A different strategy is needed for town

ANOTHER consultant-led strategy for Bognor.

£12.5 million – great.

New cinema multiplex on the Regis Centre site?

But our town ccouncil has just bought the Picturedrome, and it’s working well under a management that knows it can survive with nearby opposition at Chichester Gate because it enables low prices and for some at least no need to use car.

Is Bognor short of cinema potential? More screens likely at the Picturedrome, so that seems to me to be a real non-starter.

Then we’re told the Picturedrome can be an arts centre.

Why spend all that money on a new cinema complex at the Regis Centre AND on an arts centre at the Picturedrome?

Yes, invest in the Alexandra, Arun, you own the headlease, and give Arun Arts a decent annual grant (like the one you’ve given to yourselves and Insipid Leisure for the past umpteen years but left Arun Arts high and dry).

Enable the Alexandra and Picturedrome to work together – look at the recent attendances for relayed opera.

If there is to be an arts focus, build it in with the Alexandra, as those of us who rescued it from the liquidator in 2006 proposed.

A start would be to restore the Phoenix Gallery (Bognor’s first ever) created by the late Stephen Emck whose memorial service last week attracted many friends.

That would be a fitting tribute and a consistent purpose for that centre.

What altogether is missing, however, is any new type of attraction and I have three seafront ideas I believe will seriously impact for the better on our local economy:

A family leisure centre on the seafront next to the Regis pub, ground floor: adjacent parking, real boost for the seafront and its current traders, attractive year-round to visitors and locals, all-weather, just the ticket when you’ve been shopping and want to take the kids somewhere decent and safe.

An indoor skate centre of international standard, next to it – I was involved in a detailed study to do this on marginal agricultural land next to Ford station, farmer agreed, but Arun planners advised their opposition ... we found that there was nothing of the kind between London and Bristol, and did detailed survey work between Southampton, Brighton and Horsham, showing real viability.

And a seafront open-air lido on the beach opposite the Regis Centre site, making the whole area a real leisure focus, attractive to town, Butlin’s and other visitors. A sea-fed lido, which would be attractive in season when the tide was out, a focus for some additional concessions, attractive to families on days out, something other resorts do not have.

Finally, when will Arun remember that it has to get the agreement of both Whitbreads and Arun Arts for changes there, because they have long leases? Having spent a lot of effort to rescue 30+ years lease for the theatre, why should its trustees sign away a single jot unless they can get a watertight and equally-long new lease?

I really do wonder how they manage to stay so much out of touch, and no one should give much of a fig for a consultation process that came up with a multiplex cinema on the Regis Centre site as the best they could offer.

Jan Cosgrove

Longford Road, Bognor Regis