The Leader of Lewes District Council will host a summit on July 17 to develop detailed plans for a sustainable economic and social recovery across the district following the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Key statutory, voluntary, community and business representatives are invited and plans will complement countywide recovery planning being led by East Sussex County Council. 

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: “I have never known any time like the last three months, which will reverberate through every facet of our lives for years to come. 

“In common with almost every other area of the UK, we are facing higher levels of unemployment in the district, businesses struggling to stay afloat and adapt to the rules on social distancing, plus the lives of many local residents have been turned upside down. 

“As leaders in the community we are committed to doing all we can to support our local business and to help residents in most need.    

“The key thing is that we work together with other organisations. If we get that right, we can rebuild in a more sustainable and fair way, putting the focus on community wealth building, where wealth stays in the local economy for the benefit of local people.” 

Councillor Nicholson will target changes in procurement rules to maximise the use of local businesses, use the council’s capital programme to kick-start economic regeneration, ensure investment decisions bring greatest benefit in the district, work with agencies to provide a more holistic package of support for people experiencing social and welfare issues, and continue to drive down carbon emissions by decarbonising housing stocks. 

Councillor Nicholson added: “We can emerge from the adversity of this pandemic by seizing the opportunity to change course and creating something better than before.   

“For example, many of us have discovered new ways of living. Numerous lifestyle changes during lockdown include far less car usage and more walking and cycling, all helping to achieve our carbon net zero goal by 2030. 

“Life isn’t about to become easy.  It is far from clear how the coming months, even the next year, will pan out.  However, we need to start planning our recovery now, and I think there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful about what the future holds.” 

Frances Jones, associate director at the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), will speak at the summit. She said: “I’m delighted to be speaking at this very important event. Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Lewes District Council was pioneering an approach to place leadership which married the twin goals of building an inclusive and ecologically sustainable future for the people of Lewes.  

“As the people, businesses and public agencies of Lewes come together to chart a course out of this crisis, these principles will give substance to hopes that this will not be about recovering the old but building back better.”