Arun District Council, Principles of Consultation document, June 2010: "The Council
should only embark upon consultation when it is prepared to listen to the results
and allow them to inform its decision-making."
Arun's 2013 Seafront Survey showed 68% preference for traditional style buildings
Arun's 2018 Promenade "Style Guide" says: "New buildings should be...of a contemporary
appearance and should not be in a historic or traditional style."
In the light of the above three bullet points, Bognor Regis residents cannot be blamed
for failing to trust Arun District Council's consultations. Repeatedly, these consultations
are carried out in a questionable manner, and the results obtained are often completely
ignored. The question is asked: is this deliberate deceitfulness, or is it simply
In 2013 Council Leader Gillian Brown was asked in Full Council why Arun was (at that
time) proposing to go ahead with a Multiplex cinema based on the consultation views
of just TEN people. This was the 'under 35s' section of their Wavelength panel whose
views, Arun said, were important. They had conveniently failed to mention the laughably
small number of these consultees, but Bognor Regis Civic Society exposed the nonsense
Important enough to reject a petition of over 2000 people? Important enough to ignore
Arun's own consultation results which showed an overall 26% majority vote of 2,631
people saying NO to the cinema proposal? This is the strange world of Arun's consultations.
Arun blundered ahead regardless but, ultimately, the cinema proposal died a death
for different reasons.
BUT WHAT ABOUT FLATS?
it's different with flats, because they really, really want them. Twice Arun has
consulted the public, hoping to get the answer they wanted. They didn’t. In 2012
a clear 10% majority of 5,089 people said NO to flats on the Regis Centre and Hothamton
sites. And in 2015 they consulted 1,289 people and a massive 80% majority said NO
FLATS on the Regis Centre site, and a 21% majority said NO FLATS on Hothamton. This,
by the way, underlined the 10,158 signature Civic Society Petition saying NO FLATS
on the Regis Centre site, and the 900 Re-Invigoration Group consultation in which
flats scored zero.
Did Arun listen to any of this? No they did not. They are still proposing flats
for the Regis Centre site, and for the Hothamton site. Do they give a stuff for their
June 2010 fine words (see above)? No they do not.
LINEAR PARK CONSULTATION TRICKERY
At Full Council on 10th January 2018, Tony Dixon asked Council Leader Mrs. Gillian
Brown to explain how the Council's Linear Park proposals will contribute towards
the regeneration of the town. Her response was: "In our recent consultation on the
proposals for the new park and parking areas at Hothamton there was overwhelming
support from the public."
In a supplementary to that she confirmed: "The consultation was on the Linear Park."
That consultation was in October 2017. Only about 200 people attended. Only 19
people said they liked it. A later Freedom of Information request to Arun asked for
Mrs. Brown’s evidence of "overwhelming support" and they were unable to provide it.
Challenged on this, Mrs. Brown later claimed she was referring to the 2015 Consultation.
The problem was that this was not "recent," was not about the Linear Park which
hadn’t been invented at that point, and specifically excluded the Sunken Gardens
area which the Linear Park was set to destroy. So no "overwhelming support" for the
new park there either.
Ah, but that consultation "informed" the proposals, she claimed. Really Mrs. Brown?
And what about the residents' majority 39% view in that consultation that said NO
FLATS on Hothamton? Did that "inform" your proposal to put 100 flats there?
And their 76% majority vote that there should be similar or more car parking spaces
there? Is that why you propose to REDUCE the number of spaces?
And their 63% majority vote that any improvements should be at no cost to the Council
Tax payers? Is that why you are proposing to spend £4 million of taxpayers' money
The truth is that Arun and Mrs. Brown rely on selective trickery and the public's
inability to remember what has been said before, to manipulate, scam and ignore anything
to suit themselves, regardless of what the public have said they would like (or not
like) to see.
SO IN ALL THIS, HAVE THE PUBLIC BEEN ASKED WHETHER THEY WANT IT?
Well, not in the 2015 consultation, because it wasn’t even invented then. And not
in the 2017 consultation either. In answer to a public question from Cllr Matt Stanley,
Mrs. Brown said: "This was not intended to be a choice on the park happening or not
‒ that decision had already been made"
But nobody has asked the public, Mrs. Brown, and isn’t it about time that you did?
In the same answer you said: "...a thorough consultation on the Linear Park proposals
has taken place."
That is just another piece of trickery, Mrs. Brown, straight out of your fantasy
world of "consultations." We recommend you go back to reading the fine words in
your 2010 Principles of Consultation document. And start conducting some honest
consultation for a change.
Arun's recently installed promenade toilet block and foreshore office. Have they
paid ANY attention at all to the 68% preference for traditional style buildings that
emerged in their 2013 Seafront Survey?