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Multi-million-pound Crawley infrastructure improvement proposals
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 14:34

Exciting proposals for the £8.3million Crawley Eastern Gateway and £5.3million Station Gateway projects go on display soon in a series of public exhibitions.

The schemes are part of the £60million Crawley Growth Programme which will ‘unlock’ jobs, business space and home building in the town through major infrastructure improvements.

The two “Gateway” projects aim to improve pedestrian, cycling and bus access and facilities and create better connectivity between the railway and bus stations.

The Eastern Gateway scheme includes improvements to public space and connectivity to support key development opportunities at the Town Hall, County Buildings, Telford Place and Crawley College and includes the public areas in the eastern half of The Boulevard, Exchange Road, the southern end of Northgate Avenue, College Road including the roundabout, and Southgate Avenue, up to and including the junction with Station Way. 

The Station Gateway Scheme extends from Friary Way, along Station Way, connecting with Southgate Avenue. Its aims include improving the connectivity between an improved and re-developed rail station, the bus station and improved town centre facilities, incorporating a dedicated left-turn for buses from Friary Way to Station Way and improvement in bus waiting facilities.

The Crawley Growth Programme is being delivered by a major partnership of public and private organisations, including the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, West Sussex County Council, Crawley Borough Council, Metrobus, Gatwick Airport Limited, Manor Royal Business Improvement District (BID) Company. The Gateways projects are also being delivered in partnership with the Arora group and Network Rail.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “We have identified that the county needs significant investment in new infrastructure to help stimulate economic growth and Crawley is a key growth location.

“These innovative and exciting proposals aim to have a positive impact on public areas in the town by improving connectivity. I urge people to go along to one of the exhibitions and see for themselves what’s being proposed.”

Crawley Borough Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Peter Smith, said: “I am delighted that proposals for the regeneration of the Eastern Gateway and Station Gateway have been released.

“The Eastern Gateway is an incredibly busy area of the town and these proposals will not only improve accessibility, but enhance the overall look and feel of the area, attracting more investment into the town. In addition, the Station Gateway improvements will provide a better welcome into the town from Crawley train station. I look forward to hearing what residents have to say about the proposals.”

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital, said: “This series of exhibitions is a fantastic way for the general public to gain insight of the extensive work which has gone into developing an innovative vision for the future success of Crawley. A tremendous effort has been made by partners to improve the infrastructure of the area which will unlock future prosperity.”

 
Roving ‘seek and fill’ teams added to action against West Sussex potholes
Wednesday, 16 May 2018 10:30

Even more repair teams are being dedicated to tackling potholes in West Sussex, with an additional two ‘seek and fill’ gangs starting work soon.

The number of repair teams had already been increased from 12 to 15, with approximately 250 potholes repaired per day. Now, the additional two roving gangs will start work next week and a team dedicated to patching larger areas of road surface will also begin soon.

The extra resources are being funded from the £1,594,870 the County Council received from the Department for Transport’s Pothole Action Fund for this financial year.

Bob Lanzer, County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “We would like to reassure residents that we take the issue of potholes very seriously – hence the extra resources. West Sussex Highways, and particularly our contractor, Balfour Beatty Living Places, are working hard to tackle the issue.

“In 2017, we repaired approximately 14,500 potholes. In the first four months of 2018, which have included periods of severe weather, we have already repaired more than 8,500.

“We have already started to deliver this year’s resurfacing programme which will see three-and-a-half miles of principal roads and almost six miles of local roads have their old and worn surfaces replaced. In addition, we are extending the life of 12-and-a-half miles of the principal roads and around 26 miles of local roads with a programme of surface-dressing. Surface dressing involves treating roads which are in relatively good condition with preventative maintenance treatments to maintain their good condition.”

Bob said some residents had asked why, when they see a pothole repair team in one road, they cannot simply go to another site, nearby. “This could be for a variety of reasons: they may have no spare materials on the van, having been tasked to fill other potholes, or it could be that the other road needs traffic management, such as traffic lights, so they can do the repair safely and this takes time to arrange.”

In recent months, the frequent changes between freezing/cold temperatures, to mild/wet weather, and back again, have increased the number of potholes on our roads.

Unfortunately, roads are not permanent structures and deteriorate over time from constant use, the weight of vehicles using them and the effects of the weather. With the expansion and contraction caused by temperature change, deterioration will occur, resulting in new potholes.

 
2018/19 Budget Speech by the Leader, Louise Goldsmith
Monday, 19 February 2018 20:28

The annual budget as tabled in the papers today, is a set of figures prepared and balanced, but for our residents it is the output from the budget which will have the greatest impact on their lives. The libraries remaining open welcoming young and old, the visit from the Meals on Wheel person delivering lunch, the Fire and Rescue team dealing with a road traffic accident, the child rescued from abuse, the support for people with learning disabilities helping them to lead their lives, the patient in hospital ready to go home. The rubbish that is sorted or recycled, the roads and pavements repaired.

Day in day out 24 hours a day, seven days a week we are helping residents one way or another in our community, working, caring, helping, supporting – that is what we do.

In all we do we are guided by our ambitions in the West Sussex Plan which was adopted by this Council last October.

I make this point Mr Chairman – as it easy to forget that we are a service organisation, politically led, supported by brilliant staff who are delivering those services under the guidance of our CEO, Nathan, and his team to whom I would like to record my deepest and sincerest thanks.

For the last seven years this County Council, like all others, has played its part in the Government austerity drive. We have made some difficult and painful decisions, we accelerated our savings programme which has put us in a stronger financial position. We have reshaped, reconfigured the organisation. We are undoubtedly leaner, but let me be clear there is no let up as we live in a time of transformation, maximising technology to ensure that our residents £ goes that much farther – that’s this conservative administration’s policy.

Our plans for the future whether Communities, Children’s early intervention and help or adult Social Care are exciting. That is because we continue to adapt not only due to our ever tightening finances but more importantly we are responding to the needs of those we serve those in this County, those we put first - our residents.

We do all this alongside investment and the capital projects debated and agreed at last Council because it is right for West Sussex and Residents. For me it is important that we must always focus too on ensuring that we place this organisation in the best place to face the slings and arrows of outrageous financial fortune.

So let’s be clear about the financial landscape we live in– a constant rise in demand for children’s services: children who are abused, children who are neglected, children who are sexually exploited, children who enter this county as unaccompanied asylum seekers, children with learning disabilities, children with mental health problems. These children need us most – for them there is simply nowhere else to go. Without our support these children will likely face some of the worst outcomes and all that this implies. It is incumbent on us to help them like all other young ones here in West Sussex to have the best start in life and not enter in the vicious spiral of generational decline that serves them and everyone else so poorly.

We are in the vanguard of preventative work – with our early intervention and help service for children and many other initiatives – but they are in their infancy and it will take time before full benefits are realised.

 

We are all getting older – West Sussex is above the national average for our elderly population, we have one of the highest number of over 85s in the Country. As our population grows older, so their needs get more complicated which places more demands on our service.

The gross investment of 5 million pounds in our Children’s Service and 14.8 million pounds in Adults Service demonstrates our determination to give children the best start in life and for greater Independence in later life and our commitment to the preventative agenda.

We are committed to building stronger, vibrant, communities to make sure our County is made up of places that are strong and resilient with people young and old supporting each other and we will be there with them lending a helping hand when needed.

 

Bill Clinton famously said it is the economy stupid – and in these Brexit times we need to do all we can to ensure that the vibrant diverse economy here in West Susses continues, we can help and we are promoting West Sussex.

Just this week we have the news that the number of businesses here in West Sussex is on the rise with around 42,000 companies choosing to call our County Home – That is to be celebrated.

Our District deals where we work together with our District and Boroughs to improve our towns and communities are another fine example of partnership working to attract businesses and inward investment to the County.

Our investment in Green Energy is innovative and ground breaking but there is more to be done – and we will.

This speech is about how we are adapting and changing to meet the needs of residents today and tomorrow we do that as society is changing, demographics changing, family life is changing but one thing that is not keeping pace with this change is funding for local government – but it needs to, the current funding is fit for the past and certainly not fit for the present and future.

By 2019-20 there will be well over 5 billion pound local government funding gap and a 1.8 billion pound gap in Social Care, this is simply unsustainable and cannot continue.

 

I know the Government has plenty on its plate nationally, Brexit being just one example to deal with. But to really transform society it must take hold of the thorny issue of local government funding. The last couple of years we have seen a piecemeal approach of throwing a few financial scraps to us at the end of our budget process this serves no one well, least of all our residents.

As a traditional Conservative my belief is small administration and low tax: for the money we spend is not ours but our residents – we treat it with care and respect knowing that an increase in Council tax could put a real strain some of our residents finances.

This 4.95% is made up of 2 Government initiatives 2% increase for Social Care and the 1% the government offered us just before Christmas.

In my heart I do not want to take the Government’s latest offer to increase the Council Tax by an additional 1% but I know a 1% increase is wise, when there is so much financial uncertainty, to ensure that this Council is in the best position to provide the services for our residents.

The Government has promised a Green Paper on Social Care, and we have the Fairer Funding Review of local government finance all to be welcomed.

However I believe the time is right to call a halt to tinkering around edges, no piecemeal approach. We all know of some Councils are struggling financially and I take no pleasure seeing the recent reports.

But they demonstrate that there is a desperate need for fundamental and radical reform of Local Government finances based on the knowledge that all Councils, and in particular Counties who are the providers of substantial vital services for residents.

 

To that end we have joined the Local Government Association and County Council Network in a call for proper funding for Local Authorities. I want Government to hear West Sussex’s voice in the debate about fair funding for local government.

Despite the challenging national context, today’s budget is only possible because of the prudent financial management of my administration and my thanks to two dedicated and capable Cabinet Members for Finance Michael Brown and Jeremy Hunt – for between them 7 years hard decisions, and tight financial management a relentless focus on reshaping and redesigning our services to continue to drive out costs and create innovation to ensure we will continue to deliver the services resident need and deserve.

Through this budget we continue to deliver services to our residents.

We will do all that through our commitment embracing new ways working, new technologies, partnership working and earlier support.

This is our budget, our investment in our county and I am proud that in these times of austerity West Sussex people can rely on us.

LG3

 

 
MPs Continue to Press the Case for Fairer School Funding
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 16:41

West Sussex MPs met this week to review funding for local schools following the introduction of the National Funding Formula and following a useful meeting in Parliament with local Headteachers.

The level of funding has overall improved for West Sussex schools with an additional £28m being allocated to the county. The new formula is a fairer means of allocating funds than in the past and has been broadly welcomed as a step in the right direction.

MPs recognise that there are particular issues of concern:

  • “High Needs” funding: High Needs funding was not included in the formula and concerns cover both the scale of resources and how these have been historically applied in West Sussex.

  • Increased funding is coming at a time of rising costs

  • The implementation of the full benefit of the national funding formula being delayed for certain West Sussex schools

  • The impact of the formula on the smallest rural primaries

While the formula has improved the funding position West Sussex MPs will be meeting the new Secretary of State for Education to go through all the issues facing West Sussex schools and to ensure he is familiarised with these issues.

WSTeachers

 
Steady progress in project to build combined footway and cycleway
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 16:46

A project to build a safer, more direct route for cyclists and pedestrians between Bognor Regis and Littlehampton has been making steady progress.

The work on the A259 aims to reduce overall traffic congestion and encourage sustainable forms of transport. The combined footway and cycleway will also include new and improved lighting and crossing facilities at Yapton Road, north of the junction with the A259 (Comet Corner), and Church Lane roundabout at the junction with the A259.

The project is still on course for completion in the Spring, despite some unexpected challenges. Although extensive surveys were carried out before the project started, fibre-optic cables have been found a lot nearer ground-level than anticipated.

However, everything possible is being done to minimise the knock-on effect and for the project to be completed as soon as possible. This includes extending working hours from 12th February, starting at 8am and finishing at 4.30pm (currently 9.30am to 3.30pm), Monday to Friday, with temporary traffic lights on sections of the road for  the safety of the public and workforce.

Bob Lanzer, county council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said: “We would like to thank the public for their patience during the work.

“We realise the revised working times will have an impact for people going to and from work, school and so on. We apologise for this but the longer working hours will help us complete the project as soon as possible.”

 
Residents breakdown the barriers to work
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 16:43

Organisers hope to repeat the success of the latest Arun Skills and Jobs Fairs which saw more than 200 people attend and get valuable career advice.

Record numbers of people attended the two most recent events in Bognor and Littlehampton, hosted by West Sussex County Council’s Children and Family Centres.

The fairs enabled people to meet training centres and employers face-to-face.

Held in conjunction with Bognor and Littlehampton Job Centre Plus, the events also offer support to residents to overcome the barriers to work such as interview skills, training and childcare options.

Sharon Howard, Chief Executive Officer for Safe in Sussex, said: “The jobs fair was a great opportunity for us to talk about our services and for potential volunteers to come forward. It was an added bonus finding a new member of staff too.”

The next Arun Skills and Jobs Fair is being held at The Littlehampton Children and Family Centre, at the Wickbourne Centre, in Clun Road, from 10.30am to 1pm on 22 February 2018.

Stephen Hillier, County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “I am pleased to say that the feedback from previous events has been so positive that we are hoping to hold four skills and jobs fairs in 2018 starting with the one in Littlehampton.

“There will be experts on hand to help with a range of worries including confidence building and finance support. I would encourage anyone who is worried about work to not be afraid and come along. “

There will be four Arun Skills and Jobs Fair held in 2018 with plans for a special event specifically for young people in Bognor Regis on April 24. There will also be events in Littlehampton in September and in Bognor Regis in November.

To find out more, contact 01903 276840 or visit the Facebook pages @arunwestnorthcfc and @aruneastcfc.

 
A very significant day for all women
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 16:39

As both a woman and a politician I am acutely aware of the privileges I hold by virtue of when I was born and what I owe to those who have come before me.

This week holds a very significant day for all women - the 6th February.

A date which has real significance for all women because of what it led to.

100 years ago when the 1st World War was coming to a close, an Act of Parliament was passed known as the Representation of the People Act 1918 – 4th Reform on the 6th February.

It acknowledged that all men over 21 should have the vote; at the start of World War 1 only 60% of the men had the right to vote so millions of men returning from the 1st World War, many with life changing injuries mental and physical, would have had not had a vote.

Included in the Act was the right for Women over the age of 30, or if married or a member of the local Government Register or home-owner, could vote – not true parity but a start anyway. In November of that year was a qualification for Women to stand as MPs and councillors.

The significance of this was giving women a political voice as well as a vote. One without the other simply wouldn't work.

The legacy of World War 1 was not only that we remained as a free nation, but it changed the social order and this Act of Parliament was the first step in how our world has changed. In the 1st World War women became a more visible part of society. They were driving our buses, working our land, they were on the production line in our factories, another kind of front line.  Women played an important  part on the home front and it is right their work was acknowledged by having the vote.

The Act was passed by 385 to 55 not unanimous!

On the 1st December 1919 Nancy Astor became the first woman to take a seat as an MP, it must have been quite something to be the only women amongst more than 500 MPs at the time.

At West Sussex County Council two women were elected to the County Council in 1919; Ellen Chapman from Worthing and the Honorable Evelyn Gladys Cecil from Bognor Regis. I can only imagine the stir that must have caused in the Council Chamber!

Over the years more women County Councillors have come forward from all parties, but at present we are still no way near 50% representation or 35 Women – in May 2017, 22 women were elected.

In 2001, when I was elected on to the County Council we elected a woman Chairman for the first time, the Late Margaret Johnson, an exemplary County Councillor and role model. She encouraged and supported all the new councillors and was very kind making sure all women councillors settled into their roles.

Today we have made such great strides, it is rare I consider my gender as I make decisions, set strategy or plan a way ahead, it is rare but it is not non-existent. With the crucial roles women play in every day life it is of paramount importance that we continue to make sure our voice is heard, in parliament, industry, health across all the employment areas. That's why I have been so insistent that a celebration of the suffrage movement must not be a look back but a push forward to make sure we make the powers women in history fought so hard for, continue to mean something today.

Best wishes,
Louise.

goldsmith213

 
Leader calls for long term funding solution from government Recommendations on council tax have been put to the council’s Performance and Finance Select Committee
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 00:00

The future of vital services will be at risk if government does not take a long term view on local authority funding.

That’s the stark message from Leader of West Sussex County Council Louise Goldsmith who this week has taken the ‘incredibly hard’ decision to recommend a further rise in council tax of 1 per cent to help cope with rising demand for core services including child protection and adult social care.

Recommendations to take advantage of the extra 1 per cent as offered by government earlier this month were put to the council’s Performance and Finance Select Committee for scrutiny by councillors yesterday (Thursday January 16) .

This would bring the council tax raise for West Sussex residents to 4.95 per cent – that’s the equivalent of an additional 12.6p per week for the average Band D council tax payer.

The committee endorsed the Medium Term Financial Strategy and draft revenue budget for 2018/19. The proposals will now be discussed by the County Council’s Cabinet on January 30 and voted on at the Full Council meeting on February 16.

Louise Goldsmith said: “It could be easy to forget just how wide reaching the services we provide are. We are there for our residents from the day they are born until the day they die. We are the biggest provider of care, bar the hospitals, in the county. We keep our older people safe from harm and independent for longer, we keep children safe, in care and at home, we protect them and support them and we educate them. We are the Fire and Rescue service, keeping people safe in an emergency and preventing those emergencies in the first place. We are there to keep our county moving by keeping our roads running, our potholes filled.

“One way or another there is little part of life in West Sussex that we are not responsible for or involved in. None of this we do lightly. But we need to plan, we need to be able to continue to evolve and grow as the issues and demands change and we simply can’t do that with a short term view of our finances.

“It is wrong for us, and County Council’s across the country, to continue to have to be reliant on taxing our residents in the current piecemeal way every year to attempt to plug the gap left by central government.

“We have played our part well when Government asked us to and taken more than 30 per cent out of our budget at exactly the same time as demand and need rises. It’s time that the Government supports us with a properly funded long term settlement that enables us to plan and prepare for the challenges we know are ahead and in particular to help our growing elderly population. We are not alone in West Sussex this is a national problem that deserves a national answer. I, and many other council leaders have been asking for years for a long term solution to local government finances.

“It is against all my instincts for me to consider taking the incredibly hard decision to raise council tax when I know some residents are struggling with their own finances but it would also be against my instincts for me not to offer the high quality services that our residents deserve.”

Mrs Goldsmith added: “This decision would mean that vital services can continue to run and be developed without us having to make extremely difficult decisions about the future of some those services we know our residents rely on. It would also mean we can move forward more quickly on key priorities as set out in our West Sussex Plan to support those people who are struggling and the most vulnerable in our society. This includes proposals to tackle homelessness in the county, working with our local authority partners to increase the amount of temporary accommodation available, improving the safety of our roads, accelerating our programmes on solar energy, adding to the hardship fund we hold to help residents when they need it the most, developing a programme of volunteering in the county as well as developing our infrastructure locally and making sure we support our residents by developing their life chances.”

goldsmith213

 
Care market on agenda at select committee
Monday, 15 January 2018 00:00

Are there enough care home places in West Sussex to meet demand? Are new homes being built in the right place? What courses are available at colleges to train people for a care career?

These are some of the questions to be looked into at a meeting of West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) this week.

Among those who will give evidence to the select committee are representatives from local colleges, district and borough planning teams, charity Skills for Care and West Sussex Partners in Care, which represents a number of care homes in the county.

The meeting takes place on at 10.30am on Wednesday 17 January at County Hall in Chichester.

The meeting will be webcast via the County Council website here.

The select committee will:

  • assess and comment on the County Council’s actions to develop and support the care market in terms of demand, capacity, capability and quality
  • identify any gaps or issues to be addressed and
  • identify any issues for further/future scrutiny.

Bryan Turner, Chairman of the Committee, said: “The County Council is facing unprecedented growth in demand for adult social care due to increasing numbers aged between 75 to 84 and at 85+ in West Sussex.

“Helping everyone in West Sussex to live long, active, independent and healthy lives whatever their circumstances is a key priority for the County Council and it is important for this committee to look in depth at capacity in the care home market and make sure any gaps are being addressed.”

turner13

 
OFSTED - West Sussex Schools are Improving
Monday, 11 December 2017 17:10

Recent judgements following OFSTED inspections of schools in West Sussex are showing that more pupils are attending a school rated Good or better, compared with the same time last year. At the end of Oct '17, 84% of pupils in West Sussex were attending a school rated Good or better, up from 81.5% in Oct '16.

There are now 41 schools in the County which are rated lower that Good, compared to 46 at this time last year.

The Council will continue to support those schools to achieve a higher standard of teaching, through the Education and Skills Service and by challenging them to improve.

EducationWordCloud

 
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Wednesday 16 May 2018

Multi-million-pound Crawley infrastructure improvement proposals

Exciting proposals for the £8.3million Crawley Eastern Gateway and £5.3million Station Gateway projects go on display soon in a series…
Read More ...
Wednesday 16 May 2018

Roving ‘seek and fill’ teams added to action against West Sussex potholes

Even more repair teams are being dedicated to tackling potholes in West Sussex, with an additional two ‘seek and fill’…
Read More ...
Monday 19 February 2018

2018/19 Budget Speech by the Leader, Louise Goldsmith

The annual budget as tabled in the papers today, is a set of figures prepared and balanced, but for our…
Read More ...

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