Achieving free parking in Bognor Regis is a major aim of its new town mayor.
Jim Brooks was elected unopposed to the leading civic position at Monday’s annual meeting of the town council.
The unanimous vote by his fellow Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat members of the town council crowned an impressive electoral double for Cllr Brooks after he topped the town and district polls for the Marine ward less than two weeks earlier for the second time in four years.
His pride in becoming the latest town mayor – and the Arun district’s only Independent councillor - is matched by his desire for action to improve his beloved adopted home town.
“I have always been in favour of an element of free parking,” he said. “I have done my research and many of the spaces in car parks are empty, especially in the winter months.
“Every empty space is a loss of business for the town. We need to correct that situation.
“We can do something about it as soon as possible. It is something which will have a direct effect on our town.
“We need to counter the recession and the increase in online shopping and the forthcoming arrival of Sainsbury’s out of town.
“The town needs our help more than ever. It’s a lovely town and we are all passionate about it and I am sure we will find ways to improve things.
“A list of priorities will be drawn up which we can all agree upon. There is lots to do and quite a number of things to be completed from the previous administration.
“We have lost so much in the town. It’s a nice town and I know lots of people love it and I’m pleased it’s still got a soul. “It’s got lots of heart and we have to make it better still.”
Cllr Brooks was proposed as town mayor by the council’s Conservative leader, Adam Cunard.
He said: “Jim has been extremely dedicated to the town ever since he moved here. He is very well-known, a wonderful councillor and a fabulous ambassador. “It would be a great honour for him and I think he would serve the position well.”
Cllr Brooks was seconded by the council’s sole Labour member, Roger Nash.
“Jim and I go back a long way – too many years – and still play in a band together,” he said. “Jim thoroughly deserves to become mayor. His heart is part of Bognor and vice versa.”
Cllr Brooks moved to the town more than 50 years ago when his parents became children’s entertainers at the new Butlin’s. He became active in local politics in the late 80s as part of the Out of Arun campaign and the Bognor Environment and Amenity Movement protest group.