Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Liberal Democrats Weekly Newsletter – 12th to 18th February 2012

Articles for the past week:

Leader:  It’s raining now      
News this past week:
1. Euro MP Backs “Don’t Cut Us Out” Campaign In West Sussex
2. Cabinet Member Promises Response On Controlled Parking Zone Delay
3. Liberal Democrats Slam Tory “Cash Hoarding” At County Council
4. All The Jobs And More Pay For The Tory Boys And Girls At County Hall

WORTHING LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

12TH TO 18TH 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:  It’s raining now

West Sussex Tories put another £15 million into reserves in the coming year’s budget for a rainy day. This followed £7 million they squirelled away last year for a similar rainy day.  For those most vulnerable who suffered cuts from Adult and Youth Services and buses it was raining then and it is raining harder now.  We fully accept the concept of putting excess money away in the good times to be used in the bad times but with the worst economic situation for 60-70 years are the bad times not here now?  What are the Tories waiting for?

Eric Pickles, Tory Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, called in December 2010 on councils with reserves above 5% of their revenue expenditure to dig into them. West Sussex reported in their Revenue Budget (RA) returns to Eric Pickles’ department a figure of 6% for the year 2011-12 but they continue to add to them rather than digging into them. Instead of adding a further £15 million, West Sussex Liberal Democrats called on the Tories to retain just £3 million to offset the worst of the Tory cuts.

The Liberal Democrat amendment was modest asking for retention of £2 million to fund additional community services; £750,000 for bus services and £250,000 additional funding for youth workers for Careers services to NEETS – those not in education, employment or training. The Lib Dems could have legitimately asked for a lot more so why did the Tories summarily throw out this modest retention – what do they need the money for?   Surely not for a war chest of give-aways before the County elections in 2013?

First up on his feet after the proposal of the Lib Dem amendment was West Sussex County Councillor Steve Waight who did his usual hatchet job.  Mr Waight is what’s known as “double-hatted” being both a county councillor and a borough/district councillor for Worthing Borough Council.   Double-hatted Liberal Democrat councillors were amused to hear him say that he congratulated the Cabinet on releasing £15 million of capital expenditure for infrastructure and jobs – he said he was advising other local authorities to do the same.  The £15 million was the result of a motion at County brought by Tory Bob Lanzer which received full cross-party support. The exact same motion is being put by Lib Dems to Worthing Borough Council on Tuesday.  Our amusement was because Worthing’s Cabinet has recommended their Tory group to reject the motion – perhaps Mr Waight’s advice has fallen on deaf ears .  Hopefully by Tuesday Mr Waight will have convinced them to see the error of their ways.

West Sussex Tories cannot feel, see or hear the rain – hopefully Worthing Tories will realise it’s raining now.

Worthing Liberal Democrats 

NEWS FROM THE PAST WEEK

EURO MP BACKS “DON’T CUT US OUT CAMPAIGN” IN WEST SUSSEX  

Friday 17th February – Sharon Bowles MEP, who represents South East England in the European Parliament, is supporting Don’t Cut Us Out, a campaign in West Sussex fighting to protect vulnerable adults from council cuts. The campaign was started after Conservative-led West Sussex County Council decided to cut its adult services budget, leaving many elderly people and those with learning disabilities without vital support.
Sharon Bowles MEP said: “Some cuts are necessary in this time of economic hardship, but West Sussex Council is wrong to cut support for elderly people and adults with learning disabilities. Other County Councils in the region, including Kent, have managed to safeguard their adult services budgets. West Sussex could and should find a way to do the same. The people affected by these cuts are at poverty levels, either nearing the end of their lives or with life-long disabilities that prevent them from working. They need our support, not to be left out in the cold. I urge West Sussex Council to come to their senses and re-instate these life-line services and am proud to join my fellow Lib Dems in West Sussex in fighting these shamefully mistaken cuts.  Don’t Cut Us Out is campaigning to highlight the difficulties vulnerable adults now face in West Sussex and is working to reverse cuts to the adult services budget. You can get full details here:  www.dontcutusout.org.uk  (Sharon Bowles Press Release)

CABINET MEMBER PROMISES RESPONSE ON CONTROLLED PARKING ZONE DELAY  

Friday 17th February – West Sussex Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Pieter Montyn, promised to give Lib Dem Alan Rice a response on why the Worthing Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) had been further delayed.  Alan asked for a firm date as the third phase of the CPZ scheme had been promised since before Alan became county councillor for Broadwater and has been subject to several postponements.

The origins of the scheme were way back in 1996. On January 25th the CPZ lead officer e-mailed Worthing county councillors informing them of the further delay stating “as it stands, an order has not been placed with the contractor but we hope to do this by the end of February, giving us a potential implementation date of May/June.”
Alan said: “Ever since being elected a County Councillor I have had to make excuses at Police Neighbourhood Panels and to residents associations for highways works either not being started or not being completed.  It was only after my questioning at a previous County Council meeting that Worthing’s school safety schemes were reinstated. Let’s hope this latest question will equally help put highways work in Worthing back on the right track.”

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS SLAM TORY “CASH HOARDING” AT COUNTY HALL  

Saturday 18th February – A Liberal Democrat attempt to provide a £3million boost for community social services for the elderly, for preserving bus services, and to support the careers service for young people was rejected by the Tories at West Sussex County Council budget meeting yesterday (Friday 17th Feb).
Liberal Democrat Group leader Morwen Millson said:”The Conservatives inherited a debt-free County Council from the Liberal Democrat led council in 1997. Since 2000 they have racked up a massive debt burden of £400million, and are now making massive cuts in front-line services. Last year, whilst pleading shortage of cash, they stashed away £7 million extra in reserves; this year they are planning to double that to another £15 million into cash reserves, taking the total usable reserves to around £140 million! Our amendment to reduce the effect of cuts on home care services for the elderly,and those with learning difficulties or mental health problems, to reduce cuts to bus services, and to provide 9 career advisors for unemployed and untrained young people was to take a mere £3 million from this £140 million reserve. But the Conservatives chose to put it into reserves rather than helping the most vulnerable poor and elderly in West Sussex”
Dr James Walsh, deputy group leader said: “Our amendment would still freeze the Council Tax for another year, and its use help ease the burden on thousands of vulnerable young and older people in our county. These cuts will produce short term cash savings, but they will mean less preventative work, and lead to more elderly admissions into expensive NHS care, or more quickly need substantial social service care. For many young people it may lead to more anti-social behaviour, petty criminality, and in the worst case repeats of last summer’s rioting spreading to towns in West Sussex. The Tory words calling for earlier intervention and preventative work in adult and youth services, and the NHS, are not matched by action, and still less by funding.”
Lib Dem Transport spokesman, Dr Nigel Dennis pointed out that: “It was Mrs Thatcher who realised that privatisation would not work for all bus services, and that subsidies would be required to sustain many of them, especially in rural areas. Some 20% of our communities rely on bus services for their social life, shopping and medical care. The Tory cuts are going to make life still more difficult for many of these people in West Sussex.”  (Bob Smytherman Press Release)

ALL THE JOBS AND MORE PAY FOR THE TORY BOYS AND GIRLS AT COUNTY HALL

Saturday 18th February – West Sussex Liberal Democrat Councillors yesterday (Friday) decided to boycott the Scrutiny (Select) Committee vice-chairmanships at County Hall after the ruling Conservatives grabbed all the Committee chairmanships and allowances for themselves.
Dr James Walsh, Deputy Group Leader said: “The Tories want to be judge and jury for all their policies in West Sussex ignoring advice from The Independent Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) who recommend scrutiny (select committee) chairs should be shared with opposition Councillors, and Parliament itself shares the chairs of its Select Committees according to party seats in the Commons. On that basis alone the Lib Dems, with a quarter of the seats at County Hall should have at least one chairmanship.The whole basis of scrutiny of Cabinet decisions is that it should not be party political, but unbiased and open-minded, and generally that has worked well in West Sussex over the last 10 years when ‘Cabinet style’ governace was introduced.
The Tory takeover means that all policy decisions taken by the Tory cabinet members will be scrutinised by 4 scrutiny (select) committees all with a paid Conservative chairman and a majority of Tory members. That is simply undemocratic and unfair. This really does show who is raking in the cash for themselves at County Hall. The Tories have got more snouts in the taxpayers’ trough, and now they are just that bit deeper too!”

Morwen Millson, Group Leader said: “We have tried patiently to get common sense to prevail, but the Conservative group would not budge on this. Our decision to boycott the Select committee vice-chairs has been taken more in sorrow than in anger.  It is good practice by the vast majority of councils to share scrutiny chairmanships according to party strengths. It will not be understood by voters if the Conservative group wants effectively to introduce a one-party state at County Hall. We have not taken this decision lightly, but feel that it is the only way that we can try and get reason, openness, transparency and accountability to prevail. West Sussex County Council has always operated well as an inclusive elected member organisation, harnessing all member talents regardles of political allegiance, but this is a retrograde step by the Tories which will inevitably introduce more divisiveness and rancour into our procedures.”  (Bob Smytherman Press Release)

DIARY

Tuesday 21st February – WBC Council Meeting (Council Tax Setting) – Council Chamber, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

Tuesday 21st February – Lib Dem Durrington Surgery – New Life Church, Durrington 7.00 to 8.00 pm

and every third Tuesday of the month

Wednesday 22nd February – Lib Dem Northbrook/Durrington Ward Surgery – “The North Star”, Littlehampton Road 7.30 to 8.30 pm

Thursday 23rd February – WSCC West Sussex Joint Commissioning Board – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm

Saturday 25th February – Lib Dem Castle Ward Surgery – St Richards, Collingwood Road, Goring 10.00 to 10.30 am

Saturday 25th February – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to noon

FURTHER AHEAD

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 6.00 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

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