ON Tuesday evening, the Town Electors meeting called by myself and Cllr Jim Brooks over the issue of the Picturedrome 4th Screen confirmed continued support for this to go ahead.
This adds to the weight of public opinion which has been gathered over many months by a previous Town Council survey (over 90 per cent in favour), the views expressed at the public meeting in September, and now with a paper poll being carried out by the council (91 per cent to date), yet again, as well as an electronic version of that poll put online by One Bognor (94 per cent to date).
The council’s working party set up to examine claims that the council may not have been as thorough as it ought, has now received the independent report.
I am a member of that working party and whilst I must apologise for not being able to disclose its contents ahead of the full Town Council meeting on December 7, I can express the view that it gives the council a bill of good health in the issues that were to be examined.
I am now openly challenging that this whole process of inquiry has been both unnecessary and costly.
The council made its decision in March this year with public consultation as above strongly in favour.
This process was caused by four councillors who attempted to overturn the March decision in July, a move which did not succeed.
In September, I tabled a motion asking town councillors to support the March decision, those four (three Tories and Cllr Goodheart) voted against, as well as four Lib Dem councillors, two of whom had voted in favour in March.
There have been claims that some councillors did not understand the financial issues in March – if so, why then did they vote in favour?
It has also been claimed it could be built for around half the cost but not a shred of evidence has been put forward.
Councillors and council staff have had their integrity and professionalism called into question, even allegations that information was asked for but not supplied.
In that case, how is it that I was able to find the information in the public records of the council before I became a councillor in May?
I can now say I have found nothing in the report above that differs from what I found then.
We now have councillors etc claiming they have been in favour of the 4th screen all along.
Why then did they abstain from voting on this exact proposal on Tuesday?
I am also flabbergasted by Cllr Oppler stating that, if the final costs now due to be delivered to the council come in a penny above the £850k maximum decided in March, the project should be abandoned - the facts are that if we do not proceed, £111k already spent/committed will be lost without anything to show for it.
Luckily, electors saw the sense of urging their town councillors to be flexible should the cost be exceeded by a small margin.
This episode was engineered by three Tory councillors who also sit on Arun Council plus Cllr Goodheart who has not as yet enlightened us as to the sort of alternative project he seems to feel might be a better focus for the council.
Other current and former Arun councillors have spoken out against the project, such as David Edwards and Cllr Mrs Maconachie, and I am quite clear that had they had the chance they would have axed it without asking local people despite having lost the vote in March.
Those four councillors started a process which has cost the council extra money which need not have been spent.
Three councillors resigned in the wake of this nonsense.
One can only hope their successors will stick to the decision made in March and reinforced by public/elector opinion.
Town Councillor Jan Cosgrove (Labour, Orchard Ward)