LIBERAL Democrats may be about to gain cabinet positions on a council after defections by two Conservatives lead to a loss of overall control by the Tories.

Lewes District Council leader Andy Smith told The Argus he was “open to discussion” with his Lib Dem counterpart.

It comes after the public eruption of a private row within the Lewes Conservative party.

Councillors Dave Neave and Wayne Botting, who sit on Peacehaven and Telscombe town councils as well as the district council, resigned from the party last week.

Neither Councillor has spoken to The Argus but it is understood their resignation follows a period of increasingly public disagreements between the pair and Cllr Smith.

Cllr Stephen Catlin, who leads the district’s group of four Independents, said he anticipated Cllrs Neave and Botting would now formally request to become Independents on Monday morning.

Their defection means the 40-strong council will have 19 rather than 21 Conservatives, and Cllr Smith will be leading a minority administration.

Officers are already reviewing the party make-up of committees.

A change to their composition will be made to ensure they reflect the new political reality.

However the cabinet structure of the district council will leave political responsibility entirely in the hands of the Conservatives unless members negotiate a change.

Cllr Catlin has already called for some posts to change hands.

Cllr Smith said: “At this stage I have not yet spoken to the leader of the Liberal Democrats, but I’m open to discussions on a number of matters.”

He called on Cllrs Neave and Botting to stand for re-election.

He said this would give the voters the opportunity to elect them as Independents or replace them with Conservatives.