County council committed to transparency as meetings suspended due to coronavirus

Paul Marshall, leader of West Sussex County Council
Paul Marshall, leader of West Sussex County Council

Leader Paul Marshall has said West Sussex County Council is determined to keep its decision-making transparent, despite suspending more than a dozen meetings.

All meetings between now and the end of April that were scheduled for County Hall, Chichester, have been cancelled due to the Covid 19 outbreak.

On top of that, a planned Health & Wellbeing Board meeting has been postponed as well as all County Local Committee meetings around the county and the highways and transport groups in Arun areas.

Mr Marshall said: “Clearly these are unchartered waters for the whole country and it is vital we keep people safe as we, as a nation, navigate this situation.

“However there is incredibly important work and decisions that need to continue despite this global pandemic and we are working through the detail as to how we can do that and continue to uphold our democratic purpose as we look after our residents.

“This council is still committed to keeping its decision making processes transparent and open and we will continue to do that.

“This is an ongoing and changeable situation and we will continue to keep you updated as we move forward.”

While some decisions would have to be postponed, a council spokesman said others would be taken by individual cabinet members or by using the council’s arrangements for urgent action.

One such time-sensitive decision will be the future of small, rural schools, which was scheduled to be made at a meeting of the cabinet on April 21.

The spokesman said arrangements for the public to attend the meeting would be reviewed in line with guidance.

They added that planning committee decisions would be deferred to a later meeting where possible, although some decisions might have to be taken in line with urgent action.

The cancelled meetings are:

• Full Council – April 3

• Fire and Rescue Scrutiny – 18 March

• Performance and Finance Scrutiny – 19th March

• RAAC – 23 March

• Planning 24 March and 28 April – and also the planned site visit in member diaries.

• SACRE – 28 March

• Children and Young People Scrutiny – TFG – 7 April and meeting 23 April

• Governance – 20 April

• Pensions Panel – 27 April

• Health and Wellbeing Board – 30 April

• CLCs and the highways and transport groups in Arun CLC areas.