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Call for council to do more for town centres

Night-time economies in Chichester and Bognor Regis need to be boosted, Labour councillors have said.


The party’s group of county councillors has tabled a motion to call on more to be done to create a vibrant mix of markets, showcases, outdoor theatre and entertainment.


The request will be debated at today’s full meeting of West Sussex County Council and says an officer working group should be set up with partners from borough and district councils across the county, the food and drink industry and those with expertise to explore the benefits of an enhanced night-time economy.


Their work would lead to a report to the environment, communities and fire select committee in six months and a final report next June.


Cllr Michael Jones (Southgate and Gossops Green), the Labour group’s leader, said an initial attempt to raise the matter at the committee had been dismissed.


“This is certainly not just about alcohol-related activities, though that in itself is not to be ignored.


“But, in the spring and summer months, we have the weather to have much more of a Mediterranean cafe culture, where the shops stay open because people are enjoying events and the trade is there to justify it.


“While one hears a lot of lip service for this ideal, you don’t see much accompanying it as firm action,” he said.


At the earlier committee meeting, Cllr Jones stated publicans, restaurant owners, clubs and food providers deserved the council’s support.


“I’m always taken aback when I drive through towns like Chichester, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and I see so many pubs closed or converted into a Tesco Express or some such.


“We have university towns in this county which are incredibly quiet in the evenings, for the student populations we have.


“Crawley is not a traditional student town and it is my observation that footfall has fallen in the evenings compared to ten years ago and that would be my observation in Bognor Regis and Chichester, too, in that period.”

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