Comment: News that a change has been dropped to the housing numbers formula is to be welcomed

There are few more vexed subjects in this part of West Sussex than the desecration of our green fields for yet more development.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 9:43 am
Arundel & South Downs MP Andrew Griffith who has been outspoken on the subject of the 'mutant algorithm' from the very beginning

The concreting over of our countryside is not made any easier by the lack of central government funding on infrastructure – particularly improvements to key arterial roads like the A27 around Chichester and Worthing.

In the most environmentally sensitive parts of the county – most notably around the globally important Chichester Harbour – public outrage at the profoundly ruinous plans has been rightly vociferous.

So news that a change has been dropped to the housing numbers formula that would have significantly increased housebuilding over and above the volumes already demanded is to be welcomed.

We know many of our MPs have played a key role in this but we applaud the lead given nationally by Arundel & South Downs MP Andrew Griffith who has been outspoken on the subject from the very beginning. He has fought an exemplary campaign.

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This newspaper has been brutal in the past in its condemnation of West Sussex County Council and its long-term failure to secure the quality of children’s services that are required.

The council was ordered to place its services for Children and Families into a separate Children’s Trust following an inadequate Ofsted report in 2019 and a subsequent damning report by a children’s commissioner appointed by the DfE to look at the council’s work.

However, the announcement that the services will remain under the control of the county council for at least another year in light of the significant progress that has been made is good news indeed.

In a letter from Children’s Minister Vicky Ford to the Leader of West Sussex County Council Paul Marshall outlining details of the decision, the Minister said: “I am encouraged that there is now a new political leadership in respect of children’s services, supported by strong senior executive appointments, including a new director of children’s services.

“This has undoubtedly been strengthened by the wider work the council is undertaking to reform the corporate council, with the support of its corporate improvement partner, East Sussex County Council. The strength of this partnership will evidently be important in creating the conditions in which children’s services can continue to improve.”

There is still much to be done but we congratulate leader Mr Marshall, chief executive Becky Shaw, and the senior team on making such rapid progress in protecting the most vulnerable in our communities.