Felpham council demands answers

ANSWERS have been demanded by angry Felpham parish councillors about the future of road improvement schemes.

They unanimously agreed to send five tough questions to West Sussex County Council about its handling of the matter.

The questions have been sent as freedom of information requests in the past week following the unanimous agreement of council members at a meeting earlier this month.

Parish council chairman Paul English said: “We will get the facts out of the county council and, if necessary, because of their record of unhelpfulness so far in this matter, we will request each individual item through a freedom of information request.

“That should ensure we will get every single ounce of paperwork and every email between departments to get to the bottom of what is exactly happening in the county council.”

He said officers being moved between departments was hindering the matter as they were being shifted before they were able to resolve the issue.

“By doing this, it will help the county council to get their act together and collate their paperwork,” said Cllr English.

No decision on which schemes in Felpham should go ahead should be made by the county cabinet member for highways Pieter Montyn until the full facts were known, he said.

Every scheme put forward by the parish council met the criteria for the funding – to reduce the volume of traffic going through Felpham.

Parish council vice-chairman David Edwards said: “There are some fairly serious questions which need to be answered for the parish council.

“How on earth we got to this stage is quite scandalous.

“The quicker we get these questions answered the better as far as I am concerned.”

He said no decision should be made by Cllr Montyn because the original information given by county officers to the joint western arun area committee was flawed.

As reported, Felpham councillors are angry £500,000 they were assured would be enough to pay for a range of traffic calming projects is now said by the county council to be up to £165,000 too little.

The questions ask why the cost has changed, how £100,000 has been spent on drawings for the work and what interest has been received on the money.

Richard Wickens, the parish council’s clerk, “There is some dishonesty involved in officers drawing up schemes and preparing drawings for those schemes knowing they will cost more than £500,000.”

Cllr Graham Matthews said: “We have worked closely with the county council for four or five years.

“The schemes were supported by their officers and we have followed them.

“We have bent over backwards to ensure all the schemes identified would be within £500,000.”