£1m kick-start for businesses rejected

A £1m fund to kick-start a commercial park for Bognor Regis businesses has been rejected.

The attempt to establish the start-up cash to get work finally under way on Oldlands Farm was defeated by Arun district councillors.

But there was sympathy with the aims of the budget amendment tabled by the council’s Liberal Democrat group.

Cllr Dr James Walsh (Beach) said the council could afford to take £1m from its general fund of nearly £22m to help the commercial park at Oldlands Farm get started at least.

“This is not about giving away the money. It is a loan to kick-start the commercial park. The £1m would be recouped from leases for businesses moving on to the site and selling off units there,” he said.

The work would build on the council’s desire to see an enterprise zone-style area created in Bognor.

Cllr Jim Brooks (Ind, Marine) said: “The council has put a lot of work to get official enterprise zone status. It didn’t work, but this £1m would show leadership in this matter and bring jobs to Bognor.”

Cllr Gillian Brown (Aldwick West), the council’s leader, said: “It is not right to be taking £1m out of the council’s budget at this time with nothing concrete to show for it.

“I am fully supportive of something like this for one of the enterprise zone sites but this is not the time to do it.”

Cllr Ricky Bower (East Preston) said: “I agree with this to some extent, but it looks like it commits the council to compulsorily purchase the site. We are not in a position to do that.”