LETTER: False assertions

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I write further to recent letters to the Gazette regarding the new leisure centre – I wanted to correct a number of false assertions and put the record straight.

Firstly the point regarding consultants and the “waste of money”.

Arun, over the last five years, have reduced their staffing levels by 20 per cent.

This has saved in excess of £1.5m per year, year on year, and has reduced capacity, and the way the council copes with that reduced capacity is to employ specialist help in the form of external consultants for special tasks.

Over that period we have saved in excess of £7.5m, which is much greater than the amount we have spent on consultants.

The most efficient companies do exactly the same, reduce their core workforce and employ specialists for task and finish projects.

A new leisure centre will give much better performance as equipment gets old, becomes inefficient and needs to be updated.

Re-engineering an old centre is much more expensive than building a new centre as the money that will be committed from capital reserves and borrowing will have to be justified in a full business case, but what we will get is a bigger better centre at a lower cost.

No one can argue that a 30-year-old car is as efficient as a new one, so the argument follows that it’s the same with a leisure centre.

Also, I have been consistent all along that any new centre has to be built before any demolition of the existing centre.

We have to have a seamless service to ensure that clients do not leach away to other providers.

Regarding where the centre will be built, Full Council accepted recommendations to look to employ consultants to help identify which is the best site for a new leisure centre.

This is an extensive investment in the sports future of the district and it’s only right that we get the decision right.

Once the consultants report, councillors will then decide, based on the evidence, which is the best site.

Despite conspiracy theories I don’t know which site will be recommended by the consultants.

The point has been made that 70 per cent of Littlehampton residents are in favour of building on the existing site.

Firstly, the numbers that actually gave their opinion were small and the decision is for the whole district to give their views, not just for people who live in Littlehampton, so a full and meaningful consultation will be conducted and everyone can have their say.

I have to also make the point that whilst I respect councillor James Walsh as a good ward councillor, he seems to be pre-determining any future decision of Arun District Council in his various comments and recent election material.

But the question is, when he comments, is it as a county councillor, town councillor or district councillor?

I personally think councillors should only represent one authority, for obvious reasons.

This is a big decision for our district.

It’s an extensive investment not just for current generations, but for future generations as well.

Councillor Paul Dendle

Arundel & Walberton ward

Cabinet member for leisure and amenities on Arun District Council

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