Leader asked to come clean on public consultation plans

A CHALLENGE for a top councillor to come clean on Bognor Regis’ future regeneration has been levelled.

The Bognor Regis Civic Society has called on Arun District Council’s leader Gillian Brown to make it clear whether all the public’s regeneration ideas will be included the public consultation on the town’s regeneration after St Modwen’s departure.

As previously reported, at a full meeting of Arun District Council’s members last month a last minute amended resolution was approved saying the council’s core proposals would be the subject of public consultation early in 2015. Arun also invited the public to suggest other ideas for the town as alternatives or additions.

The society has written to Cllr Brown, saying the inclusion of all the public’s ideas in the consultation is necessary so the public can express views on all proposals put forward.

Hugh Coster, the society’s deputy chairman, said: “No proper answer was given and we had to send five separate emails before Mrs Brown said that in developing their public consultation exercise Arun will be ‘looking to incorporate suggestions that have been put forward by the public’.

“That’s a start, but nothing further was added to this, so we still don’t know what they mean. There is insufficient openness and transparency in any of this and they must be straightforward in including all the public’s suggestions in the consultation itself.”

A district council spokesman said it was at an early stage, was considering all suggestions and there was no set criteria for inclusion in the consultation.

They said: “There have been a lot of interesting ideas voiced and it is important 
for everyone within the district to take part and have their say.

“Once all proposals have been put forward, the council will undertake the broadest public consultation Bognor Regis has even seen before submitting any planning application.”

Next year people will be invited to indicate what they would and would not like to see as well as being asked for their views on how any development should be paid for.

The exact details of how this will be undertaken will 
be worked up over coming weeks.

“Arun District Council will ensure proceedings are carried out with the utmost openness and transparency.  The consultation will be conducted by an independent company,” added Arun’s spokesman.