NEW Bognor Regis town centre manager Toyubur Rahman used his first day in the role to declare the area’s future was bright.
Mr Rahman began his work on Monday and said: “Bognor has got huge potential. It’s on the coast, it’s got a large number of natural assets and there’s a lot of goodwill towards the town centre from the people I have spoken to.
“One of my roles will be to accentuate all the positivity which surrounds the town centre. I want to put the town on the map.
“I will be speaking to businesses, people and community groups to find out what they use the town centre for and the things they want to see here.
“Some retailers might want to go to out of town sites but the future of town centres are not necessarily all about retail.
“It could be a mix of retail, community space, leisure, education and health facilities. Retail is an important part but it does not have to be the only part. But they have to change.”
He is already thinking of ways to tap into the large number of potential town centre users from Butlin’s and the University of Chichester’s campus which are in Bognor but have little to do with the town.
Mr Rahman, 37, has arrived in Bognor after ten years advising others on how to improve town centres. His previous work with the Association of Town and City Managers took on more prominence with the national publicity some two years ago for retail guru Mary Portas and her blueprint for town centres.
Emsworth resident Mr Rahman saw the role in Bognor as a chance to put his strategies into practice.
He has been appointed for four-and-a-half years in a £250,000 package by the Bognor Regis Regeneration Board. He will report to a partnership of the University of Chichester, Arun and Bognor councils, Butlin’s, Bognor Regis Traders’ Association and Bognor Regis Chamber of Commerce.
His role is managed by the university to ensure he is independent of politics and based at the Core Business Hub on Belmont Street.