Public involvement in local democracy more vital than ever

Released: Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Local democracy is more important than ever and residents must be at the heart of decision making, say councillors charged with holding leaders in Adur and Worthing to account.

With the pandemic placing residents, businesses and services under strain, how decisions are made to help bounce back is crucial. Priorities focused on helping economic recovery as well as supporting people whose health, wellbeing and financial position have been affected should be a matter of public debate, say the councillors.

Joint chairs of Adur & Worthing Councils' Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSC) made the call as they released their annual report on their activities. JOSC is the committee of councillors established to question and scrutinise decisions made by the Councils' Leaders, or Executive Members, of the Councils. It has the power to summon leaders to explain actions and take views from members of the public to help question policy.

Cllr Joss Loader, Adur District Council's Chair of JOSC, said:

“Effective scrutiny is crucial to thriving democracy and our role as a watchdog is to act as a critical friend so that the best possible decisions are made for our residents. This is even more important now given that the pandemic has made recovery programmes absolutely vital. If these last two years have taught us anything it is that we all have a role to play and a say in the future shape of our communities.”

Cllr Charles James, Worthing Borough Council's Chairman of JOSC, said:

“Our committee has enormous potential to influence and inform decisions on a range of issues which play a key role in the day-to-day lives of our residents. If an issue matters to the public, then it matters to us, so I ask that anyone who has a potential topic to be placed under wider public scrutiny to get in touch.”

The request was made as the committee published its annual report which details how it investigated Councils' policies on waste collection, housing repairs, food poverty and the decarbonisation of council housing stock. The annual report can be accessed here:

For those looking to get involved, scrutiny requests are considered at its meetings, which are held at least seven times a year.

The next meeting of the Committee will be held on Thursday 16th September 2021 at 6:30pm and details of the agenda for the meeting will be available on the Adur & Worthing Councils website the week before the meeting.

Members of the public also have the opportunity to ask public questions relating to Councils' services at the start of the meeting. However, JOSC has no powers to scrutinise Planning or Licensing decisions, in line with the Councils' constitutions.

Residents wishing JOSC to investigate a Councils issue can fill in a scrutiny form - see:

(PR21-118)

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Page last updated: 23 September 2021