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Press Releases


19 September 2020

West Sussex County Councillors Unite to acknowledge support for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Councillors gave their unanimous support for a Liberal Democrat motion that acknowledges the vital role that West Sussex County Council plays in supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

At a meeting of the full council of West Sussex County Council on Friday 18th September, Cllr Kirsty Lord (Lib Dem, Hassocks and Burgess Hill South) gained unanimous cross party support for a motion recognising the work of West Sussex County Council in caring for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). Cllr Lord was prompted to table the motion following a summer in which increasing numbers of people have arrived by boat to seek asylum in the UK.

West Sussex County Council plays a vital role in looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. It currently has seventy-six children in its care, and in February 2020 reaffirmed its commitment to accept the transfer of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from Kent and Portsmouth on a regional rota. This is in addition to caring for children who arrive at Gatwick. So far this year WSCC has taken 8 children from Kent. Heartfelt thanks were extended to the foster families who go to such lengths to give these children a home and a new start.

Speaking after the debate. Cllr Lord said, "When we look beyond the lurid media headlines, we find local government, foster families and humanitarian charities working tirelessly to help give some of the most vulnerable people on the planet a new start. I am proud to be a member of a council that has gone above and beyond its minimum statutory obligations. It is a very polarised time in politics, especially on issues like this. However County Councillors have shown leadership and demonstrated that we can hold different views but still find common ground in our commitment to treating refugees and asylum seekers with dignity, compassion and respect, and I was pleased to hear that the Council is looking at how to extend some of the funding in this area beyond June 2021."

The county council motion is one element of a month of awareness raising about the plight of refugees that is being led by the Liberal Democrats in Mid Sussex. On 30th September, District Councillor Benedict Dempsey will lead a debate at Mid Sussex District Council on the need to treat asylum seekers and refugees with dignity, compassion and respect and throughout September, a team of Liberal Democrats is taking part in the Red Cross's 'Miles for Refugees' sponsored event. By running, cycling, and walking hundreds of miles, they hope to raise more than £2,000."


Councillor Kirsty
Lord West Sussex County Councillor for Hassocks and Burgess Hill South Mobile -Email - kirsty.lord@midsussexlibdems.org.uk

Councillor Benedict Dempsey, Mid Sussex District Councillor for Hassocks
Email - benedict.dempsey@midsussexlibdems.org.uk


  1. The team can be sponsored here https://miles-for-refugees-2020.everydayhero.com/uk/mid-sussex-lib-dems
  1. The wording of the WSCC motion can be found here: https://westsussex.moderngov.co.uk/documents/g2633/Public%20reports%20pack%2018th-Sep-2020%2010.30%20County%20Council.pdf?T=10
  1. The wording of the Mid Sussex District Council motion is

Mid Sussex District Council:

  1. Notes that the issue of refugees and people seeking asylum currently has a raised media profile in the UK.
  2. Acknowledges that the issue of asylum and international migration is a highly complex issue without simple solutions.
  3. Recognises that the UK has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to refugees who have been displaced by conflict and persecution.
  4. Affirms Mid Sussex's pride in having refugees living as part of our communities in the District.
  5. Emphasises that, notwithstanding differing views, anyone engaged in discourse on this issue has a responsibility to treat the people involved with dignity, compassion and respect.



19 September 2020

Clair Hall Decision a Major Blow to Haywards Heath and surrounding Community

Mid Sussex District Council Cabinet decision to permanently close Clair Hall will remove half the community meeting space in Haywards Heath. Alternatives to closure not seriously considered by Cabinet.

Mid Sussex District Council's Cabinet met today and unanimously voted1 to permanently close Clair Hall, the principal community centre in Haywards Heath.

The decision was made as an executive decision by the Conservative Cabinet alone. The Cabinet have decided not to put the matter to the full council.

This means that the final decision on the future of the Hall was be made with absolutely no public consultation by the Council and without even allowing the views of the rest of the council to be heard.

Cabinet members conceded during their meeting that there are no plans for the replacement of Clair Hall nor is there any certainty about how, when and where such a replacement could be provided.

Councillor Robert Eggleston, Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader on MSDC said "The Cabinet at MSDC have shown a total disregard for the people of Haywards Heath. At the District Council elections only last year, permanently closing Clair Hall was never mentioned by the Conservatives, yet Conservative councillors feel that they have the right to steamroller the closure of Haywards Heath's largest community facility through without public consultation."

Local organisations which regularly use the Hall are up in arms about this serious blow to cultural life in the community. Social media has reflected the widespread dismay felt in the town and two petitions have been launched - including the Liberal Democrats' here - so that residents could make their views felt.

Liberal Democrat and Lindfield resident Anne-Marie Cooke said, "We believe that there are ways to keep Clair Hall in operation, at little or no cost to the Council, until an alternative community centre can be put in place. However, the Conservative leadership of the Council would not listen."

Liberal Democrats will continue to use all means at their disposal to fight for Clair Hall to be kept open until there is a full legal commitment to a modern, state of the art replacement.

Liberal Democrats are still urging residents to make their feelings about the closure of Clair Hall clear by either signing the petition at https://midsussexlibdems.org.uk/en/petition/petition-to-save-clair-hall or lobbying their councillor directly.



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Councillor Robert Eggleston, Mid Sussex District Councillor for Burgess Hill Meeds Ward:

Telephone - 07947 792033, Email - theeggs57@talktalk.net

Anne-Marie Cooke, Liberal Democrats Save Clair Hall Campaign:

Telephone - 07487 783968, Email - Annemarie_cooke@yahoo.com


1. The Cabinet at MSDC comprises seven Conservative Councillors, two of whom represent wards in Haywards Heath Cllr Ruth de Mierre Haywards Heath Lucastes Cllr Stephen Hillier, Haywards Bentswood


10 September 2020

Petition Launched to Save Clair Hall

Liberal Democrats urge residents to help save Haywards Heath's Key Community Venue by signing online petition: midsussexlibdems.org.uk/en/petition/petition-to-save-clair-hall

On Monday, 14th September, Mid Sussex District Council's Cabinet will consider a proposal to permanently close Clair Hall, the prime community centre in Haywards Heath. If the Cabinet proceeds with the proposal it will be put to the full council at the end of September. That will almost certainly be the final curtain for an arts, entertainment and meeting venue which has served the town so well for decades.

Clair Hall provides almost half1 of all the community meeting space in Haywards Heath. Its closure will mean the loss of a valuable community resource where residents of all ages and with a huge variety of interests have enjoyed pantos, music gigs, theatre productions, comedy shows and cinema screenings. It is also used for clinics, conferences, exhibitions, exercise classes, weddings, parties and many types of meetings.

Quite shockingly, there has been no public consultation either with local residents or with the many regular users of the Hall.

In August when the re-opening of Clair Hall was being debated, Liberal Democrat councillors proposed that the Council should commit to not closing Clair Hall unless like-for-like or better facilities could be made available. This was voted down by the Conservative councillors including those representing Hayward Heath residents. The latest proposal is to permanently close the Hall on the basis of a flimsy cost analysis without proper consideration of the alternatives.

Liberal Democrat District Councillor Richard Bates says "This is a travesty. The Conservative Council leadership have taken no account of the great value to the community which Clair Hall provides. They just don't seem to care."

The proposal does not include any plans for the future of the site apart from redevelopment with no commitment to provide a replacement community centre. "This is a time when we need to support and build our community not dismantle a key part of our local infrastructure" said Stephanie Inglesfield, Haywards Heath Town Councillor. "In the future more people are expecting to work from home, at least for part of the week, so entertainment and events at local venues are likely to be in more demand than ever."

Liberal Democrats are urging Mid Sussex residents who feel strongly about this issue to sign an online petition at: https://midsussexlibdems.org.uk/en/petition/petition-to-save-clair-hall




Councillor Richard Bates, Mid Sussex District Councillor for Ashenground Ward:
Telephone 07802 805266, Email - r.bates111@btinternet.com


  1. Max Associates Report to MSDC: "Needs Analysis: Martlets Hall, June 2015, page 19, paragraph 5.13


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