Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Liberal Democrats Weekly Newsletter – 22nd to 28th July 2012

Apologies for late issue but the Editor was away at the weekend
Articles for the past week:

Leader:  It’s not cricket 

News this past week:

1. Decoy Unemployed

2. Chess Opening Move
3. Benefit Changes
5. Open Space, Sport and Recreation Strategy
6. New Theatres Business Plan Revealed


      •     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:  It’s not cricket
At Monday’s Worthing County Local Committee (CLC) the Chair of the Community Initiative Funding (CIF) Approval Panel Clem Stevens jokingly said “It’s not a cricket club!”. Clem was referring to Alan Rice’s support for an application to fund a Sussex Junior Chess competition to be held at Broadwater CE First & Middle Schools – Alan being the County Councillor for Broadwater Division.  Alan had famously previously obtained funding for two cricket clubs in Broadwater – Broadwater Cricket Club which plays on Broadwater Green and Worthing Cricket Club which plays at the Manor Sports Ground.
Over the past three years the cross-party Worthing County Local Committee has supported a wide variety of Worthing local community groups distributing in excess of £150,000. The maximum amount granted to any one group at any one time has been £5,000 and the smallest £185.  A recent recipient of a £5,000 grant was the Whole of Worthing Shakespeare Festival which put on six plays during June in various outdoor Worthing locations. The plays involved over 150 Worthing school children taking part and over 800 people saw at least one Shakespeare play.  Sussex Junior Chess is one of two groups to receive just £185 and will be holding a chess tournament in the Autumn involving around 50 to 100 Worthing schoolchildren.
Worthing CLC is unique in West Sussex in that all funding bids have to come through the local member and the useful local knowledge of the member of the applicant helps ease the application.  It is because the Worthing CLC is so flexible that bids rejected elsewhere have been looked on favourably. The Whole of Worthing Shakespeare Festival had been disappointed by having the Big Lottery reject their application but Worthing CLC was happy to step in.  Similarly Worthing CLC was able to step in to fund Worthing Mayor’s Swimathon hire of the Aquarena and Worthing Youth Council – both having been declined by Worthing Borough Council.  Not everyone that applies is successful but for many the fund has been the donor “of last resort”.
Other local beneficiaries have included Sussex Gruffs Male Choir (£949); Glendale Theatre Arts School (£5,000) enabling them to take part in 2011 Dance World Cup in Disneyland Paris; Cortis Avenue Wildlife Sanctuary (£4,600); Butterflies Breast Cancer Group (£400); Alzheimer’s Society (£5,000), Mick’s Garage (£2,491); Circus Seen (£3,500); End of the Pier Film Festival (£2,000); Worthing Birdman (£5,000);
Worthing Fire & Rescue (£5,000) for free smoke alarms; Liaise Debt Counselling (£750); Guildbourne IT Workshop (£2,497) and Selden Kids in Play (£1,000).
With so many diverse Worthing groups benefitting, Worthing CLC is rightly proud of its record and its unique way of handling applications.  Yet Worthing CLC still attracts its critics for being different from the rest of the County Local Committees and for its methods.  Recently those critics have become louder but Worthing Liberal Democrats believe the criticism is unfair – it’s not cricket.
Worthing Liberal Democrats 
Monday 23rd July – Recently Worthing Borough Council Planning Committee resolved “to recommend to the Cabinet Member for Regeneration that no objection be raised to the allocation of the Decoy Farm site within the draft Waste Local Plan.”  But both the Cabinet Member for Regeneration Bryan Turner and the Leader of the Council Paul Yallop remained very tight-lipped – not revealing how Worthing Borough Council (WBC) was to respond to the West Sussex County Council consultation on the draft plan.  At tonight’s Worthing County Local Committee an officer presented the plan to the meeting and asked for comments from committee members.  Worthing Borough Council broke their silence as Tory committee member and WBC Cabinet Member for Resources Steve Waight announced, as landowners, Worthing would not be releasing the site for a waste facility. The West Sussex officer was completely taken aback as were other members of the committee.
Lib Dem Committee Member Alan Rice said: “At least we now know how at least one of Worthing’s Tory Cabinet is thinking and Mr Waight being responsible for WBC’s estate the decision to release or not release the site is his.  The decision will not be discussed in public and the views of the residents will not be sought – no change from the Tory administration there then. Naturally Worthing Liberal Democrats will continue to consult with residents and green groups to achieve the best result for Worthing.”
Monday 23rd July – Tonight’s Worthing County Local Committee (CLC) approved Community Initiative Funding (CIF) of £185 to enable Sussex Junior Chess hold a chess tournament at Broadwater CE First & Middle Schools in the Autumn term. Established in 1995 Sussex Junior Chess is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to promote and popularise chess among school age children in Sussex. Through their representative for schools in Worthing and district David Graham, Sussex Junior Chess runs a tournament each term to provide an opportunity for children to play outside of their own school chess club.  The application was supported by Lib Dem West Sussex County Councillor for Broadwater Alan Rice.  Two other CIF applications were approved – £5,000 for Women’s Aid towards replacement windows for their refuge and £700 to Worthing Tennis and Squash Club for croquet equipment.
Thursday 25th July – Worthing Borough Council Finance Officer Sarah Gobey presented a report to tonight’s Joint Strategic Committee on the Government’s proposals to replace the current Council Tax Benefit scheme.  Currently, support is granted to Council Tax payers on a means-tested basis which can be upto 100% of the council tax due.  In most cases, the full cost of the benefit is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) but as part of the Spending Review in September 2010 it was proposed to localise support for Council Tax from 2013-14, reducing expenditure by at least 10%.  Localising of Council Tax Benefit will mean Worthing Borough Council will decide the criteria for granting benefit for April 2013 onwards.  The fact that the overall amount available is being reduced by at least 10% would suggest benefits would be cut locally by the same amount unless Worthing Borough Council fund the shortfall from elsewhere in the budget – with unemployment trends the reduction is more likely to be in the 13-14% region.  The Joint Strategic Committee was asked to consider mitigating changes in the Council Tax to offset the effect – removing any discount for second homes; removing the exemption for unoccupied properties undergoing major repairs; removing the exemption for unoccupied or unfurnished properties; and levying an empty property tax. Even with the removal of these exemptions only around 55 to 70% of the expected shortfall would be met. The committee agreed to set up a Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn to make proposals for the new Council Tax Benefit Scheme.
Thusday 25th July – The Worthing Borough Council Open Space, Sport and Recreation Strategy is in need of renewal, being originally set in 2006 – Sport England considers updating should be done on at least a three yearly basis.  An up to date strategy is needed to determine the type of sports pitches needed to meet demand and to inform on any planning decisions involving any changes to provision. Sport England only accepted the Worthing College application (on the grounds of loss of formal playing pitches) on the basis the Council committed to an early review of Worthing’s Playing Pitch Strategy.  Further an up to date strategy is necessary for external funders (e.g. Heritage lottery Fund) to consider applications for improvements to green spaces including the proposed upgrade of Homefield Park.  The new strategy will also be needed to be taken into account with the new grounds maintenance policy adopted by Worthing Borough when the Continental Landscapes contract ends.
Lib Dem Alan Rice as Shadow Cabinet Member for Environment said: “It is obviously important we get a new strategy in place for open spaces but we must look at all opportunities including meeting community group wishes of taking over maintenance of their local green space themselves.  Worthing Liberal Democrats will continue to talk to local community groups to ensure their wishes are heard loud and clear by the Tory Cabinet Member and not ignored as has been so often the case in the past.”
Thursday 25th July – Worthing Liberal Democrats have welcomed the more professional format of the new theatres business plan which is a significant improvement on the first effort. The continuing losses remain a concern as we understand even on the budgetted figures for 2012-13 theatres are still losing around £3,000 per day – the figure quoted by Leader of the Council Paul Yallop early last year. The accompanying report to the new business plan presented to tonight’s Joint Strategic Committee highlights the new catering arrangements at Denton Lounge have been a success but we do need to see the whole picture before making a valued judgement based on firm evidence.
Lib Dem Group Leader Alan Rice said: “The new business plan still misses some vital points according to the expert friends we consulted but Worthing Lib Dems do recognise it is a vast improvement on the previous one.  And we do wish the theatre staff every success in making the necessary improvement in the theatres’ finances.  Catering appears to be an area which is improving but especially in catering the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.”
Wednesday 1st August – Lib Dem Northbrook/Durrington Ward Surgery – The Durrington Community Centre, New Road 7.30 to 8.30 pm
Saturday 4th August – Lib Dem Castle Ward Surgery – The Strand Shops 10.00 to 10.30 am
Saturday 4th August – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to 12.00 noon
Saturday 4th August – 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 4th August – Lib Dem Broadwater Ward Surgery – The Community House, Dominion Road 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm
and every first Saturday of the month
Wednesday 8th August – WBC Planning Commitee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm
Tuesday 21st August – Lib Dem Durrington Surgery – New Life Church, Durrington 7.00 to 8.00 pm
and every third Tuesday of the month

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Published and promoted by Worthing Liberal Democrats, 18 Woodlea Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 1BN