May 21st, 2024.

Councillor James MacCleary has stood down as Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Lewes District Council ahead of the General Election. Cllr MacCleary is succeeded by experienced Seaford councillor, Stephen Gauntlett.

James will remain a councillor for Newhaven South, which he has served since 2019, and focus more time on being the Parliamentary candidate for Lewes.

Lewes will be an ultra-marginal constituency at the upcoming General Election, with the Liberal Democrats needing just a 3.7% swing to win, whilst Labour are in a distant third.

At last year’s local elections, James led the Liberal Democrats campaign, where the party gained seven seats and ensured that the Conservative party were wiped out on Lewes District Council.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Lewes James MacCleary said: “After years of the Conservative party taking us for granted, I am determined to give our towns and villages a strong voice in Parliament.

“Our area needs a strong local voice in Parliament who will get tough on polluting Southern Water and demand more funding for overstretched NHS services.

“It has been an honour to serve as Council Leader and then Group Leader, delivering for local residents and protecting vital services.

“I now want to take my experience of working for local people to Parliament, and stand up for our local communities.”

New Liberal Democrat group leader on Lewes District Council, Cllr Stephen Gauntlett, adds: “I want to thank James for the huge contribution he has made to our community as council leader and leader of the Lib Dem group. He is going to be a brilliant new MP for our area after years of failure and empty promises from the Conservatives.

“I am grateful to my councillor colleagues for entrusting me with taking on the role of opposition leader on the District Council. We have a lot of issues coming up in the next few months including the council’s new Local Plan.

“I will lead an opposition that provides firm oversight and scrutiny of the council’s leadership.”
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