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Cash call to boost towns

A BID to create a £1.35m fund to boost regeneration in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton has been rejected.


The Liberal Democrat members of Arun District Council sought to use its annual budget debate to allocate the cash to benefit the towns and their surrounding communities. But the council’s


Conservative majority easily defeated the amendment at Wednesday night’s special meeting.


They then agreed the budget proposals to mean Arun’s share of the total tax bill for residents will be £176.40 for a band D household – an increase of £5.13 or 2.99 per cent – in the year from April. This will take the total bill for the same sized property to £1,730.80 after increases from the county and parish councils and police.


Cllr Daniel Purchese (LD, Beach) said the group believed some of Arun’s £8m reserves could be better used to benefit its two coastal towns without putting up council tax.


“We want to earmark up to £1.35m to pump prime regeneration in its two main towns of Littlehampton and Bognor Regis in order to benefit the economy, growth and jobs in the surrounding communities as well. We ask this council to request the two regeneration sub-committees to make recommendations to cabinet on how best to utilise this money with the specific aim of boosting and kick-starting regeneration in the towns.”


Cllr Purchese also called for £150,000 from the reserves to be used to ensure all the district’s public toilets threatened with closure could stay open. Another part of the amendment called for a £500,000 budget to regulate the funding of last minute spending requests.


Cllr Paul Wells (LD, Hotham) said the extra regeneration cash would help to make up for the relative lack of money spent on Bognor Regis.


“We are trying to do our best for the whole district but Bognor Regis does seem to get the scraps when it comes to regeneration. The figures are there. I’m not talking about inward investment but, when it comes to this council using council tax, there is a discrepancy between the towns,” he said.


The £19.5m for Littlehampton’s new swimming centre showed this.


But Cllr Ricky Bower (C, East Preston) said: “This regeneration pits Littlehampton against Bognor Regis. We need to make sure that, when we have regeneration, it is regeneration across the whole of the district.”


The council’s Bognor Regis regeneration sub-committee chairman, Cllr Phil Hitchins (C, Aldwick W), said: “This is a totally out of date and ill-informed amendment.”


Arun was committed to the £3.4m Hothamton linear park proposals for Queensway and was making progress on the Gardens By The Sea scheme for the Regis Centre. “I don’t think that extra money would speed these things up at all.


“As regards to toilets, he is totally wrong. We are going to be closing two toilets but we have a budget for the restoration and refurbishment of the rest.”

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