Why I think devolution represents the best deal for West Sussex residents
Friday, 22 May 2015 15:22

No one can be under any illusion about the appetite for devolution across the country.

I think recent announcements about the Manchester Powerhouse should be applauded -  together with the recent appointment of a Minister for City Devolution.

But devolution shouldn’t be all about cities. Counties have an equally important role to play.

At full council today I talked to Councillors about work WSCC is doing to make the case to government for greater powers and freedoms to be devolved to the South East.

Devolving powers from Whitehall to county council level will enable a co-ordinated approach to delivering better services for local people, improving the economy across the areas and attracting more investment.

Seeking these powers is the natural next step in our journey I believe.

The South East plays a critical role in the UK’s economy. Its economy is growing faster than the rest of the UK, but that success comes with challenges.

We have commissioned research that has highlighted that:

• The south east region of councils produced more than £133 billion in GVA in 2012 – making it the third largest contributor to the UK’s economy.
• The population of the south east region is 5.9 million – second only to London – across all the UK’s regional ‘powerhouses’
• There are more active enterprises in the south east region than Scotland and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority together
• The south east economy is growing faster than the UK economy.
It’s clear that we need to take a more proactive approach with government.
The work done already emphasises the potential benefits of change and the need for central government to change.

Through the initial work that has been done we believe we need to make the case to be able to make an offer to government that will help sustain growth for the whole UK economy.

We’ve identified an initial list of potential “devolution asks”. 

These are grouped into five areas.
• Fiscal devolution – access to defined additional funding sources.
• Road and Rail Infrastructure – to influence or share planning decisions.
• Employment and Skills – roles in areas such as apprenticeships/ troubled families.
• Social Care and Health – additional roles in influencing the care market.
• Infrastructure for the Future – broader longer term initiatives.

We know these are really important areas for our residents and in one way or another help towards improving outcomes to the residents we serve – and at all times that has to be our priority. Together we provide a stronger force to deal with such issues.

It’s very, very early days but I do think this is the future for local Government and I think this represents a really exciting opportunity for the South East and West Sussex in particular.


"Beatiful Outdoors" campaign to Boost West Sussex
Sunday, 22 March 2015 17:30


The Leader of West Sussex County Council has announced that marketing company McCann has been appointed to work with the County Council to design, develop and deliver the ‘Beautiful Outdoors’ marketing campaign.  West Sussex recognises the need to attract and retain more people of working age in the County to ensure the success of the local economy.  The campaign will aim to encourage people to visit and stay in West Sussex, promoting the natural assets of the county such as the South Downs National Park and the coast.  The first wave of the campaign will focus on the active outdoors, including cycling and walking, and is expected to be completed by autumn 2015.  To support the campaign, the County Council has submitted a bid to the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Fund Sustainable Transport Package for enhancements to footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes in and around the South Downs National Park.  The outcome of the Sustainable Transport bid is expected in the next few weeks and, if successful, work will be carried out in 2015/16.  The Leader also met senior executives of Southern Rail and Govia Thames Railway who expressed their interest in working in partnership with the County Council to develop and promote local stations and tourism in West Sussex

WSCC work with Families recognised by Government
Sunday, 22 March 2015 17:19


Peter Evans, Cabinet Member for Children and the Start of LIfe, joins the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in congratulating West Sussex Think Family on achieving its target for Phase I of the national Troubled Families Programme.  Think Family is the local version of the national programme which aims to turn around the lives of vulnerable families with complex needs.  It is delivered jointly by the County Council, district and borough councils, Sussex Police, the NHS, schools, voluntary groups and many others.  In 2010 West Sussex was set the challenging target of turning around the lives of 1,165 families by the end of March 2015, and the DCLG confirmed that this had been achieved on 29 January.  Think Family will therefore also maximise the DCLG ‘reward funding’ which is used to offset the costs of the service.  Think Family has been a trail blazer for the implementation of Troubled Families and has been closely involved with the DCLG in a trial of the next phase.  Phase II officially begins in April 2015 and will have a new emphasis on children in need, domestic violence, health issues and early help.  Evaluation work has demonstrated the financial benefits of Think Family in which the County Council and partners avoid higher costs through early intervention and managing demand.

Funding Boost for West Sussex Schools
Sunday, 22 March 2015 17:13


Jeremy Hunt, Cabinet Member for Edudation and Skills, reports that the pressure on West Sussex to provide hundreds of new school places has been recognised by the Government which has announced a significant funding boost for the County Council.  Just over £57m is being provided over the next three years following a review of school capacity as West Sussex has been recognised as an area facing significant and unexpected increases in pupil numbers.  The funding will support the provision of additional school places across the county and the necessary facilities for the future, with the exact details of how it will be spent yet to be announced by the Government.  The County Council will continue to investigate other funding opportunities to help meet the estimated £100m total cost of provision in future years.  In addition, three schools in West Sussex (Steyning Grammar School, Pound Hill Junior, Crawley, and Holy Trinity CE Secondary, Crawley), will benefit in the 2015-20 period as part of the national Priority Schools Building Programme.  Further details about the work are expected later in the year.

Why Child Sexual Exploitation is everyone’s problem
Tuesday, 17 March 2015 00:00

Why Child Sexual Exploitation is everyone’s problem - Say something if you see something.


Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day is on Wednesday, March 18 and, as a County Council we will, of course, be taking part and doing all we can to raise awareness about this really, really important issue.

One of the messages we are pushing this week (and every week because sadly this problem will not go away overnight) is that it is not just the county council’s responsibility to help protect vulnerable children from harm but it is everybody’s.

Please say something if you see something. Please alert the authorities, whether that’s us, the police or the NHS. Please don’t say nothing.

One of our key priorities as a county council is to help give children the very best start in life. Protecting them from harm has to be at the forefront of that. That’s why I am so supportive of this campaign. We support really driving home the message that protecting our young and vulnerable is everyone’s responsibility because I believe that’s the only way we can ensure that we can eradicate this from our communities.

What happened in Rotherham was truly shocking and reading the reports was extremely uncomfortable and disturbing – so we all need to learn and do our best to ensure that we do everything we can to prevent it happening again anywhere.

So our position is to look at everything.

People will often report concerns to either the police or our Children’s Services if they are worried about a child’s welfare. Any call is always looked at and, if needs be, accelerated because a child’s welfare is paramount.

We work very closely with the police and other partners, sharing our knowledge across all the different agencies who might be involved to ensure that nothing is missed.

The County Council has statutory safeguarding powers and like all other authorities has a Local Safeguarding Children’s  Board – The West Sussex Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB). This board is independently chaired and made up of members representing various bodies and interests such as police, schools and West Sussex County Council.

Each year the West Sussex LSCB prepares a report which the Chairman presents to Cabinet Board, it is also available on their website www.westsussexlscb.org

Recent work of this Board includes work on Child Sexual Exploitation, in response to Rotherham and no doubt will continue to do so.

As I said, everyone needs to play their part by keeping an eye out, sometimes it may seem rather small but that does not mean that it should be ignored.  

We appreciate that this can be such a difficult subject and there are a lot of ways that people can report their concerns without having to give their names.
To report concerns people can call the County Council’s Children’s Access Point (CAP) on 01403 229900 (9am-5pm Monday–Friday) or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This is a secure email system which can only be accessed by professionals.
People can also contact the police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency). People can also contact Childline on 0800 11 11 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
More information can be found on the West Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Board website www.westsussexscb.org.uk

People can download leaflets with advice for young people and parents on the signs to look out for and what to do if you think you or someone you know is being sexually exploited.

Please say something if you see something. Not just on Wednesday, March 18 but everyday.

Louise Goldsmith.

Leader West Sussex County Council
Chichester West Division.


Pothole repairs drop by two-thirds as Better Roads take effect
Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:00

Fewer potholes have been reported in West Sussex so far this year compared to 12 months ago.

West Sussex County Council fixed 1,475 potholes across the county in January 2015.

Compared to January 2014, when the County Council had to repair 4,117 potholes, the number of defects that needed fixing has dropped by 64% in a year.

The improved road surface is evidence the County Council’s Better Roads Programme is paying dividends.

The two-year scheme, which began in April 2014, has targeted rural and residential roads in most need of repair.

This work, combined with drier weather compared to last year, has helped improve the state of the network.

County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “The fall in the number of potholes that had to be fixed this January is an indicator our Better Roads strategy is working.

“Of course, we are at mercy of the weather, but so far progress has been encouraging.

“We rely on the public to be vigilant and wherever they see a pothole, they should report it to us so we can investigate.”   

WSCC freezes council tax for fifth year running
Thursday, 19 February 2015 16:47



For the fifth year in a row West Sussex County Council has agreed to freeze its share of the council tax bill.

The decision means that residents will continue to pay £1,161.99 for a Band D property for all county services.

As well as the tax freeze, councillors approved more than £500million pounds worth of investment in key services - as well as an additional £138 million capital investments.

The Future West Sussex Plan – a blueprint for what the authority will deliver over the next four years – was also approved.

Michael Brown, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We are investing in our services to benefit residents, helping those who fall on hard times, and all whilst continuing to bear down on the burden of local taxation and coping with Government funding cuts.

“This isn’t a budget about cuts, it’s a budget about investment for the future and it’s one that reflects prudent financial planning. We have a major programme of capital investment – none of which requires us to borrow a penny in funding from any third party.”

Key capital investment next year includes:

  • £6.4million investment in high speed broadband capability across the county;
  • A further £15m in the Better Roads programme to improve many of the county’s residential and rural roads;
  • Significant investment in infrastructure improvements, including £20m investment in economic development, to ensure businesses can flourish.

Among the measures included in the revenue budget for next year are:

  • £5m to alleviate pressure on the Council’s adult services’ budget arising mainly from the increasing number of older residents;
  • £0.9min support of the Local Welfare Provision Fund which helps families and individuals in crisis;
  • £5m further investment in the Council’s Think Family programme, which helps get out of work parents back to work and helps those families who need a little bit more support;
  • £1.4m to address rising demand within the Child Disability budget;
  • £0.9m more to meet the rising amount of waste requiring disposal.

West Sussex County Council also approved plans that will see the authority save £68million over the next two years while protecting frontline services.

Proposals agreed included renegotiating existing contracts, increasing the use of in-house fostering to reduce external placement fees, redesigning internal services to create greater efficiencies and reducing the levels of maintenance needed on some rural roads – made possible thanks to the Better Roads investment programme

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “I truly believe that this is a budget that supports the Council’s key priority areas of giving children the best start in life, supporting and growing our local economy and helping our older population to remain independent in later life at the same time as keeping as much money as we can in people’s pockets.

“It’s also a budget that, despite the savings we have to make, invests significantly in vital county council services at a time when they are greatly needed.”

In her budget speech, Louise outlined key achievements of the authority over the last 12 months:

They included:

  • supporting more than 600 parents back into work through the Think Family programme;
  • turning around the lives of 1165 families – ahead of time and within budget – through Think Family;
  • nearly 33,000 under 5s and their families have been through WSCC Children and Family Centres;
  • filling 15,000 potholes and replacing 1.8 million square metres of road as part of the Better Roads programme;
  • cleaning 77,000 gullies and replacing more than 13,000 lamp columns;
  • helping to make better, faster broadband a reality for 26,000 more homes and businesses as we continue to roll out this exciting technology across the county;
  • through the Be The Business initiative, helping to create 88 jobs and safeguard a further 170;
  • recycling nearly 100,000 tonnes of residents’ waste;
  • ensuring that 6,300 adults received adult social care that 17,000 adults with learning disabilities were supported;
  • beating a target of 2500 installations of assistive technology, which means elderly residents are able to live at home for longer in safety;
  • issuing 4.2m items through the library service, which has been used by 283,000 of residents;
  • saving 29 tonnes of CO2 through council buildings;
  • carrying our more than 20,000 health checks for residents aged 40-74;
  • undertaking 300 inquests, registering 10,000 births and nearly 8000 deaths.

Louise added: “We are in a good place to meet head on the challenges that the next few years will bring.

“The West Sussex Plan will guide everything that this council does in the next four years and give our residents a yardstick by which we should be judged.”

Multi million pound boost will create hundreds of new school places
Thursday, 19 February 2015 15:55

Hundreds of new school places are to be created across West Sussex after the government announced a significant funding boost for the County Council.

Just over £57 million is being provided following a review of school capacity.

The County Council had expected to receive £16,479,107 over the next couple of years. However, a further capital grant allocation of £40,698,961 was announced last week bringing the total amount of investment to £57,178,068 over the next three years.

The extra allocations are specifically targeted at local authorities who are facing significant and unexpected increases in pupil numbers. The funding will support the provision of additional school places across the county.

West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Jeremy Hunt, said: “We are extremely pleased to see that the Department for Education (DfE) has recognised some of the challenges ahead for counties facing a growth in pupil numbers.

“This funding will provide much needed capital resources to enable the provision of extra school places over the next three years. The additional money will allow us to plan ahead and make good investment decisions on how to provide the facilities we need for our children in the future.

“At this stage the exact details of how the money will be spent have yet to be finalised, but once we have all the information from the DfE we will be able to move forward with our planning for these extra places across the county.”

The announcement comes after the good news last week that three schools in West Sussex (Steyning Grammar School, Pound Hill Junior, Crawley, and Holy Trinity CE Secondary, Crawley) were part of 277 nationally that will have at least one of their buildings or blocks rebuilt or refurbished in the 2015-20 period as part of the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP2). Further details about this work are expected later in the year.

The WSCC Budget for 2015/16
Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00

Friday the 13th was a significant day as it was Full County Council where the Future West Sussex Plan was  formally presented to Council and debated.

Considerable work has gone into the West Sussex Future Plan over the last couple of years as we planned to meet the challenge of £124 million pounds of savings.

Being very clear about what you want to achieve is always important but when you have a lot less money it becomes a real driving force. The plan focuses on 3 core priorities – Start of Life, The Economy and Later Life with some guiding principles.

We are there to help people to help themselves, we are there in an emergency and we are there to look after the weak and the vulnerable. So the plan becomes the driving force for this year’s budget and future ones.

 So what does this budget hold for our residents?

 Well perhaps most importantly it will not cost our residents a penny more on their Council Tax Bill as this is the 5th consecutive year we have not increased the Council Tax, preferring to take the Government’s incentive not to increase the council Tax.

This is something I am particularly proud of as I know how, from comments from residents,  that this means a lot.

However, we have had to make savings this year and the next. Although our budget is more than 500 million the principles of we manage it are similar to any household budget. We look at all our outgoings and see what is essential, not so essential and nice to haves. Can we get something cheaper, could we renegotiate contracts and make savings, if we invest in something will it mean the ongoing cost is less? These are challenges and questions we have made over the last year to get us to where we are today.

Next year will see us spend more than £500 million on key services across West Sussex. And, despite the challenging financial climate, we are also ploughing nearly £140 million worth of capital investment back into West Sussex.

Key capital investment next year includes:

•£6.4million investment in high speed broadband capability across the county;

•A further £15m in the Better Roads programme to improve many of the county’s residential and rural roads;

•Significant investment in infrastructure improvements, including £20m investment in economic development, to ensure businesses can flourish;

Among the measures included in the revenue budget for next year are:

•£5m to alleviate pressure on the Council’s adult services’ budget arising from the increasing number of older residents;

•£900,000 in support of the Local Welfare Provision Fund which helps families and individuals in crisis.

•£5m further investment in the Council’s Think Family programme, which helps get out of work parents back to work and helps those families who need a little bit more support.

•£1.4m to address rising demand within the Child Disability budget

•£0.9m more to meet the rising amount of waste requiring disposal.


Nearly half a million pounds given to support West Sussex businesses
Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

Businesses across West Sussex have benefitted to the tune of nearly half a million pounds thanks to grants from West Sussex County Council.

Twenty three organisations have received grants totalling £478,198 from the County Council’s ‘Be the Business’ grant fund.

‘Be the Business’ is now in its second year and as a direct result of the funding at least 88 new jobs have been created in West Sussex, and 170 existing jobs have been safeguarded. Six new apprenticeship positions have been set up allowing young people to earn whilst they learn. 

Grants have been given to a wide range of businesses including a vineyard, a care home and a village shop. The aim is to help new start-ups and support existing businesses to grow whilst boosting the local economy and creating or safeguarding jobs.

One recipient of last year’s funding was Monteum Limited, a fishing business based in Shoreham, which received £25,000.

The company catches fish and shellfish off the West Sussex coast and sells their catch, both wholesale and to the public, through their retail business “La Poissonnerie”. 

Monteum has identified a demand locally, and potentially further afield, for lobster pots, which will supplement their core business and offer the company a chance to grow. The grant has helped them to purchase the equipment and training needed to manufacture them locally.

Jim Partridge from Monteum said: “The constituent parts of the pots are being made at our Shoreham Harbour base. Thanks to ‘Be the Business’ we’ve been able to buy the equipment we need, and we’ve already taken on a new member of staff to help with their manufacture. The grant has also secured two other existing positions, and we hope to take on another member of staff in the near future.

“However, construction of the pots is labour intensive and we’re planning to work with HM Prison Lewes to offer offenders paid employment, and the chance to develop new skills as part of their rehabilitation. The project will provide around 35 jobs at the prison, and prisoners will learn to work with their hands. This will hopefully increase their employability when they are released and potentially reduce re-offending, which is a really positive thing for the local community.”

Other grants awarded to local businesses include £25,000 for Seward Ltd, which makes specialist microbiology laboratory equipment, to design and manufacture a revolutionary new piece of kit used in the preparation of samples for food safety analysis.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council and holder of the Economy portfolio, said: “I’m so proud that we have been able to give a boost to so many businesses across the county. The range of organisations that applied for grants is amazing and demonstrates the breadth of skills and specialist business knowledge we have in West Sussex.

“Over the last two years we have distributed over £1.5million to local businesses through our ‘Be the Business’ and Social Enterprise Funds, which demonstrates our commitment to creating and maintaining a thriving local economy. This benefits us all, as every pound that is kept within West Sussex is a pound that goes towards making our county a great place to live for our residents.”


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