Arun opposition demand details ahead of key budget meeting

Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130418113852
Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130418113852

COUNCILLORS cannot have a full debate on Arun District Council’s budget on Tuesday because of a lack of details – opposition councillors have warned.

Arun Liberal Democrats have penned an open letter, calling for the full budget book to be released ahead of a special full council debate.

They allege Arun has published only limited summaries of spending plans for the next financial year.

The council declined to comment.

The letter reads: “What does the council have to hide? Why is the council not publishing the full, detailed breakdowns of planned expenditure in a draft budget book now?

“By failing to provide detailed information about what is proposed to be spent and what is to be cut, you are failing to give councillors of all political parties the opportunity to have a thorough and rigorous debate on Tuesday evening.

“Therefore, in the interests of democracy, openness and transparency, we are calling for you to publish the full proposed budget book onto the council’s website for public inspection immediately.

“This will enable councillors to give the budget the full and detailed attention it deserves at the budget meeting.”

A report to councillors includes recommendations to increase council tax by 1.95 per cent.

The budget was considered by the overview select committee on January 26 – though the Lib Dems again believe only headline figures were available.

Reports considered detailed £2.27million of ‘new investments’, to include replacement beach huts, work on public toilets and Marine Park Gardens café.

Borrowing of £1.153million and capital receipts of £0.716million is budgeted in relation to the new leisure centre.

The council has healthy reserves of around £7million heading into the 2016/17 financial year.

Concerns raised by the scrutiny committee included the lack of funding available for ‘vital maintenance works’ for the council’s sheltered housing scheme.

The budget will be discussed from 6pm at the civic centre, in Maltravers Road, Littlehampton (Tuesday, February 23).

A motion of no confidence in leader Gill Brown and cabinet member Ricky Bower will follow. Click here for the full story.