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Scutiny of SECamb to Continue
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 15:16

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust that it must make significant improvements in the quality of its services.

Following a comprehensive inspection in May, CQC has issued a Warning Notice identifying six main areas of concern for improvement by the trust:

•           The systems in place to ensure enough staff are employed and deployed appropriately are not effective.
•           NHS 111 calls are not always responded to in a timely and effective manner.
•           Processes to ensure that equipment is properly maintained and secured are not adequate.
•           Safeguarding processes to prevent abuse of service users are not operated effectively.
•           The systems in place for medicines management are not operated safely and effectively.
•           Governance arrangements including systems to assess, monitor and improve the quality and safety of the services are not operated effectively.

Bryan Turner, Chairman of West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee said "Many people in West Sussex will be concerned about the performance of SECamb, a key component of our health service. Together with our colleagues across the region, we will continue to question the senior leadership team of SECamb on how they will deliver the improvements demanded by the CQC."

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Superfast schoolchildren celebrate broadband at Amberley
Sunday, 17 July 2016 17:48

An exciting project to bring better, faster broadband to West Sussex has celebrated the successful completion of its £20 million roll out with one of the latest communities to benefit from access to superfast broadband.

Amberley C.E. First School and local residents said a special ‘thankyou’ to the West Sussex Better Connected team, a partnership between West Sussex County Council, BT and central government, which has already made faster broadband available to 60,000 more homes and businesses in the county.

Following the success of the project, an additional £2.5 million has been invested in taking the roll out further into the county and hoping to reach another 3,000 West Sussex homes and businesses by the end of 2017.

The high-speed fibre broadband technology is available to more than 230 households and businesses and school in the village of Amberley – and already it is proving highly popular with around a third of villagers so far ordering a better, faster broadband product from their internet supplier.  

The majority of residents in Amberley can get access to superfast speeds of more than 24mpbs with some getting up to 70mbps at home offering better online learning and entertainment and an improved ability to work at home.

David Barling, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services, said: “It is fantastic to see Amberley’s schoolchildren able to include digital education in their learning and enhance their skills which will help them for the future. The aim of the Better Connected project has been to bring better, faster broadband to West Sussex and it is very rewarding to see local communities, now including Amberley, reaping the benefits of our investment.”

Jon Gilbert, head teacher at Amberley C.E. First School, said: “We want to thank West Sussex County Council, BT and Openreach for the faster internet speeds we now have at the school. There is a lot of excitement among the pupils and staff about the new way that lessons can be learned and enjoyed using the speeds and capacity that the new fibre broadband has provided.”

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our rollout of superfast broadband has already taken superfast speeds to more than four million homes and businesses that would otherwise have missed out. The West Sussex Better Connected partnership has done a fantastic job and the widespread access to superfast broadband that this scheme is delivering will provide a tremendous boost to the West Sussex economy."

Tim Simpson, local resident and Amberley Parish Councillor said: “Faster broadband has benefitted many of us, and has in particular put Amberley School at the forefront of technological provision in local schools.  We want to thank two key providers – Openreach, who, despite last winter’s difficulties, worked very hard to bring fibre broadband over Houghton Bridge and along the B2139 to Amberley; and West Sussex County Council’s Better Connected broadband team, who have worked tirelessly on our behalf to ensure provision of fast reliable broadband to our community.”

Stacey King, BT’s regional partnership director for the South East, said: “It is great news that by working together efficiently and effectively the partnership has been able to provide faster internet speeds to Amberley village and Amberley C.E. First School. The engineering to provide high-speed broadband to the village has at times been challenging and at one point included crossing the river Arun over an historic bridge.”

The Better Connected project builds on BT’s commercial fibre broadband programme across the county, which has already given more than 350,000 homes and businesses access to the high-speed fibre technology.
 
West Sussex Council invested £6.26 million in the project, BT £7.6 million and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme £6.76 million.
 
The new fibre-based network is open to all broadband providers on an equal wholesale basis, so local households and businesses can benefit from competitive products and pricing from a wide range of broadband providers.
 
Local WSCC member, Mr Philip Circus (pictured) said "The technology will boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning, entertainment and development opportunities for households"

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Tim Loughton MP attacks Southern Railway’s terrible record and calls for a timetable to be set out to strip GTR of its franchise if it does not improve
Sunday, 17 July 2016 17:37

Tim Loughton MP (East Worthing and Shoreham) organised a Westminster Hall debate on the performance of Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). During the debate, Tim attacked the performance of Southern Railway and challenged the Minister to set out a timetable for GTR to be stripped of its franchise if they did not rapidly improve their “appalling” service.

The debate was well attended by over 20 MPs from across the political divide. Those present relayed the anger of their constituents with the current performance of GTR.  

Opening the debate, Tim said:

“Our constituents are losing their jobs, literally; families are unable to see their children; students are missing lessons and in some cases exams; all as a result of woeful incompetence of this train company.

“There is no end in sight. It is embarrassing, it is pathetic, it is unsustainable and it is a national disgrace. The management, the unions and the Department of Transport should all be ashamed.

“Enough is enough. The Minister has got to get a grip on this.

“If this [Southern’s performance] has not been sorted by the beginning of September, after the impact of the emergency timetable, and there is absolutely no indication of improvement, then the Government should set out a timetable for stripping Southern of the franchise by the end of the year.”

After the debate, Tim said:

“I was surprised to hear in her response the Minister claim there was nothing in the contract between the Government and GTR which allowed her to rescind the franchise from them.”


Tim has been holding GTR to account for their poor service. You can see his work on this here:  http://www.timloughton.com/campaigns/trainwatch

 

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RESIDENTS SIT COMFORTABLY
Monday, 04 July 2016 09:53

Clients of Offington Counselling service are at last able to sit in comfortable arm chairs thanks to a grant from WSCC.

 

The old chairs were long past their best and had become uncomfortable.

 

“When you have personal problems you need to discuss, the last thing you want is to be sitting uncomfortably. You need to be able to relax and have a nice cup of tea while you chat” said Cissbury Division Member John Rogers who helped to guide the application through the Community Initiative Fund process.

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OFFINGTON COMMUNITY BENEFITS FROM WSCC FUNDING
Monday, 04 July 2016 09:51

 

Findon Valley residents are benefiting from a brand new bus shelter that has been built by volunteers managed by the Communities Team and with the materials cost paid for by a grant from the Community Initiative Fund.

 

The application was made and managed by Findon Valley Residents Association in conjunction with Cissbury Division member John Rogers and will be officially opened on Weds 6 July at 10am

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Better Roads delivers dramatic improvement for West Sussex roads
Friday, 01 July 2016 09:14
  • Statistics show two-year programme restored the quality of the county’s road network to its highest level in years.
  • £30m project focused on improving rural and residential roads in the county.
  • More than eight out of ten residents say scheme improved their road.
  • Forecasted to save the County Council millions in future maintenance costs over coming years.

West Sussex County Council’s Better Roads Programme has delivered better than expected results.

Dramatic improvements have been made to the surfaces of rural and residential roads across the county.

Statistics this month show only 13% of rural and residential roads are now in need of repair, compared to 23% back in 2013.

The success had a knock-on effect on busier roads in the county as well.

Today, only 3% of A roads and 3% of B and C roads need maintenance, compared to 7% and 10% respectively in 2014.

These results will be published by the Department of Transport in March 2017.

County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, John O’Brien, said: “It is fantastic to announce the Better Roads Programme has delivered on its promises.

“The figures reflected in our recent surveys are a significant achievement and testament to the hard work of our staff and our contractors.

“It has brought the need for repairs on our roads back to a manageable level.

“Many more residents now encounter a smoother and safer road surface when out in the country or near where they live.”

He added: “The extra resource brought in for Better Roads had the added benefit of allowing us to concentrate on improving the main road network at the same time.

We cannot become complacent, but over the next couple of years we expect a much more resilient road network.”

The Better Roads programme, which ran from 2014 to 2016, was the largest investment made to the road network for years.

£30m was taken from council reserves to be spent on improving rural and residential roads around the county.

Over half of roads in West Sussex are rural and residential.

Extreme cold and wet weather in previous years had accelerated the deterioration of the road surfaces. 

Under the Better Roads Programme, roads that suffered the greatest deterioration were prioritised first.

It is anticipated the County Council will save £1.2 million in maintenance costs every year because of the improvements.

John said: “What this has done is brought our roads to a level where they can be sustainably maintained on an annual basis.

“These figures are a snapshot and the battle from now on will be to keep them down to this sort of level.

“It’s important to point out there is constant wear and tear from the traffic on the road network and we cannot maintain everything at 100%.

“Every year we survey the road network so we know the areas we need to plan maintenance for.

“But we have been very proactive in seeking out areas in need of immediate attention.”

Residents living on streets resurfaced during the Better Roads Programme were given postcards to fill in.

They were asked to assess the quality of work.

Eight out of 10 responded to say the scheme had improved their road.

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Business AS Usual for West Sussex After Referendum Vote
Monday, 27 June 2016 00:00

Like 72.2% of the population I went out and voted in the Referendum on Thursday. Like many, I really was not sure which way it would go and early on Friday morning the results came through for an exit from the EU.

It was – and will be -  a momentous decision for the UK and one which has to be respected whether the final decision was one you personally supported or not.

 

Over the next few weeks and months national and, to a lesser degree, local politicians will be involved in what happens next in one way or another. All politicians will have a duty to focus on making sure this decision works for everyone and the UK. But for all of us this is a first – there are no previous examples to follow. Much is uncertain but we have to move forward and, in doing so, create a new chapter in Britain’s history.

 

What we do know is that there will be a new Prime Minister and David Cameron has pledged to do all he can to ensure a period of stability, until his replacement is selected.

 

But it’s only natural that people from all walks of life, businesses, families and communities will be wondering what Thursday’s vote means for them. People are wondering what impact it have on their way of life, their home, their work, their futures and the futures of their children and grandchildren.

 

In this period of natural uncertainty, please be assured that West Sussex County Council will continue to run its services as normal -  our Fire and Rescue Service is still there for you in an emergency and we will still continue to keep our children, elderly and vulnerable residents safe from harm. Our focus remains on working with all our businesses to build a stronger economy, supporting and creating jobs for today, tomorrow and in the future.

 

Our crews will still be working around the clock to maintain our roads, our libraries will open as usual and our registration service will continue to help you when you need to register the birth of your baby or the death of someone you loved.

 

We will continue to spend every penny of the council tax we collect from you as if we’d earned it ourselves, investing in what you have told us is most important to you to support you to lead the long, healthy and happy lives you have told us you want.

 

All of the services we provide to our communities, day in day out, continue today in just the same way as they did last Wednesday, before people went to the polls.

 

It’s true that some of our longer term plans may have to change in the weeks and months ahead. If and when this happens of course I will keep you posted with what has had to change and, most importantly why.


But for now, it remains very much business as usual at WSCC.

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Home Secretary invited to visit West Sussex as County Council Leader voices concern about future of fire service
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 12:56

West Sussex County Council’s Leader has set out her opposition to a possible proposal from the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to take responsibility of the county’s Fire and Rescue Service.

Louise Goldsmith told a meeting of the Full Council today (Friday 27 May) that she had received a letter this week from the Commissioner, Katy Bourne, setting out her intention to explore the proposal to take on control of the fire service.

The Home Secretary Theresa May gave a speech this week on the reform of Fire and Rescue Services, including plans to invite PCCs to prepare bids to take on responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services in their area. The enabling legislation for these proposals is currently going through Parliament in the amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill.

In West Sussex the Fire and Rescue Service is fully integrated with the County Council.

Louise said: “I am firmly of the view that we have an excellent model – one that I am extremely proud of and one that I would not want to see put at risk.”

Louise told the meeting the Home Secretary’s proposals to allow Police and Crime Commissioners to run fire services are based on a ‘perceived’ need for reform based on:

• The benefits of greater collaboration with other emergency services
• Opportunities for joint working and joint commissioning
• The need to change old ways of working
• A need for greater democratic accountability and transparency
• The need for further savings from more efficient practices

Louise added: “I believe we deliver all of those things already and that we have achieved considerably more benefits in terms of integration with our other preventative, community safety and safeguarding services."

Louise went on to invite the Home Secretary to West Sussex to see for herself the ‘alternative’ to government’s preferred model which is already working well.

Louise said: “I would be delighted to welcome the Home Secretary to West Sussex to show her how all of her requirements are already being met by our excellent Fire and Rescue Service through integration with the County Council.”

Today’s County Council meeting saw cross-party opposition to the Government’s proposal to allow PCCs to take on responsibility for fire services.

A full debate on the Government’s proposal will be held at the July full Council meeting.

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County Council ready to activate Pothole Action Fund
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 12:51

West Sussex County Council is set to turn a Government pothole fund into action.

The County Council was awarded £841,000 by the Department of Transport as part of its share of the Government’s Pothole Action Fund.

Officers will use the funds to make permanent pothole repairs, and resurface or treat roads to prevent potholes forming in the first place. 

It is anticipated the fund will repair the equivalent of 15,868 potholes in the next year.

The funding is being split into three areas:

Permanent pothole repairs - £350,000

  • £50,000 to be spent equally in Crawley/Mid Sussex/Worthing/ Adur/Arun/Horsham/Chichester districts;
  • Two additional maintenance gangs to start work in June/July;
  • Repairs to target roads where ‘repeat defects’ form using data from customer complaints.

Resurfacing/treating roads - £350,000

  • Focused on roads which have been inspected and is known maintenance is needed;
  • List of roads to be confirmed in June/July;
  • Work planned to start in summer/autumn.

Repairing the centre joints of A and B roads - £150,000

  • Repairs done around same time as road markings;
  • B2145 and B2201 Donnington to Selsey route (1.8kms) prioritised;
  • Work to be completed June or July (subject to weather).

The work will complement the County Council’s existing annual road maintenance programme.

County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, John O’Brien said: “Repairing and preparing our roads over the summer is a key part of our strategy to protect our roads from pothole damage caused in winter.

“This extra investment from the Government strengthens our hand.

“We care for almost 2,500 miles of road, so this funding will help us target locations we know are in need of attention that have just missed out before.”

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Latest News from WSCC Leader Louise Goldsmith
Saturday, 16 April 2016 18:30

For the last six years West Sussex County Council have been on a journey of change.

 

We’ve needed to do things differently to adapt to the significant challenges that we as a county council, and all other local authorities, face.

 

I won’t pretend for one minute that it hasn’t been difficult but it has been the right thing to do. It has absolutely narrowed our focus to the things that matter most for our county and our residents.

 

One of the most significant of those challenges has been our contribution to reducing the country’s deficit.

 

This authority has made more than £162million savings over the last six years and, while further, substantial, savings still need to be found, we have certainly done our bit.

 

And we’ve done it at a time when pressures on our services have never been greater, and the expectations of our residents have never been higher. And we know those pressures will only continue to grow. And we know that people’s expectations will only increase. And we know that we will continue to meet both in the best way we can because that’s why we’re here, doing what we do day in and day out 24/7.

 

So while this reflects on the challenges of the last few years, it’s also one that looks to the future. And I believe that our future’s a bright one.

 

There will be challenges, of course, but we will face them and we will overcome them as we have always done.

 

And we will continue to be a council that spends every penny of our residents’ hard earned council tax as if it were our own because delivering quality and value for money are so very important to us.

 

At times of significant financial pressures it’s easy for organisations to solely concentrate on balancing the books, shrink services, look inwards and live in the here and now.

 

That’s never been our style. When I look back over the last six years it’s with a sense of pride that we’ve faced the challenges we have and unrelentingly pushed ahead with an ambitious agenda that will improve West Sussex for us all. Because I honestly believe this county and the people that live and work in it deserve nothing less.

 

We have worked hard to reshape and transform our organisation and will continue to do so in order to focus on delivering quality services around our three key priority areas. You’ve heard me talk about them before but our work to make sure that children have the very best start in life, that we support and grow our local economy and that we support our elderly and ageing population to live independently in their later years – these are the three core things that unite us all.

 

And sitting alongside those three vital areas are our fundamental principles of always helping people to help themselves and always being there for people in an emergency.

 

They unite us all, no matter what political colour we might be.

 

We have redesigned our Children's Services and continue our work to improve how we can better support our growing elderly population in their own communities so they can age with confidence.

 

We have delivered our £30million Better Roads Programme, resurfacing over 2.27million square metres of roads across the county, and our Operation Watershed project has been celebrated nationally as one of the very best examples of local government helping its communities to protect themselves against flooding.

 

We are currently purchasing the Novartis site in Horsham to further develop and support West Sussex’s life science sector.

 

And we are working on an exciting project in Bognor Regis to create a hub to support the growth of the creative digital sector in the town by providing a shared workspace where small businesses and start-ups could work in a creative environment, network, socialise, display work and share facilities. We’re also working with partners in Mid Sussex on exciting redevelopment plans for Burgess Hill.

 

We continue to push forward with our 3SC Devolution Bid to Government which will forge a new and exciting partnership with Surrey County Council and East Sussex County Council for the benefit of all our residents. We’re already starting to see the benefits of closer collaboration with partners - indeed we will be sharing our Legal Services across the 3SC and Brighton & Hove City Council.

 

So despite the very difficult financial landscape we are innovating and constantly looking at ways to better serve our residents.

 

 

On Friday, the 15th April our Full Council met and confirmed the appointment our new Chief Executive. Nathan Elvery will join us from Croydon Council in June and will continue to build on the substantial transformation work that has been undertaken over the last few years.

 

He started his working life at Crawley Borough Council so it is good to see him coming back to work in West Sussex, this time at the County Council.

 

I really believe this is a watershed time in West Sussex County Council’s long and proud history. We’ve got a bright, and challenging future ahead of us and I look forward to working with Nathan, all our dedicated politicians and staff, to achieve our ambitions for this great county that I am lucky enough to call home.

 

 

Louise

Louise Goldsmith.

Leader West Sussex County Council

Chichester West Division.

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