Hospital hears pleas to keep restaurant open

Health service bosses have been urged to put the closure of a Bognor Regis restaurant on hold.

Marion’s Restaurant in the town’s war memorial hospital on Shripney Road is due to shut on June 1.

But Bognor Regis Civic Society deputy chairman Hugh Coster said the axing of the service should be postponed.

He has told the chairman of the hospital’s operator, Sussex Community NHS Trust, no effort seemed to have been made to keep the restaurant open.

“We urge the trust to put this decision on hold followed by an appropriate period of stakeholder consultation and exploration of other possibilities.

“It would seem the trust has made little or no attempt so far to understand the facility it has, investigate its potential, market its services or consider the needs of this community.

“We are surprised the potential of this facility has not been explored,” he said. “There is no advertising for the restaurant outside of the hospital, in the hospital car park or in the local press.

“The decision to close seems to be based on the community trust paying some sort of ground rent to the defunct trust that still owns the building rather than on patient and public need.

“In the current economic climate, landlords are accepting financial difficulties and it is not unheard of for landlords to offer rent-free periods or reduced rents to business tenants. The trust should explore these avenues.”

Mr Coster has invited representatives of the trust to explain the closure at one of the society’s meeting.

He said the civic society’s chairman, Laurie Barnes, was among the restaurant’s customers last Friday.

The restaurant was completely full, the food that had been pre-prepared had run out and the staff were extremely busy trying to meet the needs of the service with only one chef on duty, which they did with politeness and good humour.

“The topic of conversation in the queue was the imminent closure of the restaurant. There was no-one who had been asked their opinion,” he said.

This could be rectified by keeping the restaurant – with its good-quality and good-value foods – while a period of consultation took place.