Agenda item

Questions from the Public

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

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 deadline for submission of questions is Friday 19 July 2019 at 12

noon. Questions to be submitted to


The Mayor announced that there were 10 registered questions for the meeting. 


John Cawdell, a Worthing resident, asked the following questions:-


1) What role did the current Head of Culture play in the recent exercise to externalise the management of the theatres, why were no other bids received and what efforts were made to encourage real competition?


2) What role will the Council have in the future management of the theatres, how will a management board be recruited and how will the enormous public subsidy currently supporting an unviable business be significantly reduced?


The Executive Member for Customer Services replied:-


The Head of Culture had been fully informed of the potential move towards externalising Worthing Borough Council's Cultural Services, however played no part in the framing, assessment or awarding of the tender. 


The open tender process was advertised on the council's procurement portal as well as nationally via specialist arts media, Arts Professional. 

Arts Professional is the 'go to' online publication for theatre management companies and cultural service providers. Concurrently six key theatre/cultural services operators were contacted and signposted to the tender process. 


The Venues Tour, which formed part of the tender exercise attracted three bidders.

Following the completion of the process all those companies, who requested a tender pack, were contacted for feedback as to why they did not continue with an application. Only one company responded.


It was for the newly formed Trust to decide on the make up of their board and in appointing trustees. However, a Worthing Borough Council Officer and elected member would have 'observer' status on the newly formed Trust Board. 


A three year business plan, indicating a reduction in council subsidy, was presented by the Trust to the Council as a part of their tender submission. This was discussed again at the Joint Strategic Committee meeting held on 9 July 2019.  


The financial and overall performance of the Trust would be evaluated through regular Service Level Agreement meetings, based on the original tender requirements.


Mr Cawdell asked the following supplementary question:-


A Member raised concerns at a recent Committee meeting that expert advice and guidance, which had been provided through a number of independent reports and emails, had been ignored. He suggested a pause to proceedings was the right course of action and that the additional £200k required in 2021 would be better spent on other services.  


Are those reports and emails in the public domain, if not, could those reports be put in the public domain so that the advice provided could be considered by the public.  


The Executive Member for Customer Services agreed to provide a written response to the question. 


Ian Davey, a Worthing resident, asked the following questions:-


I congratulate this council on declaring a Climate Emergency.


It is an important first step towards Worthing playing it's part in preventing Climate Breakdown.


Given that transport contributes around a third of all the UK CO2 emissions, with the majority coming from road transport, could you please say how you will work with partners such as West Sussex / Greater Brighton / Coast to Capital / Transport for the South East and Highways England to reduce road traffic in the Worthing area and facilitate the necessary switch to travel by sustainable transport modes.


The Leader of the Council replied that the bodies responsible for transport in Worthing are West Sussex County Council and Highways England, the Borough Councils role was limited. 


Worthing Borough Council had a seat on the boards of Coast to Capital and Transport for the South East which would enable the Council to lobby for the things needed in the local area to encourage people out of cars or into less polluting cars or onto alternative transport. The Leader of Worthing Borough Council had also recently taken over as Chairman of the Greater Brighton Economic Board for the forthcoming year.


In relation to public transport, Adur and Worthing Councils had adopted the Easit programme making public transport more affordable.  


The Councils Joint Strategic Committee had recently considered a report regarding investment in ultra low emissions vehicles for the Council’s fleet and work continued on an Electric Vehicle Strategy. Worthing’s Local Plan would also consider sustainable transport matters.          


Mr Davey asked the following supplementary question:-


We know that Highways England have wasted 10’s of millions of pounds of public money without making any difference to the A27. Will the Council now withdraw any support for both options of an A27 bypass and propose instead that money is used to provide local residents with sustainable, deliverable and affordable transport alternatives.  


The Leader of the Council agreed that there had been an awful lot of wasted money over decades by Highways England and its for runners on the A27 through Worthing. The last proposal submitted from Highways England (18 months ago), aiming to upgrade and improve the A27 through Worthing, had been rejected by Worthing Borough Council as it was not good enough and was not a good use of money. The Leader was not going to rule out any future improvements to the A27 as they were needed in order to reduce congestion and pollution, however, the Council wanted to see all of these things i.e. A27 improvements and investment in alternative transport.         


Stuart Field, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-


Councillor Yallop informed me during a telephone conversation in April, it is your intention to build a competition pool at the Worthing Leisure Centre. Since the closure of the Aquarena this will provide a much needed facility in our town. Councillor Yallop further advised me that the proposed pool is currently planned to be 25 metres in length. 


In my letter dated 4 August 2017, addressed to Councillor Daniel Humphreys, I made clear that Worthing Swimmers need a proper swimming pool with a length of 50 metres.


Please do not repeat the mistakes the Council made in the planning and construction of Splash Point.


Why are Worthing Borough Council not installing a 50m pool?


The Executive Member for Environmental and Digital Services replied that the redevelopment of the Worthing Leisure Centre provided the Council with an opportunity to review the range of leisure needs in the community and he was keen to see a pool at this site.

However, as the business case and options were developed, the Council would need to consider those needs in the context of cost, financial viability, and the constraints of the site.

At this stage the Council was not ruling anything in or out.


Mr Field asked the following supplementary question:-


Would the Council consider having a 50m pool alongside the existing Splashpoint site?


The Leader of the Council replied that he was not convinced of the need for a 50m pool and stated that Splashpoint had been a fantastic success. It had provided 795 square metres of swimming pool space, compared with 575 square metres in the old aquarena. There had been over 700,000 visits to Splashpoint each year, compared with 300,000 to the old aquarena and Splashpoint was providing lessons for over 2,000 children, compared with 900 at the old aquarena


The evidence suggested that the decision to build a 25m pool instead of a 50m pool, was the right one.      


Lisa Vernelle, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-


On behalf of Transition Town Worthing Transport Group. What is the progress on the local walking & cycling infrastructure plan. How can the public influence this plan”.


The Leader of the Council replied partly through the Council’s own Cycling Walking Action Group, in partnership with West Sussex County Council, to deliver a Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan. The Leader extended an invitation to Transition Town Worthing to attend the action group and hear what work had been done.         


Chris Owen, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-


Do Members know the true costs of running all four venues, the overall income of all four venues and the combined surplus or loss for all four venues? This information is needed to make an informed decision as to the future costs to the Council without the income or surplus.


The Executive Member for Customer Services agreed to provide a written response to the question. 


Mr Owen asked the following supplementary question:-


Do Members know that it is not true that the real in-house service cannot access Arts Council grants when other councils have accessed grants?


The Executive Member for Customer Services replied that out of the 841 NPO organisations receiving funding between 2018 and 2022, 37 had been applied for by local authorities which was 4%. Of those 37, only 8 were combined arts, which was 1%. Aside from becoming an NPO, there are many financial benefits to Worthing Theatres and Museum becoming a charity.        


As a charity the Trust would also have access to gift aid, and be in a position to promote and receive legacies, donations and individual and corporate giving. Those changes also allowed the exploration of social investment and other models, to aid the cultural activity in Worthing.


Samuel Baeza, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-


Can the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing explain, how the connection between dog offences and the number of dogs walked, by amongst others, professional walkers has been arrived at, as most incidents are caused by people with just one out of control dog?


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that the Council had been made aware of some concerns with dogs under a persons care and sometimes this had related to a number of dogs in the care of one individual. 


Given that the current PSPO’s were due to expire in December 2019, there was an opportunity to review their contents and test the communities views on this issue.


The public consultation would capture the community view on how PSPO's had performed so far, seeking views on proposed amendments and how PSPO's could be used going forward and if they were necessary.


Mr Baeza asked the following supplementary question:-


How will the Council prevent uninsured dog walkers taking over?


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that the Council’s Dog Wardens would be keeping this under observation and that dog owners also had a responsibility to check that dog walkers were insured. It was also noted that the figures had been provided by the Professional Dog Walkers Association and that a decision would only be taken once the consultation period had ended.   


Julia Owen, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-


Do the members believe the decision to outsource to a trust is in the best financial interests of the council?


The Executive Member for Customer Services replied, yes


Ms Owen asked the following supplementary question:-


How will the Council ensure that the Trust doesn’t turn the cinema offer into a mulitplex?


The Executive Member for Customer Services replied that the trust was a charitable trust, and had already been very clear in its business plan what it intended to do. What had already been done, over the last four years, had been closely scrutinised and gave the Executive Members no concerns that Ms Owen’s concerns would arise.         


Jill Guest, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-


Worthing has some fantastic, publicly owned community assets, one of which is the Lido. I know the council has leased it for its current purpose, but there is so much more potential for the building. Is the leader of the council and the current administration willing to look at how the Lido could be better used for the community.


The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that the Lido was a fundamental part of the Council’s Seafront Investment Plan and one that it continues to monitor. 


We acknowledge that there might be other uses for the asset, beyond its current operation and we are currently monitoring other Lido’s, or similar seafront buildings, to assess the potential of other uses. 


Ms Guest asked the following supplementary question:-


Why does the Council not buy out the lease and redevelop the Lido?


The Executive Member for Regeneration reiterated that the site was part of the Council’s Seafront Investment Plan but was the subject of a lease at present.