Seafront parking idea is opposed by society members

OPPOSING councillors have agreed to work together to stop seafront parking changes in Bognor Regis.

The four newly-elected UKIP county council members are set to join with Lib Dem survivor Francis Oppler to fight proposals for chevron parking along The Esplanade.

The idea of the angled parking is seen as a way to boost the number of spaces if the £40m St Modwen and Arun District Council regeneration scheme of a multiplex, bars and cafes removes some 300 spaces in the Hothamton and Regis Centre car parks.

Chevron spaces between Clarence Road and the Place St Maur would achieve about 80 spaces more than the current kerbside parking.

But that would turn The Esplanade into a one-way route for eastbound traffic because it would narrow the road. The High Street would have to be re-opened for westbound through traffic.

The idea of seafront chevron parking was unanimously opposed by the some 60 people at this month’s Bognor Regis Civic Society meeting.

Cllr Francis Oppler (LD, Bognor Regis East) said: “These are just a patchwork quilt of options to try to make the regeneration scheme work. Five out of six of the county councillors for the town are now not Conservative.

“Clearly, if we work together, which I would be happy to do, we can oppose this and exert an awful lot of influence and have a meeting with county council highways officers and get to a situation where the chevron parking is rejected.”

He said he would arrange the meeting. But he wanted the town centre traders to be asked for their views. “We have to go by what they say. Whatever decision we make is going to affect them first and foremost,” he said.

It was important the High Street was clearly pedestrian friendly or not.

Cllr Joan Phillips (UKIP, Middleton) said: “I will work very closely with Francis Oppler. Chevron parking on the seafront is an absolutely ridiculous idea.

“How are the cars going to back out in to a single line of traffic?”

She preferred a pedestrian-first High Street which was made more obvious. The bus stops there should also be left alone rather than having to be moved to make room for through traffic.

Bognor Regis Traders’ Association chairman Chris Heaps said: “I would argue the pedestrianisation of the High Street is a good thing because it does allow a flow of pedestrians north to south through the town. It makes it easier and safer.”

Aldwick resident Paul Bignall said: “The problem in this town is there are not enough parking spaces and Arun is talking about building on two of them.

“Until you get more spaces in the regeneration scheme, you are just going to be talking round in circles.”

The idea of re-opening the High Street or keeping the current scheme produced a split vote. About 30 people backed each idea.