Did windfarm save council from overspend?

The construction site for the Rampion Wind Farm project. Picture: Eddie Mitchell
The construction site for the Rampion Wind Farm project. Picture: Eddie Mitchell

A £180,000 Worthing Borough Council underspend could have been a significant overspend, it has been claimed.

Conservative councillor Steve Waight highlighted how council coffers had been boosted by compensation of £511,000 in relation to the Rampion offshore windfarm.

Coupled with a £298,000 saving in its minimum revenue position – money set aside to pay back loans – Mr Waight said the budget could have been more than £600,000 overspent.

Speaking at the joint overview and scrutiny committee meeting, the night after cabinet members discussed the budget, he said: “If you take that windfall and the change to the minimum revenue position you actually find that Worthing has benefited to the tune of £809,000 which it wasn’t expecting.

“Having got £180,000 over, the actual overspend on the budget is some £629,000 and that was not even discussed last night.”

In response, cabinet member for resources Mark Nolan said: “Both the Herald and councillor Waight attended the last joint strategic committee when the leader specifically raised the issue of the minimum revenue position. We continually push officers on the problems of variations and will continue to do so. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the facts are that Worthing Borough Council has an underspend.”

Chief financial officer Sarah Gobey, speaking at Thursday’s scrutiny meeting, said Mr Waight was ‘absolutely right’ in his conclusions but added there were a number of one-off costs.

They included additional pension costs and repair costs following vandalism at Splashpoint leisure centre.