Labour unveils new cabinet at Worthing Borough Council

Worthing Borough Council’s Labour administration has now appointed its senior councillors who will have special areas of responsibility.

There are now nine executive members – up from six before Labour took over the council from the Conservatives at May’s local election.

The executive is led by council leader Beccy Cooper (Marine) who was officially appointed on May 20.

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Carl Walker (Selden) will act as deputy leader and he will also have responsibility for children and young people, the Big Listening campaign and the cost of living emergency.

Council leader Beccy Cooper with deputy Carl Walker in the background

Helen Silman (Heene) will act as executive member for the climate emergency – a new role.

The regeneration portfolio has been taken up by Martin McCabe (Tarring) who will look after major projects in the town, such as Teville Gate.

Vicki Wells (Marine) will help make decisions on the environment, which includes waste and recycling, water quality and parks.

Meanwhile, Emma Taylor (Heene) will be the executive member for citizens’ services, which includes housing, revenues and benefits.

Central ward councillor Rosey Whorlow will be the executive member for community wellbeing while Rita Garner (Tarring) will oversee the culture and leisure portfolio instead of the deputy mayor role.

Finally, John Turley (Gaisford) will be the executive member for resources.

Decisions at the council are taken under a ‘cabinet’ system which means they can be made by the full council; executive members who have special areas of responsibility; and committees (for issues including planning and licensing).

Conservative group leader Kevin Jenkins (Goring) criticised Labour for not having executive members in place sooner.

“A number of key council meetings have passed where the full details of roles and portfolios of their executive members have not been disclosed to the public or opposition groups,” he said, “meetings where members of the public should be able to come and ask the relevant executive member questions.”

“Their claims of transparency are simply hollow.”

The issue was raised during public question time at a joint strategic committee meeting earlier this month.

“The Labour group has for some months claimed that it is an administration in waiting,” said one resident.

“Yet here we are four weeks after the election and this Labour group has failed to identify and clearly set out to the public who their executive members are and what they are responsible for.

“Who are members of the public supposed to ask these questions to?”

Mr Walker said this was a ‘fair point’ and the administration was ‘in the process of changing portfolios’ at the time.

“We think there are better ways to organise our portfolios that meet the public needs in a way that maybe they weren’t met prior to the administration coming in,” he said.

“But that takes time. If we don’t get it right early, we find ourselves in a position with portfolios that don’t actually respond to what the public need.”In a statement Dr Cooper said: “Over the next 12 months we are going to bring genuine, positive change to Worthing, making a difference in the ways that residents most want to see.

“This is a cabinet of the community, for the community - and we are determined to ensure everyone’s voices are heard and considered before decisions are made.”