Worthing council leader rejects calls for 'extraordinary meeting' over coronavirus outbreak

The leader of Worthing Borough Council has rejected calls for an extraordinary meeting to discuss a recent outbreak in coronavirus cases.

Liberal Democrat councillor Martin McCabe, backed by other opposition councillors, wrote to Worthing mayor Lionel Harman on Tuesday (September 15) calling for a meeting of the council to discuss its strategy to tackling Covid-19 in the town.

It followed council leader Dan Humphreys and West Sussex County Council insisting a recent increase in the infection rate to more than twice the national average was under control.

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Recent figures show the claim appears to be accurate, as the infection rate has now dipped to below the national average.

Dan Humphreys, leader of Worthing Borough Council

Responding to Martin's letter, Dan said: “Thanks to the sacrifices made by the local community and the fantastic work done by our local council and health care workers, Covid-19 infection rates in Worthing have been consistently well below the national average.

"I’m advised by the Director for Public Health in West Sussex that at 17.2 infections per one hundred thousand people Worthing’s infection rate today is about half of the average for England. Contrary to claims posted on social media by another Worthing Borough Councillor the rates in Worthing are not rising but are currently falling."

It is worth noting that while Worthing's infection rate is indeed around 17 per 100,000 people, the national average currently stands at 18 per 100,000, according to Public Health England. So while Worthing's figure is below that, it is not 'about half of the average'.

Dan added that he had not been approached by any Worthing borough councillors to suggest an extraordinary meeting and he stressed that one was not necessary.

"West Sussex County Council is the relevant body for this matter and they are holding a full council meeting on Friday," he said.

"Worthing Borough Council is holding a scrutiny meeting tomorrow at which opposition councillors can scrutinise, ask questions and table proposals. Our next full council meeting is in just a few weeks time.

"There is no room for complacency and I thank everyone in Worthing for the sacrifices they have made in recent months. We need to keep washing our hands regularly, wear masks and observe social distancing rules. There is no need for alarm and to this end elected councillors should consider what they post on social media. There is no excuse for posting misleading statements that could cause heightened levels of fear in our community at this challenging time.”