Bognor town residents urged to have say through poll

Bognor pier
Bognor pier

A former Bognor Regis town mayor has called on residents to use next week’s poll to show their views about Arun District Council.

Cllr Tony Gardiner said it was important as many townspeople as possible voted on Wednesday to state their case on the three issues on the ballot paper..

“If we get a good turnout, around 30-50 per cent then it will show Arun the people have spoken.

“The results of the poll will not be binding but we can at least say to them that they show what the people of the town want,” he said.

“I do know from my time as the town mayor two years ago as well as last year’s election when I was returned in Marine North ward there is a lot of feeling against Arun.

“But I feel the timing of the election could count against people wanting to turn out and vote.

“Being held on a Wednesday is not what people associate with voting. It usually takes place on Thursdays. It seems absolutely ridiculous to me and it does not make sense for anyone to vote then.

Cllr Gardiner, a Conservative councillor on the town council, said he was against the poll being held because of the amount it would cost the council.

But, with the vote to stage it being democratically taken, it was vital to ensure people took the chance to take part in it.

“It’s the number of people who turn out which is the important thing. I don’t want to tell people which way to vote but I do want to tell them to vote.

“It will tell the people of Arun exactly what the people of Bognor think of them.”

As chairman of the town council’s environment and leisure committee, he could easily think of ways of spending the £20,000 the poll was costing.

“I could spend that money tomorrow and get something to show from it,” he said.

The poll was called by town residents at this year’s electors meeting for Bognor.

It will ask three yes or no questions:

Question one states - The annual meeting of electors supports the full Sir Richard Hotham plan for consideration for the regeneration of the Hothamton and Regis Centre sites. Do you support this?

Question two states - The annual meeting of electors supports the creation of a single parish level Bognor Regis Urban Town Council to replace the current six parish councils of Aldwick, Bersted, Bognor Regis town, Felpham, Middleton and Pagham. Do you support this?

Question three states - The annual meeting of electors calls for the abolition of all district level councils in West Sussex including Arun District Council and that their work be transferred to a unitary West Sussex County Council working in conjunction with parish level councils in the county area to deliver services. Do you support this?

A spokesman for Arun defended staging the poll on a Wednesday rather than the usual tradition of a Thursday.

“The regulations state that a parish poll must be held between 14 and 25 working days after the poll was demanded,” he said.

“The returning officer (ADC chief executive Nigel Lynn) sets the date of the poll. Wednesday, April 13, was the most suitable day for polling station availability and for the returning officer to be available.

“The returning officer therefore determined that the parish poll should be conducted on April 13.

“The last parish poll held in Bognor, in 2008, was also held on a Wednesday.”

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