VOTE: Do you think town and parish councils should merge to provide the town with one voice?

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One voice for Bognor Regis is the aim of a new campaign.

The One Bognor initiative wants to replace the current patchwork of six parish and town councils between Pagham and Elmer with a single local authority.

A survey has been launched to gauge the public’s reaction to the idea.

Campaign leader Jan Cosgrove said it was a variation on the 1990s Out of Arun bid to split Bognor from Arun District Council.

That was unlikely to be allowed by Whitehall but putting one council in charge of the urban area around Bognor town centre would give it a more powerful voice.

“Which is the next best option to speak for Bognor. Is it the current six councils or is it one new one? Do we want one voice speaking for our town? Or do we want what I would consider to be divide and rule?” he asked last Friday’s meeting of the town’s civic society.

“We want to identify ourselves as Bognorians. Yes, people who live in Bersted or Felpham are Bognorians. These are questions that we really need to answer.

“I firmly believe there is a single Bognor. It’s a personal view. There is no party political slant on it.”

The current set-up of councils around Bognor stems from the local government changes around England in the 1973.

These established authorities such as Arun District Council and abolished those like Bognor Regis Urban District Council.

Arun then enabled a neighbourhood council to be formed for Bognor in 1978 and followed this with a town council in 1984.

Added to this, some parishes such as Pagham date back to the 1890s while others like Aldwick were formed in 1984 as the population of the area grew.

Mr Crosgrove said one council standing up for 68,000 residents would have more clout in ensuring the best deal for their area than separate councils operating only within their parish boundaries.

Even the town council could only speak for the 25,000 residents within the four wards of Hotham, Marine, Orchard and Pevensey around the town centre.

His survey – www.onebognor.com – to test the response to the concept of one council is open to those who live in the PO21 and PO22 areas.

It asks if people want to change or keep the current structure of town and parish councils.

It also seeks the views of respondents about scrapping the set-up of district and county councils across Sussex.

The results will be given to Arun District Council it has the powers to re-organise parishes if public support exists.