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Council turns down change

A unanimous vote to reject a merger has been made by Pagham parish councillors.


They agreed to refuse to take part in a suggested ‘reparishing’ of the wider Bognor Regis area.


They backed a motion which said they believed the interests of residents in their area was better served by having a parish council of members rather than a larger local authority which served a much bigger population.


They were also angry at the lack of consultation before the idea of the wide-ranging change was formally issued by Bognor Regis Town Council.


Cllr Dawn Salter, the finance committee’s chairman, told the parish council’s extraordinary meeting on Tuesday:


“Why did they not come round and talk to us? Where is the consultation?


“There is none whatsoever. It is a hare-brained idea and we are not going to go along with it. This suggestion will disrupt everything and it’s totally insulting.


“We have very few complaints. Why would we want to change something which isn’t broken?


“It’s up to the town council to present evidence if they do not believe we are running smoothly.”


As reported, the formal request for the ‘reparishing’ came from a recent meeting of the town council’s policy and resources meeting. It followed a motion in support of the idea at this year’s annual meeting of Bognor Regis electors.


It would see all the current parish councils – Aldwick, Bersted, Felpham, Middleton and Pagham – abolished along with the town council, which has the same legal status, and replaced with a single council.


But the idea has been met with outright rejection by the parishes.


Pagham council’s clerk, Nicola Swann, told its members she had passed on their dissatisfaction to the town council.


“They did not supply us with any notice and there has been no evidence sent to me as to what the benefits might be,” she said.


She said the parish council had been asked by Arun District Council, which has to look into the ‘reparishing’ request, for its formal response about the matter.


Parish council chairman Peter Atkins said: “I can’t see any benefits to Pagham in this. I can only see less representation for us.


“Considering we have just had Arun go over our heads and dump houses on us shows local communities need local representatives.


“We are having less and less say in what goes on here – and we want more.”


Cllr Dawn Hall, chairman of the planning committee, said:


“Local councillors know the local area and they know what local people want.


“It’s our duty to listen to residents and for us to do what we can to help them, not be run from Bognor.”


Cllr Dan Atherton said a bigger council might have more funding for events in Bognor Regis but this would be at the expense of those in the surrounding areas.

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