Agenda item

Questions from the Public


To receive any questions from members of the public addressed to Members of the Executive in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.  There is up to 5 minutes for each question, one supplementary question may be asked arising from the original question.


Questions must relate to any matter the Council has power or which affects the Borough, except no questions may be asked in relation to


a)    A specific planning or licensing application

b)    A specific staffing appointment or appeal, or Standards determination


Public question time will last up to 30 minutes; questions will be taken in the order of receipt.


The following question had been received in advance of the meeting.


1)     Question submitted by Mr Cothard, Friends of West Worthing Park Chairman


For the Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing


Friendship/Chat benches


Following October's statement of being "only too happy to help" community groups with such a proposal WHY has the reality been anything but?


Firstly, we are signposted to The Friendly Bench CIC, but they only operate in central England and can only support 2 benches nationally, will that recommendation be officially withdrawn?


Secondly, why has there been no progress on a council approved template design involving local businesses which can be publicised and would make life much easier for community groups interested in the scheme?


Thirdly, I have been met with nothing but obstacles trying to get my proposal up and running - such as outdoor spread out seating being Covid risk (despite the council continuing with their own projects involving seating and enclosed places), ASB (despite the ward having a rate of 60% of the national average), questions over my group's constitution (despite it being the own council's template c/o Andy Edwards) and Consultation (despite none being required for the council's own seating or memorial benches plus no indication given as to whether the council would consult or when).


Fourthly, why has the Member failed to either respond or acknowledge polite correspondence from myself and other councillors seeking a way forward and clarity? I find this unprofessional, unhelpful and unkind.


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that the Council would like to reiterate that officers were only too happy to help with these offers, and would also reiterate that suggestions and advice given in the pursuit of these improvements was with the best intentions, based on the Council’s experience of the park in question and of similar projects.  As custodians of open spaces, on behalf of Worthing residents and park users, the Council had a duty to show that there had been due consideration to the governance required to install such features. ASB, covid, constitutions of decision making bodies, and the testing of public opinion were all valid lines of inquiry, and the Council must make sure that all of those points were adequately satisfied before progress could be made.


The proposal with this project specifically was to do a light touch consultation exercise that meant the Council could make sure that it had listened to all voices to help decide what happened next. The Council would work with stakeholders such as Friends of West Worthing, to make sure that the design of this process was appropriate.  This would happen as soon as possible, and in order to make sure the opportunity for funding of this project did not slip by, the Council had taken steps to speak to WSCC to safeguard those funds should the consultation exercise prove that the project was indeed the best option for the park’s greater good.


2)     Question submitted by Mr Loggenberg, a Worthing Resident


For the Leader of the Council


Regulation 4(1) of the Health Protections regulations regarding the Wearing of Face Coverings, has built in protections for persons who cannot wear a face covering.


Regulation 5(9) of the same regulations specifies persons with powers as set in regulation 5(2)(a) and (b) if a person was in contravention of Regulation 3 of the same Regulations


Given that Regulation 3 includes the provision, “without reasonable excuse”, and reasonable excuses under regulation 4(1) includes matters of personal health even a disability one is not obligated to disclose — it also being a choice to wear a lanyard if you wish as opposed to a must,


- does the Council agree that “No Mask No Entry”- notices are inconsistent with the law and discriminatory against persons with a disability and or a valid excuse, that such places must in their notices include to state “Unless you have a valid exemption”


in order to make reasonable adjustment as an Equality Act and a Disability Discrimination Act requirement…and what will the Council do to ensure businesses do comply with that requirement and to discourage business discharging powers under regulation 5(2) if they are not a relevant person pursuant to regulation 5(9) when the person not wearing a face covering has done nothing but merely given a valid excuse?


The Leader replied that the Regulations stated that "No person may, without reasonable excuse, enter or remain within a relevant place without wearing a face covering." It did not state that signs needed to be erected to enforce this, it was up to the individual premises to determine how best to comply with the Regulations. Unfortunately, there was no defined or approved standard for such signage.


The Council’s Covid Information Officers were liaising with businesses and providing advice and guidance where applicable. This issue would be considered by them when giving out such guidance.


In terms of the 'relevant person' question, the Council would need to consider this further, however, the Council would be pleased to receive information on any specific premises causing issues in that regard.


3)     Question submitted by Mr Loggenberg, a Worthing resident


For the Leader of the Council


On 20th October 2020 at the Council Meeting, I asked the Leader of the Council who was taking leadership to ensure people of Black Ethnicity’s Suffering and Death would be equally reflected on the War Memorial at Steyne Gardens and when the actions were being taken in that respect. The Leader of the Council said that he took leadership on the matter and that he was acting on the matter within the subsequent weeks and that he’d also contact me thereto.


I appreciate the leader of the Council, like many of us, has limited hours in his day and many other matters to attend to — would he be so kind as to update me on progress whether by way of a short address in the meeting or in writing.


The Leader replied that he hadn’t said that the Council would amend the memorial but that he had received an email from the Museum who were amenable to a conversation on the topic. The Leader advised that it would be a while until the Museum was open for business again and therefore he would take up the conversation in the summer.