Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Liberal Democrats Weekly Newsletter – 5th to 11th February 2012

Articles for the past week:

Leader:  Not a dickeybird       
News this past week:
1. Quelle Surprise!  Worthing Council Tax Rise Is Zero.
2. U-Turn By Tory Leader On Portas Pilot?
3. Argus Piece Upsets Tory Tim
4. Government Minister Professor Steve Webb Joins Local Lib Dems For Dinner At Worthing’s Beechwood Hall Hotel

WORTHING LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

5TH TO 11TH 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:  Not a dickeybird

It is now over three months since Worthing Borough Council issued a press release announcing “good news for Worthing’s pool” but we are still awaiting details of that good news. For three months we have been waiting for the word that all is signed, sealed and delivered but nothing has been forthcoming. Perhaps we missed something or is Worthing’s Tory administration just being a little coy about the signing of the contract – has the word gone missing in action?

There is no denying there has been action on the ground by developers Morgan Sindall with progress being reported on the Worthing Conservatives website: “So far our contractors Morgan Sindell (sic) have completed site set up and demolition; sheet piling adjacent to existing aquarena (sic); piled foundations; basement slab construction; temporary dewatering and diving pool construction.”

The Tory report goes on to quote the Area Director for Morgan Sindall as saying: “We are looking forward to using our expertise in leisure facilities to deliver a first class resource …..”   Looking forward?  Then why still not a dickeybird about the new pool on Morgan Sindall’s website?  Developers are not usually so slow in coming forward with news of their successes.  Could it be the final contract has still not been signed?

You may remember at the time of the “good news for Worthing’s pool” we couldn’t tell you the new funding arrangements for the new pool as they were commercially sensitive. Tory Leader of the Council Paul Yallop did indicate in the press release the sale price of the Aquarena site was lower than expected and we were told the details would remain secret from the public until the contract was finally signed.  Again perhaps we have missed something but again not a dickeybird.

At the same time it was announced that the Adur Civic Centre had been sold and guess what?  The details couldn’t be released as they were commercially sensitive.  For a third time perhaps we have missed something but for a third time we have not heard a dickeybird.

On November 18th last year we asked the Worthing Borough Council legal officer to let us know when contracts had been exchanged on all the above three and we sent him a reminder on Monday. The legal officer replied that he would seek an update as to the position of each and provide the information.  Nothing so far – in fact not a dickeybird.

So early yesterday morning Worthing Lib Dem Group Leader Alan Rice tried a different tactic by this time using a dickeybird – the dickeybird known as Twitter.  Two “tweets” to Paul Yallop (@paulyallop) as Leader and Bryan Turner (@canadax) as Cabinet Member for Regeneration – firstly “is the contract signed with #MorganSindall yet?” and secondly “any ‘official’ news on #Aquarena site sale yet? Signed, sealed and delivered?”.  One “tweet” to Julie Searle (@mrsjuliesearle) as Adur District Council Deputy Leader “any ‘official’ news on #AdurCivicCentre” sale?  Signed, sealed and delivered?”.

Alan hasn’t heard a dickeybird.

Worthing Liberal Democrats 

NEWS FROM THE PAST WEEK

QUELLE SURPRISE!  WORTHING COUNCIL TAX RISE IS ZERO

Monday 6th February – The one Cabinet meeting of Worthing Borough Council a year was held tonight to agree the budget and recommend the council tax setting for 2012-13.  There is only now one Cabinet meeting a year because all other major decisions are taken jointly with Adur District Council at the Joint Strategic Committee. This streamlining of meetings obstensibly to save costs in line with residents’ expressed wishes in the 2011-12 budget consultation, also means for the first time ever the budget has not been scrutinised by the Overview & Scrutiny Committee. The meeting was short, sharp and for the Tory Cabinet sweet as the budget was nodded through and a zero rise for Council Tax duly recommended.  The budget and council tax will be formally approved at the next Council meeting on February 21st.

Leader of Worthing Lib Dem Group Alan Rice said: “Quelle Surprise!  Zero council tax rise! I am totally gobsmacked. Can’t wait to debate this groundbreaking decision at the next council. I’m writing my speech already.”

U-TURN ON PORTAS PILOT BY TORY LEADER?

Thursday 9th February – Last week’s newsletter reported the request by Dan Thompson to Tory Leader of the Council Paul Yallop for support in a community led bid for Worthing to become a Portas Pilot. As at last Sunday Mr Yallop had not responded but we can report this week he has been active on Twitter on the matter – surely not in response to our article?  At first Mr Yallop appeared to see no need as Worthing footfall figures were good, the percentage of empty shops was below the nation’s average and several traders reported good business. But as the tweets exchanged over the validity of the figures Mr Yallop’s resolve weakened ending with a “let’s go4it” decision. We know from Twitter Mr Yallop and Dan met for coffee today to discuss. Let’s hope the discussion was fruitful and we will have a genuine community bid for Worthing.

Worthing Lib Dems had already pledged their support.

ARGUS ARTICLE UPSETS TORY TIM

Friday 10th February – Today saw a piece the Argus headlined “Sussex MPs in the spotlight” which asked the question: “Your MP is your voice in Parliament but how loud are they shouting?”  The Argus asked several MPs to tell them exactly what they do to raise the concerns of their constituents in Parliament.  Not included in the piece (at least on the website) was East Worthing & Shoreham Tory MP Tim Loughton who is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Young Families. Tory Tim expressed his anger over the piece on Twitter – exchanging views with the Argus journalist responsible James Wallin and rubbishing the piece.

Leader of Worthing Lib Dem Group Alan Rice said: “I welcome the interest expressed by the local media in what’s being said and done by MPs on behalf of their constituents – the constituents have a right to know.  Worthing Liberal Democrats would be delighted if a similar piece could be done on Worthing Borough councillors – Worthing’s residents have a right to know.  I am awaiting the Argus call.”

GOVERNMENT MINISTER PROFESSOR STEVE WEBB JOINS LOCAL LIB DEMS FOR DINNER AT WORTHING’S BEECHWOOD HALL HOTEL 

Friday 10th February – The Pensions Minister Steve Webb MP returned to Worthing to join local party members and supporters on Wednesday evening to celebrate the commitment of long standing party member Dorothy Till to the party and the town as local Magistrate for many years and as a Liberal since 1949.  Dring the annual dinner at Beechwood Hall Hotel Steve Webb MP presented Dorothy with a small gift to acknowledge her dedication to the ‘liberal’ cause for so many years. Dorothy recalled the early meetings of the Worthing Liberals based in the cellar of the Beechwood Hall Hotel. On Wednesday evening local Liberal Democrats were served by the management and staff with a delicious and excellently presented three course meal, which was thought by Steve, to be better than a meal he had been served at a London venue!  Professor Steve Webb MP for Thornbury & Yate near Bristol and Minister of State for Pensions on his second visit to the constituency having previously attended our annual dinner a few years ago was ‘grilled’ himself about the governments latest actions. Steve used to work for the Institute of Fiscal Studies and gained his Professorship through researching Social Policy, covering the Benefits system and Pensions. He was therefore very well equipped to answer difficult questions from party activists about the changes the Coalition Government was making.  His responses and sense of humour left us in no doubt that he and fellow Liberal Democrat Ministers were working behind the scenes making a real difference to improve Britain for the better and to make our society a fairer one. He let us in on some of the strategies, which resembled a game of Chess where the Bishop had some power but not ultimate power but highlighted the differences the party was making in Government for the first time in many years. He also recalled the time Lib Dem MP’s were locked in Local Government House during negotiations on the Coalition agreement while the campaign group ‘Unlock Democracy’ were outside campaigning for a change to the voting system. Steve also told of his first day as Minister driving around London waiting for the top Civil Servant in the Department to come out of meeting so he could greet his new Pensions Minister. Steve told members that those residents at the sharp end of the cuts, would still have their allowances in place if they were needed for health reasons and some groups such as pensioners would be at least £5 a week better off because of restoring the link between pensions and earnings reversing the decision of previous Labour and Conservative Governments and he assured members that pensions would rise in value not fall. This was first championed in Worthing by former Government Minister David Laws MP when he visited Guild Care some years ago.

DIARY

Wednesday 15th February – Licensing and Control Committee B Quality Food Cash & Carry – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

Wednesday 15th February – Lib Dem Northbrook/Durrington Ward Surgery – “The North Star”, Littlehampton Road 7.30 to 8.30 pm

Friday 17th February – WSCC County Council Meeting (Council Tax Setting -meeting will be webcast) – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Saturday 18th February – Lib Dem Castle Ward Surgery – St Richards, Collingwood Road, Goring 10.00 to 10.30 am

Saturday 18th February – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to noon

FURTHER AHEAD

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

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

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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