No new market deal for Bognor

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An attempt to take a fresh look at a bid to run a Bognor Regis market for the town has failed.

The attempt by five Arun District Council members to have the deal to appoint a new operator for the Place St Maur market reconsidered was decisively rejected.

A special meeting of Arun District Council’s overview scrutiny committee agreed after a two-hour debate last Thursday the original decision should stand.

As reported, the district council has awarded the licence to run the market up to three times a week to Bray Associates for at least two years. Bognor Regis Town Council was a rival bidder. The supporters of its proposal claimed the process behind the decision was flawed.

The town council considered the offer to make an informal tender to run the market to mean a second stage of formal bids would be invited when more explanations of its intentions could be made.

Cllr Jim Brooks (Marine) said the town council wanted to use the market to benefit the community.

“The market is clearly profit-making and it’s important it’s successful in terms of the regeneration of the town with the possibility that brings of extra jobs.

“It could prove an integral part of our regeneration, including the possibility of funding a town centre manager with the profits.”

Cllr Roger Nash (Pevensey) said: “If it had been a formal tender, our bid would have been different. It would have been far more detailed.

“We believed this was the first stage to be followed by a second stage and a lot of information would be given in that stage.”

But Cllr Dudley Wensley, Arun’s cabinet member, who made the original decision, said: “The initial advertisement was perfectly clear.

“If any of the tenderers needed clarification, they were free to make contact with Chichester District Council (which runs Arun’s concession service) and the response would have been known to all tenderers.

“I had all the information I needed to make a decision. I was satisfied the proper processes had been observed. I relied on experienced officers with with specialist expertise in the process.”

Committee vice-chairman Cllr Terence Chapman said: “I have not seen any evidence to say the process used here was defective or capable of any more misunderstanding than the process normally used. It seems to have been handled professionally.”