Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Worthing Liberal Democrats Weekly Newsletter – 15th to 21st April 2012

Articles for the past week:

Leader:  Council Tax myths

News this past week: 

1. No Liberal Democrat Run Council In England Has Raised Council Tax

2. New Pool Real Cost Tops £20 Million

3. Third Time Unlucky On The Buses

4. No Fresh Worthing Money Available for Jubilee Seafront Party

5. Tory Leader Rejects Fresh Meeting Of Theatres Working Party

6. Worthing Music & Arts Festival Vacates Town Hall After 60 Years

WORTHING LIBERAL DEMOCRATS WEEKLY NEWSLETTER 15TH TO 21ST APRIL 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:  Council Tax myths 

When Worthing Liberal Democrats took power in 1993 at their first council tax setting budget they reduced council tax by a whopping 18.4%.  The average Worthing Borough Council Tax rise set by the Liberal Democrats since Council Tax was introduced is 3.6% whereas the average Tory rise until the Coalition recommended freeze is 3.7%. Yet the Tories persisted in the myth Worthing Liberal Democrats were the party of high Council Tax – at least that’s what the Tories warned against in their first round of election leaflets.  It was based on another Tory myth.

The Tories quoted a Council Tax rise of 9.8% when Lib Dems were last in power. But the previous year the total Council Tax rise including West Sussex County Council and the Police Authority was a whopping 18.6% – both West Sussex and the Police Authority were Tory controlled. It was this Tory rise which caused Worthing residents to weep.

Worthing Liberal Democrats proposed once again to reduce Council Tax in their amendment to the 2012-13 budget – this time by a smaller 2.5%.  You would think the Tories would have leapt at the chance to lower Council Tax but their Cabinet Member for Resources flatly refused.  We understood at the time this was because he thought the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) grant was not available to local authorities that reduced Council Tax but the Cabinet Member now says this was because he needed to protect the Council Tax base.  In other words – should the DCLG grant be taken away next year Worthing Borough Council would have to increase Council Tax.  So much for ongoing efficiencies from the Adur/Worthing merger of services and the reduction in losses from the theatres – these have obviously come to a halt.

When the groundbreaking merger was first announced we were led to believe this would lead to a lower Council Tax but now we are told that is never going to happen under a Tory administration in Worthing because of the erosion of the Council Tax base.  So the second round of Tory election leaflets compare the Lib Dems’ proposed reduction of Council Tax with the selling of the nation’s gold by Gordon Brown.  They really are grasping at straws.

So first the Tories warn against high Council Tax under Lib Dems – then they warn against low Council Tax under Lib Dems. Which is the worst evil?  Perhaps it should always remain the same – no change.

No change suits the Tories – they have failed to make any significant changes in the last 50 years.  It is high time for a change from the Tories – the self-confessed party of “High Tax – No Spend.”

As we approach St George’s Day it’s time to slay those council tax myths.

Worthing Liberal Democrats 

NEWS FROM THE PAST WEEK

NO LIBERAL DEMOCRAT RUN COUNCIL IN ENGLAND HAS RAISED COUNCIL TAX

Worthing Liberal Democrats would have gone one better

Tuesday 17th April – Liberal Democrat Party President Tim Farron pointed out yesterday while Labour and the Tories fight over how many of their councils raised council tax that no Liberal Democrat-run council in England has raised council tax. In Worthing which had its best budget round for several years Liberal Democrats had they been in power, would have gone one better and reduced council tax by 2.5%.  At February’s Worthing Borough Council meeting the Liberal Democrat amendment to reduce Council Tax by 2.5% was described as “folly” by the Cabinet Member for Resources Steven Waight. Mr Waight stated that Worthing would lose the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) grant if a reduction was made and the proposal showed a lack of understanding by the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately for Mr Waight it was a lack of understanding on his part as the DCLG website confirms Councils who reduced Council Tax received the same 2.5% grant as those which froze Council Tax.
Liberal Democrat Party President, Tim Farron, said:  “While Labour and the Tories fight over how many of their councils raised Council Tax, it’s clear that with the Liberal Democrats your money is safest: no Liberal Democrat-run council in England has raised Council Tax. This stands in stark contrast to Tory and Labour-run councils which have been racking up the Council Tax in these difficult times. Ordinary working families are struggling already with paying bills, without their councils increasing the burden. Liberal Democrat councils have not only frozen council tax but are also most likely to be giving the lowest-paid council workers a pay rise. This comes on top of Liberal Democrat achievements in the Budget, which increased the number of people, lifted out of tax to over a million and gave nearly 25m people a £130 tax cut this year. The choice in next month’s elections is clear: vote Liberal Democrat for financially responsible councils that create jobs.”   (Bob Smytherman Press Release)

NEW POOL REAL COST TOPS £20 MILLION

Tuesday 17th April – Worthing Tory Cabinet Member for Resources Steven Waight confirmed at tonight’s Council meeting the true cost of the new pool would top £20 million. Using figures produced in October for the Adur & Worthing Joint Strategic Committee the Cabinet Member confirmed, including the “invest to save” elements and the car park, the total cost was £20,185,000. For some reason the Cabinet Member was reluctant and indeed refused to say out loud this figure to the assembled Council. The confirmation was in response to a question from Lib Dem Leader Alan Rice in which he also requested a schedule of the financing arrangements. But the financial details were still confidential and not available to the public – both the true figure and the financing was sent after the meeting to Alan by e-mail from the Cabinet Member. Worthing Lib Dem Group Leader Alan Rice said: “I am a little surprised there has been no change in the figures or financing since October but it does confirm the oft stated figure in the media of £17.9 million is an underestimate.  I suspect Mr Waight refused to confirm the £20 million plus figure out loud because the Tory Cabinet even want to keep their own backbench members in the dark as much as possible.  It will be very interesting to see what the final figure actually turns out to be.”

THIRD TIME UNLUCKY ON THE BUSES

Tuesday 17th April –  Lib Dem Worthing Group Leader Alan Rice tried for a third time to make the Tories see sense and release funds to restore Sunday and evening bus services but it was third time unlucky.  The first recommendation of a recent Public Health Community Needs Assessment report for Northbrook & Durrington (an area of high child poverty) was to improve public transport – both frequency and length of bus service.  Also many have told us on the doorsteps without evening bus services to get home, residents (especially the elderly) are unable to attend Worthing’s theatres.  Two very good reasons to use some of Worthing’s underspend last year to restore the bus services but the Cabinet Member for Resources Steven Waight refused to even contemplate the idea.

Alan said: “I am not surprised as under the constitution technically I cannot make such a proposal during Cabinet Member question time which the Legal Officer was quick to point out. But Mr Waight would not even indicate his support for such a proposal.  I am sure where there is a will there is a way but there is no will as far as the Tories are concerned.”

NO FRESH WORTHING MONEY FOR JUBILEE SEAFRONT PARTY

Tuesday 17th April –  In addition in trying to get funds for bus services, Lib Dem Worthing Group Leader Alan Rice linked with the proposal a release of £5,000 for the Jubilee Seafront Party which Worthing Liberal Democrats understand is short of funds.  But this again failed as the Legal Officer ruled the proposal out of order under the Worthing Borough Council constitution as with the bus funding proposal.  The Cabinet Member for Resources did not even mention the seafront party when he responded.

TORY LEADER REJECTS FRESH MEETING OF THEATRES WORKING PARTY

Tuesday 17th April –  Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet Member for Improved Services David Chapman asked in vain for a reconvening of the Theatres Working Party as soon as possible to discuss a way forward.

David’s plea was put to Leader of the Council Paul Yallop but the Leader refused outlining his wish for the theatres’ management revamping of the business plan to run its course.  Mr Yallop has backtracked recently on his statement the theatres are losing £3,000 per day but whatever the figure is Worthing Liberal Democrats would like to see some action taken sooner rather than later.  David Chapman is the Liberal Democrat member of the Theatres Working Party.

WORTHING MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL VACATES TOWN HALL AFTER 60 YEARS 

Tuesday 17th April – Lib Dem Group Leader Alan Rice reminded the Leader of the Council Paul Yallop he was still awaiting an answer regarding the whereabouts of the piano given to Worthing Borough Council for the use of the town’s residents by Worthing Music & Arts Festival.  The piano used to reside in the Gordon Room but disappeared.  In the meantime Alan had discovered the piano first had been moved to Field Place and then to a private house but a new question had arisen. Alan had learned the Worthing Music & Arts Festival had vacated their office in the Town Hall, which was rent free, after an association of sixty years – the question was why?  Mr Yallop was vague in his reponse especially after Alan pointed out the new address of the Worthing Music & Arts Festival was Worthing Conservative Headquarters – Haverfield House.  Worthing Liberal Democrats understand the Festival is paying a rent at their new abode.

DIARY

Monday 23rd April – WSCC Governance Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm

Tuesday 24th April – WSCC Cabinet Meeting – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Wednesday 25th April – WSCC Children and Young People’s Services Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Wednesday 25th April – WSCC Pensions Panel – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Wednesday 25th April – Lib Dem Northbrook/Durrington Ward Surgery – The Durrington Community Centre, New Road 7.30 to 8.30 pm

Thursday 26th April – WSCC Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Friday 27th April – WSCC Policy and Resources Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Saturday 28th April – Lib Dem Castle Ward Surgery – The Strand Shops 10.00 to 10.30 am

Saturday 28th April – Lib Dem Gaisford/Tarring Castle Wards Surgery – West Worthing Baptist Church, South Street, Tarring 10.30 to noon

FURTHER AHEAD

Tuesday 1st May – WSCC Planning Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Thursday 3rd May – Worthing Borough Council Elections

Saturday 5th May – 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 5th May – Lib Dem Broadwater Surgery – The Community House, Dominion Road 2.00 to 4.00 pm

and every first Saturday of the month

Thursday 17th May – WSCC West Sussex Joint Commissioning Board – County Hall, Chichester at 2.15 pm

Friday 18th May – WSCC Full County Council (meeting will be webcast) – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Friday 18th May – WBC Annual Council Meeting – Council Chamber, Town Hall at noon

Tuesday 22nd May – Lib Dem Durrington Surgery – New Life Church, Durrington 7.00 to 8.00 pm

and every third Tuesday of the month

Thursday 24th May – WSCC Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Tuesday 29th May – WSCC Planning Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

Tuesday 29th May – WBC Planning Committee – Gordon Room, Town Hall at 6.00 pm

Thursday 31st May – WSCC Policy and Resources Select Committee – County Hall, Chichester at 10.30 am

 

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