Worthing Labour's first 100 days plan includes launch of 'big listening' campaign

The new Labour administration at Worthing Borough Council has set out plans for its first 100 days in the Town Hall.

New council leader Beccy Cooper (Lab, Marine) outlined her vision for the council and for the town on Monday (23 May).

Dr Cooper was joined by deputy leader Carl Walker (Lab, Selden), central ward councillor Jim Deen (Lab), and newly elected Gaisford ward councillor Dale Overton on what she called ‘day one’.

‘Transparency’ was a key theme as well as community engagement.

Cllr Dale Overton, Cllr Carl Walker, Cllr Beccy Cooper and Cllr Jim Dean. Press briefing with new Worthing Labour administration. Pic S Robards SR2205236

“We want the conversation with the community to be as open as possible and we want to be much more transparent,” Dr Cooper said.

“So much has taken place behind closed doors that it’s taking us a while to open those doors.”

The council leader outlined plans to involve local people with decision making as ‘early in the process as possible’ and to draw on their ‘wealth of knowledge’ in a ‘Big Listening’ campaign.

“The Big Listening campaign is not just for Christmas – it’s something that we want to start and build on – it’s a conversation,” she said.

“What we want to do is take some of the council finance which is directly used for local decisions such as things in parks, things in high streets, and have community decision making bodies.”

Cllr Walker acknowledged that it will take ‘some time’ to establish a dialogue with communities but it is hoped this can begin over the summer.

Meanwhile, Cllr Overton was keen to emphasise the administration’s commitment to ‘bottom up’, rather than ‘top down’, decision making.

“Many residents say ‘they never ask us what they want and if they do, they go and do what they were going to do anyway’,” said Cllr Deen.

“We want to change that culture.”

Cllr Deen also outlined Labour’s plans for a ‘Big Clean Up’, which could encompass physically cleaning the streets as well as ‘greening’ areas of the town centre.

“The aim is to answer a criticism that the town centre looks neglected,” he said.

“It could be something as simple as power washing some of the areas that are in a dreadful state but it could also involve encouraging the shops, for instance, to make shop fronts look good.

“The aim is to involve individuals and community groups to come together and do that exercise.”

Dr Cooper says she is ‘very keen to work closely’ with West Sussex County Council on making walking and cycling more accessible and ensuring improvement schemes in the town ‘work as a whole’ – including at Railway Approach.

“We don’t want this patchwork of projects that we appear to have had in the past,” she said.

The council leader also committed to making the full cost of the Portland Road improvement scheme public.

Cllr Walker said: “We need to ensure going forward that any money we spend is for the public and in the interest of the town.”