Minister denies Bognor Regis bias

A government minister has assured supporters of an enterprise zone he is not biased against Bognor Regis.

Mark Prisk, the minister for business and enterprise, said the competing bids for the job-creating areas would each be considered on their strengths and weaknesses.

Senior Arun District Council officer Jaqui Ball said Mr Prisk recently met those who are backing an enterprise zone in Bognor.

It is one of 29 applications from around the country for the ten remaining zones to be allocated.

“Mr Prisk said the enterprise zones would be decided on merit and not on a north-south divide. That’s good news. One of the things we were concerned about was that there would be a preponderance of the zones in the north,” said Mrs Ball, the council’s head of strategy, partnership, economic and cultural development.

She was speaking at the July meeting of Bersted Parish Council. She explained the benefits of the zone. Its potential to create 2,200 jobs in 165 businesses in the first phase alone on 82ha of vacant sites would transform the Bognor area.

This would be achieved through business rate benefits, superfast broadband and simplified planning rules among other measures.

“Bognor deserves to have these incentives to help to re-vitalise the area and the economy,” she said.

Among the new sites would be an advanced manufacturing site and a high tech/office knowledge park on Oldlands Farm and the former Lec airfield.

A second phase would increase the number of new businesses to 300 employing 7,500 workers as well as the University of Chichester’s business incubator units and hotel, sports and leisure facilities.

The zone proposal, to be decided soon, was made to the government by the Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership. Iain Shepherd, a board member and chairman of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership said: “The Bognor proposal presents an extraordinary opportunity for Coastal West Sussex.

“It is a realistic project, deliverable within the timeframe and enjoys unprecedented support across the entire community.”