Opposition fails to amend budget

Arun District Council leader Gill Brown
Arun District Council leader Gill Brown

Efforts by opposition councillors to reverse seasonal toilet closures, fund regeneration projects and account for contingency spending were rejected at Arun District Council’s annual budget meeting.

The Liberal Democrats failed to convince the Conservative majority that their plans to spend a ‘prudent’ amount of the council’s £8million reserves was the best approach at a meeting of full council last Wednesday.

The opposition’s proposals included a £1.35million pot to kickstart regeneration projects, including match-funded projects, with Littlehampton and Bognor Regis’s regeneration sub-committees asked to make recommendations to Cabinet on how best to utilise the funds.

Speaking after the meeting, Arun Lib Dems leader Dan Purchese said: “The Conservative council is hoarding cash. They are saying we need money for a rainy day but it is important to utilise the resources we can now to invest in jobs, growth and the local economy.

“Eastbourne has £2million in reserves and Eastleigh has closer to £1m.”

The budget was approved without the Lib Dems’ amendments. Arun leader Gill Brown said the budget had been prepared amid ‘volatile’ funding pressures.

She said she was lobbying on a national level at the District Councils Network to get the best deal on everything from New Homes Bonus to business rates distribution.

Outlining the budget, she said an increase in council tax of just under three per cent, equating to £5.13 per year for a Band D home, was ‘excellent value for money’.

Arun is nearing completion of 33 new homes across Wick, Barnham and Bognor Regis, amid a plan to provide 250 new units over a ten-year period.

Littlehampton’s new £19.5million leisure centre will not require ‘a penny’ of borrowing, the leader said.