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.


1.         Submitted Question from Mr Matthew Potter, a Worthing Resident


The Adur & Worthing Community Food Network includes a number of organisations who work with and support local people who would otherwise go hungry.


We are very grateful for the time, funds and resources from Adur & Worthing Council, which we could not have done without. We also appreciate their proactive approach and willingness to work with us.


However, demand for food is rising and many of our organisations are now operating at capacity. We are currently supporting over 3,500 of our neighbours with nearly 10,000 food parcels and 1,600 pre-prepared meals every quarter.


We would like cross-party support to work on a long-term, community-led action plan to address the causes of and the solutions to food insecurity, along with looking at future food acquisition and distribution so that we can better support our community.


This will require a fully-funded, community-led coordinator and continued cross-departmental focus, directed toward a long-term participatory Food Action plan.


We would ask that the Council: 


Confirms its cross-party, continued support, both practical and financial, for the Community Food Network.


Further we ask for a cross-party financial commitment to fully fund a community-directed long-term Food Action plan that will address both the causes of, and the solutions to, food insecurity in our community.


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing responded that the Councils’ had been working in partnership with the food groups since April 2020, during the first national lockdown to share information and resources, with the Councils providing significant emergency resources and direct support, including money, space for food, an emergency food hub and assistance to ensure those in need, received food and other help.


The Council continued to play a key role with food groups and the AW Food Network to help and enable this group to meet the local needs of residents, focusing on how partners can address food needs now, supporting groups with Covid funding resources and officer time/resources.  Officers had also been working alongside other partners and many of the Council’s generous businesses and volunteers who had continued to help and support people, with food, financial contributions, skills and volunteering hours


The Council recognised the approach needed to be more than alleviating the immediate need for food, and enabling more early intervention work to connect people to the wider support and advice available to alleviate need including help with money, housing, benefits entitlement, access to employment etc. The Councils had directed £195,000 of the COMF funding directly to food groups (Contain Outbreak Management Fund) to address food and these broader issues and had also used and mobilised resources to help ensure early help and prevention work was provided, through the Proactive project, employment coaches, money advice, temporary housing, and street outreach. 


The Councils were keen to work on a more long term approach with food partners to tackle the long-term drivers of food need and insecurity and to support more sustainable food supply issues that help share food resources and tackle food waste in ways that address food insecurity in our community.  The Council recognized the urgency of support now and the need to develop a long term plan and it was working in the best way possible to support this.


The Councils’ fully recognised and supported the need to work cross party and as part of a coalition of community-directed, multi-agency partners.   The Council was also working with Community Works and food partners to try and build a much better and informed position around food need and supply to inform the direction of this work and to enable its teams to work with local businesses to broaden the food supply issue.  The Council would continue to play a role in supporting the food agenda, as part of a collaborative approach and would help work with others to attract funding and other resources to support this work. 


Mr Potter asked a supplementary question about the implementation of a Food Action plan as other Councils had.


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that a Food Action plan was in place and that the Council would continue to support this. 



A question had been pre-submitted, in multiple parts, by a Mr Adrian Cothard and was read out by the Mayor as Mr Cothard was not present at the meeting.


2.         Submitted Question from Mr Cothard, a Worthing Resident


Is it right that the fraction of CIL monies that Communities can apply for can be subject to politicians being allowed the final say on funding AFTER going through due diligence with the council's own projects team?


            Is it fair that one of the highest scoring projects for a community seating

shelter in a park is refused funding because the applicant's group is led by an

opposition councillor?


Is it further fair or appropriate that the council refuses disappointed applicants all sight of any conversations/correspondence between councillors/officers thus depriving them of any opportunity for true scrutiny?


Would it be more appropriate to have a more accurate list as to what can and cannot be applied for via the CIL Neighbourhood pot so that community groups can avoid having their time simply wasted on applications that have no chance of being approved?


Does the council agree that the rollout of this scheme has been a shambolic mess and set up in a way that leaves it wide open to abuse by those approving and vetoing applications?


The Leader replied advising that he had spoken to the Solicitor to the Council and that as there were other matters ongoing in relation to his questions, it would not be right for any answer, verbal or written, to be given at this time, in order to ensure natural justice to these procedures.



A question had been pre-submitted by Sheila Howell and was read out by the Mayor as Ms Howell was not present at the meeting.


3.         Submitted Question from Ms Sheila Howell, a Worthing Resident


Can the council confirm if any of the replies received were from any of the disabled who use the town parking.


The Leader replied that the Council, via and in partnership with West Sussex County Council, received a number of representations about the Montague Place scheme (to which the Leader presume Ms Howell was  referring).The Leader  confirmed these were primarily related to the re-provision of the disabled parking bays, loading for businesses and emergency access. The decision to grant the Traffic Regulation Order was agreed by West Sussex County Council as the highways authority, following the TRO public consultation period.



A question had been pre-submitted by Ms Pauline Cox and was read out by the Mayor as Ms Cox was not present at the meeting.


4.         Submitted Question from Pauline Cox, a Worthing Resident


Will the Council please provide a list of all businesses and organisations consulted Re. Removal of Blue Badge Bays in Montague Place, including percentages of those who responded?


The Leader advised that the Council engaged with a number of stakeholders in relation to the Montague Place scheme ahead of the formal Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) consultation period. This included local residents, local businesses, the Town Centre Initiative, Emergency Services and local access groups, including Worthing Sight Support. Following the consultation period, and after responding to a number of representations, West Sussex County Council (as the Highways Authority) made the decision to ward the TRO.



A question had been pre-submitted by Ms Maxine Lawler and was read out by the Mayor as Ms Lawler was not present at the meeting.


5.         Submitted Question from Maxine Lawler, a Worthing Resident


Please tell me if the disabled spaces removed from the Montague st area will be replaced nearby? With more spaces with the ability to remove a wheelchair safely from the rear of the vehicle?


The Leader responded that the disabled spaces from Montague Place would be re-provided on Marine Parade, outside Marks & Spencers. These bays had been used temporarily as disabled bays during the covid pandemic; these were now being made permanent. These new 24/7 bays would be enlarged and new egress / access would be added to allow for wheelchair access. The Council had also put additional disabled bays into Montague Quarter Car Park (the TK Maxx Car Park) to ensure there was no loss of provision in the town centre. In fact, as a result of both interventions, 10 bays had been re-provided, an increase of 2 disabled bays, when compared to the 8 that were in Montague Place.




A question had been pre-submitted by Ms Sophie Watts and was read out by the Mayor as Ms Watts was not present at the meeting.


6.         Submitted Questions from Sophie Watts, a Worthing Resident


Q:  What made the council strongly agree to the closure of vital WAV disabled bays within Montague Place despite their usage being 100%, and the adequacy of alternative provision for those disabled bay users in Worthing?


Q:  Councillors John Turley and Jim Deen made no mention of WOR9019MM on their media accounts, neither did Worthing Borough Council or West Sussex County Council. As with guidelines for TRO consultations, these things are meant to be made public and essentially published to media where it can be seen by all, not the few. Why is it that we have not seen evidence of this on any social media account? Furthermore, how can the councils respond and say they have done their best to make people aware? Subsequently, none of the disabled community were aware of this TRO for the bays that they use regularly, of which were at 100% capacity.


The Leader advised that the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) granted by West Sussex County Council would see the disabled bays relocated to Marine Parade (outside Marks & Spencers), whilst additional bays had been added to Montague Quarter car park, increasing the provision to 10. The Council were aware the disabled bays were well used, hence why the re-provision had been made as outlined. To confirm, there was  also dedicated provision of 6 disabled spaces at Buckingham MSCP, Grafton MSPC and at High St MSCP, and a further 3 disabled bays at High St surface car park. This was  in addition to the on street provision that existed via West Sussex County Council.


The Council undertook consultation with local residents, businesses, access groups and emergency services following a press release in July 2021 whereby the ambition of a pedestrianised scheme was highlighted - The subsequent TRO consultation was delivered in accordance with the regulations and published in the media as well as on the West Sussex County Council website -


As a result of that consultation, and after addressing a number of representations, West Sussex County Council, as the Highways Authority, issued the TRO to pedestrianise Montague Place. However, to reiterate, the Council was providing alternative and new disabled bay provision as a result of this TRO as it was aware of the need to ensure provision exists for its residents who were accessing the town centre.



7.         Submitted Question from Andy Whight, a Worthing Resident


Some 3 years ago Worthing Borough Council entered into a 3 year agreement to lease an area of our seafront to De Koning leisure group Ltd to provide and run the Worthing observation wheel for the three years from 2019 to 2021 .

After one year it was reported in ' The Argus ' that it had attracted more than 40,000 customers’.


On 29th April 2021 John Holden reported in 'Sussex world' that after a further year more than 50,000 people had taken rides.


Seemingly an increase of only 10,000 more after the second year.

For the third and final year of the lease it was agreed to use a smaller wheel. At this point substantial foundation work was carried out to accommodate this alternate wheel.


What costs have been born by Worthing borough council ( through grants or otherwise )by this enterprise as a whole and what specifically were Worthing Borough councils cost relating to the referred to foundation works.


The Leader responded that the Council had not accrued any costs associated with the installation and operation of the Observation Wheel. All the costs were borne by De Koning Leisure as part of the lease agreement, including the foundation costs. To confirm, the Council received an income from the lease agreement that went to support Council services.



8.         Question from Dale Overton, a Worthing Resident


Asked a question in relation to the Proactive Team, specifically, how many people had the team helped so far?


The Executive Member for Customer Services replied that the Proactive project aimed to ensure that the councils target support and resources to those most in need, and was an important part of the Councils' Covid recovery plan.  It also laid the groundwork for key frontline services to shift to a more preventative and early intervention approach, and for the Council to strengthen their capabilities for multi-disciplinary, data-led working


In January 2022, the Interim Director of Communities presented a detailed update report to the Joint Strategic Committee.  This highlighted that between March and December 2021, a cross service team of officers had identified 500 low income households that it approached to offer support in how to increase household income and/or reduce household debt.  Contact was made with 239 households, 164 of whom wanted to work with the team on a long term basis.  The team can evidence that the financial resilience of those households had increased - details were contained at paragraph 4.22 of the January report, but monthly increases in income of between £57 and £332 had been achieved, alongside falls in household arrears. The January report also described how the team planned to scale up this work by focusing on three areas: building inhouse capacity and capability; using appropriate digital methods to engage with residents; and working with partner organisations who provided similar/supplementary support (both financial and wellbeing).


The Interim Director of Communities would be presenting a further progress report to the Joint Strategic Committee in July 2022.  As an interim update, the Proactive team reports that its ambition was to contact residents who fell into the "not coping" financial risk categories described in previous reports throughout the calendar year.  Work was now underway by the Councils’ Housing team to purchase Telljo, a digital self service support tool, and once operational (by June 2022) this would accelerate the numbers that the Council was able to reach each month.  The team's longer term ambition was to extend the model to partners and communities themselves, always holding an asset based view of the people the Council worked with.