Kick Start the West Sussex economy

A ‘KICK-ASS’ approach to boosting the West Sussex economy is required, according to a county councillor.

Dr James Walsh said he wanted to encourage boroughs and districts in the county to speed up decision-making processes to allocate funds promised as part of the county council’s Kick Start programme.

“The whole fund was called Kick Start and it implies a sense of urgency,” he said at a meeting of the county council’s policy and resources select committee on Friday (March 15).

“Far from being a kick start, it seems to be a snail start. Americans would say we need to kick ass, not kick start. It’s to kick start the local economy now rather than next year or the year after.”

He said although he understood the need for ‘probity and propriety’, the council needed to do something with the districts and boroughs to ensure they understood the ‘urgency’ of this spend.

The committee heard from the county council’s director of communities and commissioning and kick start programme manager, Kevin Carter, who said the programme remained on target to complete the projects within the two-year window.

In response to Dr Walsh, council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “Can I just remind you that this is the second phase.”

She said the first phase of the accelerated capital expenditure was well in the county council’s control, and included projects such as broadband delivery across the area, and coastal and community flood prevention schemes.

“It’s not our belief to have a nanny state and say ‘you can have ‘x’’,” she added.

She said it had been important for the districts and boroughs to take their time and identify key areas and how much it had cost, rather than being given money before they had identified a use for it.

“She added: “This has taken a little bit longer in some instances. I think some of the schemes are really imaginative.”

A total investment fund of £50m was identified by the committee to encourage the local economy across the county.