Adur council affirms its independence

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ADUR councillors made a stand to affirm their independence from Worthing in a debate over budget scrutiny on Thursday.

The debate flared up over the 2013/14 work programme overseen by the Adur and Worthing joint overview and scrutiny committee.

Conservatives Angus Dunn and Julie Searle questioned why the Adur budget was down for approval by the scrutiny committee before approval by the full council.

Other councillors were quick to agree that the budgets were a matter for the members to decide first.

It was also emphasised that the Adur budget was decided separately to the Worthing budget, as the councils are separate, just administered jointly.

Leader Neil Parkin said: “We meet separately to do the budgets and the budgets are handled separately.

“The budgets are sacrosanct to the separate councils. It is a political matter. The budget is one of the sovereign things.”

Pat Beresford pointed out similar questions had been raised in previous years and they had managed to avoid the budget going to scrutiny first.

The councillors were told the work of the joint committees were governed by the Worthing constitution, as that was what was agreed when the joint committees were set up.

Under the Worthing constitution, the budget has to go before the scrutiny committee first, and that is why the Adur budget was down on the work programme.

Chief executive Peter Latham pointed out a separate Adur scrutiny committee did still exist, although it was rarely, if ever used, now.

Conservative Keith Dollemore said: “I find it absolutely incredible that it ever got to scrutiny in the first place.

“The object of the committee is to scrutinise decisions of the cabinet members.

“The full council oversees the whole lot. It should never have been in.”

Miss Searle proposed the Adur budget should be removed from the joint scrutiny committee work programme as it was a full council decision.

She pointed out that the budget could still be scrutinised, but after the decision was made by the full council and not before.

The amendment was agreed unanimously and the council agreed the rest of the joint scrutiny committee’s rolling work programme for 2013/14 should be approved.