Bognor Regis Herald — Arun STRONGLY Challenged over Non-Answers re Beach Hotel Fire

by Jan Cosgrove

Read Full Edition of the Herald HERE

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As a Town Councillor as well as running this online paper, I see it as my duty to look into matters of public interest locally and to ensure residents in the wider Bognor Regis are kept informed.

Some readers may recall my questions re the November 2016 Esplanade Fire which took out the old Beach Hotel site owned by Arun and leased and then subleased.

Freedom of Information requests have gone to Arun and to the Fire Service re cause, leaseholders, actions etc.

Having received response from the Fire Service and Arun, I have now sought an Internal Review of the latter’s WOEFUL response, and it is perhaps only necessary here to string together my questions, their responses and my swingeing come backs. Simply, this will not do, it is unacceptable, we should be told more:

Sent today to Arun Council:

Dear Infomanagement,

This simply will not do.

Here are my questions, your answers and my observations, and a requirement that you answer properly:

1. With regard to this property or properties, which were/are owned
by the Council?
1. None
Me: Sheer nonsense, contradicted by you at 2&3. Why have you said ‘none’?

2. Which were/are in the ownership of another party?
2. The (former) Beach Hotel .
Me:Is the Beach Hotel owned by the Council and leased to Brook Bros ?
Also was it leased prior to October 2016 to company owned by Jamie Bristow and did dthat lease get sold onto Company owned by Brook Bros?

3. Which were the subject of a lease from the council to another
party, and to whom? (name or company will suffice)
3. Arun District Council owns the freehold and let on a long lease.
Information is held at Land Registry, please contact them at:
[1]
www.gov.uk.
Me: Checked and owned by Co belonging to 3 members of Brook family, based in Hants- please confirm

4. Were any the subject of negotiations/discussion re development
within the past five years and with whom were the negotiations?
4. The LPA have given pre-application advice relating to the site within
the last five years.
Me: That is NOT what was asked, please answer. There have been a number of planning consents etc on that site over some years, not put into effect.

5. As regards 4, was there any proposal to develop discussed where
the council would have been paid a fee based on a fixed percentage of the
increase of property value occasioned by the development? If so, what
fee was suggested by the council?
5. This information is Historical and no longer applicable,
Me: That is sheer avoidance, unless you can show me such an exemption re FoI law, quoting precisely grounds, please just answer the question

6. With regard to the properties which were derelict or not
occupied, and for how long had this non-occupancy persisted?
6. Arun District Council does not hold this information therefore the
information you have requested is not held for the purposes of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Me: YOU DO NOT KNOW which of YOUR properties were derelict /occupied or not? I find that hard to believe, please review that response, simply in such a prime location it is an incredible admission

7. Has there been any investigation by the Council as to the cause
of the fire? Is it known whether it started in an occupied or unoccupied
part of the properties? Has the Fire Service been able to conduct
forensic investigations?
7. Cause of Fire — No
Me: But has Arun done what I have done and called for their formal report at least, had you seen that? Link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/fire_esplanadewaterloo_square_bo#comment-80524
Me: Did Arun take any action at all. officer visits, contact with Fire Service, contact with leaseholder, contact with cafe tenant.
Me: Are you aware there is pending court action re the cafe tenancy which ended March 2017 after refusal to grant new tenancy by leaseholder?

You: No information is held regarding the other 2 questions

8. With regard to the property (ground-floor) leased as a
fish-and-chip/similar catering business, when was its lease due to
expire? Was the lease subject to an exemption under the Landlord and
Tenancy legislation concerning lease renewal? Was there a negotiation
etc in progress re the lease renewal? What was the current rent at the
date of the fire and if there was negotiation what was the proposed rent?
8. Regarding all questions — Arun District Council does not hold this
information, therefore the information you have requested is not held
for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Me: You appear very casual about a notable property owned by you which burnt to the ground! No information about anything!!????

9. Is it yet decided what will happen re these properties?
9. Arun District Council does not hold this information, therefore the
information you have requested is not held for the purposes of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Me: The Council does not know if it knows or not what will happen to the property? This has to be some leg pull, you are having a Turkish. An African (giraffe, going extinct). Either you know or you don’t.

I will observe that responses on a facebook page I run from local people talk of corruption, is the Council not aware of the awful impression it is giving by its whole response? A major seafront property PUBLICLY owned by Arun which went up in a spectacular blaze on a night of a huge storm and torrential rain, and from what you have replied to date, seemingly not of much concern at Arun…..

As I said at the start, reply as you are supposed to, with information not evasion bordering on the very questionable.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Cosgrove

Yes, there are a swathe of comments about fiddles etc and Arun has itself to blame. WE OWN THAT SITE, Bognor should have the full answers.

I can reveal some facts, NOT SUPPLIED BY THIS COUNCIL:

  1. The Beach Cafe had a lease which ended March 2017. The tenant who has run that venue as a popular seafront eating place for 20 years, was operating under a tenancy under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. He asked the leaseholder of the whole site for a new lease after expiry and was entitled to one as that is the presumption of that law, unless an exemption is recorded in the courts, agreed by both parties prior to the lease being signed. None was obtained 20 years back.
  2. The tenant had asked the previous leaseholder prior to October 2016 when the latter sold his interest to Brooks Brothers Developments (West Sussex) based in Hampshire. They have maintained the refusal and I understand the matter will go to court. On the basis of what I understand, any new development would have to make provision for the cafe.
  3. Companies House details
  4. The fire occurred in late November the same year, totally destroying the whole premises.
  5. The Fire Service report shows statement fire started on first floor — but see strong comments from Facebook below.

Clearly the current situation and apparent lack of information, not to mention interest by Arun, I have to say in stark contrast to its intent to EVICT Number 18 Youth Project from 18 Waterloo Square, is wholly and totally unacceptable. The Facebook comments are of real concern as they appear to come from people with information about the state of the upper floors, empty and derelict for a considerable period.

This situation does not serve the people and economy of Bognor Regis. Nor has Arun acted with the transparency we have a right to demand from them.

Herald articles:

My Freedom of Information activity on this:

Facebook comments re Fire Service story

Dan French Nonsense, all the electrics were ripped out of the mud club and the fuse board was on the ground floor in the cellar. So the fire started due to damp wood in in the club?

One Bognor/ Out-of-Arun or BR Exit hmmm The Fire Service knows its business SO ……

Dan French All the electrics were stripped out, I know cos I had to strip the old stainless steel toilets out of the gents and had to buy cordless lamps, plus the roof was leaking and the wooden floors were damp and bulging from the roof leaking. Anyone with a gcse in science would understand that there was nothing to start the fire in the club, unless bricks are highly flammable

Ashley Pugh Dan French flammable bricks lol

Jez Brooks Correct DF

Lisa Peace I heard it was a gas leak! Gas man had been in a few days before apparently???

One Bognor/ Out-of-Arun or BR Exit so many rumours

Spencer Chapman Definitely an inside job just to make more fucking flats in the town , regeneration my fucking ass

Clare Phillips Sean Arnell

Sean Arnell Very interesting been in the club when it was empty there was nothing in there at all had been totally ripped out

One Bognor/ Out-of-Arun or BR Exit i keep digging ….

Dan French Exactly Sean, the fire assessors saying the electrics were sound is hard to believe when the hadn’t existed for 5+ years

Sean Arnell Dan French there was nothing upstairs that could of started that fire it was gutted . Could of only been the chippy or arson

Dan French Exactly Sean, no electrics, wet wood, yet the fire assessor says it happened upstairs! Says the electrics were sound when there weren’t any! Must know his job inside out… so, still no answers to how it started

Sean Arnell Dan French the roof had more holes in it than a sieve no electrics and no plumbing most of it got weighed in for scrap the rest was dumped downstairs . I cleared a lot of it out

Dan French I’ll bet a fire assessor never went up there when it was emp

One Bognor/ Out-of-Arun or BR Exit The more we know the more I dug

Geoffrey Dartnell Yes , was his name Peter pan ?

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Gemma Turner Peter Hickey

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National Secretary of Fair Play for Children, Also runs Bognor Regis Herald online. Plus runs British Music Radio online

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Jan Cosgrove

Jan Cosgrove

National Secretary of Fair Play for Children, Also runs Bognor Regis Herald online. Plus runs British Music Radio online

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