CHRISTMAS spirit was flowing at Worthing Town Hall last night when a Conservative leader presented an opposition councillor with UKIP-themed flowers.
UKIP castle ward councillor Charles James had asked Worthing Borough Council leader Dan Humphreys to consider planting up the green areas outside the civic building, in Chapel Road.
But in an unexpected twist at the full council meeting, Mr Humphreys whipped out the purple and yellow flowers and suggested Mr James could start his own community initiative.
“Now, if that’s what you’re suggesting I would be more than happy to join you out there and get my hands dirty if we have got a sustainable project put together,” said Mr Humphreys.
“And in that vain one of our group members who works in a garden centre saw your question and as it’s Christmas he has brought in a little present for you.
“It’s a present from the Conservative group to councillor James and if you would like to discuss with me in future a community project to plant some flowers to brighten up the town I would be more than happy to come along and get my hands dirty with you.
Community-led planting initiatives have previously been succesful in Worthing.
The seafront has been transformed over the last two summer months, with Worthing Town Centre Initiative running a competition for the best planting on the promenade.
Mr Humphreys suggested residents could take the lead outside the town hall, inviting Mr James to bring forward a proposal.
The UKIP councillor said he was ‘obliged’ to the leader for the ‘magnificent’ gift.
He said: “I am obliged to the leader, particularly for this magnificent present, which I will of course attempt to get my hands dirty as he has suggested.”
Worthing’s council chamber is no stranger to unexpected vegetation.
Resident John Clark alarmed councillors two years ago by bringing a sprig of the rapidly-growing Japanese Knotweed plant to public question time.
Mr Clark, of Cranleigh Avenue, Worthing, explained how the plant was freely growing on council land, and asked what the council was doing to address it.
The ‘statement’ was the culmination of what Mr Clark said was a ten-year battle with Worthing Borough Council over the issue.
But instead of providing a detailed response, cabinet member for environment Clive Roberts expressed his distress at Mr Clark bringing the knotweed to the chamber.
He said: “I am very distressed that it is in here. It is irresponsible to bring it here.
“It should not be in this building, and I don’t want it in here, as we don’t know what it could do to this property.”