Norman Baker calls for a radical change in British drugs policy

The UK’s drugs laws need radical change, local MP and LibDem Home Office Minister Norman Baker has said today.

Norman’s call comes as the government publishes a major report on drugs policies around the world.

The report finds that tough criminal sentences for drug users makes no difference to the rates of drug use.

The Home Office’s “Drugs, International Comparators” study looked at different approaches to drugs policy and treatment in a number of countries including some from countries that have harsh criminal sanctions for users and some that have effectively decriminalised the possession of drugs.

Welcoming the report, Local MP and Lib Dem Home Office Minister Norman Baker said its findings show that the government needs to follow the evidence and be brave enough to change the drug laws in the UK.

The Lib Dems want to crack down on the criminal gangs that supply illegal drugs but advocate scrapping prison sentences for people whose only crime is possession of drugs. They advocate directing those who suffer from drug addiction towards the health treatment and education they need, moving the responsibility for the Government’s drugs policy from the Home Office to the Department of Health.

Norman says: “The Lib Dems believe drugs policy should be based on evidence, not dogma or the desire to sound tough. If you are anti-drugs you should be pro-reform.

“For too long successive governments have been unwilling to look at the evidence. This comprehensive report shows that other ways of tackling drug addiction and supply can save lives and cut crime.

“It’s time for a radical change in British drugs policy. The fact is we should spend more time and effort cracking down on the Mr Bigs’ and criminal gangs who traffic drugs than users and addicts who should be helped to recover, not put behind bars.”

Budding East Sussex businesses urged to profit from expert advice

Local small businesses, budding entrepreneurs and start-up firms looking for office space and ways to kick-start or grow their business are being encouraged to go along to a free event this week.

Local specialists Let’s Do Business and experts from Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be running talks and workshops at Medwyn House, Mountfield Road, Lewes between 12 – 2pm on Friday, 26 September.    The Disabled Entrepreneurs’ Network will also be holding a focused talk for disabled entrepreneurs.

The free advice sessions  will give top tips for starting and building up a business, including details on the support available, ways to access finance and how to get free or low cost office space and meeting rooms via the Government scheme ‘Space for Growth’

Head of business services, Ian Smallwood of Hastings-based Let’s do Business said: “This event offers both start up and established businesses a great opportunity to find out about what advice, support and finance is available in the Lewes area.”

David Hughes of the Jobcentre Plus’ business support team for Sussex said: “We welcome the Government ‘Space for Growth’ event here at Lewes and hope that it will encourage more people to consider self-employment as a route into work.”

Councillor Simmons, cabinet member for economic development at East Sussex Council said: “I am delighted that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills is coming to East Sussex to support our local businesses and economic development in the county. This will bring together many partners to support our business community and I am sure many organisations will be interested in attending”.

Norman Baker, MP for Lewes Constituency said: “I am pleased to welcome the Department of Business Innovation and Skill and the “Space for Growth” event in Lewes. This is a great opportunity for people thinking of starting up businesses or for established businesses seeking to develop, to discover advice, support and finance opportunities in and around Lewes.”

There will be range of advice stalls run by experts from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, Brighton University, Locate East Sussex, Brighton and Hove Council, Local Enterprise and Apprenticeship Platform and Mentors Me.

There’s still a few places left.  To reserve your free place sign up via or call 0207 215 5167 for more information.

Local MP opens successful Phoenix Festival event

The Phoenix Festival in Lewes was opened by Lewes MP Norman Baker.

The event gave an opportunity for residents and visitors to experience many of the artist, business and community groups operating in the area providing a real flavour of the opportunities and skills being provided within the Phoenix Industrial area.

Norman saysThe North Street area of Lewes has become a diverse space for many groups and individuals to practise their art, provide services and create opportunities for people to participate in. It is great to see that on a day like this so many local residents and visitors came out to support the event and to find out for themselves what is available and happening in this area of town.

“It’s wonderful to see how this area has grown organically. I congratulate Samira Harris and her colleagues on putting this wonderful day together.”

Pictured Norman meeting with Community Chef Robin Van Creveld who is promoting some of the cookery sessions he provides for communities and individuals

Lewes County Councillor and MP call on East Sussex County Council for public review of St Anne’s site sale

Lewes ESCC Councillor Rosalyn St Pierre and Norman Baker MP have called for a public review in to the process by which East Sussex County Council has gone through to sell the former St Anne’s School site.

Lewes residents have raised many questions about the process of the sale and although a public meeting was held earlier this week, organised by local residents, people do not feel they are having their questions answered.

Cllr Rosalyn St Pierre saidMany residents have asked that the sale of St Anne’s came under review when questions started to be asked about the lack of consistent information being provided to potential bidders and the lack of answers being provided by the County Council.

“This is a site where we should seeking best value and addressing the community needs that people want but doing so in a way that is not transparent and causes confusion is not the way to proceed. It is for this reason I have requested that a full review in public takes place”

Norman saysI want my constituents to receive the answers they are seeking from East Sussex County Council in the interests of transparency and as of yet that this has not happened.

I hope this public review of the process will enable people to have these questions answered”