Worthing Daily has been sceptical in the past about when and whether the refurbishment of Montague Street would take place. There have been a number of false dawns but recent announcements do at last appear to put something more concrete (hopefully not tarmac!) on the table.
In early 2013 Worthing Town Centre Initiative (TCI) lobbied hard for their outline plans to candidates standing in the West Sussex County Council elections in May that year, being aggrieved at the lack of progress on Montague Street refurbishment. Worthing’s Liberal Democrats suggested the TCI approached the Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership (LEP) for funding but the idea was dismissed by the Worthing Borough Council Conservative administration.
The newly elected Conservative West Sussex County Councillors in Worthing used their position to work with county officers to bring forward plans for the refurbishment – the missing element was money. Worthing Borough officers identified monies levied on property developers (known as Section 106 contributions) that could be used to the tune of £750,000. Unfortunately that money had already been pencilled in for the ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ speed restriction on Worthing residential roads. A battle royal broke out between the rival schemes.
County Councillor Steve Waight questioned the costing and availability of funds at a Worthing County Local Committee (CLC) meeting and the West Sussex officer present assured the meeting millions would become available from future Section 106 contributions. This was news to Worthing Borough Council’s planning department who suspected double if not triple counting.
With Worthing overwhelmingly rejecting ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ the £750,000 should have been freed but most seems to have disappeared into the ether. The current Montague Street proposal for phase one costs £1.2 million and West Sussex has applied for £800,000 from the same Capital to Coast LEP suggested by the Liberal Democrats in 2013 – a seeming Damascene conversion. West Sussex County Council has stumped up £280,000 from their Capital Budget and the remaining £120,000 is from the elusive Section 106 funds.
Coast to Capital’s Local Transport Board gave the go ahead for funding at their March 25th meeting and Worthing’s residents have the opportunity to ask questions at the next Worthing County Local Committee on Wednesday (June 10th) at the Chatsworth Hotel. There is a public exhibition from 5.30 pm in the Devonshire Room followed at 7.00 pm by the formal CLC with the scheme on the agenda. Members of the public are welcome and indeed encouraged to attend.
So it’s looking more concrete although a County Councillor did still express doubts to Worthing Daily about funding only two weeks ago on Mayor Making day.
But hopefully it is a new beginning …..