Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Liberal Democrats Weekly Newsletter – 6th to12th November 2011

Articles for the past week:

 Leader:  It’s not the plan that is important, it’s the planning       

News this past week:
1. Worthing Borough Councillors Join Forces With Age UK To Improve Our Neighbourhoods For Older People
2. Adur Lib Dems Call On Adur District Council To Support Ropetackle 
3. Adur & Worthing Lib Dems Welcome Olympic Torch
4. Allotments Report Sent Back
5. Most Crime Due To Alcohol Abuse
6. Lack Of Planning Enforcement Review Progress
  •    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 the plan that’s important, it’s the planning


There was an update this week on the Adur & Worthing Joint Overview & Scrutiny’s recommendations on the “Planning and Enforcement in Adur and Worthing” review which was completed in March 2011.  The review made nine recommendations and they were awarded a red, amber or green status under the councils’ favoured “RAG” system.  Seven were awarded red status and one green – the remaining one had already been rejected by the Adur & Worthing Joint Strategic Committee – effectively the joint Cabinets of the two authorities.

The red seven were:
(1) Planning Case Officers to deal with Planning Applications from start to finish i.e. from application stage to enforcement stage – status red because planning officers have had no capacity to take on any enforcement cases
(2) Write to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government requesting the current legislation be changed to ensure that when Building Control Officers are employed directly by a developer there should be a legal obligation to provide the Councils with the detail of any non-compliance issues – status red because awaiting reply from the Secretary of State
(3) Planning Enforcement training for Councillors to ensure all councillors are equipped with information to assist the Councils with enforcement – status red as will not be actioned until the 2012 new members induction programme
(4) Planning Enforcement Guide for the Public/Councillors to be produced to help the public and developers/builders/Councillors understand the planning enforcement processes – status red as still being developed
(5) Joint Planning Enforcement Policy to be developed for the two Councils as soon as possible – status red as still being developed
(6) Planning Enforcement Communication with the Councils taking a more proactive stance in communicating planning enforcement and issuing regular press releases – status red as no prosecutions since the decision and a backlog of work to be addressed
(7) Planning application fees/fines to be increased on retrospective planning applications – status red because awaiting change in primary legislation
And the green one:
Ward Councillor consultation to ensure Ward Councillors are informed and consulted on any issues where enforcement action is considered/happening.
Except that apparently green was not the case as Tory Councillor Charles James stated ward consultation was definitely not happening and in fact this was also status red.  Cllr James was not amused that all recommendations in his view were red – especially as he was on the original review group that made the recommendations.
So why no progess?   What had gone wrong as Worthing used to have a “gold standard” Planning Department admired and respected throughout the country?
A lack of resources was the underlying reason given compounded by the gold standard Worthing planning department being merged with the weaker Adur planning department.  A merger cost which we suspect has not been recognised when calculating the much hailed merger savings of the two authorities.
Around 1500 planning applications are being made a year in these depressed economic times and the joint planning department is struggling – it does not bode well for a more normal period when the number will be around 2300.
Oh, and that other recommendation rejected by the two Cabinets – an increase in resources !
Worthing Liberal Democrats 
Tuesday 8th November – All eleven Liberal Democrat Worthing Borough Councillors have today signed up with the national older people’s charity Age UK as Pride of Place advocates. Between them, Councillors Bob Smytherman, David Chapman, Christine Brown, Michael Donin, Alan Rice, Victoria Taylor, Diane Jones, Norah Fisher, Hazel Thorpe, David Potter and Trevor England represent thousands of older people across Worthing Borough. Age UK’s Pride of Place campaign is encouraging councillors to improve neighbourhoods for people in later life. Many older people are prevented from getting out and about in their area due to barriers such as a lack of public transport, uneven pavements, and access to public toilets or places to sit down.  Councillors are well placed to help resolve these issues and enable older people to continue playing a fulfilling role in their community. 
Gaisford Ward Councillor and group leader, Alan Rice said: ‘I’m delighted to have this opportunity to work with local older people in my ward and across the Borough and hopefully along with my colleagues be able to bring about some real improvements to the neighbourhoods in the area and I call on Conservative leader Paul Yallop and his colleagues to do the same.”
Diane Henderson, Chief Executive of Age UK West Sussex: ‘It’s vital that we invest in our neighbourhoods to ensure older people can go on being active and contribute to our communities for as long as possible – after all we now have more over 60s than under 18s. We are really pleased that these Councillors have joined us as Pride of Place advocates. They will be working with us and with older people locally to improve the neighbourhoods in this area. Together, we can make a real difference.”  (Bob Smytherman – Press Release)

Tuesday 8th November – Adur Liberal Democrats are today calling on Adur District Council to support Ropetackle Arts Centre in its time of need.  Ropetackle needs £20,000 to plug a gap in its finances and is running a campaign to raise funds under the “The Help Save Ropetackle Campaign” . The campaign has already raised over  £12,000. Simultaneously Adur District Council has set up a working group to undertake a review of the financial and business structure of the Ropetackle Centre.  According to the minutes of the Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee (September 15th) this “could examine the expenditure by Adur District Council on capital and grants over the past 10 years.” Liberal Democrats have already obtained figures for the past five years with grants and other revenue costs amounting to less than £150,000 and capital maintenance to less than £125,000.  In other words less than £150 a day which is insignificant compared to the £3,000 plus a day cost of Worthing’s Theatres quoted by Worthing Leader of the Council Paul Yallop.
One of the reasons Adur District Council supported The Ropetackle Centre at its inception was the centre would help Adur District Council and other agencies deliver many social inclusion goals as set out in the Community Strategy, through creativity and work with professional artists.  In these dire economic times Adur Liberal Democrats can only see a greater need to meet that objective.
Lib Dem Councillor Richard Burt said:  “We applaud the efforts by ‘The Help Save Ropetackle Campaign’ and wish them success but we call on Adur District Council to also step up to the plate. The costs to the council are not large but the effect on the community would be enormous.”


Tuesday 8th November – Adur & Worthing Liberal Democrats have today welcomed the news that the 2012 Olympic Games torch will be carried through the streets of Worthing and Lancing.  Lib Dems believe seeing the torch pass through our seaside towns will give inspiration to our young Olympians of tomorrow. Those potential Olympians will be following in the footsteps of local heroine Sally Gunnell OBE from Steyning and heros Daley Thompson CBE who went to school in Bolney and swimmer Duncan Mayhew MBE who grew up in Yapton.  For further inspiration they have Shoreham-by-Sea’s very own sailor Megan Pascoe who is a hopeful for next year’s Paralympics.
Lancing Parish Lib Dem Councillor Steve Martin said: “We are delighted that the torch will light our Lancing streets and we wish all GB Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls every success especially Megan who will  be flying the flag for Adur”.


Thursday 10th November – It is not often there is a public question at the Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee but there was tonight from Mr Willo of the Allotments Association. It is not the first time Mr Willo has asked a question about allotments – a fact which he reminded the committee having asked questions when Tory Heather Mercer was Chair, each year when Tory Tom Wye was Chair and now again with new Tory Chair Paul High. Lib Dems are not offered the chance to be Chair. The original question was about the provision of new allotment sites which over the years morphed into a general review of allotments and a suggestion they should be self-managed.  Mr Willo worked with the allotments working party and requested that the item on tonight’s agenda asking the committee to review the progress on recommendations be considered first by the working party.  The committee agreed and the working party is to be reconvened
Thursday 10th November – Adur Tory Councillor Dave Simmons presented a report to tonight’s Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the Adur & Worthing Safer Community Partnership (SCP). The statutory partners are West Sussex County Council, Adur and Worthing Councils, Sussex Police, Sussex Police Authority, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, NHS West Sussex and The Probation Service.  The partnership’s vision is to reduce crime and disorder through effective multi-agency working to make Adur & Worthing a safer place to live,work and visit.  The main objectives of the SCP include anti-social behaviour, alcohol abuse and misuse and other substance abuse; harm reduction in the areas of domestic abuse, hate crime and serious sexual offences; priority crime such as public place violent crime and road safety.
Most crime was stated as to be alcohol related and a general discussion was held on the subject with Tory members rejecting the cheap cost of alcohol as a factor.  Lib Dems are not convinced and are to propose a motion at next council on minimum pricing for alcohol.
Thursday 10th November – A report presented to tonight’s Joint Overview & Scrutimy Committee showed seven out of eight recommendations from the Planning Enforcement review group had a red status with little or no progress shown.  Even the status of the eighth one of keeping ward councillors informed was queried as anecdotal evidence also suggested this should be red. The planning officer reporting explained the department was suffering from a lack of resources. The committee was convinced enough to authorise a report to be written on the resource issue to be considered at the next committee.     
Monday 14th November – WSCC Standards Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm  
Tuesday 15th November – ADC & WBC Joint Strategic Committee – Gordon Room Town Hall at 6.30 pm
Tuesday 15th November – Lib Dem Durrington Surgery – New Life Church, Durrington 7.00 to 8.00 pm
                                       and every third Tuesday of the month 
Wednesday 16th November – Lib Dem Northbrook/Durrington Ward Surgery – “The North Star”, Littlehampton Road 7.30 to 8.30 pm
Saturday 19th November – Lib Dem Castle Ward Surgery – St Richards, Collingwood Road, Goring 10.00 to 10.30 am

Saturday 19th November – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to 11.30 am 

Saturday 19th November – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to 11.30 am 

Wednesday 23rd November – WSCC Children and Young People’s Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am
Wednesday 23rd November – WBC Planning Committee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm 
Monday 28th November – WSCC Governance Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm
Tuesday 29th November – WSCC Planning Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am
Tuesday 29th November – ADC & WBC Joint Strategic Committee – Council Chamber, Adur Civic Centre at 6.30 pm
Wednesday 30th November – WSCC Strategic Environmental Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am             Saturday 3rd December – Lib Dem Central Ward Surgery – St Pauls Centre, Chapel Road 10.30 am to 12.00 noon and every first Saturday of the month
 Saturday 3rd December – Lib Dem Broadwater Surgery – The Community House, Dominion Road 2.00 to 4.00 pm  
                              and every first Saturday of the month
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