Row over Bognor Regis regeneration poll

An artists impression of the Sir Richard Hotham project
An artists impression of the Sir Richard Hotham project

Defiant Bognor Regis resident Jan Cosgrove said he was proud to have proposed a poll which will cost at least £20,000.

A row has engulfed the parish referendum, likely to be held next month, which was backed by electors after three motions by Mr Cosgrove.

The expense of the day’s voting will be borne by Bognor Regis Town Council which will be billed by Arun District Council

One of the questions on the voting slip will ask residents’ opinions of the Sir Richard Hotham Project regeneration scheme. Two more questions will concern replacing the current parish and town councils with a ‘One Bognor’ single authority and scrapping Arun District Council in favour of handing of more powers to that new authority and West Sussex County Council.

Mr Cosgrove, who is a town councillor, said: “The poll has got to happen. What I am looking for is to see what appetite there is in the town for change. I care deeply for this town. I believe it needs a new start in how its local government works.”

It was also important, said Mr Cosgrove, that Bognor’s residents were able to give their opinion about the £80m proposals from the Sir Richard Hotham Project as Arun District Council considers its options for the town.

“I regard the current regeneration process as flawed and as unlikely to deliver what the town needs and, at this point, I believe the SRH bid is the best option but am open to realistic, costed alternatives should they develop,” he said.

He remarked online about Arun being able to cut costs by using Syrian child labour or East Europeans in what he later claimed was a joke but the comments provoked a strong response from Arun.

A spokesman said it was disappointed by Mr Cosgrove’s remarks. It would have to hire extra staff for the parish poll because it meant extra work on top of the police and crime commissioner election in May and the EU referendum in June. “There will be additional work involved in running the parish poll,” he said.

“Our disappointment extends to the negative and prejudiced comments made by Cllr Cosgrove in relation to Syrian, Polish and Slovakian people. This is unnecessary and in very poor taste.”

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