TWO councils are planning to break away and form their own unitary authority amid East Sussex’s funding crisis.

The action is being planned by Lewes District Council and Eastbourne Borough Council.

A source from inside one of the councils said a move to launch the plan officially was imminent and could come in days.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said East Sussex County Council’s dire financial situation was forcing council leaders to take drastic measures in a bid to keep local services alive.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said he supported the move to a unitary authority for the towns.

He said: “If this is something that is being considered, then I would support it

“A move to a unitary authority would make sense financially and would also result in better services.

“We see in Brighton and Hove how well a unitary authority works. It reduces costs of providing services because there is only one provider instead of two and it helps give a more joined- up approach to frontline services.”

He confirmed that should Eastbourne and Lewes break away, the remaining parts of East Sussex County Council would also need to become a unitary authority, which opened up the prospect of a larger local government reorganisation.

He said: “One thing I think could work would be the creation of a larger Sussex-Surrey authority, which would cover things like transport and emergency services.

Within these you could have smaller unitary authorities covering areas like greater Crawley and north east Sussex.

But he warned the move would simply be “rearranging the furniture” unless the Government provided more funding for local authorities.

He said: “Look at Northamptonshire, look at the troubles here in East Sussex. The real issue is that the Conservative Government is starving councils of the money they need to deliver vital services to their communities.”

Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne, said he was “wholly behind” Eastbourne and Lewes after “appalling reductions in frontline services”.

In August, East Sussex County Council announced it would reduce services to the bare legal minimum amid fears it could follow Northamptonshire County Council into bankruptcy.

East Sussex County Council, Eastbourne and Lewes councils all declined to comment on the planned breakaway.