County councillors in bid to halt work

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A ROW has broken out about the impending start of work to change the town centre.

Four county councillors have combined in a row to accuse those behind the scheme for the London Road precinct of secrecy.

Arun District Council intended work to start on the heart of Bognor’s retailing area next month. The changes will cost £616,000 from a range of sources.

But Ann Rapnik, one of the protesting UKIP county councillors, said it should be put back until their protests were answered.

She said: “We have expressed our dismay at Arun rushing ahead without letting us know more details of this scheme.

“They have told us it went out to consultation last March but, of course, this was before we were elected in May.

“It’s gone very quiet since then and all we’ve seen is the single illustration which has been published in the Bognor Regis Observer.

“It all looks very boring and unimaginative.

“We have asked that work does not go ahead until we have been given proper details of the scheme.

“We are furious about this. That’s why we have challenged it.

“There are a lot of questions about it. We want to know what is going on.”

An Arun spokeswoman denied there was any secrecy around the project.

She said a meeting was being planned to discuss any concerns with the county councillors and they were emailed last month with an update about the scheme, after an email in October.

“To ensure residents are also aware of the progress of the scheme, an article about the London Road improvements is in the latest edition of the council’s Arun Times magazine, which is currently being distributed to every household in the Arun district,” she said.

“We would like to make it clear that this project does not just involve the district council.

“We are working in partnership with Bognor Regis Town Council and West Sussex County Council, which is providing a significant proportion of the funding.”

The work on London Road is seen as the first stage of a blueprint for the town centre.

It is intended to create a brighter and more co-ordinated shopping area. The key aim is to link the railway station to the seafront.

Designs for the precinct were drawn up while the funding from Sainsbury’s, the county council, central government, Bognor Regis Town Council, Bognor Regis Regeneration Board and Arun was secured.

The plans’ key elements are monolith signage at key locations, lighting columns, paving materials, trees and unified street furniture.

The proposal received 80-95 per cent support among those at a display about it in The Arcade in March. Arun wants work to start next month and end in March.