Councillors clash over town centre’s project

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A WAR of words has erupted about the future of town centre improvement works in Bognor Regis.

Two councillors clashed about the scheme at a meeting on Monday.

County councillor Tony Sutcliffe used his slot at Aldwick Parish Council’s meeting to continue his attack on the £665,000 project in the London Road precinct.

He said he wanted the county council to withdraw its £180,000 contribution to the work which he complained would do nothing to help the shopping area.

“Myself and my colleagues want to see something more imaginative,” said Cllr Sutcliffe (UKIP, Pagham and Rose Green).

He had also used last Friday’s meeting of Bognor Regis Civic Society and Pagham Parish Council’s meeting last week to criticise the proposal.

He said then: “We have told Arun to go back to the drawing board. We are trying to block the £180,000 from the county council.

“We strongly object to it being given on the basis that the business case which Arun has put forward for that Kick Start funding does not stack up. They say it is going to increase footfall by tens of thousands of people and put £4.5m into the local economy.”

The district council could spend the rest of the money it wanted on the work with another three years to put the contribution from the Sainsbury’s use of the former Lec site to good use, he said.

The work consists of improved lighting, improved paving and new flower beds and two parallel lines of red blocks. “The idea is to direct people from the railway station to the seafront but they can put up signs outside the station do that.

“If they are going to spend money, they should spend it on the High Street now that we have stopped them putting traffic back down there,” said Cllr Sutcliffe.

But Arun district councillor Phil Hitchins (C, Aldwick W), the vice-chairman of the Bognor Regis regeneration sub-committee, said the work would start as planned.

“Work will begin in about two weeks and will definitely not be stopped,” he told Aldwick’s meeting. “It’s all been signed. The contracts are out there.”

He said he was disappointed Cllr Sutcliffe was criticising the initiative at the last minute for political reasons.

“If we don’t spend the money now, the county council money will be lost and, therefore, the project will not ever go ahead if it’s stopped. The county councillors should know enough about their own council business to know that,” he said.

He pointed out the public’s support for the plan and their relief regeneration was about to start had been well reported in the Observer.