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Sussex Council “starting to resemble Fawlty Towers” says West Sussex Labour as £24K aborted office move costs revealed

£24,000, that is the amount of money revealed to have been spent by Sussex County Council for an office move – except it never took place.

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Labour Group Leader Michael Jones is outraged by the wasted money.

The revelations have been brought to light by a Freedom of Information request.

In response to the request West Sussex County Council has admitted the exhorbitant costs involved in the office move of the Chief Executive and other senior officers that commenced in September 2019.

There was to be a move of senior management into the 1st floor west wing of County Hall, but this has now been cancelled. 

Instead the area has now been turned into a hot desking area to increase capacity on campus, despite no evidence being given to councillors that there was a demand for such an additional area, claims Labour Councillors.

The revelations show that the cost of the work undertaken to date has been £24,346.54 (£7,184.54 in consultancy fees and £17,162 in building costs).

Labour Group Leader on West Sussex County Council Michael Jones (Southgate and Gossops Green) said:

“This council is starting to resemble Fawlty Towers, with the number of inept decisions which keep coming to light.

These were perfectly good offices that didn’t need any work whatsoever done on them.  Yet another outrageous failure by West Sussex County Council, the ultimate example of an organisation that is penny wise and pound foolish!

“This is all money that could have been spent on front line public services, like keeping our mobile library service running, instead of getting rid of it, as they plan to.

“How on earth does it cost that much to remove some partition walling and what did it take over seven thousand pounds’ worth of consultants to work out how to do it? 

“This sort of example of the Tories wasting council taxpayers’ money is something that residents will find immensely annoying.  Added to the recent news about the West Sussex drone that has never been used, this is yet another case of mismanagement at the heart of County Hall.”

West Sussex Council has been approached for comment.

Gatwick

Crawley MP launches new cross-party group to fight for future of UK aviation

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Crawley’s MP Henry Smith has launched a new cross-party group of MPs to fight for the future of UK aviation after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Crawley MP is Chair of the Future of Aviation Group which will seek to highlight the importance of a vibrant aviation sector to consumers, businesses and the overall UK economy. The Group is urging ministers to introduce measures to support the recovery of the UK’s aviation sector.

Henry said;

“It is of course right that public health concerns remain the Government’s most urgent priority, but the level of support from MPs from all sides and from all regions reflects the pressing need for the Government to provide much more support to our aviation sector, given that aviation is one of the sectors worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Aviation will be vital to our long-term economic recovery at national and local levels and it is high time that Government avoid any further delay and introduce financial measures that support the aviation industry; the businesses, employees and the communities who depend on it.

“We cannot allow Britain’s economic and social recovery to be held back through a failure to support our aviation industry. As a global, island trading nation the consequences of continuing inaction are unthinkable.”

The Group has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, setting out several urgent questions about the Government’s actions to date together with demands for further urgent policy intervention.

You can read the full letter by clicking here.

The letter to the Secretary of State raises several points, including:

  • How often will the 14-day quarantine period be reviewed, and will Government prioritise ‘air bridges’ to restart safe travel to and from low risk countries?
  • What discussions have been held at an international level to find a Common International Standard for aviation health protocols to build consumer confidence?
  • What discussions have been held with local authorities and airport representatives regarding central Government support for business rates relief?
  • What consideration has been given to financial measures to support the restart of domestic aviation and to protect vital regional routes?
  • What additional support can be made available to local authorities and the aviation supply chain until passenger numbers increase?
  • What assessment has been made of the importance of aviation to the nation’s economic recovery?
  • What assessment has been made of the likely timescale of the recovery of businesses in the tourism sector who are reliant on international tourism?
  • What assessment has been made of the opportunity to support low carbon aviation technologies as a way to support UK economic recovery and help aviation deliver its net zero commitment?

The creation of the Future of Aviation Group is Henry’s latest intervention on this issue.

Henry added;

“With Gatwick Airport being such a key local employer I’m very conscious of the Crawley economy being reliant on the aviation and travel industry.

“I’ll continue my representations with ministers, airports and airlines on behalf of the Crawley workers, families, businesses and customers for whom this sector is so important.”

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