Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

LIB DEMS CALL FOR CABINET MEMBER TO RESIGN OVER NCP FIASCO

In the blame game over who is responsible and accountable over the payout to NCP one salient fact has been overlooked. Whatever officers have done or not done it is the Cabinet Member for Environment that is ultimately responsible for the parking portfolio.

In July 2009 Worthing Borough Council (WBC) and NCP agreed to trial discounted parking charges at the multi-storey car parks in an attempt to drive increased use and promote development of the town centre economy.

On October 5th 2009 the Tory Cabinet authorised Officers to negotiate with NCP on the share of the financial risk following consultation with the Cabinet Member for Clean and Green Environment – Cllr Clive Roberts. The negotiation would formalise an agreement with NCP for a 12 month trial period of a new tariff structure designed for shorter stays and to encourage greater use of the car parks.

A further report was requested 6 months from the implementation of the new tariff to review how the change in charging was progressing. It appears there were no further reports to the Cabinet or the relevant Cabinet Member on this matter after 6 months and the next formal report was not considered until May 14th 2013.

Officers discovered after 12 months the agreement document signed by WBC known as a ‘Deed of Variation’ did not limit the trial period to 12 months or cap any financial limit. This eventually resulted in the settlement with NCP in March 2014.

Cllr Roberts denied in Council on Tuesday last week (April 15th) he was the Cabinet Member at the time but Worthing Liberal Democrats have established with WBC Democratic Services he is mistaken in that belief. He was paid his Cabinet Member allowance for the position from September 15th 2009.

It beggars belief that as Cabinet Member he appears to have only taken scant interest in the progress of the trial tariff structure to encourage greater use of the car parks – this was his first major and important task for improving the economy of the town centre.

It also beggars belief that the Cabinet, and especially the Cabinet Member, did not query why reports were not forthcoming on how the trial was progressing after six months and what the conclusion of the trial was after the supposed 12 month deadline. They have failed in their duty as custodians of Worthing’s council tax payers’ money.

Leader of Worthing Liberal Democrat Cllr Alan Rice said: “When things go wrong at Government level the Cabinet Member takes responsibility rather than entering into a blame game with civil servants. If the situation is serious the Cabinet Member falls on his sword. This should be no different at our local authority. Cllr Roberts was responsible, is responsible and should do the honourable thing – resign.”
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Note for editors:

Report by the WBC Chief Executive for Agenda Item 16:

Confirmation of Urgent Action regarding Use of Reserves for dispute resolution – Part 1
Worthing Borough Council Meeting Tuesday April 16th 2014:

http://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/media/media,122889,en.pdf

Alan Rice

Lib Dem Media Co-ordinator East Worthing & Adur Liberal Democrats T: 07951 165120 E: a.rice83@ntlworld.com