District Dispatch - 13 February 2024
At the end of January, we agreed the council's major projects moving forward.
Full Council gave the go-ahead to refurbish council play areas; to introduce additional temporary accommodation for those facing homelessness; and for work to begin on preparing for the collection of food waste, which is due to happen in 2026 - in line with government legislation. The contract to manage the council's leisure centres is also due to come to an end, and so councillors gave the go ahead to start the procurement process.
Since the cost-of-living crisis, we have seen an increase in those who need housing advice support or who are at risk of homelessness. In 2022, the council extended its short stay accommodation, with a brand-new purpose building. This has made a huge difference, but we need to further increase our accommodation to continue to meet demand. We are committed to reducing homelessness in the district, and this is one of the ways we are tackling the issue.
In the past six months alone, 115 households have joined our housing register and we expect more people to come forward as a result of the crisis. It's also why supporting people through the cost-of-living crisis is such a key priority for the council, including continuing to deliver assistance through our Supporting You team, who are making such a difference to those who need help the most.
We are also due to start collecting food waste in 2026 and so we will need to start work on this significant project, which includes purchasing new vehicles and bins. This really is a massive task. What many people don't realise is that because we cover such a large rural area, our crews travel over 303 square miles emptying people's bins. On a typical day, our refuse collectors walk between 12 and 15 miles. That's equivalent to 2.5 marathons a week!
We also know that a number of our play areas are starting to look tired and need updating. We will be investing over £800,000 to make sure that they are up to the latest standards and provide children with exciting areas in which they can play. The work will be carried out in Florence Park; Oaklands Park; Priory Park; Sherborne Park and Whyke Oval. Parks and play areas are integral to people's quality of life and so, we are keen to press forward and consult with each park's community to find out their views and what their opinions are on what should be included.
This year, we also need to start planning for the procurement process for the leisure contract, which covers our three leisure centres in Chichester, Southbourne and Midhurst, as well as the outreach sports development service. And we are bidding for multi-million pound funding to replace Selsey's coastal defences to help protect home and businesses from flooding and coastal erosion. This will be submitted to the Environment Agency and if we are successful the funding will be used to develop options and outline designs for a sea defence scheme.
We are seeing more extreme weather events, which is why it is so important that we are all able to plan and prepare. Although it's not one of the council's statutory duties, managing future coastal flooding and erosion is a key priority for us and we have permissive powers to undertake such works.
We are very much looking forward to delivering all of these projects - and many more - for our local communities, which we believe will have a really positive impact on our district. We are also very proud that we are in a position to continue to invest in our communities and facilities. This is because our council has always been excellent at managing its finances - and this will continue to be a priority moving forward.
Cllr Adrian Moss
Leader of Chichester District Council