Bognor Regis Regeneration Board defended

A defence has been mounted of the under-fire Bognor Regis Regeneration Board.

Arun District Council chief executive Nigel Lynn said the board was merely an advisory body.

He told the town’s civic society last Friday the criticisms of its secrecy were unwarranted.

“No decisions are made by the board. Their recommendations are passed to the council and any decisions are made by the council in the democratic process.

“The regeneration board is a way in which different partners can come together in private to discuss how they can take things forward. It’s very important they have those opportunities to do that,” he said.

He said the council spent £26,000 a year on the board. Other partners also contributed towards its running costs. The board has been severely criticised by the civic society for its refusal to publicise meetings and issue agendas and minutes.

It will play a key role in assessing ideas to spend £250,000 of the money which is being given to the town by Sainsbury’s.

A dozen of the board’s members are unelected and come from companies such as Butlin’s, Berkeley Homes and Covers which are involved with Bognor.

Other organisations such as the University of Chichester are members as well. Only a minority come from the county, district and town councils which are accountable to the electorate.

Town councillor Paul Wells, who is a board member, said Mr Lynn was correct in describing its work.

“It’s a board which listens and is given information about what is happening in the town. The partners speak about what is going on in their organisations,” he said.

“The problem we have is that there is a high level of suspicion in the community and there has been for many years with the way things have been done in the past. I would like to see that change for the future.”

Fellow regeneration board member Stan Jonas, the chairman of Brighter Bognor, said he had suggested the board issued press releases after its meetings with details of all the discussions which were not commercially sensitive.