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Arun District Council has approved its own planning application for a new cafe in Hotham Park and, according to its website, has allocated a budget of £390,000 to build it and do the basic fit out.

Certain Councillors were strangely reluctant at a recent Bognor Regis Regeneration Sub-Committee to divulge the budget that has been allocated when Councillors Paul Wells and Jim Brooks asked what the final sum had come to.

This was because there had been a sharp intake of breath at the previous meeting of that committee when it was informed that an additional sum of £140,000 was needed, over and above the original estimate of £250,000.  Many could not understand how a relatively small and simple building could cost that much, a sentiment shared by members of the public attending.

Councillors were clearly not keen to approve the additional sum until the Chairman, Councillor Bence (Conservative, well known for his enthusiasm for removing the seafront pedestrian crossings because they obstructed the Conservative supported regeneration plans), agreed to work on the figures with Council Leader, Mrs. Gillian Brown, and find ways in which they could be reduced.

The eventual reductions were not mentioned at the recent meeting, resulting in Councillors Wells and Brooks' question.  However, no clear answer was given as to whether there had been any reduction at all, other than a vague mention that different foundations might result in a saving of £14,000.

So everyone went home happy, other than the public who felt that the cost was still excessive for what amounted to a rather large and slightly better than average part-glazed shed.  But nobody seems to have noticed that Arun's website clearly states that the budget is still £390,000, meaning that nothing has changed.

So what were Councillors Bence and Brown doing while they were sitting together in a comfortable Arun office, supposedly working on reducing the cost to us all?

Playing Monopoly perhaps?  With real money? -- Our money? Or was it all just smoke and mirrors to try and keep us all quiet?  Or in other words -- a lie?

6th September 2014

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