Bognor Regis Herald — Commentary: Civic Misses the Point on Arun funding?

Bognor Civic Society has obtained a Freedom of Information response to its follow up questions to one it made some years back concerning differences in Arun Council’s investment in Bognor compared to Littlehampton, as reported in The Observer.

The headline asks a question, Civic’s Tony Dixon seems to say there has been improvement even though Tony claims there are some inaccuracies. But there appears to be no mention at all in his comments of the sums attached to the two town’s major regenerative planned expenditure of which we are now aware.

The totals quoted for both do not add up to the huge £19 million we know is being spent on the new recreation/swimming centre on Littlehampton seafront. Even the increase from the original £15 million is on a scale to match those quoted combined expenditures.

Bognor? This paper has been pursuing that issues of “where will the money come from” for some time and getting vague and cloudy answers from Arun. Build on Littlehampton’s project has started, Arun is committed but re our Town there is no identification of how much let alone from where it will come. Still less as to when it may ever happen. There was a vague £40–£50 million, or was it £50-£60 million …..

We do know that the £19 million is coming from Arun’s own resources — that is, the people of Arun are paying for it. The one thing about Bognor’s regeneration that IS clear is that it is very unlikely this will be the case re our regeneration, that has to come externally.

Carrying through our FoI trail, The Herald publishes its latest answers from Arun, in two separate requests for information.

One can draw many things from all this. Or not. But the one thing that does stand out is the sheer vagueness of Arun’s plans. We are delving further re some of the responses. Please revisit the FoI’s to get updates.

In conclusion:

  • We know that Littlehampton will get its £19 million (so far) development paid for from Arun’s resources;
  • Build has started
  • Not a single flat will be required on 26 acres of open space on Littlehampton seafront to help pay for this or to help fill the hole Arun identifies in its income as a result of Tory government bogus Austerity cuts
  • If Arun’s plans go through re the 5.6 acres of land they own in Bognor’s town centre, 100 flats will go onto Hothamton to create revenue to fill that hole, not into regeneration on the scale they have identified tentatively
  • We will lose 1/3rd of the green space at Hothamton
  • No Arun money has been identified for the Bognor regeneration, it is all at a very early stage, so the time scale is YEARS, maybe a decade or more.
  • Winter Gardens? Nice drawings, but it’s a maybe. New/improved theatre? Not funded at this stage …..

Civic seems to me to have missed the overview, which is that Bognor’s regeneration as promoted by Arun is a vague cloud, a chimera.

I am also very critical of the behaviour of their acting Chairman, Hugh Coster, at the recent Town Elector’s Meeting when he and I exchanged comments re the Sir Richard Hotham project alternative scheme for Bognor. After the meeting, I approached him to question what he had said and he replied that the SRH scheme is a “scam”.

I expressed amazement, what was his evidence to which he simply claimed a long history in property. I have not in may years of public service actually have someone come within an inch of my face and eyeball me, and I have told him that his behaviour was unacceptable in a subsequent email. Also I asked for a meeting with the Civic’s Committee — no reply to date.

Slandering SRH is simply not on, making such a claim is a serious matter and I call on Hugh Coster here to either “put up” or withdraw his remark. His attitude demeans the debate and, for me anyway, casts doubt on the status of the Civic Society Committee we are now told exists. Who is on this body, who elected it, when was the most recent AGM? Civic has a petition re an ice rink, can we be told more about its provenance?

The Herald succeeded in its aim to get the Annual Electors meeting to agree that the people of the urban Bognor area must have the say re Regeneration, not Civic, not One Bognor, nor even the elected Councillors, whatever we all may feel as individual councillors, organisations etc.

In that regard, Bognor Regis Town Council is now charged with pushing that requirement forward, and would be very ill-advised to ignore that call. If Civic wants respect, it too needs to step up to the mark.

To answer The Observer headline “Is the £1.2m funding gap between Bognor and Littlehampton a ‘welcome improvement’?….. Not welcome enough.

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The Bognor Regis Herald is the online Paper of the One Bognor Campaign

ONE BOGNOR — a campaign for the real Bognor Regis Click

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Jan Cosgrove

Jan Cosgrove

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