We’re so glad you’re here
Thursday, 20 July 2017 18:24

It’s Friday afternoon, not my usual time to write a blog but I wanted to let you know about my huge sigh of relief today.

In a meeting that has just finished Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Sussex, has told us she plans to leave the governance of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service with the County Council.

Last year Government asked police and crime commissioners across the country to look at the governance of fire services to make sure they were efficient, effective and collaborative.

Since the announcement we have been sharing with the PCC our plans for our fire service and our reasons as to why it absolutely should stay where it is in its home at the County Council.

I am delighted to report that Katy has listened to us on this.

So why did it matter so much and why am I so very relieved and delighted that our Fire and Rescue Service is staying here?

Back in 2014 we made a conscious decision to fully embed the service within the County Council. So much of our preventative work is carried out by our fire service; they go in to see residents to carry out home safety checks but, while they are there, they can do so much more. Their work around flood prevention and resilience has helped so many communities which have had their lives blighted by flooding; something lauded nationally. Trading Standards is part of the service to help protect residents from some terrible scams. Their FireBreak sessions - activity courses with the fire service for young people who need support and help - are so appreciated by their families. These are just some examples of the list of things our Fire and Rescue Service does daily for our communities.

As a fully integrated service it is efficient and effective and our residents praise it. It offers good value for money. Yes, we have had to take savings out of our Fire and Rescue Service and have redesigned the way the service runs – but we are now in a period of stability and have some innovative plans for the future.

Last year we did a consultation where we asked our residents ‘what matters to you?’ The top priority was residents want to feel safe. If we did a survey tomorrow that message would probably be the same – these are uncertain times and at such times we need stability – not change for change’s sake.

And of course our Fire and Rescue Service is always there in an emergency.

Certainly, in August 2015 that promise was tested like it has never been tested before. The tragic Shoreham air crash was devastating for everyone involved. Being a close observer I was so humbled by the utter dedication and selflessness of fire fighters; being there for the communities they serve, no matter what.

Even as I write the memory of the tragedy, their response and the support long after the news cameras had left is so very emotional. I learned that in tragic times fire and rescue services across the country are a very large family, they come forward with offers of help and support.

I saw how all our brilliant emergency services worked together to make sure we are there for our residents when they need help.

I recall standing on the Old Shoreham Toll Bridge for a minute’s silence; a moment I will never forget. I witnessed the role our Fire and Rescue Service played in the aftermath – the recovery phase - and again I remain so proud that what they learned from that experience meant they could recently extend help to London in the wake of their own tragedy.

Fire and rescue services across the land are a united group serving residents when they most need it.

Our Fire and Rescue Service is there for you in an emergency, there to serve you so you don’t have an emergency and there to support the communities in West Sussex every hour of every day.

That’s why I love our Fire and Rescue Service and why I am so very glad we are keeping it close to home – home in West Sussex County Council.

Best wishes,


Unemployed young people secure jobs with leading infrastructure company
Thursday, 20 July 2017 18:20

A course offered to young people who are not in education, employment or training has helped four locals to secure jobs in the construction sector

Four local young people have secured jobs in the construction sector following a new work experience programme provided by Balfour Beatty Living Places, in partnership with West Sussex County Council.

The six week course offered young people aged 16 - 25 who are not in education, employment or training (NEET), real-life work experience designed to prepare them for employment or an apprenticeship in their chosen field.

The programme covered a variety of capabilities and skills including leadership, First Aid, construction site set up, risk assessments, and health & safety.

The young people also received regular mentoring from on-site Balfour Beatty Living Places construction workers and were given the opportunity to gain a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card which provides official proof that the individual has the required construction training and qualifications for the type of work they are undertaking. A CSCS card is required to work for most principal contractors and major house builders.

Of the young people who took part, two secured apprenticeships with Balfour Beatty Living Places, one obtained a full time position with a construction, property and engineering recruitment agency and another earned employment through a local provider, as a result of the Balfour Beatty Living Places training.

Stephen Hillier, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, commented: “We are always on the lookout for new opportunities for West Sussex young people and this was perfect. Those who took part were enthusiastic and proved that they deserved a chance.

“Their efforts speak for themselves as they overcame the stereotypes attached to poor educational attainment and four of them went on to secure paid employment. Our thanks go out to Balfour Beatty for providing this opportunity and we would encourage others to do the same to make our community stronger and fairer.”

Steve Phillips, Contract Director for Balfour Beatty Living Places, said: “We are pleased to be working with West Sussex County Council’s Children and Young People’s Service on an initiative which has successfully equipped local young people with the skills required to place them in long term employment.

“Together with our commitment to the on-going training of our workforce through Balfour Beatty’s membership of The 5% Club, an employer-led movement which champions investment in the next generation through workplace training, we will continue to enable our workforce to provide West Sussex’s local community with a pleasant environment to live and work.”

Stronger mental health support for young people
Thursday, 20 July 2017 18:14

More than 2,250 young people aged 11 to under 18 receive emotional support via the Youth Emotional Support Service.

Extra specialist support, early preventative help and innovative new projects are all being used in West Sussex to assist children and young people with emotional wellbeing and mental health issues.

An annual report into commissioning for children and young people's mental health and emotional wellbeing outlines a range of work being done to support all children and young people in the county.

The Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Commissioners look after the specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and also develop a wide range of other services on behalf of West Sussex County Council and three NHS clinical commissioning groups - Coastal West Sussex, Crawley and Horsham and Mid Sussex.

The report, ‘Making progress, making a difference’, highlights that more than 2,250 young people aged 11 to under 18 receive emotional support via the Youth Emotional Support Service (YES) which helps tackle emotional wellbeing issues, from low mood and anxiety feelings to anger, confidence and relationship difficulties.

The YES team currently sees around 200 new young people every month and on average less than 3% go on to require a referral to CAMHS.

A 17-year-old from West Sussex said: “YES has changed the way I think and feel about things and helped me control my anxieties.”

Dr Patience Okorie, NHS Crawley CCG Clinical Lead for children, families and young people, working in partnership with NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG, said: “This service has really improved access to mental health and emotional wellbeing services for young people in our communities. Previously there was a gap for those who needed help now with feelings like stress, anxiety or depression but weren’t at the stage where they needed a referral to mental health services. YES is ideal for this.”

Another new service launched in July 2016 has seen more than 100 children and young people aged two to 18 years old, access therapeutic support for sexual abuse. Provided by Lifecentre, the service offers pre-trial therapy, face-to-face counselling for young people and their families and play therapy for younger children, supported by telephone and text helplines.

Stephen Hillier, County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We know that poor self-esteem and confidence in childhood years often leads to poor health and wellbeing issues throughout adult life which is why it is very reassuring to see such a range of support services on offer from early support to enhanced access to innovative therapies.

“I have a particular passion for the work done by Free Your Mind – an action group of 11-18 year olds who tackle the stigma around mental health. They have become a vital voice for all young people accessing services in West Sussex. I have also heard first-hand from users of YES and was so pleased when they explained how it had changed their lives.”

Another success is in schools as there is now an established a network of named emotional wellbeing leads in every secondary school in the county and there are plans to expand this into primary schools.

Dr Sue Torry, GP and Clinical Lead for mental health at NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG, said: "The YES service is a fantastic support for children and young people in West Sussex.

“Before YES was launched there was only limited help and support for young people with emotional needs who didn't meet the criteria for mental health services but now they can receive personalised support tailored to help them."

Young people who have questions about emotional wellbeing and mental health are encouraged to visit www.yourspacewestsussex.co.uk.

stephen hillier

Cabinet Member Stephen Hillier

Think Before You Throw – Waste costs. Recycling earns.
Thursday, 20 July 2017 18:07

We would like you to help us save £3 million. Can you do it?

On average a fifth of our household rubbish bins are filled with recycling.

And the cost is huge. Over one year, throwing away all that recycling is costing us £3 million a year that we don't need to be spending.

West Sussex County Council is launching its ‘Think Before You Throw’ campaign to help residents make some quick wins and ultimately save the County Council money to put back into core services.

So what items are getting missed?

  • Aerosols

  • Tin foil

  • Trigger sprays (e.g kitchen and bathroom cleaners)

  • Glass jars

  • Food containers (e.g plastic fruit/vegetable trays, yoghurt and ice-cream tubs)

  • Squeezy bottles (e.g. tomato ketchup)

  • Plastic pill packets (e.g. headache/hay fever tablets)

The County Council went through thousands and thousands of bags of rubbish to see exactly what ended up in people’s bins.

The fifth that gets thrown away, which is recyclable, adds up to 32,000 tonnes a year – a mountain of waste which could be avoided.

Waste costs. Recycling earns.

West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Deborah Urquhart, said: “This is so simple.

“We know in West Sussex there are huge numbers of residents who are doing a great job recycling.

“It’s just people don’t realise the extra items you can put in your recycling.

“So empty aerosols, tin foil, trigger sprays, glass jars, drink containers, squeezy ketchup bottles, empty packets of Nurofen, they can all go in.

“If they need washing, all you need to do is rinse them out.

“They don’t need to be spotless.

“Then put them in the recycling bin loose, not in plastic bags, and help save millions of pounds as well.”

For more information and to watch the film visit www.thinkbeforeyouthrow.co.uk or follow the waste prevention team for more tips and advice at www.facebook.com/westsussexwaste.

Vote Simon Oakley for Chichester East on May 4th
Tuesday, 11 April 2017 18:27

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Peter Catchpole - Working Hard for Holbrook
Monday, 27 March 2017 09:12


It has been my honour to be Holbrook County Councillor since 2005. I have lived in Holbrook with my family for over 30 years. My first priority is to represent all the residents, respond to their concerns and get things done. It is often getting the small things fixed in a timely way that counts and I am committed to continue to make our neighbourhood a place we can be proud of and enjoy living in. Below are some of the issues I have been campaigning on and achievements made in Holbrook.


  • With local residents strongly opposing the siting of an industrial/commercial incinerator in our area.
  • Challenging the siting of mobile phone masts in inappropriate residential areas.
  • Successful campaign to ensure Horsham Football Club was not relocated to Holbrook Club.
  • Added safety measures at the pedestrian crossing point on A264 which links Northlands Road to Old Holbrook.
  • Parking improvements near the Littlehaven Station area to prevent excessive commuter parking, in Fay Road and Ashleigh Road to improve amenity for residents.
  • Ongoing work with police to monitor speeding and HGVs using our roads.
  • Successful transfer of Holbrook Community Centre and Youth Club from County Council to Community management and I am a member of the Management Committee.
  • Gatwick Airport Campaigns:

Opposed the 2nd Runway and new flight path trials. With our local MP lobbied government to ensure no increase in night flights.

  • Fighting for fairer and additional funding for our local schools. Both of my children attended Millais School, where I was a school governor for many years.
  • Worked to oppose the North Horsham Housing development and help present alternative plans to HDC.
  • Supported the County to purchase the Novartis site as a Science Park, bringing new high level jobs to Holbook.


At County as Cabinet Member for Adults' Services I want the most vulnerable people to be supported and enabled to stay healthy and independent. I ensured the continuation of Meals on Wheels and support for carers countywide. Our aim is to keep Council Tax as low as possible - delivering vital services even when government funds are reducing.


Finally I always remember my responsibility of being accountable to you all and representing your interests. I hope that you will feel able to support me when you cast your ballot


West Sussex MPs call for fair schools funding
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 10:23

West Sussex MPs have called on the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to amend the proposed new National Funding Formula to ensure a minimum level of funding for the County’s schools. 

In a formal response to the Stage 2 Consultation on the National Funding Formula, the MPs say that the proposed overall uplift of funding in West Sussex of 2.9 per cent – an increase of £14.3 million, or £122 per pupil – will be insufficient to meet rising costs faced by schools.

The letter has been signed by six of the County’s eight MPs: Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West), Nick Herbert (Arundel & South Downs), Tim Loughton (East Worthing & Shoreham), Jeremy Quin (Horsham), Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) and Andrew Tyrie MP (Chichester).  As Schools Minister and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Education Secretary respectively, neither Nick Gibb MP nor Henry Smith are able to sign the letter.

The letter is the latest initiative from West Sussex MPs who have made the case for fair funding over an extended period, including calling parliamentary debates, asking parliamentary questions, meeting ministers, meeting head teachers and governors, and taking delegations of West Sussex head teachers to meet ministers and officials.  Last week Nick Herbert, representing his West Sussex colleagues, was a member of a delegation of MPs which met the Prime Minister to express their view that the proposed schools funding formula needs to be changed.

In their letter, the West Sussex MPs raise concerns that, under the new Formula, a third of the schools in West Sussex will actually lose funding, despite the County’s starting point as the worst funded in the country.  While 167 schools in West Sussex will gain funding, two will receive no change, and 94 will lose funding, many of them rural primary schools.

The MPs argue that schools in other areas which have historically had significantly better resourcing are far better placed to deal with these funding pressures.  They point out that, while all schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets – the best funded in the country – will lose funding, with an average loss of 2.7 per cent, their funding per pupil will still be £6,718, compared to £4,257 in West Sussex. 

The MPs say that West Sussex schools are facing the cumulative effect of underfunding over many years, so savings have already been made and school budgets are tight. 

They state:

“Most schools in West Sussex would approach any further cost increases from a position of having already absorbed significant efficiencies.  The regrettable delay of the introduction of the National Funding Formula by a year has exacerbated the pressures.  Despite our request for some form of interim funding for West Sussex, as an authority with amongst the lowest levels of funding, this was not made available.”

The MPs’ letter points to a number of problems with the proposed National Funding Formula, including a limit on the extent to which very well-funded schools can lose funding, which therefore “entrenches the same regional inequities that the formula was intended to remove”

They say that data factored into the new Formula gives an inaccurate account of local operating costs, with a crude use of regional averages which masks the local economic realities of securing staffing and service provision beyond the London fringe.

The MPs also claim that ‘additional needs’ is given a disproportionate weight relative to core funding, a view shared by MPs in other low-funded authorities. 

They say:

“The basic funding percentage under the existing proposed formula – approximately 72.5 per cent – is simply too low.  It creates distortions which risk replacing one unfairness with another.”

They go on to say:

“We make it clear that we do not object to the principle that extra resources should be deployed to assist pupils with additional needs, since these negatively impact upon likely attainment.  However it is important that every school, including those with very limited additional need funding, should secure the necessary appropriate level of resources to deliver the curriculum in an effective way to all pupils.”

The MPs propose that the

“Formula is redesigned to provide a minimum level of funding for schools in each specified category, ensuring that all schools secure the necessary minimum operating costs required to deliver the curriculum regardless of the level of additional needs.”

They conclude:

“Despite our concerns about the proposed new Formula, we strongly reaffirm our support for fair schools funding and a national formula to redress the historic inequity in schools funding.  From the many representations we have received, we know that we have the full support of parents, teachers and governors in West Sussex for fair funding.

“With the new pressure on school budgets there is a strong and justified feeling that the unfair treatment of our schools must now be properly remedied.  We commend the Government for introducing a fair funding policy, but urge that the Formula is reconfigured to address the issues which we have set out.”

Coming together to find big bold solutions for the A27
Monday, 20 March 2017 22:26

As I am writing this the plans for the next A27 Community Workshop in Chichester are being finalised.

There has been a huge amount of support for this approach from all quarters and it is really heartening to have so many offers of help and interest.


We, the community in and around Chichester, have the opportunity to put our thoughts and ideas on a blank sheet of paper and speak with one collective voice to secure improvements which are so desperately needed.


The A27 affects all our lives in one way or another, but it is not just about this single road and its traffic – it’s about transport in the local area in general as well as issues such as air quality.


From experience I know that community based solutions are the best ones and that is what we will be looking for in the forthcoming workshops.


It is a community led approach and not for the County Council alone. But we know that we will need some expert help and advice at some stage. At the last workshop it was agreed that it was important that this advice is independent and can offer a different approach and fresh thinking. The County Council will help make this happen and ensure those requirements are met and that is why £100,000 has been put aside for this purpose so we can help our communities to help themselves.


Some may ask why didn’t you do this last year? The reason is quite simple – the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, commissioned Highways England to develop schemes for the A27 – the County Council’s role was a statutory consultee, Highways England prepare plans and then consult. It is a format that they adhere to and we had no power to change this.


We know the results of the consultation showed 47% said ‘no option’ and that is where we are. Some people take a negative view saying it will take 10 years plus before a further allocation of funding and it is all too difficult.


Having listened and read the many comments I know how much people wanted to be involved to have their voice heard to make sure we had the best solution.


Now we need as a community to come together to find those solutions - short, medium, and long term – so the Secretary of State and Highways England know we can work together, and that we, as a community, can find the right answer for our residents and our beautiful city.


It is a bold vision but it is the right thing to do and I look forward to our first proper workshop event and more to come, judging by the considerable positive comments many others feel the same.

So a big bold step for all of us but we need to take it to find big bold solutions.


Burgess Hill set for Growth Deal
Sunday, 12 February 2017 13:58

The County Council is set to agree a Growth Deal for MId Sussex town Burgess Hill. This follows the Crawley Growth Deal in December and is further confirmation that Conservative West Sussex County Council can and will deliver policies for econimic growth across the County. The Deal will identifies key growth areas for housing and jobs and will unlock regeneration in Burgess Hill town centre. Through the Deal, WSCC will work with Mid Sussex District Council, the HOmes and Communities Agency and the Local Enterprise Partnership to make sure that the needed infrastructure is delivered in the right place at the right time.


Final budget to be agreed by County Council
Friday, 10 February 2017 17:41

West Sussex County Council will meet next week (Friday 17 February) to agree its budget and a number of investments in key projects across the county.

The budget has been planned in line with the priorities of ‘keeping you safe’, ‘providing education and schools’ and ‘roads, buses and countryside’, which were identified by residents last year in the County Council’s ‘What Matters to You’ survey.

The meeting, at County Hall in Chichester, will hear how next year’s budget has been balanced. It will also hear about significant investments being made in key priority areas such as schools, roads and the Fire and Rescue Service as part of a £587m capital programme for the next five years.

Efficiencies and savings have been put forward to bridge a challenging financial gap of £46.1m for 2017/18, resulting from demand on social care services and a continued reduction in central government funding. The County Council has identified £16.8m savings across of number of services and is proposing to use £9.4m of reserves to ensure front line services remain protected for residents.

The remaining amount is due to be found via a council tax increase of 1.95% plus an additional 2% to fund adult social care, providing a total of 3.95%, the equivalent of an extra 92 pence per week for the average Band D household.

Two thirds of residents who responded to the ‘What Matters to You’ survey in 2016 said they would be happy for their council tax to increase by 3.75 per cent or more.

County Council Leader, Louise Goldsmith, said: “As in previous years we have carefully looked at our budget and have made efficiencies and savings wherever possible. We have looked closely at what residents have told us is important to them and have made considered decisions about how to spend the funds we have available to us.

“An increase in council tax is unfortunately inevitable if we want to protect frontline services. But we have kept the increase as low as possible in order to reduce the financial impact on our residents as much as we can.”

The meeting will also hear about the proposed capital investments of £587m in our communities over the next five years including £203m for schools, £11m to improve the quality of footways and pavements, £13m on highways maintenance, £20m to work with adult social care providers to help develop the care market, 11m for equipment and fleet for the Fire and Rescue Service and £30m to support growth projects across the county.

Louise added: “Whilst we have been careful to make savings, we have also made sure to look for opportunities for investment to ensure West Sussex remains a great place to live and work.”

The meeting will start at 10.30am. Members of the public are welcome to attend. The meeting will also be webcast.


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