruling Tories,” he said in on Tuesday.

“I can only hope that after next May we again have a Lib Dem council running the district, working with Norman Baker as the local MP.”

Lib Dem group leader Sarah Osborne said: “I can well understand James’s frustration with the ruling Tory group, who have just landed local people with a huge bill. This is no way to run a council. The Tory councillors who voted for this rotten deal should be surcharged for the amount they are costing people.

“James Page has contributed a great deal to the running of Lewes District Council and has always done what he thinks is best for local people. We are all sorry to see him go.”

She said as there is less than six months before the next elections, there will be no by-election for the vacancy.

Amanda Dean, who represents Lewes Priory, said her decision was made after a ‘a lot of soul searching’ as she was ‘unsettled’ by the ‘party’s approach to a handful of issues very dear to my heart, and the party’s failure to uphold its own principles of democracy and justice’.

“I have been going on for a long time about how ‘affordable housing’ just isn’t affordable for most people on low incomes, and that we do no service by just persisting with trying to get more affordable housing if it doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

“And I am very worried the party seems to have slipped into the Conservative’s view of fracking without any proper debate about what the Liberal view of fracking should be.

“The last straw for me was the election for Constituency Chair of the local Liberal Democrats. There were two candidates, I had made my views on both candidates clear.

“No voting slip was sent to me, even after I had shown that I was eligible to vote. If we believe in democracy, we should practice it.

“I find myself in a position similar to someone whose employer sets impossible demands, in the hope the employee gets the message, and leaves.”

She would continue to support Norman Baker as MP.

Sarah Osborne said: “I would like to thank her for her contribution over the last three and a half years.”