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Piers and jeers: my open letter to Labour in Hastings & Rye



Dear Jeremy and Sarah,

I get it.

I understand that you want to advocate for Hastings (and Rye) and be seen to do so.  And not just because there is a General Election a few months away.

It is of course right and proper that scrutiny should be brought to bear on funding decisions – whether in the NHS or from Central Government funds like the Coastal Communities Fund.

But I hope that I am wrong in discerning a pattern in the way that you have campaigned both in respect of the recent Maternity proposals, and also in response to the monies awarded after the tragedy of the pier fire in Eastbourne.  You seem to want to set Eastbourne and Hastings against each other?

As you know, I am no fan of the Tory part of the Coalition Government.  It seems pretty clear that the Prime Minister and Chancellor’s visit to Eastbourne had a political capital dimension to it?

But I am told that you, Jeremy, did not write to David Tutt in Eastbourne to express your sympathy about the fire when other District Council Leaders in East Sussex were quick to do so.

Rather, you took to the airwaves blaring your criticism of the Conservative Party.

That is of course your choice.  And it speaks volumes about the way you conduct your politics too.

If I might be so bold, I think Labour is sailing close to the wind on the ethics of monies for piers.  I remember not too long ago a big GMB Union donation to Hastings Pier that came just at the same time as a major photo opportunity for Labour’s parliamentary candidate (who is backed by the same Union)?

If the people decide against Labour in Hastings & Rye next year, it will be, in part, due to the tenor of campaigns such as this.

Just saying.

Nick slams MP over Planning hypocrisy

Controversial building at Ecclesbourne Glen, which has been opposed by nearly 400 people

Controversial building at Ecclesbourne Glen, which has been opposed by nearly 400 people

Nick Perry, the Liberal Democrat candidate for MP in Hastings & Rye has criticised Amber Rudd’s recently launched 2020 Vision for planning and the environment.

Mrs Rudd had spoken in favour of linking the Country Park with Combe Valley, and criticised the local planning department for recent gaffes.

Mr Perry said, ‘I am pleased that Amber seems to have had a ‘Road to Damascus’ experience, and is now willing to champion our local environment and sustainable transport.

‘We have disagreed about environmental issues in the past, most notably about the controversial Link Road, however her recent comments are, in my opinion, nothing short of breathtaking hypocrisy.

‘Let’s not forget that Amber and her Conservative councillor colleagues have totally failed to protect the hoped-for Greenway linear park through our town centre.

‘Whilst the local paper has been hailing the Station Plaza student accommodation plan as an unmitigated boon, Labour and Tory councillors have agreed a planning application which will grossly disfigure the Greenway that we all hoped for. The Greenway could have been a wonderful cornerstone for the sustainable transport plan that Amber has now started to talk about.

‘I am afraid that due to her short-sighted approach to issues such as the Greenway, Amber’s 2020 Vision can only now be delivered by laser treatment.’

Play your part in winning for Castle

Please don’t forget to use your vote, tomorrow, to elect a Councillor who will put Castle first.  Click here to view in your browser.

Final 2014 A4 leaflet p1

My letter to Castle Ward residents

Nick and the Focus Team supporting residents to sort the St Mary's Road grotspot

Nick and the Focus Team are campaigning on behalf of residents to sort the St Mary’s Road grotspot

It is nearly time to vote! I am so grateful for the kind reception that residents have given to the Focus Team on the doorstep over the last few months. It seems clear that Castle Ward wants, and deserves, a councillor who lives and works in the ward, and knows its needs well.

As I hope you have seen through the newsletters that we have been putting through your letterbox – rain or shine – we believe in the importance of keeping in touch; as well as attention to detail regarding the needs of our community. Whether it be getting a new road sign for Vicarage Road, unblocking gullies in Castle Hill Road, or campaigning for the delivery of the Greenway at Station Plaza and beyond, we are on hand, and we care.

If we can work together, I believe we can make a real difference to our town centre. That is why I am asking for your vote, even if you have not voted Liberal Democrat before.

I live with my young family in Manor Road on the West Hill. And I work (for local mental health services) at Cavendish House on the seafront. I know this part of our town like the back of my hand and, over the years, have been active in local organisations such as the Castle Ward Forum, the West Hill Against Communal Bins group; and I am a member of Blacklands (and St Andrew’s) Church.

Unchallenged domination of the Council by the Labour Party is not healthy. There is a need for constructive scrutiny of the Council’s actions. You can be sure that you will get that from a Liberal Democrat councillor in the heart of Hastings.

There is so much more work to be done in Castle, and a clear mandate from residents will help us to achieve more. That is the long and short of it: we need your help. Please make your vote count. Use it to help me represent our ward at the Town Hall.

A record of action; a promise of more!

Use this hyperlink to view the image in your browser:


April 14 Focus

Chris Lewcock: “Liberal Democrats want to help build a Council that cares…”

Chris Lewcock is Chair of the local Lib Dem Association

Chris Lewcock is Chair of the local Lib Dem Association

Hastings Liberal Democrats have issued a statement of the Main Policy Themes they intend to pursue on the Borough Council after the May 22nd Elections:

  • All Council services should be audited for their impact on struggling families.
  • Liberal Democrats want to see an expansion of current house building and improvement efforts. Liberal Democrats want to avoid incoherent and environmentally damaging development schemes. Instead we want to see prioritised the regeneration and development of the great historical and cultural assets we have already got.
  • Liberal Democrats want to help deliver a significant improvement in our connectivity, both along the seafront and with other places. We want to see more work done with our local, national and EU collaborators.
  • The Liberal Democrats want to see the Council avoid unnecessary fiascos like the re-location of the Tourist information Office.
  • We want the Council to apply the highest standards to the scrutiny of projects and planning applications. We want to see the Council become a beacon of sustainability and environmentalism.
  • The Liberal Democrats want to halve the number of Councillors from 32 to 16, reduce the powers of the Leader and Cabinet, and return to a Committee system which is more transparent and democratic.

Summarising their approach, Chris Lewcock, Chairman of Hastings and Rye Liberal Democrats said,

“Liberal Democrats want to help build a Council that cares; a Council that is sensible and competent on development priorities; a Council that gives attention to detail and promotes quality in all it does; a slimmer Council – and one in which Councillors can make a full contribution for the wards they represent.”

Norman Baker MP – ‘Contribution of the Greenway will be substantial’

Nick and Norman at Station Plaza

Nick and Norman at Station Plaza – with the Hastings Observer to hand!

Following the publication in the Hastings Observer of the plans for new student accommodation at Station Plaza, Lib Dem MP for Lewes and Home Office Minister Norman Baker stopped off in the town centre to see the potential impact of the development.

Local campaigners are not only concerned about design issues and the way the planning process has been handled, but also the potential impact of the building on the proposed Greenway town centre link.

Lib Dem candidate for MP Nick Perry said, “Whilst he was in town I wanted to show Norman the potential of this scheme, and members of the Hastings Greenway Group briefed us on progress made to date. But no doubt we could move faster towards making the Greenway a reality if the Council really put its weight behind the scheme and helped lead the work to source other seams of capital investment.”

Norman Baker backs the Hastings Greenway. He said,

“Nick Perry is a top-notch local campaigner and I am delighted to support his fight for a greener and cleaner town centre. I have long campaigned on environmental issues myself, and the potential contribution of the Greenway the town centre in Hastings is substantial. I hope local people will get behind it, and Nick is right to call on the Labour Council to find external funding and deliver it.‎”

Keeping in touch on Castle Ward issues

Here is the most recent news from the Castle Ward Focus Team.  Please click on the image to bring it up to full size in your browser:


march euro leaflet

Nick: “I am honoured to have been given such a strong endorsement”

Nick with his partner Ruth and Association Chair, Chris Lewcock

Nick with his partner Ruth and Association Chair, Chris Lewcock

The Hastings & Rye Liberal Democrat Association has unanimously re-selected Nick Perry to be their candidate for MP.

Speaking after the event Association Chair Chris Lewcock said:

‘We are delighted to be able to announce that Nick will be our candidate for MP in 2015.‎ He has a proven record of action for the constituency and has the experience to be a strong voice for us all in Westminster.’

Nick Perry, who was the Liberal Democrat candidate at the 2010 General Election and improved the party’s vote share said,

‘I am honoured to have been given such a strong endorsement by the local party. And I remain absolutely convinced that the country needs Liberal Democrats in Parliament: to ensure that we have a stronger economy as well as a fairer society. Folk are only too aware that on their own, Labour can’t be trusted on the economy, nor the Conservatives to deliver a fairer society. Liberal Democrats have a difficult job to do, but we continue to roll up our sleeves and get on with it.’

Maternity care is not just a Labour issue

[Here is my letter  in response to local Labour - a version edited by the local press will be published on Friday]

Dear Editor,

Nick with Margaret Williams at the march in Eastbourne

Nick has been involved in the campaign to protect East Sussex emergency services since 2007

I wonder if Labour’s home-grown candidate for MP would say that her Leader, Ed Miliband, represents Doncaster less well because he wasn’t born there?

Her letter in last week’s Observer exhorts the Coalition government to ‘rethink their insistence on dismantling the NHS’ as well as to join her campaign to save consultant-led maternity services in Hastings and Eastbourne.

I am afraid the Lib Dems don’t have the purchasing power of the GMB Union or City backers to fund regular adverts in your paper, but I hope you will allow me to make a few points in response.

First, Liberal Democrat ministers working within the Coalition Government have ensured that the NHS remains free at the point of delivery, with competition based now on quality, not on price. We have won hundreds of amendments to Health legislation during this parliament, and we will not be lectured from your Letters Page by a Labour Party that introduced the Private Finance Initiative into the NHS with disastrous fiscal consequences.

Second, as someone who has spent the last 15 years – yes 15 years, not 15 minutes – working with and alongside NHS colleagues, I can reassure your readers that local Lib Dems are determined to secure excellent emergency services right across East Sussex: services that are commissioned by clinicians rather than managers.

Third, I am baffled by the statement that Labour’s candidate will ‘be meeting with members of the Clinical Commissioning Group’. There was an opportunity to do this at the public consultation meeting held at Sussex Coast College a week last Monday to which, with no explanation or apology, Labour’s candidate did not turn up.

At this meeting I put the travel time issue direct to Dr Wilcox who was sitting on the Panel for the CCG and was able to get his commitment that the CCG will share its research on this crucial issue through a pro-active press campaign. Dr Wilcox, if you are reading, we are waiting. I also pressed for transparency on how decisions will be made by the three CCGs in July.

My final point is that obstetric emergencies are a labour issue, but not just a Labour issue. Let’s work across the County (as we have been doing for nearly 10 years) and across the political parties to win safe, efficient and sustainable maternity care, not grandstand in a way that comes across as partisan and, frankly, inexperienced.

Yours truly,


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