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March 3 2014.

Conservative Councillor Rob Blackman has been elected as the new Leader of Lewes District Council. He won by just one vote at a full council meeting last Wednesday, the 26th of February. 

Cllr Blackman succeeds Conservative Councillor James Page, who stepped down after having been leader for two years.
There are a total of 41 Councillors in Lewes District Council: 20 Conservative, 18 Lib Dem, 2 UKIP and one Independent.
In the recorded vote, outgoing Leader Councillor Page stunned his fellow Conservatives by voting for the Lib Dem leadership contender Sarah Osborne.

There were two abstentions by Cllr Donna Edmunds (UKIP) and Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe (Independent).
Ex Conservative (and now UKIP) Councillor Phil Howson tipped the balance by voting for Councillor Blackman.

The voting figures were:
Rob Blackman (Con) 20
Sarah Osborne (Lib Dem) 19
Abstentions: 2

If there had been a tie, council Chairman Cllr Michael Chartier (Lib Dem) would have had the casting vote.

Cllr Rob Blackman paid tribute to the man he succeeded, saying; “We may have had our disagreements from time to time, but the atmosphere was always dynamic and vibrant.

“Cllr Page did some very good work in moving the culture of the council towards where we want it to be and my job is to make sure that process continues. We are determined to create a learning culture where strategies are developed from people getting together and speaking about their experiences and making better policies as a result.

“We are under a lot of pressure financially, and we will certainly have to be much leaner, smarter, fitter and stronger.”