Residents need to come together

Councillor Tony Kemp of Bersted Parish Council holds meetings around every three months at the Robin Hood Public House for residents of Shripney over local concerns.

Such a meeting was held on Thursday, July 19, when proposals were outlined by two local ladies, one of whom was Tina Bendall, who have set up a Shripney Community Flood Action Group following the floods in the area (and in particular in June 2012) which affected several houses in the Shripney area.

Prior to this I had attended two Bersted Parish Council meetings where presentations were made with regard to the Bersted Neighbourhood Development Plan, and discovered that recommendations were being made for land to be earmarked for housing in Shripney, one being Manor Farm Shripney Lane, currently occupied by 44 agricultural workers caravans.

A second site for 20 houses plus was recommended at the junction of Shripney Land and Shripney Road.

It was also found that recommendations were being made to convert a very fertile field on Shripney Road into an industrial estate.

It was found that despite the parish council holding several briefings for the public, very few residents were aware of the housing and industrial developments proposed.

As a result I canvassed all residents by letter of these intentions and a total of 59 persons attended this meeting.

After a brief outline of the above by myself and voicing concerns for such developments in the hamlet of Shripney, numerous residents also voiced their concerns – many believed – such developments were unsuitable and even unneeded for the area, especially with both the traffic and flooding issues in the area, both in recent times and the past.

Tony Kemp, the newly-elected chairman of the parish council, had been unaware of these proposals until I alerted him of the intention to raise the matter two days before the meeting!

It was explained that the draft plan was carried out by two councillors and two volunteers from the parish.

One resident informed the meeting he and another resident had volunteered to be involved in the drawing up of the plan but had not been contacted, and felt they had been ignored.

It was requested that the four people preparing the draft should come to a Shripney residents meeting to hear the opposition to such plans and explain why such plans had been drawn up.

A vote was taken from the meeting that resulted in a vote of 59 in favour and no-one in opposition to it: Cllr Kemp agreed he would come back to the residents once he had spoken with other council members.

The mood of residents is one of both anger and mistrust, with regards to both Arun District Council and Bersted Parish Council, and as several members told the meeting, each household in the parish contributes around £40 from council tax a year. If we are not properly represented, then do we need a parish council?

It is now understood that there has been a similar meeting of residents in North Bersted Street regarding the 26 houses proposed on North Bersted Street.

From letters in the Bognor Regis Observer last week it is clear there is concern and rejection of similar plans across the western area of ADC.

It calls for a concerted effort by residents in all districts to voice a combined opinion before the plan gets any formal approval whatsoever.

It is time for all residents to come together and give a combined opinion as to where they wish the town and surrounding area to develop.

Peter Allsopp

Shripney Lane, Bognor Regis