Q&A with Cllr John Turley, Cabinet Member for Resources at Worthing Borough Council
Released: Friday, 01 July 2022
As Worthing's Cabinet Member for Resources, Cllr John Turley has the unenviable task of ensuring the Council's finances hold up in the midst of fierce inflationary pressure.
Here he talks about building better relationships with businesses in the town, encouraging more people to spend their money locally and investing in developments here rather than elsewhere in the country.
Q. You have now been in the cabinet for over a month. What are the first things you've noticed about the role? Has anything surprised you?
It has been a very busy start and Resources is a large portfolio. The most obvious and pleasing aspect of the role has been the welcome and huge amount of support that I have received from the Council officers. I have been surprised by the number and variety of meetings I have been called into for the financial perspective but it has given me a broad overview of the key areas.
Q. How does your experience help you in your role?
I worked for many years in the finance sector and for most of that time was involved in preparing financial reports, including budgets. I am therefore used to crunching numbers although nothing prepares you for the complexity of local authority accounting. Hours of training earlier in the year has helped though.
Q. What have been the first things you have done so far?
So far I have spent most of my time learning my brief and getting to know the team of officers and key players in the local business community. We all want the same thing: a thriving and green town which is a great place to live in and visit.
Q. Inflation is hitting the Council's finances as well as affecting the finances of residents. What is the picture of the Council's finances you've formed at this point?
I recently attended a national conference where councillors from across the country were talking about the current financial challenges and how there may be tough times ahead and difficult decisions to be made. Worthing is not immune from this and we will be working with the excellent finance team to develop a strategy to manage the situation and to protect frontline services as much as we can.
Q. Businesses have had to adapt to survive since the start of the pandemic. How do you think the Council and traders can work together better?
Working with and supporting local businesses is a key role of any Council. The first thing to do is listen to what businesses are saying and sadly we are not sure that has happened as it should in the recent past. In February I organised a very successful Business Forum and we plan to take forward the best of the ideas which emerged from that event.
Q. The new administration has said it intends to look at existing Council contracts with suppliers. What are you looking for?
This is a part of our community wealth-building approach, where money is kept in and circulated around the local economy for the benefit of all in Worthing. We want to keep the Council's supply chain as local as possible and for suppliers to share our social values, including sound environmental policies and paying their employees a living wage. We are pleased the Council is already on board with this so it is really a case of building on what is already there.
Q. Historically, the Council has used a portfolio of property investments to generate income to help fund services for residents. How do you want that to develop?
New regulations mean this type of investment has to be local going forward. This makes sense as we can then invest in properties which will benefit the community as well as generate much needed income. The portfolio will therefore evolve and I am looking forward to being a part of that.
Q. Let's look a year ahead. What will you have managed to get done so far?
Within the first year we aim to have made real progress with our community wealth-building programme and be working with business and "anchor" organisations such as the NHS and school/colleges for the economic benefit of the town. We also aim to have in place a financial strategy which will enable the Council to maintain and where possible improve services and provide support for Worthing people who are struggling.
Cllr John Turley
Page last updated: 25 November 2022