By Kevin Smith
Town councillors have agreed to meet Bognor Regis regeneration proposers in private.
The town council members decided to reverse their previous decision to invite those involved with the five known schemes to talk to them at a council meeting.
The latest decision at an extraordinary meeting of the council on Monday will instead see them host a members’ awareness seminar behind closed doors.
Town council clerk Glenna Frost told the seven councillors present at the meeting: “It’s a bit like where you have had a presentation to the council before and you have held it on a closed basis before a council meeting.
“All councillors will be invited to attend but it does not restrict you with governance.
“You can have an open and frank discussion with people about the issues without pre-determining them, bias or any of those matters because you are not under governance restrictions.”
National rules mean councillors who have expressed an opinion about a matter which arises at a later meeting usually have to sit out the vote as they are deemed to have made up their mind before the debate is held.
The vote to overturn the agreement to a public session was agreed unanimously by the seven councillors present at the extraordinary meeting.
It was taken without any debate. Cllr Jeanette Warr (LD, Hotham) was the only councillor to make a comment when she asked about the date of the yet-to-be- arranged seminar.
The go-ahead for the presentations was made at the town council meeting on November 4.
The five known proposers of regeneration ideas – who include the Sir Richard Hotham Project, 4BR and Bognor Reigs Re-invigoration – will each have a 30-minute presentation to state their views and then answer questions.
The town council welcomed the chance to receive ideas and projects from interested parties, said Mrs Frost.
“However, until the council has developed its own vision and strategic regeneration objectives for the town, which would assist in prioritising support for ideas and projects, then the presentations should be regarded as fact-finding and an idea building opportunity.
“However, this must be done in a way which allows councillors to be more creative and enable idea building without governance restrictions,” she added.
The invitation to Arun District Council to attend the presentations, which also formed part of the original decision, remains unchanged.
The successful suggestion for the revised session was put forward by Cllrs Adam Cunard (I, Hatherleigh), Matt Stanley (LD, Marine), Mrs Warr and Phil Woodall (I, Orchard).