There is no question that Thursday was a terrible day for the Liberal Democrats nationally. It was heart-breaking for me to see so many of my parliamentary colleagues lose their seats. When we entered coalition in 2010, we knew it held dangers, but there was no easy option with the cards we had been dealt. In the end, we took in my view the right decision for the country, but one for which as a party we have paid a terrible price.

Here in the Lewes Constituency, we actually turned in one of the best results in the country with, I think, the 7th highest percentage vote. And the margin of loss, both here and in Eastbourne, was small – just over 1000 in our case – so we must now rebuild with the entirely realistic aim of regaining the seat in 2020.

In the election, we dealt effectively with the Tory vote, which barely moved from the 2010 result. Sadly, we saw a significant shift of voters to Labour and Green, particularly in Lewes itself, which handed the seat to the Tories. Those on the left who wanted to punish us for the coalition have done that, but they have punished themselves even more in the process – helping to elect a Tory MP and put in place a Tory majority government.

I always knew this seat was marginal. It was after all Conservative between 1874 and 1997 and now the Prague Spring is over. It was always clear that there was a possibility that this seat would be lost. I remember reflecting on that myself making my last speech in the House of Commons, ironically on endangered species. It was preposterous for Labour to run a “we can win here” campaign, when they had never won the seat and in the end came 4th. They did not even win a single town council seat. But they doubled their vote to just under 10% and that, with the increased Green vote, was enough to allow the Tories in.

As for the Greens, I cannot object to the concept that people should be encouraged to “vote for what they believe in”, as they were urged to do, except that the consequences of that action – a Tory MP – were not spelt out to them.

I am immensely grateful to all my team for all the hours of sticking, stuffing, delivering and door knocking over the last several months – we fought a very strong campaign, relying on volunteers and public donations rather than the big money of the Conservatives, and it was one of which we can all be proud. We have also re-elected 11 Liberal Democrats to Lewes District Council – a good result given the swing nationally and one which is a testament to the strength of our local team.

The Conservatives have already announced a raft of illiberal and unjust policies which we stopped them delivering in government. Now they have a free rein to implement their manifesto in full – to savagely cut the welfare budget by £12 billion, to introduce an invasive Snoopers Charter, and to cause major disruption to our economy by holding an in/out referendum on our membership of the European Union. More than ever Britain needs a liberal voice, and I am delighted that in the 48 hours since the election, more than that in the days since the election, more than 8000 new members have joined the party. Perhaps you know someone who thinks the time is right to get involved.

For my part, however, I intend to return to being a private individual and to start the next phase of my life. I have no regrets at all, and if someone had told me in 1987 that the deal was that I would be a Councillor for 16 years, council leader for 6, an MP for 18 years, and a Minister for four and a half years, I would have said that that was a pretty good deal.

I have enjoyed myself as the Member of Parliament for the Lewes Constituency and I hope I have done my best for the constituents in this area

Lastly, can I thank the hundreds of local people who have contacted me since the election with supportive comments. It has been very touching. Thank you all.

Local MP welcomes Health Minister to Seaford

Norman Lamb visit

Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb was in Seaford yesterday to see the new paramedic service for the town which the town’s Lib Dem MP Norman Baker had successfully lobbied for, as a stopgap until a proper minor injuries unit can be provided. He was also there to have a tour of the new Horder Centre, and to back Norman Baker’s call for the now redundant Homefield Place to be used to deliver local health requirements.

Norman Lamb says:I was impressed with the new paramedic service which is doing a great job in Seaford and congratulate my colleague Norman Baker on pushing so hard for this. What the ambulance service has started here is a model that could usefully be copied elsewhere in the country.”

Norman Baker adds: “Getting local health services in Seaford that meet the needs of the local population is my top priority for Seaford. The new paramedic service is a great step forward but there is still much more to do. In my view, the local Clinical Commissioning Group should be looking to acquire Homefield Place and running services out of there, both the avoid the need for local people to have to traipse to the DGH in Eastbourne, and also to take pressure off the doctors’ surgeries in the town.”

Success as MP’s intervention keeps UTC opening on track

The danger that Newhaven’s new University Technical College might have had to delay its opening by a year has been averted due to some nifty footwork by the town’s Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker.

There is a need for the provision of temporary classrooms for the first few weeks, but the Department for Education was resisting this as numbers enrolled had not reached a threshold by some arbitrary date. Without the classrooms, the College would have had to turn away the many who had enrolled and put back the opening for a year.

Norman therefore contacted the school minister, David Laws, Department for Education and won agreement for funding to be released to enable The UTC to open on schedule while the build on their permanent building is completed.

Norman says:It would have been terrible, and sent all the wrong signals if the opening had to be delayed, so unlocking agreement from the DfE, confirmed to me in a letter this morning, is really good news.

The team is back on track to have facilities open in time for the 2015 student intake, thanks to this funding agreement.

Good news for local community transport groups

Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has welcomed news that CTLA along with other local community transport providers in his Lewes constituency are to receive mini bus funding to support their delivery of services.

Community Transport for the Lewes Area (known as CTLA), Cuckmere Buses, Bluebird Community Partnership and Hurst & Hassocks Community Bus Association are all to receive mini bus funding to support their delivery of services.

A £25 million fund was launched in November last year by the Department for Transport to purchase new minibuses for Community Transport organisations.

Norman says: “These organisations all play a vital role in supporting communities, especially where commercial bus services are not available. It is good news that their efforts have been acknowledged in providing them much needed vehicles to enable them to continue to deliver their services.

“The Department for Transport’s helpful approach is in stark contrast to the cuts mentality of the Tory-run East Sussex County Council.”