LETTER: Focus on facts

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I write in reply to recent letters to the Gazette regarding the new leisure centre.

Arun has many services which are mandatory – such as cleansing, council tax collection, planning and others.

Leisure is a non-mandatory service.

Many other councils have taken the opportunity, in a response to government funding cuts, to cut leisure spending, closing centres to the detriment of residents.

I am proud that Arun has not done this and, despite 40 per cent cuts in our government grant, we have continued to invest in our leisure facilities.

The Southfield recreation ground, the upgraded gym and the new all weather AstroTurf pitch at the Arun Leisure Centre is testament to this.

We are now going to invest in a new sports and swimming centre which will be based in Littlehampton and will rival private facilities like Virgin Fitness at Rustington.

Littlehampton is blessed to have the swimming and sports centre paid for by the whole of the district.

All residents rightly pay their council taxes – at least 80 per cent of Arun residents do not live in Littlehampton – so it’s equitable that all residents (including non-Littlehampton residents) should be able to have a say about the location of a new centre.

It would be wrong to deny them this opportunity.

I praised councillor Dr James Walsh as a good ward councillor – so hardly an attack or intimidation.

James’ protestations that he does not represent the individual councils but the people are disingenuous.

We all represent the people and I represent all the people of the Arun district, but there is genuine confusion on who and when James speaks for – the county council, the town council or Arun?

James is paid by the county and Arun as a councillor.

My point was that I believe you can only represent one council at one time and only have one paymaster.

James makes comment on where I live and my ward which has nothing to do with my abilities or my judgement.

I was disappointed at the sub text going on in his letter.

Mr O’Brien commented that I was comparing a car with a location proves that he didn’t read my letter.

The current centre is at the end of its life and it needs replacing with a new efficient centre.

I compared an old centre with an old car, and my point was that a new car has to be more efficient than an old car.

Finally, with the greatest respect to Chris Adam Smith’s comments in his column, Chris says by raising the possibility of a conspiracy theory that this only draws attention.

I feel that I am dammed if I do or dammed if I don’t.

Both shortlisted sites have their merits and their problems.

We are not looking to fund the centre from a capital receipt of a sale of the existing site.

We have committed to fund it from reserves and borrowing.

The Windmill is now profitable and there for the foreseeable future, and it’s now sustainable rather than losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

We helped in setting up the community cinema and fully support community cinema in Littlehampton.

We have a big decision to make for the district.

Let’s concentrate on the facts and not on this petty parochial thinking that confuses the issue.

Councillor Paul Dendle

Arundel & Walberton ward and cabinet member for leisure and amenities on Arun District Council


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