Agenda item

Members Questions under Council Procedure Rule 12

Members question time will last up to 30 minutes, with questions being taken in the

order of receipt and in rotation from each political group on the Council. The

deadline for submission of questions is Friday 19 July at 12 noon . Questions to be

submitted to


Questions can be asked of the following:

a) The Mayor

b) A Member of the Executive

c) The Chairman of any Committee

d) The Council’s representative on any outside body


Questions cannot be asked in relation to the following:

a) A specific planning or licensing application

b) A specific staffing appointment, appeal or Standards determination


The Mayor announced that the Proper Officer had received 10 questions from Members in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 12. She advised that one supplementary question could be asked which must arise out of the original question, or, the reply. 


Questions would be asked in rotation of the Groups represented in the Chamber and there was 30 minutes allowed for questions with 5 rotations of speakers possible. At the end of 30 minutes the Mayor explained that she would extend the time to conclude the current rotation of questions.


The Mayor announced that the following Councillors had submitted questions:


Councillors Barrett, Deen, McCabe, McDonald, S Smith, Smytherman, Walker and Withers.


The order would be


First rotation:  Councillors Walker, Smytherman, Withers and McDonald


Second rotation: Councillors Deen, McCabe, and Withers


Third rotation: Councillor Barrett


Fourth rotation: Councillor S Smith


Fifth rotation: Councillor S Smith


First rotation:


Question from Councillor Walker to the Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services


Residents have been in touch to voice their concern and dismay at the dismantling of the current infrastructure in Brooklands Park. Many can see no immediate, detailed plans for replacing anything that has been removed. Could the Cabinet Member please explain how he intends to raise the requisite funds for his vision, and when the people of Worthing can expect to see a specific development plan and exact timeline for this much valued Community green space?


The Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied that he was pleased to announce that the Council was in the process of appointing a renowned Landscape Architect company to further develop the Brooklands masterplan. Their brief included developing the technical design and costs for all the planned infrastructure. This would enable the Council to go out to tender this Autumn for the external business opportunities  (indoor leisure barns / cafe) and ultimately procure a construction company to build the planned park infrastructure (pathways, landscape features, play area etc), as well as securing the required planning consent.


The Council was committed to funding the redevelopment of the park, and during the process would be actively exploring external opportunities to secure funding to help reduce the Council’s financial commitment to the project. Those opportunities would include third party investment in the leisure facilities and also seeking external grants and sponsorship where appropriate.


The Executive Member assured Council that Officers were working tirelessly to progress the long term vision for the park which would take 2-3 years to complete, albeit in a phased approach.


In the meantime, the Council would continue to engage closely with the local community and Friends of group to keep them informed of the progress of the scheme, and to create opportunities for activities to take place (e.g. Summer forest schools and Cycal disabled cycling activities beginning this week).


Councillor Walker asked the following supplementary question:-


If there were insufficient investors, would the Council be prepared to make up the difference in funding?


The Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services replied that the Council was committed to finding external funding.


Question from Councillor Smytherman to the Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services


Can the Executive Member advise what plans and timelines are in place to replace or refurbish the Litter Bins within the Town Centre and across the Borough?


The Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied that the cleansing section had an annual budget that it used to replace a percentage of the 1,250  litter bins in place across the Borough that were damaged, missing or at the end of their life.


In addition to this, the Council was always looking to attract sponsorship opportunities or external funding from local businesses.


This had resulted in £5k funding from Southern Water and other local companies being obtained which allowed the Council to install an additional 12 new larger capacity bins on the promenade this Spring.


Councillor Smytherman asked a supplementary question regarding the condition of the black bins along the promenade.


The Executive Member for Digital and Environmental Services replied that the replacement of bins along the promenade would be dealt with in a considered, strategic way. 


Question from Councillor Withers to the Executive Member for Regeneration


Will the council be reviewing procedures dealing with new house builders on local construction projects following the publicity in the national press about a certain well known housebuilder also operating locally who have run into problems with poorly built homes?


The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that unfortunately, many national housebuilders did not use Local Authority Building Control and would seek to use Approved Inspectors. 


As such, unless the Council was approached by the housebuilder, we would have no influence over checking compliance with the Building Acts. It should also be emphasised that Building Control does not have the remit to check the quality of a build.

Where the Council received any Building Regulation application, the Council would undertake a risk assessment which influenced the level of inspection to be undertaken.  This risk based approach took into account the experience of the building company, past examples of their work, and the nature of the development proposal.

The recent publicity would be taken into account in undertaking any such risk assessment if an application was received from the relevant national housebuilder.  

In cases where there were problems with the quality of new build properties, such matters were generally covered by the National House Building Council (NHBC) warranties.


As a supplementary question, Councillor Withers asked whether there had been any discernible trend with complaints received.


The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that the volume of complaints was not monitored as it was not one of the Councils performance measures. In cases where there were problems with the quality of new build properties, such matters were generally referred to the NHBC.


Question from Councillor McDonald to the Executive Member for Regeneration


As many of you know I am also a County Councillor and at a recent Full council meeting another County Councillor tabled a motion about the night time economy and a lack of things to do or places to go in the evenings. This County Councillor singled out Worthing for particularly unjustified criticism when he referred to parts of Worthing as a desolate place. He quoted the Worthing journal saying that Montague Place is "just a service road when the shops shut" and he said he could not argue with that.


Well firstly, Montague place is not the whole of Worthing but we will soon have the Worthing Observational Wheel at its southern end.


I was disgusted with this and felt I had to defend Worthing with its mix of great restaurants, theatres, cinemas, pubs, activities for all ages....I could go on but I think Worthing is a vibrant town and is getting better and better every month. After I had spoken in favour of Worthing the Councillor then staggered me by saying that he listened to residents and maybe I should. But more shocking he said that his colleagues on Worthing Borough Council agreed that Worthing is a desolate place after the shops shut.


Which colleagues was he referring to? Those Labour members I presume.


Will the Member for Regeneration agree with me that Worthing is improving all the time and is becoming a vibrant, energetic town with numerous hidden gems and not the bleak desolate place portrayed by a Councillor from Crawley and his alleged friends on Worthing Borough Council?


The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that Worthing was going through a renaissance, it was growing and adapting to meet the demands of its residents. There were many successes, including; the growth deal with West Sussex County Council for the public realm committing money of £5m for a project up to £12m; the project at Brooklands Park where the Council is committed to taking this forward by attracting funding from external sources; Highdown Gardens has attracted £813k from the Heritage Lottery Fund; 5 parks had recently been awarded with green flags; Teville Gate House had been demolished and a planning application for the site had been approved; Teville Gate was going through planning; Union Place would be coming to planning in the near future; the arrival of Gigabit and the roll out to households for £28 per month and the award of the purple flag for the night time economy.          


Councillor McDonald asked a supplementary question regarding the variety of restaurants in Worthing.


The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that Worthing had a diverse range of restaurants which should be celebrated and used frequently.  



Question from Councillor Deen to the Executive Member for Regeneration


When it comes to the development of Worthing town centre, our colleagues from West Sussex County Council have a record of under-delivering on the hopes and expectations of Worthing residents. Is the Cabinet Member for Regeneration confident that the proposed public realm improvements for Portland Road are not going to, once again, leave Worthing residents underwhelmed and questioning the priorities of this administration in terms of town centre improvement?


The Executive Member for Regeneration replied yes. 


Question form Councillor McCabe to the Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services


How many FTE posts have been lost in refuse and recycling teams in the last ten years and how many are being lost following the introduction of the alternative weekly collections in September?


The Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied that no staff had been lost on the frontline. A review of the service had been carried out to look at the efficiency of the routes used for collections to ensure that operatives were making the best use of their time. There were 5.5 fte support roles that had been lost during the service redesign in 2018 but the Council was committed to emptying 100,000s of bins every month and delivering a great service to the people of Worthing.      


Councillor McCabe asked a supplementary question and the Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied.


Question from Councillor Withers to the Leader of the Council


To what extent is the county lines drug trade a problem for Worthing and if so how is it being dealt with by the local council?


The Leader of the Council replied that as a coastal town with good transport links to London, Worthing was ideally geographically places for drug dealing networks known as ‘County Lines’ to develop their operations. This activity almost always involved the exploitation of vulnerable people (both children & adults).


Over the last two years the Council, alongside its partners, had been working to address this issue. This had seen the proposition of all Sussex County Lines coming to Adur and Worthing reduced from 45% in 2018 to 33% in most recent data.    

The number of Cuckooed properties (where drug dealers take over a vulnerable person’s property) had fallen and the level of violence associated with County Lines had reduced significantly.


Among the actions taken with partners were:

·         training front line staff, AirBnB providers and taxi drivers around County Lines, cuckooing and child exploitation, and ongoing education and training of our officers so they can keep up with developments;

·         Creation of a Serious & Organised Crime Partnership for Adur, Worthing & Horsham. This partnership met monthly to share intelligence and information on persons of interest, as well as coordinate operations to disrupt drug activity;

·         Commissioned a Locality Review conducted by the Government’s Violence & Vulnerability Unit to review and make recommendations on best practice around these crime areas.


This continued to be a priority for the Adur, Worthing and Horsham Serious and Organised Crime Partnership as well as the Adur & Worthing Safer Communities Partnership who had just been awarded further funding to tackle serious youth violence, often associated with County Lines.


As a supplementary question, Councillor Withers asked whether Councillors would be alerted to issues in their ward.


The Leader of the Council replied that the Police were not able to share this information.


Question from Councillor Barrett to the Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services


Can Councillor Crouch tell me when the Science Experience Development at Brooklands is rolled out who will be responsible for clearing the Brooklands site will it be the Council or any proposed developer.


The Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied that the Council was responsible for any demolition.


Question from Councillor Sally Smith to the Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing


Can the Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing explain, how the Council will analyse and report on the responses to the consultation on the new proposed extension to the Public Space Protection Order relating to dogs, in particular the extension of the current exclusion area on Worthing Seafront and provide assurances that the Council will not proceed with the proposals if local residents are opposed to suggested measures?


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that Officers would be compiling the input from the consultation after it had closed, and would summarise the results in relation to the types of comments received to each proposal.


From the data collected during the consultation, the Council hoped to have figures illustrating support by residents for each proposal, as well as the key thoughts and opinions associated with these positions.

The summary would be presented back to the Joint Strategic Committee with a full report and recommendations later in the year for a decision to be taken by elected members.


As a supplementary question, Councillor Smith questioned whether the Council would undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment in relation to the exclusion zone proposal.


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that it would not as there were lots of places for residents to walk their dogs.


Question form Councillor Sally Smith to the Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing


Noting the 200 job losses at Southern Water's Customer services department in Worthing and noting the recent £123m fine levied on Southern Water by OFWAT for polluting our environment and misreporting the results of their tests, why is the Council confident that Southern Water is a reliable and reputable partner to such an extent that it is prioritising the interests of Southern Water over those of local residents?


The Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing replied that Southern Waters regional 'Bathing Water Enhancement Programme' involved collaboration with numerous local authorities. With a focus on continual improvement of our bathing water, a number of actions had been taken, such as:

o   conducting misconnection surveys and any corrective work necessary;

o   signage to encourage dog owners to observe beach exclusion zones and removing dog fouling;

o   regular patrols by Council teams to monitor these areas, and

o   measures to reduce the impact from birds.


The Council’s partnership with Southern Water was important in relation to the work to improve water quality for the residents of Worthing.