James MacCleary is the new leader of Lewes District Council

Mayor of Eastbourne

Councillor James MacCleary has been elected the new Leader of Lewes District Council. He has been deputy leader since the Co-operative Alliance took control of the council in July 2019.


The election of leader was contested by Councillor MacCleary (Liberal Democrat) and Councillor Isabelle Linington (Conservative). Councillor MacCleary was elected by 21 votes to 19.

Councillor MacCleary said: “I would like to begin by thanking Councillor Zoe Nicholson for her outstanding contribution over the last year.  When we took control of the council we created a common purpose and shared platform with all alliance parties and independents. Councillor Nicholson drove our progressive agenda forward and I am very grateful for all her support.


“There is no doubt that we have taken huge strides in just 12 months, whether that is our work to address the climate emergency or build much needed new homes. These objectives are in the DNA of the Co-operative Alliance and I know that we will continue to turn words into action right across the Lewes district.


“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been massive, but the way this council responded, and continues to respond, has filled me with great pride. We must all hope that the government fulfil their promise to meet the costs and loss of income that every council, including our own, have suffered.


“There is great uncertainty about what the coming months will bring, but I can assure every resident that this council is here for those most in need.”


Councillor MacCleary replaces Councillor Zoe Nicholson, who resigned her position in accordance with a Co-operative Alliance agreement to rotate the position between the Liberal Democrats and Green Party on an annual basis. Councillor Nicholson becomes Deputy Leader of Lewes District Council.


Councillor Nicholson said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my term as leader and I’m now looking forward to supporting James as leader and the rest of the Cabinet.


“New housing, building a sustainable economy and tackling climate change were our priorities when the Co-operative Alliance was constituted and they remain our priorities now.


“When I became leader I wanted to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the district and I’m very proud of what we have achieved.”


Councillor MacCleary said there would be no changes to the Cabinet.


The following councillors and their cabinet portfolios are listed below:


  • Councillor James MacCleary, Leader – Regeneration and Prosperity
  • Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Deputy Leader – Finance
  • Councillor Emily O’Brien – Planning
  • Councillor Julie Carr – Waste & Recycling
  • Councillor Matthew Bird – Sustainability
  • Councillor Will Meyer – Housing
  • Councillor Johnny Denis – Communities and Customers
  • Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe – Partners and Enterprise
  • Councillor Chris Collier – Performance and People

During the meeting Councillor Adrian Ross was elected Chair of Lewes District Council. In his acceptance speech, Councillor Ross thanked Councillor Stephen Gauntlett, the out-going Chair for his distinguished service. Councillor Christine Brett was elected Vice-Chair of Lewes District Council.



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