To receive any questions from members of the public addressed to Member 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
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 deadline for submission of questions is Friday 11 December 2020 at 12 noon. Questions to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
The following question had been received in advance of the meeting.
1. Question submitted by Becky Griffiths, a Worthing resident
To the Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing
“Motor neurone disease (MND) is a rapidly progressive condition – a third of people die within a year of diagnosis and half within two years and during that time symptoms worsen and needs increase.
It is vital to ensure people living a progressive and terminal condition like MND can live in safe and accessible homes, to help them realise their right to independence and quality of life in the short time they have left to live.
Faster access in identifying accessibility needs, requesting adaptations, applying for funding, and installing the home adaptations they need can enable them to live at home for longer, maintain their health and wellbeing for as long as possible, and remain engaged with their communities, families and friends.
It is our council’s role to ensure that local people with MND are well supported to access home adaptations or move to an accessible home in a timely manner.
The MND Association has proposed a set of recommendations and highlighted examples of good practice in their Act to Adapt report that would not only help people with MND, but also many other people who need accessible housing. These recommendations are based on our research and what people with MND, professionals and other experts have said.
Will this council commit to taking action to review current systems and implement the recommendations and good practice as set out in the Act to Adapt report to ensure adaptations can happen in a timely, efficient manner with minimum impact on the people they are supposed to help.”
The Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing replied that the Act to Adapt report from the MND Association is a 42 page report that contains a number of recommendations for national and local government in respect of the delivery of adaptations to the homes of disabled persons, especially where the condition is life-limiting.
Adur & Worthing Councils, in line with all other lower tier local authorities, have a statutory duty to fund adaptations using Disabled Facility Grants (DFGs). Following a change in the funding stream for these grants, Adur & Worthing adopted additional discretionary DFG measures as part of an ongoing county-wide policy and review and it is the Councils’ belief that the West Sussex authorities already meet or exceed the majority of recommendations set out in the MND report.
These include the waiving of £5000 from any calculated contribution, non-means tested hospital discharge grants, the treatment of council tax support as a passporting benefit and the fast-tracking of applicants with life-limiting illnesses. In one case, the Councils installed a stairlift for the benefit of a terminally ill applicant within 8 days from their first contact.
In respect of best practice, it is of particular note that Adur & Worthing are the only West Sussex authorities to use an in-house Home Improvement Assistance team, which puts the applicant at the centre of the process and delivers adaptations in a timely and efficient manner.
The Private Sector Housing team completed 269 DFGs in 2019/20 for a total spend of over £2.32M (which was a 36% increase in completions and spend from 2017/18 when the policy was changed).
The Councils will, of course, continue to review their policy and services as part of the county-wide working group to identify and introduce improvements as necessary.
Ms Griffiths asked whether a member of the inhouse home improvement team would like to attend a meeting with the MND Association to explain their role.
The Executive Member agreed to pass on the invitation.
2. Question submitted by Russ Cochran, a Worthing Resident
To the Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services
Worthing Borough Council and the Football Foundation have produced and released a football facility plan for the Borough. The plan is very welcome to many of those who are active in supporting and running local clubs - especially as youth football is very much flourishing in Worthing. Unfortunately the plan doesn’t include any proposals for Northbrook Recreation Ground yet. One of the youth clubs that uses the ground has 350 young players across 20 teams and the potential to provide more and more opportunities for young people if we can further improve the facilities.
Can the cabinet member for environment confirm that there will be opportunities for other local clubs such as; Worthing Dynamos, in the future, to enjoy benefits similar to those that another club in Worthing has received in recent years?
Supplementary - will the Executive Member agree to meet with me at Northbrook Recreation Ground to discuss this matter and future plans, when it is safe to do so?
The Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services replied that he would be happy to do so.
In the absence of Paisley Thomas, the Mayor read out the following question:-
3. Question submitted by Paisley Thomas, a Worthing resident
To the Executive Member for Regeneration
The commitment by Worthing Borough Council to invest in and improve the look of public spaces in the town centre is very welcome. I’ve looked at the plans for Portland Road and it looks very exciting. While I completely support these plans we also have a number of secondary shopping areas in Worthing that are equally important for local people and the economy. Talking to people running local businesses in Broadwater I know that they are keen to see some investment in their areas as well. Does the council have any plans to invest in shopping areas other than the town centre?
The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that the Council was currently auditing a number of its secondary shopping areas (outside of the town centre) with a view to investing in them in the first 6 months of next year. The Council knows these areas are holding their own in the current climate (in terms of vacancy rates), however it is committed to support these areas to ensure it can maintain them as places where residents (and visitors) wish to visit.
The Council can’t invest in all areas, however the Executive Member was pleased to say Broadwater had been selected as one of those places where the Council wished to intervene. Broadwater has already been audited and an upgrade plan is being prepared now. This investment will be in the form of upgraded street furniture in the first instance (i.e. benches etc.) and will be due in the first half of next year.