Bognor residents call for Arun council to be abolished in town poll

Councillor Jan Cosgrove
Councillor Jan Cosgrove

Residents of Bognor Regis who turned to out to vote have decisively called for the town to be regenerated.

They also want Arun District Council to be abolished and its duties shared between a new urban council for all the Bognor area and the county council.

But the results came after a low turnout of just 2.8 per cent - or 445 voters - out of 15,895 who were able to vote.

This was despite the poll costing Bognor Regis Town Council, which has to pay the bill by law, some £20,000.

One Bognor campaigner, Jan Cosgrove, whose motion at last month’s town electors’ meeting led to the poll, said he was disappointed with the turnout.

“I think this is due to the very short notice we had for the poll,” he said.

“People expected a bit of a lead up to it but this was held at the earliest opportunity because Arun’s staff are preparing for the police and crime commissioner election in May.

“But I still think the poll shows the clear message from the residents that they want to get rid of Arun. The result has echoes of the Out of Arun poll of 20 years ago.
“The debate will go forward and I want to take it to government.

“As for the regeneration, the residents of this area want something that delivers an iconic project in the town. I want to see the Hothamton site become the cultural quarter in conjunction with the pier.”

Cllr Adam Cunard, the chairman of the town council’s policy and resources committee, said the results were not binding on the council.

“They will go to the full council which will decide what to do about them.

“I think it will be difficult to decide what to do because none of this is within the town council’s powers.

“But, it has been such a low turnout, it’s not a very representative turnout. If it had been more people, it would have sent a stronger message,” he said.

An online poll on the One Bognor website will continue, said Mr Cosgrove. Just under 200 people had voted by last week with similar results to town poll.

Three questions were asked on the ballot paper:

1. The annual meeting of electors supports the full Sir Richard Hotham plan for consideration for the regeneration of the Hothamton and Regis Centre sites. Do you support this?

YES 282 (63 per cent) NO 149 (33 per cent)

2. The annual meeting of electors supports the creation of a single parish-level Bognor Regis Urban Town Council to replace the current six parish councils of Aldwick, Bersted, Bognor Regis, Felpham, Middleton and Pagham. Do you support this?

YES 339 (76 per cent) NO 8 (1.8 per cent)

3. The annual meeting of electors calls for the abolition of all district level councils in West Sussex, including Arun District Council, and that their work be transferred to a unitary West Sussex County Council working in conjunction with parish-level councils in the county area to deliver services. Do you support this?

YES 326 (73 per cent) NO 10 (2 per cent)

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