Outgoing Arun chairman reflects on her year in role

The outgoing chairman of Arun District Council has shared her sadness at what she called a lack of support or kindness from a minority of councillors.

Amanda Worne (Lib Dem, Yapton) handed over the chairmanship to Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) after an unprecedented year which has seen tempers flare during meetings, harsh words being exchanged and apologies being issued.

At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday (May 19), Mrs Worne said: “I’m truly grateful to every single councillor here tonight who has supported me and been so kind and sent me such lovely messages after some of the meetings that maybe have been a bit tricky that I have chaired.

“The support has helped me so much and helped me remain strong and not lose confidence in my role.

Pictured last year: outgoing Arun chairman Amanda Worne, her successor Jim Brooks and former Littlehampton mayor David Chace

“I am going to be honest, though, and say that I have been a little sad that maybe there are just one or two councillors who maybe have not shown me the support or the kindness that everybody else has.”

Mrs Worne did not name names but said she did take their attitude to heart at first and ‘found it quite hard to deal with’.

She added: “But I did soon realise that the only damage they were doing was actually not to me but to themselves and the reputation they were giving themselves to our residents.”

During her year in office, Mrs Worne has only been able to attend two official engagements and has had to get creative to come up with her own events.

She is a trustee of Stonepillow and, in September, she and Mr Brooks – along with former Littlehampton mayor David Chace – spent 24 on the streets to raise awareness of homelessness.

She help to organise a recycling campaign of fast food packaging, raised £1,500 through the sale of Christmas cards which she designed, and crocheted love hearts for patients at the Zachery Merton Hospital who could not go home for the festive season.

She said: “Having spent Christmas in hospital myself, I knew how lonely it could actually be.”

Mrs Worne said she had ‘genuinely enjoyed’ her time as chair even though the year had been ‘pretty tough’.

But she has one more thing to do.

As she uses a wheelchair, a ramp was installed in the council chamber when she became chair – a ramp she has not been able to use.

She joked: “What I’m going to do, when we do get back to the chamber, is make sure I go up and down it a few times so it gets some good use.”