This is how and when a new leader for Worthing Borough Council will be chosen

An extraordinary meeting of Worthing Borough Council has been called.

Worthing  Town Hall
Worthing Town Hall

The meeting is set to take place on Wednesday (November 10).

This can happen when an issue of importance arises that usually cannot wait until the next scheduled full council meeting.

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Why has the meeting been called?

In this case, leader of the council and the Worthing Conservative group Dan Humphreys (Offington ward) will step down after six and a half years in the role.

As a result, a replacement council leader will need to be appointed.

WBC Mayor Lionel Harman (Con, Castle) will call for nominations at Wednesday’s meeting.

Any nominations will then be seconded, debated and voted upon by the council.

The new leader will then be given an opportunity to make any announcements.

Mr Humphreys will continue to represent the Offington ward but is stepping down due to a new public affairs role outside of Worthing which means he ‘could not devote the considerable time needed to be council leader’.

Who will control the council?

The ruling Conservative group will meet to elect a new leader on Monday (November 8).

Following the resignation of former Marine ward councillor Tim Wills, the Conservatives have 18 seats, Labour 15, the Lib Dems three, and there is one vacancy.

If a vote for the new leader results in a tie, the mayor will use his casting vote.

This means that the council is likely to remain under Conservative control.

Is a coalition possible?

But a leadership challenge is not impossible and Worthing Liberal Democrat group leader Martin McCabe (Tarring ward) said he was talking to the Conservative and Labour group leaders about the potential for a coalition council.

Speaking on Friday, Mr McCabe said: “I have reached out to both the Conservative and Labour local leadership teams.

“I’m pleased that both parties have agreed to meet with me over the coming days to discuss control of Worthing Borough Council.

“I have made clear to both parties my commitment to ensuring stability for our town from now until [the elections in] May.

“I’m prepared to work in a coalition with the party that offers the most compelling vision for Worthing in these uncertain times.”

Labour and Conservative group leaders did not respond to requests for comment on a possible coalition.

If the Liberal Democrat group were to lead the council alongside the Conservatives, this would give them a majority with 21 seats.

However, if the Lib Dems went into coalition with Labour, the groups would control a combined 18 seats – not enough for a majority.

The Labour and Lib Dem groups would have to await the outcome of the Marine ward by-election on December 2 to know if a majority is possible.

The public will also have up to 30 minutes to ask questions during next week’s council meeting.

Public question time

Questions must be submitted in advance to [email protected] before midday on Monday (November 8).

The council will live-stream the meeting on YouTube and a link will be found on its website closer to the time: https://democracy.adur-worthing.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=1683&x=1