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 18 October 2019 at 12
noon. Questions to be submitted to email@example.com
The Mayor announced that there were 5 registered questions for the meeting.
Q1 - Mr Field, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-
What is the Council’s strategy to encourage tenants to set up businesses in vacant retail space in the town of worthing?
Has the Council considered relaxing the planning regulations regarding the use of space in the town?
I would refer you to the ‘Shops, Offices and Railway Premises Act’ and current planning bye laws as these could be relaxed. As such, these changes would allow the use of existing office and retail premises to be converted to residential housing, research and development or light industrial use.
Steps must be taken to address this matter. The town of Worthing today looks sad and neglected and is in need of the Council’s urgent attention.
The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that the existing retail policies for the town centre sought to protect the primary retail frontages and the key retail function that had traditionally been prevalent in town centres across the country.
However, it was acknowledged that the retail sector was experiencing rapid change and, as a consequence, to ensure that town centres remained vibrant and economically active relevant policies and strategies were having to react to this changing market.
For this reason, in recent years the Council had applied a good degree of flexibility when applying these policies for proposals where it could be demonstrated that an alternative (or more flexible) use would help to meet wider objectives and deliver vitality and economic growth to the heart of the town.
Furthermore, within this context, the Council was currently assessing it’s policies in relation to town centres and retail as part of the Local Plan review.
A number of developments had already been seen, including Beales, where this would add greater activation but the Council knew there was still a lot to do.
The Council was working with partners, including the Town Centre Initiative and Community Works, to identify projects to generate greater interest in Worthing town centre for new businesses and investors.
After an inspiring session with Bill Grimsey at the Waves Ahead Conference earlier in the year, the Council was also exploring the viability of business models that allowed the Council to work with commercial agents and landlords to create short-term / pop up use lettings.
The Council was also continuing to identify good practice around this as other town centres were facing similar challenges.
Mr Field asked a supplementary question regarding the use of the Shops & Railways Premises Act to assist.
The Executive Member for Regeneration replied that the Council would be looking at the legislation but pointed out that changes were already happening, e.g. a number of units in the Montague Centre.
Q2 - Mr Davey, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-
On taking the role of chair of the Greater Brighton Economic Board in July, Cllr Humphreys identified his priorities which included clean growth and improving transport infrastructure, particularly the A27.
Could the leader of the council please outline his vision for improving the A27 around Worthing and explain how that vision has been informed by the councils declaration of a Climate Emergency.
The Leader of the Council replied that finding a long term solution to the A27 remained an important priority for Worthing and its partners on the Greater Brighton Economic Board.
The vision should allow low or zero emission vehicles to move more freely as currently there was far too much congestion and too little infrastructure to support electric vehicle use. In addition, currently, it was not as safe as it could be for pedestrians and cyclists.
Mr Davey asked a supplementary question regarding the knock on effects of the Arundel Bypass.
The Leader of the Council replied that Arun was supporting the Magenta route proposed, However, it was really important that all of the A27 was taken into account when considering these proposals.
Q3 - Mr Davey, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-
Poor air quality is of great concern to many residents locally. According to Public Health England air pollution is responsible for nearly 5% of deaths in Worthing. Whilst a recent report from the British Lung Foundation identified unsafe levels of particulates (PM2.5) around Worthing hospital and 4 local GP surgeries.
Could the leader of the council please let us know what actual measures the council are taking to improve air quality and bring the level of particulates down to less harmful levels, particularly around sensitive areas such as schools and the hospital.
The Leader of the Council replied that the Council was currently developing its approach to reduce fine particulate matter in partnership with West Sussex County Council and other local authority officers in Sussex-air through a number of actions, including:-
Mr Davey asked a supplementary question regarding the Leader’s attendance at the Clean Air Summit being held on the 23 October 2019.
The Leader of the Council replied that he wasn’t able to attend the conference but was committed to working with them on issues regarding air quality.
Q4 - Mr Devlin, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-
I understand from the minutes that there is a Joint Oversight and Scrutiny Committee working group reviewing the cultural services procurement. In light of this, the potential large sums of public money involved in the procurement and the controversy surrounding it, can the process be paused until we hear the JOSC group's findings?
The Executive Member for Customer Services replied that the Council was following the recommendations that were formally agreed at the Joint Strategic Committee meeting of 9 July 2019. Scrutiny of the Council’s democratic processes performed an important role, but was not in itself, a reason to delay implementing a formal decision of the Council.
The rationale for the move to a Trust was set out in the original Committee report of 10 July 2018 to the Joint Strategic Committee.
Mr Devlin asked a supplementary question regarding pausing the process on the basis of best value considerations.
The Executive Member for Customer Services replied that a decision had been made and that the Council would be criticised for delaying implementation. The Executive Member confirmed that the assets would remain with the Council and that the trust would be able to access additional funding.
Q5 - Ms Thornton, a Worthing resident, asked the following question:-
On 30 September, Jo Paul of the Worthing Green party submitted a petition of 355 qualifying signatures, which called on the council to institute a Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change, in the hopes of engaging the community in tackling the Climate Emergency. Can I request an update from the Leader of the Council on the progress of decision-making in regard to this petition?
The Leader of the Council replied that the matter was currently under a consultation period, until 24 October, after which time, he would be able to fully consider the matter and make a decision. The Leader confirmed that he was due to meet the petitioner on the 4 November but was unable to comment further on the report at this time, as it could appear as predetermination on the matter.
Ms Thornton asked the following supplementary question - should the Council decide to support a Citizen’s Assembly, it would take a sustained and serious approach to its establishment and recommendations.
The Leader of the Council replied that without prejudging any future decision, that if the Council were to, it would take it very seriously.
Q6 - Mr Baeza, a Worthing resident, asked a question regarding the effectiveness of new bin collections.
The Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied that initial indications were positive and that once data was available, he anticipated that it would demonstrate an increase in recycling.
Mr Baeza asked a supplementary question regarding contamination of recycling.
The Executive Member for Digital & Environmental Services replied that once the data had been available for a meaningful period of time, it would be analysed and shared.
Q7 - A Worthing resident, asked a question about a recent petition regarding the future use of the Lido and the expiry of its current lease.
The Leader of the Council replied that he was aware of the petition and that he had been advised that there was 6 to 7 years left on the current lease. If the petition reached a 1,000 signatures it would be debated by Full Council, if it gathered less than 1,000 signatures, the petition would be determined by the Leader of the Council.
A supplementary question was asked in relation to the Council’s support for small local businesses.
The Leader of the Council replied that Councillors should support businesses and not put them down in anyway and that he had been advised that a number of small businesses had been angered by the approach of the petitioner.