This is the Information about the Alexandra Theatre tarting-up Arun says it does not hold ….. from Arun

Jan Cosgrove
4 min readMay 28, 2022

by Jan Cosgrove, Editor

The above is the Freedom of Information Arun Council was asked about the plans to reclad/upgrade the Alexandra Theatre, which it answered within 48 hours, saying it did not hold the information. (Usually Arun takes quite a few more days to even acknowledge an FoI, like most councils.)

But, lo and behold, a few days later, I have had the following email from Arun’s Director of Place, Karl Roberts, which gives the answers ….!

So, if they did not hold the information, how was he able to make such a reply?

What emerges from these enquiries (apart from the Odd Ways of Arun) is that there is a great deal of vagueness but one admission stands out — that as regards additions to the Theatre beyond those funded by the Government’s £12m LUF funding, this is an open question.

The Herald’s current position is that this LUF project need not be an impediment to real, regenerating developments on the site of which the LUF element would be a part. The LUF scheme involves no private funding, but a wider scheme could, working with the LUF £12m, create a wider project for that site and, at the same time, prepare the ground for more elsewhere in the Town.

Arun to date has FAILED to take forward a range of ideas, including those with substantial resources, despite a binding Decision on 17 March 2021 by the full Council to set up a working party to examine this. Arun’s leadership, paid and elected, has stalled and been obstructive on this matter, a deeply unsatisfactory and unacceptable state of affairs. All efforts by this paper have so far failed to get any progress from the Council, a matter it is not intended to lie unchallenged.

Even the 4 opposition groups leaders have agreed with me this is wrong, but so far there’s no indication they have been able to move this matter forward in any way. Indeed, it seems to be emerging that Cllr Shaun Gunner, the current Tory Leader of the Council, has abandoned the Group Leaders meetings that have been held in the past. This seems, if true, somewhat out-of-keeping where the Tories lack an overall majority by 4 votes.

From Karl Robert, Director of Place, Arun Council

Dear Mr Cosgrove,

I refer to the FOI that you submitted to the Council. To reconfirm what you have been advised. The Council is only obliged to consider releasing information it holds and any FOI request should set out specifically what information is being requested. We will of course consider answering questions that are asked of us but that is not necessary a FOI request.

In respect of the questions you posed the Council does not propose to provide a running commentary on the development of the theatre project prior to works commencing. After this date regular bulletins will be provided so progress can be followed.

A number of the questions you have posed have not yet been considered by members and/or relate to contractual matters between the parties which would not normally be in the public domain. As a result my responses are by necessity brief (see below).

  1. Will the work be completed within the curtilage of the current underlease between Whitbread Plc and Arun Arts?

The exact area required will be shown on the forthcoming planning application.

2. If it will require an area beyond that, please define, also new leasing arrangements.

See 1 above.

3.Does it cover what was previously the Main Hall area of the Regis Centre, now occupied by Whitbread’s Brewers Fayre?

Only in so far as it relates to works to any internal utilities which are shared with the theatre.

4.Will there be any effect on the number of car-parking spaces in the Regis Centre car park.

Unlikely but see 1 above.

5.Will there be an increase in NDR paid by Arun Arts or by any other organisation as a result of the completion of the works?

Unknown at this time.

6. Will Arun Arts pay any rental to Arun, and will anyone else as a result of the scheme?

Currently, no changes to the current arrangements are proposed.

7. Will the scheme generate council tax or any other additional revenue to Arun Council?

No to Council Tax. Other matters are still under consideration.

8. Once the works are completed, will there be any opportunity to make major additions to the theatre above the current building?

Not possible to say until the design is finalised, see 1 above.

9. How specific and detailed were the plans submitted to LUF? In other words, were there detailed plans and drawings, or, were the ideas indicative of what would be done but not specific in terms of eg plans, drawings, costings etc?

The illustrative material submitted with the LUF bid is available to view on the Councils website.

10. Will the scheme have be subject to the planning process?

Yes

11. Have actual plans etc for such a submission been drawn up and completed?

No

12. Have architects been commissioned?

Yes

13. Has a process to appoint a firm to undertake the works been undertaken, if not at what stage is that process?

Yes

Karl Roberts

Director Place

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Jan Cosgrove

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