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 District except no questions may be asked on
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 minute; questions will be taken in order of receipt. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 18 October 2022 at 12 noon.
Questions to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
A Member of the public asked the following question: Further to the report to JOSC in July 2022 from the Director of Housing Services, could we please have a full report on the progress of works to buildings on the Southwick estate 'to ensure they remain safe and habitable until a decision is made regarding their development and refurbishment'. If none, or some, are as yet uncompleted I would be grateful for the proposed schedule of works. Members were told that the Authority had commissioned Faithorn Farrell Timms (FFT) who were leading on design, specification and procurement of the "Interim Works programme" for the Southwick Estate. As part of the process, FFT had undertaken surveys of all blocks, including a representative sample of internal property surveys, in order to capture the requirements of the scheme. They had also commissioned structural surveys of the balconies; which could potentially be a significant cost item in the programme, so that the Councils could determine the best course of action under the scheme of works to provide safe living accommodation, without amassing unreasonable leaseholder contributions; especially considering the potential for re-development currently being discussed with residents and leaseholders. FFT were progressing the specification and tender documents and will tie the advised balcony works in prior to publish of the tender. As per the August 2022 update, the proposed works would include:
? Structural repairs to lintels;
? Cavity clearance and localised repointing of washed out mortar;
? Wall ties where necessary;
? Structural repairs to balconies (extent not yet known);
? Concrete repairs;
? Window repairs, overhaul or replacement (depending on condition);
? Roof overlay waterproofing systems;
? Ground drainage improvements.
A Member of the Public asked the following question: It can take a very long time to get repairs done to the flats and buildings in Southwick, and sometimes the work carried out is not good enough or doesn't fix the problem, and we have to get people back in to fix it. It can be really stressful when we have to complain and wait again. Who is responsible for checking the quality of the work on the estate, and what is done to make sure that the people they pay to do the work are doing a good job? The Cabinet Member apologised for the experience with the repairs. It was acknowledged that the repair service was not up to the standard the authorities wanted it to be and assured that improving this service was a priority for the council. There had been some significant improvements in the service but there was still a lot more to do. Following the pause in planned capital works to some of the blocks in Southwick Estate, a dedicated surveyor had been working with both the repair services and residents to ensure essential repairs were carried out. The buildings in Southwick Estate are old and require a lot of investment. It is for this reason the Councils had started a consultation with residents to decide on the way forward. While the consultation is going on, the Councils were due to start interim major repair works on some of the buildings in the Estate to ensure that they remained safe to live in. Since April 2022 over ten thousand repairs had been carried out and 92% of those responding to surveys had said the repair had been well done.
A Member of the Public asked the following question: I note from the Adur Homes' website that several essential publications for tenants are currently being updated. Specifically the Adur Homes Customer Charter, the Tenants' Compact and the Tenants' Handbook. When are these three policy documents likely to be published? Are there any plans to update the Tenant Participation Strategy, dated August 2008? The Cabinet Members stated that with changes to the Regulator for Social Housing’s Consumer Standards, together with the Council’s wish to improve service standards, these documents required a major review. Two years ago, the Councils engaged TPAS, the tenant engagement experts, to work with the authority and resident groups to create a new Resident Engagement Strategy. Though a draft document was produced most of the residents involved in creating the strategy dropped out of the process before it was completed. It was intended to review the draft strategy and the other documents, such as the Tenants Handbooks, with the relevant resident groups and the Adur Homes Management Board.
A Member of the public asked the following question: How aware is the Council of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status of a large part of the Adur Estuary and what is the Council doing to ensure the activities of residents, visitors and developers are not damaging or degrading the SSSI, for example through allocation of Section 106 monies from Developers to Adur Estuary improvement projects?” The Cabinet Member stated that the Council was committed to protecting biodiversity and improving access to natural areas for residents. As part of these commitments and extensive work in this area the Council was aware of the SSSI status of the Adur Estuary, which had intertidal mudflats supporting a number of wading birds such as redshank and dunlin. Following feedback from the Public Space Protection Order consultation for dog control there was awareness of concerns about dogs not on leads in the SSSI and the Authority would undertake an assessment to see if further controls were necessary. The Council was also working with partners to see how the recreational impacts of leisure use of the River could be mitigated. Key to this would be encouraging access to the water for paddle boarders and Kayakers from authorised launching points. The Council could only take s106 financial contributions to mitigate the direct impact on ecology and biodiversity. On this basis contributions had been sought where developments on the Western Harbour have impacted on salt marsh or intertidal mud flats. This funding had been allocated to nature restoration projects on the recently acquired Pad Farm site. The Environment Act would, when fully implemented, however, provide opportunities to secure additional contributions for off site biodiversity enhancement if developers could not demonstrate net gain could be achieved within the development site. The review of the Local Plan would ensure that the provisions of the Environment Act were enshrined in policies seeking to maximise opportunities for nature recovery and the establishment of wildlife corridors.
A Member of the public asked the following question: What is the progress on the recruitment process of the Resident Engagement Officer as reported to last full Council and Joint Overview Scrutiny Committee in July 2022. Is this officer in place yet? Improving resident engagement was a key priority for Adur Homes. A new job description had been written, assessed and graded. The recruitment process wold begin in November with an appointment hopeful made early in the following year.
A Member of the public asked the following question: I’d like to commend this council for the recent call for Green Sites in our area. This was welcomed by local residents and many of us completed submissions by February 2022. With our environment - and our community’s mental health - in such peril, this work of logging, mapping and protecting our precious green spaces gets more critical by the day. Our park ‘Friends’ group helped to log various vital parcels of land which act as wildlife corridors, including the extended Meads green space which we’re working hard to turn into a biodiversity haven for local people and for wildlife including our seriously endangered local starling population whose numbers nationally are plummeting at the sickening rate of 150 birds an hour. Can you please update us on your current progress with this Green Sites work: how many responses have you received, how are they being collated and when will the final map be published? It would be great to get a timeline to help us understand what the next steps are and when we residents will be able to find out more about this great green map of Adur so that we can come together, across political parties, to preserve the few precious green spaces left in our increasingly polluted and densely populated towns. Many thanks. The Cabinet Member The council's leadership on sustainability is amongst the very best in England and includes a wide number of projects including the Adur River Project, New Salts Farm restoration and our wider Sussex Bay initiative that would restore blue and green habitats and create significant opportunities for Adur’s coastal communities. The Call for Green Sites was undertaken as part of the emerging Adur Local Plan review process. The Councils received over 50 submissions and initial an assessment had taken place. (It was worth noting that several of the sites submitted were already in open space use or were already designated as Local Wildlife Sites or Local Nature Reserves). Those which were considered appropriate for LGS designation would need to be progressed through the Local Plan Review process as they needed to be designated through the plan process. Proposals for Local Wildlife Sites would be forwarded to the relevant body for assessment, it was understood there was a considerable backlog for assessment. Other sites could be addressed through the Green Infrastructure Strategy when resources allowed.
A Member of the Public asked the following question: Adur and Worthing Council acts as the protectors of tomorrow for our children and grandchildren, so what provision is being made to create significant new green spaces in the Western Harbour Arm and how is this area of Adur, which is set for huge amounts of development, being mapped in advance to ensure the adequate provision of nature - for the well-being of people living in the new developments now and in the future and for the well-being of wildlife which needs safe, green corridors for it’s very survival? The meeting was told that the Brief for the Review of the Western Harbour Arm which went to Adur Planning Committee on 3rd October included an element relating to place-making. This would include assessment of potential options for delivering open space on-site and the resultant implications. However it should be noted that opportunities would naturally be limited by the constraints of the site, and the need to deliver other elements of infrastructure including the public walkway and cycle lane along the A259. The Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan acknowledged that not all open space requirements would be capable of being met on site, and in that situation appropriate alternative provision or contributions towards off-site provision would be sought (Policy SH8). A range of information regarding habitats and designated sites in the wider area is available (eg via Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre) and online. If additional information is required this can be obtained via the Local Plan review process or in relation to specific developments as appropriate.
A Member of the Public asked the following question: May I start with a recent post on our Facebook page posted by one of our volunteers: “Friday saw our highest previous number of family/household support of 36, completely overtaken. In all we provided food and provisions for 46 households, 40 visiting clients and 6 home deliveries. This exceeds all other numbers, even those we supported during the height of the pandemic. Our monthly figures tell a similar story, during September. In all we supported 160 households with food and provisions, 29 of these were home deliveries to some of the most vulnerable folk. This provided for 397 individuals, 125 of whom were children. As we look to winter these numbers can only increase. We are struggling to keep up with the growth in the need for help. The very welcome donations we receive do not match the increased demand on what we can provide.”
Shoreham & Adur Community Foodbank is only one of five foodbanks in the Adur District, providing food parcels for households that cannot afford to buy food. Adur Community Cafe also provides a hot meal once a week serving 30-40 people.
Numbers are increasing now and services often held together by volunteers are being stretched to breaking point. We are also seeing a change in the frequency of use of our services. This is no longer an “emergency service” but the only way families are able to put food on the table as many families do not have the income needed to feed their children. May I therefore ask how Adur Council will respond to this urgent need? We are no longer dealing with tiding people over but are becoming the only lifeline left. Our foodbank has been spending £300-400 on food and household items on a weekly basis in order to meet demand. This is not sustainable and puts services at risk of closure. How does the Council support people through this Cost-of-Living Crisis that goes beyond the £25000 offered already, which is a mere sticking plaster, and from my experience nowhere near enough to address the issue. If we fail to support our neighbours with food, fuel and housing this will cost the council significantly more money in the near future and have ramifications for many years to come. It is not only the financial costs of services closing down that are significant but the impact it has on people’s lives. The trauma of hunger and food insecurity causes mental and physical health issues. We are seriously concerned that people are not just going to get ill, but are going to die, and are especially worried about the older neighbours in our community. We know already about the proactive work and the preventative approach, but the need is now. As this is an emergency, will you transfer at least £100,000 in financial resources from your reserve funds into your emergency fund for food support? The Cabinet Member Inflation and its impact on the cost of living, is affecting every resident in Adur. In response to this difficult situation a key focus of the council in the short and medium will be to help residents and our communities, wherever possible before they were in crisis. To help the Councils in this prevention work the Councils would continue to invest and seek to expand multidisciplinary Proactive Programme that enabled the Council to identify households with low financial resilience and through the Customer Service team, contact these households to explore ways of increasing household income, reduce household debt and also addressed issues such as depression, anxiety and loneliness that often accompany financial exclusion. As part of the overall ‘safety net’ offered we will continue to invest in our OneStop “Money Coaches”. As part of the Proactive Programme the Councils were also reviewing its approach to debt collection. Food security of course was also an important area of focus. The Councils were in ongoing dialogue with food groups through the food partnership, to look at the ways in which the councils could support groups to maximise potential income. There was no current plan to release funding from reserves, recognising that this would only provide a short term solution to the national Cost of Living crisis, which was not sustainable in what is assessed as an enduring challenge. In other words Adur District Council does not have the tax base to underwrite the activities of the food banks in Adur. Indeed this was demonstrated by the support the council received during the Covid Pandemic (and that, as a further example Worthing Borough Council financed their Cost of Living initiative by earmarking COMF funding received as part of the pandemic financing arrangements). That does not mean that the Authority was not doing anything. The Council was well aware of the impact of current economic events on the vast majority of households in Adur and in particular those on lower incomes. The Adur Cost of Living roadmap and action plans had been published to support ongoing activity in the wider community partnership to seek system driven solutions. The Council was currently looking at how crowdfunding initiatives may provide a platform for donations to food groups, ensure effective food distribution channels to reduce food waste as part of our Food Road Map work as well as seeking to maximise access to grants such as the Household Support Fund and ensuring our residents are receiving all entitlements available to support them at this difficult time.