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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.

goldsmith073web

 
New Cabinet Member, and new Chairman of HASC Scutiny
Friday, 15 April 2016 00:00

Two changes have been announced today within the County Council’s Cabinet and the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee.

Stephen Hillier will be taking on the role of Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life from Peter Evans, who has been a member of the County Council’s Cabinet for a decade.

Peter Evans was originally Cabinet Member for Public Protection before spending the last five years as Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life.

Margaret Evans will also be standing down as Chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) which will be taken up by Bryan Turner.

Leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith, said: “Last July, Peter and Margaret Evans advised me that in spring 2016 both wanted to stand down from their additional roles on the County Council. Peter has served in the Cabinet for over 10 years and his absolute commitment has been outstanding. I am delighted that Stephen Hillier has agreed to take on the portfolio.
 
“Margaret Evans has been an excellent Chairman of HASC and again I thank her for her contribution. I would also like to thank Bryan Turner for agreeing to take over as Chairman. He is not only an experienced Chairman but his professional background will bring considerable knowledge as well.”

Peter and Margaret Evans, who were married in 2014, have also announced their retirement from their respective County Councillor roles after the May 2017 elections. The couple has said they want to spend more time together.

Peter said: “Both Margaret and I now wish to pursue other interests. I have gained much satisfaction from my Cabinet roles at the County Council particularly in Children’s Services where I hope that a difference has been made to lives of some of our most vulnerable and underprivileged children.”

Peter, who is the ward member for East Preston and Ferring, was elected to West Sussex County Council in 2005 and served on the Strategic Planning and Public Protection Select Committee, as well as being appointed the Older People’s Champion for West Sussex. Peter has also just become Deputy Mayor at Chichester City Council.

As a father-of-two, Peter has lived in Ferring since 1979 and will continue to take an active role in the community including his current roles as Trustee of the Cobnor Activities Centre and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, Councillor at Ferring Parish Council and Director of Chichester Business Improvement.
Past roles include Chairman of the Ferring Conservative Association, Chairman of the East Preston and the Ferring Youth Clubs, Governor at Ferring CE Primary School and the Littlehampton Academy.

Stephen Hillier, who is the ward member for Haywards Heath and has served as Deputy Mayor for the area, said: “As a father of three, I am honoured to be taking up this role and I am mindful of the enormous responsibility that it bears because it involves the welfare of a huge range of West Sussex children.
 
“However, I am very fortunate to be stepping into the role after Peter Evans as he’s done a tremendous job and leaves Children’s Services in extremely good shape. He has been outstanding, much-respected by people working at all levels throughout the county, and we all owe him our thanks and very best wishes.”

 

stephenhillier

 
Montague Place Worthing Regeneration is Underway
Sunday, 24 January 2016 12:03

West Sussex County Council is revamping Montague Place in Worthing.

Work has begun this week to regenerate the area and make it a more attractive space for performances and public events.

The changes are designed to increase footfall and boost the local economy.

Improvements include:

  • A modern new bandstand with a shell design;
  • Removal of the dated rotunda seating;
  • A bigger open space for public events;
  • New steps on the north side of Montague Place under ‘skylar’ shelter for people to gather;
  • Lighter and longer lasting coloured paving;
  • Attractive wayfinder feature embedded in pavement with road names written in text;
  • LED lighting in paving; and
  • Stone cubes installed to stop vehicles turning into Montague Street.

Construction work will take place Monday to Friday during daytime hours.

The work is expected to take place until June.

Some disruption to Montague Place is anticipated.

However, access to shops is being maintained throughout the work, and noise and dust kept to a minimum.

Vehicles will be able to access Montague Street for loading and unloading before 10am and after 4pm, as normal.

Worthing Town Centre manager Sharon Clarke said: “Montague Street at its junction with Montague Place is the busiest pedestrian junction in Worthing and is a key area for public performance and events in the town centre. 

“This space helps charities and other organisations promote their work, as it is one of the main areas where people congregate while in town. 

“It’s really exciting to see this area regenerated and improved so it becomes a more usable performance space which will encourage additional activity. 

“This investment to Montague Place will not only enhance the area but will improve the vitality and ambiance of the whole town centre.”  

County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, John O’Brien, said: “Improvements to the outdoor environment like these helps bring energy and vibrancy to an area.

“The contemporary designs for the ‘bandshell’ and the ‘skylar’ shelter will complement each other and add to this part of Worthing.”

Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Bryan Turner (also a West Sussex County Councillor for Broadwater) added: “Montague Place is a busy meeting space in the heart of Worthing’s continually improving shopping scene, so I’m delighted to see these works beginning.

“Once completed, I have no doubt that they will be pivotal in improving the connection between the town centre and the seafront. 

“The town is experiencing a very positive upturn in interest - from businesses and families relocating to people wanting to get out on the water for an active holiday.

 

“This investment comes at exactly the right time to build on our firm foundations towards an even more prosperous, and vibrant, future - making the most of all that we have to offer as a retail, business and leisure destination.”

Information can be found at www.westsussex.gov.uk/montagueplace

 

 

 

The project will cost £1.2m.

Funding is being split as follows:

  • £800,000 - a regional growth fund allocation from the Government’s Local Economic Partnership;
  • £280,000  - West Sussex County Council; and
  • £120,000 - contributions arising from new developments in the local area.
  • MontagueGraphic1
 
3SC Devolution Proposed to Minister
Sunday, 17 January 2016 16:03

Leaders behind the devolution bid for three of England’s strongest performing counties have outlined to Government how their plan would boost growth for the region’s residents.

Communities Minister Baroness Williams heard the proposals for how East Sussex, Surrey and West Sussex would work together to help tackle the congested road and rail network, pioneer new digital technology, close the skills gap that is holding businesses back and build new affordable homes.

At the meeting in Westminster, representatives for the 3SC (Three Southern Counties) bid told Baroness Williams how devolving additional powers to the region would help unlock new growth and spearhead a transformation in how public services are delivered. It follows the submission of the 3SC devolution prospectus to Local Government Secretary Greg Clark last September.

With a population of more than 2.5million people, the 3SC region is an economic powerhouse but creaking infrastructure and growing demands on public services risk future strong growth, not just for the region but London and the wider British economy.

Key proposals include a long-term infrastructure strategy so the counties, district and borough councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) can work with Government to tackle congestion and invest in key sites for housing and employment.

In the first five years alone this would help to:

• Unlock more brownfield sites to build affordable homes
• Deliver 34,000 planned homes - supporting 58,000 new jobs
• Roll out world class digital infrastructure - bringing superfast broadband to every urban and rural community and the prospect of ultrafast connectivity to all key business
• Ensure the 3SC has an agreed programme of investment to tackle notorious road congestion across the counties, with the 3SC applying for development funding to implement the work
• Co-ordinate work to improve rail capacity between London and the south coast to enable access to high speed rail
• Establish an integrated bus network across the 3SC and Greater Brighton areas with smart ticketing to help residents access jobs, education, training, leisure and tourism
• Reduce hard to fill vacancies across the 3SC area and begin to close the skills gap

The Government is being asked to back the devolution deal and provide the greater financial freedoms needed to make the plans a reality and encourage more investment across the Three Southern Counties.

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith, who is leading the 3SC bid, said: “The meeting with Baroness Williams was an extremely positive one and is a big step forward in our bid to regain the freedoms we need to build a vibrant and strong economy and transform our public services.

“The quality of life for all our residents and the economic strengths of the 3SC is at risk because of creaking infrastructure and growing pressures on public services at a time of severe spending constraint.
“Today we put forward a powerful case for how we can work together to tackle the barriers to growth and ensure the 3SC remains an economic powerhouse and a great place to live.”

Speaking after the meeting, Baroness Williams said: “This was a good opportunity to examine in greater detail the 3SC case. I commend the hard work that has gone into producing a case for devolution and look forward to continuing to work closely with all those involved.”

The bid has been developed in partnership with 44 organisations. These include 23 district and borough councils, three local enterprise partnerships, 12 clinical commissioning groups and two police forces, as well as the South Downs National Park and East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.

The 3SC is also working closely with the Greater Brighton Economic Board bid on creating a joint strategy to improve road, rail and digital infrastructure and close the skills gap.

Louise Goldsmith said: “A meeting will now be held with all our district and borough council partners in the hopes of securing the devolution deal as soon as possible.”

goldsmith073web

 
West Sussex Leader asks for Longer Consultation on A27 Chichester Changes
Thursday, 14 January 2016 21:42

Louise Goldsmith (Leader, West Sussex County Council) has called for an extended public consultation regarding the A27 Chichester Improvement scheme.

Highways England announced it plans to run its public consultation on options for A27 improvements in Chichester over six weeks in the spring.

Mrs Goldsmith has since written to Highways England to ask this length of time is increased to 12 weeks.

In a letter to Highways England, Mrs Goldsmith said: “We feel, along with a number of concerned local residents, this is an insufficient period of time to enable the completion of an effective consultation, necessary to substantiate any future decision on the A27 Chichester Improvement scheme.

“We recognise that consideration must be given to the impact on the overall programme of extending the consultation.

“However, to enable the options contained in the consultation to be presented with coherence and clarity, we consider it will be necessary to extend the consultation period beyond the six weeks that are currently planned, particularly as the consultation is likely to take place over the Easter period.”

She added: “This will help to ensure that the options in the consultation are fully understood and that all local stakeholders have sufficient time to provide a comprehensive response to the consultation.”

goldsmith073web

 
Worthing Drop-In Business Information Event
Thursday, 14 January 2016 21:34

If you are thinking of starting a business in West Sussex or want to grow your existing company then drop in to Worthing Library on Monday 1 February.

Staff from West Sussex Libraries’ Business Information Service will be at the Library in Richmond Road, BN11 1HD between 10am and 4pm to offer advice and useful tips.

They will be demonstrating some of the services that West Sussex County Council are able to offer to the business community.

For more information on the Business Information Service visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/bis

Business

 
West Sussex to Consider a 3.95% increase in Council Tax
Saturday, 09 January 2016 13:49

West Sussex County Council has unveiled plans to safeguard critical frontline services despite facing a £44.5m shortfall in funding next year.

The council’s budget for 2016/17 will be set at £529m but a worse than expected grant from Government and an ever increasing demand for services leaves West Sussex facing a £44.5m black hole in funding.

More than £11m already set aside from extra savings made in previous years will help plug the funding gap but from April a further £18.7m worth of savings will need to be made.

To bridge the remaining gap, for the first time in six years, West Sussex councillors will also be asked to support a rise in council tax of 3.95 per cent – the equivalent of an extra £45.90 on the annual bill of an average property (Band D).

If agreed at Full Council on February 19, the increase will be introduced to bills from April. The charge – which works out at an extra 88p per week – will be levied on West Sussex’s part of the council tax bill (called the precept) and will raise an extra £14.6m a year.

The £14.6m raised in council tax, combined with £18.7m worth of savings planned for next year and over £11m of savings already delivered will bridge the shortfall.

With West Sussex delivering around 80 per cent of all public services, this will make a major contribution in protecting the most important frontline services.

West Sussex County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith said: “This will be an extremely challenging year for us. Our Government grant has been cut by over 20 per cent – this is much worse than the national average and far more than we had expected.

“However our prudence in the past has paid off and we are able to use £11m of previous savings to help plug the budget shortfall while we continue to make the necessary savings next year.

“We are determined to protect the services that matter most to West Sussex residents - giving children the best start in life, boosting the West Sussex economy and helping people live independently for longer in later life.

“In order to do this we have no choice but to raise council tax for the first time in six years. Without this raise we would be facing severe cuts in critical frontline services.”

The council tax increase includes the two per cent charge announced by Chancellor George Osborne to help councils meet the demands of supporting an increasingly ageing population.

From April all workers over the age of 25 will be paid a minimum of £7.20 an hour, rising to £9 an hour by 2020. This will add an extra £9m annually to West Sussex’s budget.

It comes at the same time as the county faces growing pressure on its adult social care budget from a sharp rise in the number of vulnerable elderly people needing care.

Over the next four years an extra 1,000 elderly people will need additional support, many with complex health needs.

An extra £8.3m has been set aside next year to help meet the ever increasing demands on adult social care budget, on top of an extra £5m set aside this financial year.

West Sussex County Council is already working with partners on longer term plans to develop extra care facilities, better dementia care and improved residential services for adult social care.

An extra £0.3m is set aside for the Social Care Academy which will train the next generation of care workers for West Sussex County Council.

Alongside the increasing complexity of adult social care cases, West Sussex is also facing increasingly complex cases of children being looked after in care.

An extra £4.3m has been set aside to help the most vulnerable youngsters and a further £200,000 will be used to strengthen West Sussex’s work to protect children at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation.

The Troubled Families programme, known locally as Think Family, is also being safeguarded with £1.7m from reserves to ensure that 4,000 families get the support they need to turn their lives around by 2020.

However, to help meet savings of up to £18.7m next year the council is continuing to review ways to improve efficiencies and build on partnership working.

Louise Goldsmith said: “We will leave no stone unturned in improving the way we work, in driving out waste and getting even more value for money to ensure our critical frontline services are protected.”

CouncilTaxBill

 
County Invests in Major Site in Horsham
Thursday, 07 January 2016 16:01

A pioneering project to transform a disused site into a world renowned centre for cutting-edge health and life science companies was today (Thursday 7 January 2016) unveiled by West Sussex County Council.

In a landmark deal for the county, West Sussex has agreed to purchase the 19.6 acre Horsham site of global health care company Novartis, subject to contract. It now plans to transform the site into a new science park that will host leading firms in life-saving research work and the development of innovative technology.

The development will be a major boost for the West Sussex economy and is set to bring up to 1,000 jobs to the county. It puts West Sussex on track to become a leading European centre for the health and life sciences sector.

West Sussex is already home to more than 90 companies working in this field and the new science park will lure more leading companies to the county, bringing high quality jobs to the county.
The site will also provide a home for fledgling firms starting out in the sector who could grow to become the big employers of the future.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “This is a really exciting prospect for the county. Our vision is to create a world renowned centre of excellence building on the site’s respected history with Novartis. It will deliver a science and business park that will help stimulate further growth in the sector, provide high quality jobs for the county and provide support for small, innovative start-up businesses.

“The site has a rich legacy dating back to the 1930s. By purchasing the site the County Council can retain and build on that legacy.”

Less than 20 minutes from London Gatwick Airport and with good road links into the capital and the South Coast, the Horsham site is a prime location for companies looking for a UK base close to major international gateways.

Subject to planning approval, two thirds of the Wimblehurst Road site will be transformed into a science park, while one third will be set aside for high quality housing – helping West Sussex cover the costs of its investment and securing a great deal for the taxpayer.

 

The County Council is now working with architects and planners on designing the right mix of research and laboratory space, office accommodation and start up space to transform the site.

Under the agreement with Novartis, all buildings on the site will be cleared except the locally important 1930s Art Deco building. That will be converted for residential use and the avenue of cedar trees leading to its door will also be protected.

This work is expected to be complete by spring/summer 2016. A marketing agent is currently being appointed to seek partners to take the development forward.

News of the County Council’s ground breaking deal has been welcomed by business leaders across the county.

 

Horsham District Council Leader Ray Dawe said he was delighted that West Sussex had taken on the site.

“The plan to develop a health and life sciences business park in order to protect employment and improve economic growth, alongside some residential development, is important for the district and is also a fitting legacy for one of the largest healthcare groups in the world.

“There will be a number of planning and contractual procedures that West Sussex will need to follow and we will work closely with them to support their vision while protecting the Art Deco former HQ building and its setting.”

The health and life sciences sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world as populations age and live longer and health services look to new ways to reduce spiralling medical costs.

Recent figures show across West Sussex more than 11,000 people are already employed in this sector. West Sussex is already the base for multinational companies who have their regional or global headquarters in the county – from renowned medical and diagnostic technology companies to major pharmaceutical and industry support services.

West Sussex County Council is also working with business leaders, universities, colleges and schools to ensure the right skills are being developed locally to meet the needs of this booming sector.

Any businesses interested in this redevelopment opportunity can find out more on the Invest West Sussex website.

 

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New Cycle Way Coming to Bersted in 2016
Monday, 04 January 2016 20:00

Cyclists can look forward to a safer journey through Bersted next year.

The existing footpath on the southern side of Rowan Way is being widened to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. Conservative

West Sussex County Council is building the path so cyclists avoid using the North Bersted Relief Road, which will become busier when the Felpham By-Pass opens on March 4.

The new path, 0.6 miles in length, connects North Bersted Street to the A29.

Construction will take place in two stages:

Phase 1:

Rowan Way (A29 to the Rowan Way roundabout)

·         Work starts week commencing Monday, January 4 for up to eight weeks, subject to weather.

·         New pedestrian island built west of The Peel Retail Park entrance.

Phase 2:

Rowan Way (Rowan Way roundabout to North Bersted Street)

·         Work starts from Monday, March 7 for up to eight weeks, subject to weather.

·         New pedestrian islands built east of the Addison Way junction and the Sunningdale Gardens junction.

All work will take place between 7.30am and 4pm.

Two-way traffic will be maintained during construction.

No diversion route is necessary.

County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, John O’Brien, said: “We are pleased to be building this widened cycleway.

“It will make travel safer for people on bikes and mobility scooters in this part of Bersted.

“The first phase needs to be done before the new relief road opens.

“Then we can concentrate on the second phase away from traffic using the bypass.”

 

John O'Brien represents East Grinstead South and Ashurst Wood

john obrien

 
Apply for Your Child's School Place by Jan 15th
Monday, 04 January 2016 19:48

If your child is due to start school for the first time in September 2016 you must apply for a place before Friday 15 January.

West Sussex County Council is issuing the reminder as the deadline for applications for children starting primary or infant schools fast approaches.

Children born between 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012 are eligible to start school for the first time in September 2016.

Richard Burrett, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, (Broadfield, Crawley, Conservative) said: “Parents no longer receive a letter from the County Council, so it is vital that they remember to submit their preferences for their child’s school place.”

“It is really important that parents apply for a school place before the deadline, otherwise their chances of getting their preferred school will be greatly reduced.”

Parents can now search online to find out where their catchment school is before filling in a simple online application form here.

Richard added: “Applying online is simple, convenient and saves time, plus you get an instant email acknowledgement that your application has been submitted.

“If you have no access to the internet at home, you can get internet access for two hours, free of charge at West Sussex Libraries or Children and Family Centres.”

Parents whose children are due to move to junior school (into Year 3) should also apply before Friday 15 January.

If parents would like further advice or information they can call 033 301 42903.

r burrett extra-1

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