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Why we must start planning now for the Gatwick second runway decision
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 21:51

Over the weekend I was preparing my verbal submission to the Airports’ Commission Public Session which I gave today.

In 1979 an agreement was made between West Sussex County Council as the Planning Authority and BAA, the then owners of the airport, that there would be no second runway at Gatwick until 2019.

It was an agreement that was binding on BAA’s successors, although they could at any time have sought to terminate it. But it has relied on goodwill – a principle which has worked well over the years.

A similar forty year agreement probably would not happen today. Between then and now there has been considerable social and economic movement, which is to be welcomed.

The whole world has opened up to business and the movement of people and resources. So a decision on airport expansion, because of its considerable significance nationally, is no longer in the hands of local people and politicians but very much with the Government of the day and will only be made after extensive public consultation.

Sometime in 2015 the Airports Commission will make a recommendation about whether expansion will be at Heathrow or Gatwick for increasing airport capacity in the future. 

If the recommendation is for expansion at Gatwick and the Government chooses to accept the recommendations, the ramifications for West Sussex and the other communities close to the airport would be huge.


My position is that I am firmly of the view that we have to start planning now for whatever decision is made. 

If there is to be a second runway at Gatwick Airport then we need to consider how best to mitigate the effects of these on local communities and the environment whilst considering how best to provide the infrastructure and services that are needed for more jobs, new business opportunities, homes, as well as the increase in traffic and transport.

If the Government opts for expansion at Heathrow Airport this would also be considerable news for the county.  We would have to consider how we optimise the benefits of Gatwick Airport in its current configuration. There will still be growth but it will be very different and the impact and supporting infrastructure will need to be planned differently but no less carefully.

Whichever way the decision goes we do need as much time as possible, to plan, work with a range of key partners, to lobby, inform and prepare which is why I think it is vital for the good of the residents of West Sussex and the county’ s economic and environmental needs that we start now and do not wait for a decision.

To that end we are in discussions with our District and Borough Councils who too have a vital part to play.

Whether there is a new runway at Gatwick or not we all need to work on the economic implications for our area.


I have had lots of letters from people questioning the decision to ask the Council to support in principle the idea of an expanded Gatwick Airport including a second runway.  I fully understand and accept people’s anxiety about what a second runway in the county might mean in terms of increased flights, housing, jobs, services and the environment. The action we took was to trigger that very debate – to recognise that a big decision was going to be made – not one in our control but one we were able to influence.


“Support in principle” means showing a keen interest in the future of the county, its economy and employment.  It does not mean blanket support regardless of the wider effects.  Taking the decision to support Gatwick Airport Limited in principle in its attempts to bring a second runway to the Airport has allowed us to really hold Gatwick to account as a critical friend on the issues that matter to our residents and people care about. It has opened doors and shown that we are not wedded to any particular cause – other than the interests or our communities


We’ve had some really challenging conversations about residents’ concerns over the noise, particularly this summer and the need for significant investment in business, transport and community infrastructure should the runway be given the green light.  . Those are the very issues we raised as conditions needing to be addressed when we gave support in principle.

But as I have said earlier now we need to move on and plan for either scenario.  Second runway or not, we have to plan for the future of the whole county.  We have to do what we can now to ensure there are sufficient jobs across the county for children being born now and their children thereafter.

What we are doing is trying to plan not only the future economy of West Sussex but also for our residents. The County Council has 3 key priorities, The Start of Life, The Economy and Later Life – all are inextricably linked, we are looking as we have never done before from when a child starts in life right through the very late life and all between and the economy plays an enormously important role in giving employement and providing the funds that enable us to support those in need.


The County Council is the strategic authority so whatever happens it has a very large and important role of the long term -  for future generations in West Sussex.


For me, that is the County Council’s main role and that is what differentiates our role from that of the local MP or local district or borough councillor.  In looking at Gatwick Airport and planning for a second runway or not, we have to consider the implications for not only the immediate Gatwick area and the areas affected by the flight paths, but the repercussions for the whole county, from Crawley to the coast.


It is a unique role and one that I’m proud to have but it brings with it many, many challenges and responsibilities of which I am very aware.  Not least, how we balance our stunning and beautiful environment with the need for a strong economy for future jobseekers and investors.  Unfortunately the job does not bring with it a crystal ball.


West Sussex is in a unique situation to other Authorities as Gatwick is in the County ultimately, the decision as to whether there is a second runway at Gatwick Airport is not the County Council’s to make.  We have to take control of our own destiny as much as we can and plan constructively for the future, second runway or not.  That is going to be one of the Council’s main areas of focus in the coming years.


In the meantime, the County Council is carefully considering the consultation material published by the Commission.  This will inform the drafting of a response to the Commission to be reported to our Environmental and Community Services Select Committee at its January meeting and then debated at Full county Council on the 19th January.


Finally could I encourage everyone to engage in the Commission’s consultation and make their views known."

Gatwick1

 
North Bersted Relief Road opens on Wednesday
Tuesday, 16 December 2014 11:38

The North Bersted Relief Road opens to motorists on Wednesday, December 17.

The road, which connects the A259 Chichester Road with Rowan Way, will reduce traffic congestion and delays in the North Bersted area.

It is the first half of a two-part project to improve traffic flows around Bognor Regis.

The second part is the Felpham Relief Road, which is due to open in the autumn of 2015.

Once both roads are open they are expected to take about 15,000 vehicles a day – the equivalent of four out of every ten vehicles currently using the existing network.

The North Bersted Relief Road has been funded by the new 750-home Bersted Park development, constructed by Berkeley Homes and Charles Church Homes.

Facts at a glance:

  • 1.8km long and 9.3 metres wide;
  • Speed limit of 50mph;
  • The road and associated works cost approximately £8 million;
  • The last kilometre of the road at Rowan Way is built on a two-metre high embankment, made up of 100,000 tonnes of earth where the road passes through the flood plain;
  • The earth was dug out to form a drainage pond next to the road;
  • Two large culverts are situated beneath the road so that flood water can continue to disperse; and
  • The road took just under two years to build.

West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “It is great news to finally open this road to the public.

“We believe it is a building block towards sparking greater economic growth for the Bognor Regis area and will certainly cut congestion in the town.

“Once the Felpham Relief Road opens next year, the benefit to Bognor Regis will be even clearer for all to see.”

 
Broadwater Bridge fully open again after work finishes
Friday, 05 December 2014 00:00

Work on the Broadwater Bridge in Worthing has been finished today (Friday) by West Sussex County Council.

Repairs were needed to make the bridge safer for the public after a routine inspection revealed it was leaking water, causing small pieces of concrete to loosen and fall.

Now the bridge is waterproofed and all lanes across it are open for motorists.

Other additional improvements made include:

  • New footways and road surface;
  • Repainted road markings;
  • Drainage cleared;
  • Overgrown vegetation removed or pruned; and
  • New cables for the bridge’s street lights.

County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “This project has been completed successfully with the minimum of disruption.

“The bridge has been made safe for years and years to come and we made the most of the time by squeezing in some other improvements while we were there.

“Once again we’d like to thank everyone for the patience they have shown while the work was done.”

 
£35m boost for flood defences in West Sussex
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 00:00

West Sussex’s flood defences will be boosted by more than £35million in Government funding.

The cash is part of a £2.3billion investment by the Government in flood defence schemes across England.

More than 60 projects in West Sussex will receive funding over a six-year period, helping to directly reduce flood risk to over 5,000 properties.

This includes four Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP) projects being undertaken by West Sussex County Council in Lancing, the Manhood Peninsula, Hassocks and Billingshurst.

Work on the Manhood Peninsula and Lancing SWMPs is already underway and was funded by Operation Watershed initially, although the money received through these Government grants will supplement this. The Hassocks and Billingshurst SWMPs are due to receive funding towards the end of the six years but it is hoped work will be able to be brought forward.

Some projects within the overall six-year programme will not be fully funded by money received from the Government and will require topping up with local partnership funding.

As part of an agreement with the Environment Agency, the County Council will underwrite more than £200,000 per year over the next six years to ensure a number of schemes are able to go ahead.

These projects include Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls, Aldingbourne Rife Integrated Flood Risk Management Plan and the Arundel Tidal Defence Improvements.

Pieter Montyn, County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “We are very pleased to have been included in this investment, which will ensure we will be able to proceed with some vital local projects.

“There is a lot of work going on across the county being carried out by ourselves, district and borough councils and the Environment Agency. We have a long list of projects to progress, only some of which will receive funding by central Government.

“We are all working hard in partnership to deliver the actions set out in the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy and help reduce the risk of flooding in West Sussex. The money announced will be used to further these efforts for the next six years.

“Communities have also been able to bid for money from the County Council’s Operation Watershed fund to tackle local flooding problems.”

Over £1million was made available in the 2014/15 financial year from Operation Watershed for community groups or parish councils to bid for funding, which is available for community projects.

Large scale ditch clearances, fixing or unblocking culverts, digging drainage channels and flooding surveys have all been made possible thanks to the scheme this year.

 
Manor Royal businesses welcome faster fibre broadband
Friday, 21 November 2014 18:22

Hundreds of businesses at Manor Royal in Crawley can now enjoy faster broadband speeds thanks to a collaboration between the West Sussex Better Connected project, BT and Manor Royal Business Improvement District (BID).

This announcement marks a half-way point in the roll out of Manor Royal’s new fibre broadband infrastructure as the first fibre cabinets go ‘live’ across the business district.

The Better Connected multi-million pound partnership is jointly funded by West Sussex County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). Its aim is to extend fibre broadband coverage to those areas which fall outside the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband plans.

Manor Royal Business Improvement District decided to work with the Better Connected partnership to achieve its goal of delivering 100% fibre broadband coverage across the 540 acre site, which is home to more than 500 companies.

A combination of direct investment by the BID and the West Sussex Better Connected initiative will ensure that every business, new and existing, will benefit from this improvement.

Trevor Williams from Thales UK is Chairman of Manor Royal Business District Limited. 

He said: “Our collaboration with West Sussex Better Connected and BT is an excellent example of what a good partnership can do. Due to the BID’s investment in this important infrastructure, companies located at Manor Royal are now able to take advantage of the latest technology. This has been a priority project for the BID team and we are delighted that the first phase of the project is now live. We look forward to celebrating 100% fibre coverage in the new year.”

One of the first businesses to sign up for the new faster broadband service was Split Image Ltd, a commercial photographic studio. 

Managing Director Mark Curtis said: "I’m over the moon that faster fibre broadband has finally arrived at Manor Royal. As a company we need to be able to send large video and image files to our customers quickly, wherever they are in the world. Previously, slow upload speeds were restricting the service we could offer. I had considered moving my business to another area because I couldn’t foresee a resolution to the problem of lack of broadband. Also, as a small business, we simply couldn’t afford the expense of commercially leased lines. But thanks to the BID focus on this problem and the partnership they were able to form with the West Sussex Better Connected project, we’re now able to enjoy a faster, more affordable and reliable broadband service. As a result, we definitely plan to stay.”

Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council's Cabinet Member for Residents' Services added: “Faster broadband is a necessity for many companies, helping them to compete in national and international markets. By working in partnership with West Sussex Better Connected, Manor Royal will be able to transform broadband speeds for all of its businesses; securing its vibrancy as a major business district.”

Dave Axam, BT’s South East Regional Director said: “This is great news for the Manor Royal business district and the joint partnership. High-speed broadband helps businesses grow, attracting inward investment and providing a boost to the local economy."

 
Social media giveaway hopes to make West Sussex the number one Christmas destination
Friday, 21 November 2014 12:52

A free Christmas giveaway competition aims to show why West Sussex should be people’s number one Christmas destination this year.

From Thursday 27 November to Wednesday 24 December, hundreds of pounds worth of prizes will be given away through a social media giveaway on West Sussex County Council's Facebook (West Sussex Matters) and Twitter (@WSCCNews) pages.

Prizes including theatre tickets, children’s books and beauty makeovers are up for grabs, thanks to generous local businesses and attractions.

It’s all part of ‘A West Sussex Christmas’ from West Sussex County Council. The aim is to encourage people to shop locally and discover more about the county over the festive period.

Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: "West Sussex has everything you could want at Christmas to get into you the festive spirit.

"Whether it is shopping for the perfect Christmas present at one of the county’s shopping centres or local high streets, small traders, farmers’ markets, independent retailers or boutique shops, they all offer exciting gifts.

“There are many special festive events on offer or why not explore our wonderful countryside and coast. West Sussex has got all of the ingredients for a great Christmas. So let’s make this a West Sussex Christmas.”
 
Louise added: "Our generous local businesses have joined together to offer the chance for people to win some incredible prizes that we will be giving away on the council’s social media sites. Good luck to everyone who takes part and I hope it will raise awareness of what the county has to offer.”

All people have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to like West Sussex County Council's Facebook page (West Sussex Matters) and like and share the giveaway posts and to retweet the giveaway tweets on Twitter (@WSCCNews). Full terms and conditions are on the County Council’s website at www.westsussex.gov.uk/christmas

Christmas Extravaganza - a Taste Christmas Food and Craft Fair - will be held on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December in County Hall car park in West Street, Chichester. Over the weekend there will be a superb selection of local food and drink to sample and buy along with free entertainment to ensure you have a perfect day. For more information see www.tastefestival.net or call 01243 839316.

Details of other Christmas events including light switch-ons, Christmas markets and more events around the county will be on the social media sites and on the County Council’s website at www.westsussex.gov.uk/christmas. Archive photos of Christmases past in West Sussex will be also be posted on the social media sites.

 
Volunteers thanked for helping to make West Sussex Greener
Friday, 21 November 2014 12:49

he work of the county’s Waste Prevention Advisors (WPAs) was honoured at a special event at The Dome Cinema in Worthing last week.

West Sussex County Council’s Waste Prevention Advisor (WPA) scheme promotes the best ways West Sussex residents of all ages can reduce, reuse and recycle.

Volunteers offer support within their local communities, at planned events, give presentations, talk to schools and inspire community groups.

The scheme has been running for seven years, supporting the waste team at West Sussex County Council drive up recycling and drive down waste using a community based approach.

Their successes were celebrated as WSCC said thank you at the event last Thursday.

Recycled art sculptures by Brighton-based artist Ptolemy Elrington, who uses hubcaps, shopping trolleys and scrap metal to create a variety of life forms, were showcased along with other creative displays produced from recycled materials.

Guests were entertained by WPA Volunteer Ron Marsh on guitar, and they got the chance to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the historical Grade II Listed cinema.

The WPAs regularly attend local community events, as well as fairs and schools, where they spread the word about recycling, reusing and reducing waste.

Lionel Barnard, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Residents Services, said: “This was a chance to celebrate a brilliant scheme and thank the volunteers that help us to encourage people in West Sussex to think differently about their waste.

“We have 26 trained WPA volunteers in West Sussex and, collectively during 2014 so far they have given us a staggering 440 hours of their time, which is phenomenal.

“Motivating people to recycle more isn’t always easy, but the volunteers do some fantastic work to raise awareness in such a challenging area.”

The Waste Prevention Team are currently in the process of recruiting more volunteers and for further information on becoming a trained WPA Volunteer please contact: Philip Sandall at 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 or call 0330 222 3457

You can also find out more at www.westsussexwpa.org.uk

 
Businesses call for action on the A27
Friday, 14 November 2014 00:00

A series of short films highlighting the negative effects congestion on the A27 has on businesses has been released.
 
The A27 Action Campaign and Dream Vision Media have teamed up to produce an in-depth insight into how trading and travelling for West Sussex businesses is hampered by the A27.

The aim is to encourage audiences and regular commuters who are unfamiliar with the A27 Action campaign to get involved and lobby the Government to make changes to the coastal trunk road.

The A27 is a key corridor for East-West travel along the South Coast and 87% of businesses responding to a survey by A27 Action agreed that improvements to the A27 would allow business to grow in this area.

Worthing Football Club and companies such as Growtrain, Half Moon Bay Leisure and Carpenter Box have taken part in the films to emphasise the A27’s impact on their business. 

Graham Bryant, Managing Director at Growtrain in Chichester, said: “The A27 affects the growth of our business because it is a consideration when outside businesses deal with us.

“The A27 is a half-finished project which was dualled a lot of the way through, yet there are various points which have not been addressed, which need to be sorted out.”

Dream Vision Company Director and frequent commuter on the A27, Robert Goldsmith, has supported the campaign by producing the films free of charge. 

Robert said: “A lot of time is wasted sitting in queues when it could be spent working, and when you’re self-employed or running a small business, time is money.

“I wanted to produce the films for the A27 Action Campaign to highlight to others the problems that both businesses and residents alike suffer every day, especially around Worthing, Lancing, Chichester and Arundel.”

The videos can be viewed online on the A27 Action Facebook page and also through Dream Vision’s Vimeo account.

An announcement on whether the A27 should be considered for investment by the Government is expected in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in early December.

Residents and businesses can pledge their support for the campaign by visiting the A27 Action website - www.a27action.co.uk

A27

 
Communities better prepared for flooding thanks to Operation Watershed
Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:00

Watershed

Winter is coming and will be wetter and windier than usual, according to forecasts from the Met Office.

However, thanks to West Sussex County Council’s Operation Watershed, communities across West Sussex will be better prepared this year to face up to the threat posed by flooding.

Operation Watershed was set up in 2013 to assist with community projects in West Sussex that tackle flooding problems.

Over £1m was made available in the 2014/15 financial year for community groups or parish councils to bid for funding.

Large scale ditch clearances, fixing or unblocking culverts, digging drainage channels and flooding surveys have all been made possible thanks to the scheme this year.

To be eligible, community groups need to demonstrate a commitment to maintaining it, monitoring it, and raising awareness of flood risk once the project is finished.

Stoughton Parish Council was one group to benefit by applying to the fund.

Parish clerk Fiona Baker said: “We have had an issue with groundwater flooding at properties in the hamlet of Dean Lane End, between Rowlands Castle in Hampshire and Forestside in West Sussex.

“A ditch close to the railway line there had not been cleared for years, so we successfully bid for money from Operation Watershed to hire local business Caroway Contractors Ltd to clear it.

“It was done last week and certainly it will help protect the properties in the area.”

She added: “Hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

“Our area is prone to surface water flooding, so we are applying to the fund again, along with Compton, Southbourne and Westbourne, to hire a consultant to investigate the flow of the River Ems and flooding issues in greater detail.”

County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “All across the county we have seen communities come forward to work with us to help them prepare themselves against flooding.

“As the weather gets wetter, the risk will increase.

“If you know of a flooding problem in your community and you want to do something about it, please get in touch. We’d love to help.”

If you are interested in finding out if Operation Watershed can help your community, e-mail: 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  or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk and type ‘Operation Watershed’ in the search bar.

 
Find out more about your Local Offer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:00

t’s now even easier for families whose children have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to access support and services, thanks to the launch of a brand new website.

The West Sussex Local Offer, which can be found at www.westsussex.local-offer.org, will become a one-stop-shop for parents and carers of young people aged from birth to 25 years with SEND. It allows families to search for support for their child, and see clearly what is available in their local area and how to access it.

The website brings together information about health, social care and education all in one place. It will also contain details of childcare, short breaks, support groups and family leisure activities.

Users can browse the comprehensive range of services, and information can be saved easily to a pin board. Users simply ‘pin’ any service which is of interest and the list of ‘pins’, which includes contact details and a summary of what the organisation can provide to support the individual, can then be downloaded and printed or emailed. People who register on the site can go one step further and save their pin board in a secure area for future reference.

West Sussex County Council continues to work closely with young people, parents and carers, including the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, to develop the website and ensure it meets the very specific needs of families with SEND.

Denise Berry from Worthing is a parent carer, and has been heavily involved with the West Sussex Local Offer from its inception. She said: “It’s very rewarding to see the Local Offer turn into something tangible and real. Being the parent of a now-17 year old son who had a late diagnosis of autism at the age of 11, the Local Offer is something I’d have been so relieved to have had back then, and something I had always hoped would come about.

“The website is a fantastic and wonderfully supportive tool for all parent carers, their children and young people.”

Peter Evans, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children - Start of Life, said: “Parents and carers are often trying to navigate a complicated system of health, education and social care services single-handedly. They’ve told us that it can feel like nobody understands what they’re going through, and that it is an extremely lonely experience.

“That is why we’re delighted to have had the support and involvement of the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum from the very beginning, and we thank them for the commitment they have given to this project.

“The Local Offer already contains a wide range of information, but it will continue to develop and evolve as new and existing services sign up to the site, and as we receive feedback. We are committed to ensuring that the website becomes a valuable resource for families, providing clear information and access to the support they need to give their child the best possible start in life.”

Gráinne Saunders, Co-Chair for the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum agrees: “This site has been designed to support families, particularly those with SEND.

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that our Local Offer is interactive and we can do this by providing feedback on the website itself and the service providers, and by letting the Local Offer team know about any new services. 

“The website is in its infancy, but if everyone works together to build it, share it and use it, it will make a big difference to families in West Sussex for years to come. Please, get on board!”

West Sussex County Council launched the Local Offer as part of reforms introduced by the Children and Families Act, which came into force on 1 September 2014.

 
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