Bognor councillor defiant over £20,000 parish poll

Councillor Jan Cosgrove
Councillor Jan Cosgrove

A town councillor defiantly defended a costly parish poll which saw a turnout of less than three per cent.

Labour’s Jan Cosgrove was among electors who called for the poll, held on April 13, which could cost Bognor Regis Town Council £20,000.

The poll gauged support for the Sir Richard Hotham regeneration plans and posed two questions about local government reform – but just 2.8 per cent of voters went to the polls. Votes indicated support for the proposals.

But amid criticism over the poll being a ‘waste of money’, Mr Cosgrove said the poll could have been done cheaper using a postcard vote.

He said: “I say to anyone who complained. Think again. We could have done this much more cheaply and what happened? This council actually withdrew the money and I thought that was a terrible act of bad faith.”

Chairman of the council’s policy and resources committee Adam Cunard said money initially tabled for a postcard poll was on the basis surrounding parishes ‘had an appetite’ for it.

Councillors chose not to take further action in light of the poll’s support for the Sir Richard Hotham project and a single parish-level council to replace Bognor’s current six parishes.

The poll looked set for the long grass – but councillors were supportive of calls to abolish district councils in favour of a unitary authority – working together with parish councils.

Four were in favour, one against and five abstained.

The council will consider writing to the Government after hearing about devolution at P&R on Monday.

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