‘Lack of knowledge’

IT is disheartening that councillor Roger Oakley in his letter last week (December 22) showed such a lack of knowledge of how licensing sub-committee hearings work in his criticism of councillor Bob Smytherman.

This followed an equal showing of lack of knowledge by deputy mayor Charles James at the last council.

Worthing residents have every right to expect their elected representatives to be fully trained in council issues of a quasi-legal nature and to comment authoritatively.

If they are not conversant with the rules then they should refrain from comment instead of misleading your readers.

Mr James, being a member of the licensing committee, should in fact stand down until he learns the rules.

Licensing sub-committees have three members – two Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat in proportion to the make-up of the council.

The sub-committees are warned time and time again they must act in accordance with the local authority regulations which have statutory backing.

We trust and believe all members put politics aside and purely come to a decision on the evidence and the rules – to do otherwise would be a failure of their duty.

The decision is made in private at the hearing and not in open session, but it is self-evident that at least one Conservative must have voted against the wishes of Mr Oakley – why single out Mr Smytherman if not for political purposes?

There is always the opportunity to revisit the regulations to make improvements, which is why Bob Smytherman proposed at last council the full licensing committee investigates the possibility of introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

Making alcohol more expensive is the right move to make our streets safer from violence, to reduce A&E admissions and to reduce vandalism.

We are sorry no Conservative councillors, including Mr Oakley and Mr James, saw fit to agree with us and to a man/woman voted our motion down.

We hope for better in the future.

Alan Rice

Worthing Borough Council Liberal Democrat group leader