Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Liberal Democrats Weekly Newsletter – 19th to 25th February 2012

Articles for the past week:
Leader:  Quite interesting budget       
News this past week:  Lot’s happened on Pancake Day – aka Fat Tuesday
1. Fat Tuesday – Worthing Tories Set To Reject Lower Council Tax
2. Fat Tuesday – Worthing Tories True To Form Reject Lib Dem Budget Amendments
3. Fat Tuesday – Congratulations To Bob Smytherman – Mayor For 2013-14
4. Fat Tuesday – Support For Smoking Ban In Children’s Play Areas
5. Fat Tuesday – Worthing Tories True To Form Reject Lib Dem Motion Releasing Capital For Jobs
6. Fat Tuesday – Worthing Borough Legal Officer Rejects Norah Fisher’s Motion on Parking On The Pavements
WORTHING LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
19TH TO 25TH FEBRUARY 2012
  •    Lib Dems will keep Worthing’s services local
  •     Lib Dems will get on with bringing our town into the 21st century – no more dither and delay
  •     Lib Dems will ensure ‘We are all in it together’ – no more waste and high pay
  •     Lib Dems are the only opposition in Worthing – Labour can’t win here
  •     Lib Dems support 20 mph in Worthing’s residential roads
Leader:  Quite Interesting Budget
Alan Rice, Leader of the Worthing Borough Council Liberal Democrat Group delivered the following response to Leader of the Council Paul Yallop’s budget speech at Tuesday’s Council Meeting:

Tonight ladies and gentlemen I am Stephen Fry of “QI” fame and tonight’s quite interesting theme is metal reserves.

First up is Iron Pyrites more commonly known as Fool’s Gold:  Fool’s Gold dupes the unwary in pretending to be something it is not – to be of greater worth than it actually is.  The Leader is fond of telling residents that Worthing has the lowest council tax in West Sussex – a seemingly golden nugget. Yet a survey of the council tax rates shows that far from the lowest rate Worthing has the second highest of the seven boroughs and districts.   For Band D Worthing’s rate is £1,516, Crawley is £1,488, Arun is £1,462, Mid-Sussex is £1,450, Horsham £1,436 and Chichester the lowest at £1,434. Only one authority has a higher rate and that is Adur at £1,580.  I am sure that situation will be rectified once we merge.

“Ah” the Leader will say but Worthing does have the lowest average council tax rate. That has nothing to do with the fiscal competence of Worthing’s Tory administration – it is a result of demographics.  We simply have a greater proportion of houses in the lower bands of C, B and A in Worthing than in the other areas.  To put it in more understandable terms if you picked up your house and moved it to Chichester you would pay 5% less council tax.  With more expensive seafront flats the average will go up and then that situation would be rectified too.

To say we have the lowest council tax in West Sussex is definitely Fool’s Gold.

Second of our metal reserves is the real 24 carat Gold:  Adur has its Pot of Gold but this precious metal does seem to be missing in Worthing.  In the reserves schedule (Appendix 4 item 2) is the Community Initiatives Reserve. The purpose of which is to provide funding for partnership initiatives in support of community engagement – a very similar purpose to Adur’s Pot of Gold.  But Worthing’s gold has been worked out – the cupboard is bare.  Our Tory administration looks set to continue its policy of little or no engagement with the community.

Third up is Copper:   Our copper-topped investment – the new swimming pool.  Now exactly where are we on that?  Nobody knows.

Has the financing package been finalised?   Nobody knows.

Has the Aquarena site sale been signed, sealed and delivered?  Nobody knows.

And Copper reserves?   I was going to query why the Insurance Reserve (Appendix 4 item 5), which covers claims we do not wish to pass onto underwriters, goes up year after year. But I think we now know – we are expecting claims because of metal thieves’ eyes on our new shiny copper roof.

Are there silver reserves? Is there a silver lining?  Yes – we think there is.  Worthing’s Finance Officer asks us “not to forget this has been the most successful budget round for several years. Not only are there proposals to balance the budget in 2012/13, but the indications are good that we will be in a position to set a balanced budget in 2013/14. Further, the Council is in a position to set a budget which is not reliant on the use of reserves to fund any shortfall.”

Eric Pickles said back in December 2010 any council that had more than 5% reserves cover against annual expenditure should be digging into those reserves.  In December last year West Sussex reported to Mr Pickles’ Department of Communities & Local Government a cover of 6%.  Worthing reported a cover of 26%.

Which is why we are tabling an amendment to tonight’s budget in view of the most successful round in several years and an expected rosy following year.  We understand the success has been aided and abetted by a significant VAT refund and we feel it is only right that Worthing’s residents should benefit – after all they at least in part paid the VAT in the first place.

Our first proposal is to reverse the contribution of last years £254,000 under-spend to reserves and give a significant proportion back to the people of Worthing by reducing Council Tax by 2.5% – not an increase, not a freeze but a reduction.  Instead of a Band D rate of £216.00 the rate we propose is £210.60.

We also notice the expected savings from the theatres of £230,000 have not been included in this budget – perhaps the Cabinet thinks these also constitute Fool’s Gold.  But we are prepared to accept these will be forthcoming as the Cabinet Member for Resources indicated in a recent Joint Overview & Scrutiny interview.

Therefore we are putting this £230,000 into the budget and conservatively (with a small “c”) will use half of the amount as follows:

£85,000 to fund a £10 voucher for those on Council Tax benefit – the most poor who will not benefit from a council tax reduction

And £30,000 to fund a subsidy to restore much loved lost Sunday and evening bus services

The balance of £115,000 should it materialise we suggest should be considered to fill the empty Community Initiative Reserve

The old gold Liberal Democrats would use our hidden reserves to bring about a silver lining in these cloudy times for the residents of Worthing.

I therefore propose the amendment as now circulated to members – the debate should prove “Quite Interesting”.

Worthing Liberal Democrats 
NEWS FROM THE PAST WEEK
FAT TUESDAY – WORTHING TORIES SET TO REJECT LOWER COUNCIL TAX  
Tuesday 21st February – During the Worthing Borough Council budget meeting this evening (Tuesday) Worthing Tories will be urged to support a Liberal Democrat amendment to reduce by 2.5% Worthing’s council tax bill for 2012-13 to help hard working families through difficult economic times. The Lib Dem proposal will also give a £10 voucher to all those Worthing residents who receive Council Tax benefit – some of the poorest members of our town who would not benefit from the council tax reduction. The Lib Dem proposal will also restore Worthing’s much missed evening and Sunday bus services cut by the West Sussex Tories at County Hall recently. Finally the proposal will give local elected Councillors an opportunity to put money away to aid community inspired projects as part of the Coalition’s Big Society agenda. All these proposals will be made during group leader Alan Rice’s response to the Civic budget in a speech delivered at tonight’s Full Council following Council Leader Paul Yallop’s  lacklustre budget recommendations from the Tory Cabinet.
Alan Rice said: “We cannot deny this, as in the words of Worthing’s Finance officer, has been the most successful budget round for several years.  Worthing’s residents deserve to benefit from that success – rather than the Tories ‘squirreling’ money away for a rainy day.  For many especially the most vulnerable in our town, it’s raining now.”  (Bob Smytherman Press Release)
FAT TUESDAY – WORTHING TORIES TRUE TO FORM REJECT LIB DEM BUDGET AMENDMENTS 
Tuesday 21st February – As predicted in our earlier embargoed press release Worthing’s Tories rejected tonight the Lib Dem amendment to ease the pain for Worthing’s residents. The amendment read as follows:
(a) To reverse the contribution to reserves by the projected 2011-12 under-spend of £254,000; (b) To substitute clause (e) in the recommendations with:  that the Council Tax for Worthing Council ‘s requirements in 2012-13 be £210.60 for a Band D equivalent property; (c) To include in the budget the projected theatre savings of £230,000; (d) To allocate £85,000 of the projected theatre savings to giving each  Worthing resident in receipt of Council Tax Benefit a £10 voucher; (e) To allocate £30,000 of the projected theatre savings to subsidise the restoration of evening and Sunday bus services in Worthing; (f) To move to the Community Initiative Reserve the projected theatre savings balance of £115,000.  Paul Yallop, Tory Leader of Worthing Borough Council, predictabily delivered a self-congratulatory speech on the Tories’ achievements over the last year, froze council tax and stated Worthing had the lowest average council tax in West Sussex.  Alan Rice gave a “quite interesting” response proposing the Lib Dem amendment. Tory Cabinet Member for Resources Steve Waight attempted his usual hatchet job claiming the amendment had major flaws. Firstly the grant of 2.5% from the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) would be lost if Worthing failed to raise Council Tax. Not so – DCLG website clearly states: Councils that freeze or reduce their 2012-13 basic council tax level (Band D) will receive an additional grant equivalent to 2.5 per cent increase on their council tax for this year.  Secondly the £230,000 expected theatre savings could not be used as would not be forthcoming until 2013-14.  This is not what he indicated when interviewed at a recent Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee.  To a man/woman the Tories and newly Independent Graham Fabes voted down the amendment.
Alan Rice said: “I could save the Leader time and energy every year by writing his budget speech for him – it’s always the same. ‘We’ve all done very well, yet again we have frozen council tax and Worthing has the lowest average council tax in West Sussex.’  It is time we had some change, it’s time we had some new thinking. That time will come in May when Worthing’s residents can vote out this lackluste Tory administation and put in the Lib Dems with their new vibrant alternative policies.”
FAT TUESDAY – CONGRATULATIONS TO BOB SMYTHERMAN – MAYOR FOR 2013-14 
Tuesday 21st February – Congratulations to Bob Smytherman who was voted nominee for Deputy Mayor for 2012-13 and Mayor for 2013-14.  Bob was nominated by Leader of the Lib Dems Alan Rice and seconded by the present Mayor Ann Barlow.  The nomination will be confirmed at the Annual Council (Mayor Making) in late May.
Bob said: “It is a great honour to be accepted by members of all parties.  I will put in every effort to make this a success both for me and Worthing.  The town deserves nothing less.”
FAT TUESDAY – SUPPORT FOR SMOKING BAN IN CHILDREN’S PLAY AREAS 
Tuesday 21st February – Worthing Council tonight expressed support for a smoking ban in children’s play areas but failed to support an investigation into making the ban legally enforcable. The Council was considering a motion put by Lib Dem Bob Smytherman, seconded by Diana Jones,  back in December but referred to the Cabinet for recommendation. Bob’s motion read: Worthing Borough Council (i) states support for the principle of a voluntary smoking ban in children’s play areas within Worthing Borough; (ii) encourage preparatory work to be undertaken to gauge local support for smoking bans in play areas and in parks and urges consultation with playground users to assess support for this initiative; (iii) requests the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing to instruct officers to continue to work, in partnership with NHS West Sussex and Local GP’s and others, to bring forward implementation plans for a voluntary smoke-free code for play areas in Worthing Borough, with a view to introduction in 2012 (subject to the outcome of consultations). Plans to include a smoke-free policy statement, training and enforcement programme, public awareness raising and a timetable for evaluation of the effectiveness of the smoke-free code. (iv) Instructs Officers to prepare a report for the Cabinet Member for Health andWellbeing, Health &Wellbeing partnership and the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committees (JOSC) as to how powers contained in the Localism Bill may facilitate the introduction of legally enforceable bans.  The CabInet recommendation which was approved read: Worthing Borough Council (i) states its continued support for the principle of a voluntary smoking ban in children’s play areas within Worthing Borough; (ii) notes the anti-smoking work outlined in the West Sussex Public Health Plan and supports the installation of signs, designed by children, in play areas, where resources allow.
FAT TUESDAY – WORTHING TORIES TRUE TO FORM REJECT MOTION RELEASING CAPITAL FOR JOBS
Tuesday 21st February – Worthing’s Tories true to form, but out of step with their West Sussex colleagues, summarily rejected a Lib Dem motion to release capital for infrastructure and creation of jobs. The motion put to the Council by Lib Dem Leader Alan Rice and seconded by Bob Smytherman said: “This council notes that the continued sluggish performance of the UK economy is mirrored in Worthing’s local economy. The Council therefore believes it is imperative to do all it can to support businesses locally especially tourism and drive economic development, consistent with the Council’s on-going commitment to reduce spending in support of the Government’s deficit reduction plans. The Council therefore asks the Deputy Leader to: (1) discuss with West Sussex County Council, district and borough partners, the three sub-regional partnerships and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, the potential for increased co-ordinated activity to stimulate the business activity and growth; (2) bring forward as a matter of urgency proposals for key investments in infrastructure and other developments which would bring a significant, long-term benefit to Worthing’s local economy; (3) further, the Council asks the Cabinet Member for Resources to assist the Deputy Leader in bringing forward the proposals by making available resources from capital.”  The Tories substituted a motion back-slapping themselves on the wonderful regeneration and job creation they had already achieved.
Alan said: “Worthing’s Tories are not only out of touch with Worthing’s residents but out of touch with their West Sussex colleagues.  Our motion used the same wording as one passed by West Sussex County Council in October excepting we subsituted ‘Worthing’ for ‘West Sussex’ and added ‘especially tourism’ as being of particular concern to Worthing.  Councillors Stephen Waight and Mrs Nicola Waight appeared out of touch with themselves as they voted for the motion at West Sussex but against in Worthing!”
FAT TUESDAY – WORTHING BOROUGH LEGAL OFFICER REJECTS NORAH FISHER’S MOTION ON PARKING ON PAVEMENTS
Tuesday 21st February – A difference of opinion arose this evening between Worthing Mayor Ann Barlow and the Worthing Borough Chief Legal Officer Jeremy Cook who can take the decision whether to accept a motion as valid or not. Ann belived it was the Mayor but Mr Cook ruled it was for officers to decide. The discussion followed the rejection by Mr Cook of a motion from Lib Dem Tarring Councillor on parking on pavements.
The motion read:
“Worthing Borough Council welcomes the recent announcement by Transport Minister, Norman Baker that local authorities have been given greater discretionary enforcement powers regarding vehicles parking on pavements. This Council believes that use of those powers would assist in addressing some of the problems inconsiderate parking causes to other residents of the borough, especially to users of prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs. Worthing Borough Council therefore resolves that the discretionary powers now available be used, where appropriate, to prevent parking of vehicles on pavements within the Borough.”
Mr Cook ruled that as the motion would require Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) which only West Sussex Council could grant the motion was not vaild.   Norah said: “This is nonsense – the legal officers did not object to the Twenty’s Plenty motion which also requires Traffic Regulation Orders.  Nor did they object to the motion in support of the KWASH campaign to keep open Worthing Hospital – again not in the power of Worthing Borough Council.
Parking on pavements is of particular concern to my Tarring residents and to those both in wheelchairs and pushing buggies.  I will not be gagged by legal niceties and will be asking my West Sussex colleagues to propose the motion there.”

DIARY

Tuesday 28th February – WSCC Rights of Way Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm

Tuesday 28th February – ADC & WBC Joint Strategic Committee – Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Shoreham at 6.30 pm

Wednesday 29th February – WBC Planning Committee  – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 4.00 pm

Wednesday 29th February – WBC Planning Committee Worthing College – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.30 pm

Wednesday 29thFebruary – Lib Dem Northbrook/Durrington Ward Surgery – “The North Star”, Littlehampton Road 7.30 to 8.30 pm

Thursday 1st March – WSCC West Sussex Joint Commissioning Board – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm

Saturday 3rd March – Lib Dem Castle Ward Surgery – The Strand Shops 10.00 to 10.30 am

and every first Saturday of the month

Saturday 3rd March – Lib Dem Central Ward Surgery – Sidney Walter Centre, Sussex Road 10.30 am to 12.00 noon

and every first Saturday of the month

Saturday 3rd March – Lib Dem Broadwater Surgery – The Community House, Dominion Road 2.00 to 4.00 pm

and every first Saturday of the month

Saturday 3rd March – Arundel & South Downs Lib Dem Annual Dinner speaker Lynne Featherstone – Mid Sussex Golf Club, Spatham Lane, Ditchling, Hassocks at 7.00 for 7.30 pm

Saturday 3rd March – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to noon

FURTHER AHEAD

Monday 5th March – WSCC SACRE – County Hall, Chichester at 10.00 am

Wednesday 7th March – WSCC Children & Young People’s Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Thursday 8th March – WSCC Adults’ Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Thursday 8th March – ADC & WBC Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.30 pm

Tuesday 13th March – ADC & WBC Joint Planning Committee

Wednesday 14th March – WSCC Strategic Environmental Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Thursday 15th March – WSCC Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Monday 19th March – WSCC Regulation, Audit & Accounts Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm

Monday 19th March – WBC Standards Committee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

Tuesday 20th March – WSCC Children’s Trust Board – Chichester High School for Boys at 1.00 pm

Tuesday 20th March – Lib Dem Durrington Surgery – New Life Church, Durrington 7.00 to 8.00 pm

and every third Tuesday of the month

Wednesday 21st March – WSCC Community Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Wednesday 21st March – WBC Licensing & Control Committee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

Thursday 22nd March – WSCC Policy & Resources Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Tuesday 27th March ADC & WBC Joint Strategic Committee – Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Shoreham at 6.30pm

Wednesday 28th March – WBC Planning Committee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

Thursday 29th March – WBC Licensing & Control Committee B Best One – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

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