West Sussex County Council meets for first time since election

The leader of West Sussex County Council has pledged to work ‘tirelessly’ to ensure economic success as the county recovers from the pandemic.

Paul Marshall (Con, Storrington) was appointed leader for the next four years during a meeting of the full council, with Deborah Urquhart (Con, Angmering & Findon) as his deputy.

Mr Marshall said: “I know that West Sussex is extremely capable of bouncing back from the dreadful pandemic we are still living through and building back better.

“Our people and our communities are always our biggest asset.

County Hall Chichester. Pic S Robards SR2105051 SUS-210505-160522001

“In my role as council leader I will do everything in my power to help everyone in our county thrive and grow for a better future.”

As well as the economy, he laid out three other main priorities for the coming years – keeping people safe from vulnerable situations; helping people and communities to fulfil their potential; and making the best use of resources. 

Changes were made to a number of the cabinet portfolios with a new portfolio and two new faces added to the mix.

Steve Waight (Con, Goring) was named cabinet member for support services & economic development – the new portfolio – while Joy Dennis (Con, Hurstpierpoint & Bolney) was named cabinet member for highways & transport.

Mr Marshall said: “In my new cabinet team, there is a strong mix of experienced cabinet members as well as some new faces who will bring a fresh perspective to all we do. 

“I have placed a particular cabinet focus on public health and wellbeing to emphasise my commitment in this area. 

“I’ve also strengthened our focus on adult social care, which is key to helping people stay independent for as long as possible, again giving a positive wellbeing outcome for some whose voices are not always heard.” 

Mrs Urquhart will also serve as cabinet member for environment & climate change.

She said: “Climate change is undoubtedly the biggest priority for my portfolio.

“We published a ten-year climate change strategy last year and we’re already working hard towards our target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

“We want to work with our communities to help and inspire them to make positive changes too so we can all adapt to our changing environment.” 

Changes include the collection of food waste from homes – which makes up 40 per cent of residual waste – something Arun District Council has just started.

Then there is the Tree Strategy, to improve biodiversity throughout the county, and plans for battery storage schemes – on top of the two solar farms already working at Tangmere and Westhampnett.

Mrs Urquhart said: “Battery storage allows us to store energy when it is plentiful and then sell the power back to the grid when it’s needed.

“This is a critical step towards making renewable energy truly sustainable longer term.”

She added: “The next four years will no doubt see a huge amount of change as our planet and our local environment rapidly changes.

“We are doing all we can to prepare and adapt for this new future and make the most of everything our county has to offer.”

Other key appointments made at the full council meeting saw Pete Bradbury (Con, Cuckfield & Lucastes) confirmed as the chairman of the council, with Sujan Wickremaratchi (Con, Haywards Heath Town) named vice-chairman.

The new cabinet:

Amanda Jupp (Con, Billingshurst) – Adults Services

Jacquie Russell (Con, East Grinstead South & Ashurst Wood) – Children & Young People (Lead Member for Children)

Duncan Crow (Con, Tilgate & Furnace Green) – Community Support, Fire & Rescue

Jeremy Hunt (Con, Chichester North) – Finance & Property

Joy Dennis (Con, Hurstpierpoint & Bolney) – Highways & Transport

Nigel Jupp (Con, Southwater & Nuthurst) – Learning & Skills

Bob Lanzer (Con, Maidenbower & Worth) – Public Health & Wellbeing

Steve Waight (Con, Goring) – Support Services & Economic Development