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ARUN REJECTS 'HELP PROTECT THE PICTUREDROME' PETITION

On 5th September 2012, Bognor Regis Civic Society presented a 10,868 signature petition to Arun District Council, requesting that the Council helps to protect the Picturedrome from the dangers represented by Arun’s proposal of a Multiplex cinema on the Regis Centre site.  More on the background to this can be found by clicking here.

The Council passed the matter to their Bognor Regis Regeneration Sub-Committee to gather further information and make a recommendation back to the Council.  Information on this committee’s initial deliberations on 16th October can be found by clicking here and here. It will be noted that the Committee failed to receive any outside evidence from anybody, Chairman Councillor Bence pointedly excluding information from “the public,” which clearly meant the presenters, Bognor Regis Civic Society.  However, their minutes noted that other parties, including the Civic Society should attend a future meeting “as their input would be valuable.”  So they decided to have a further meeting on 7th November.

In the event, that meeting received information from only one person, Councillor Mrs. Daniells, who, although she was a Director of the Company, was unable to contribute very much as she had little to do with the actual running of the Picturedrome.  The operator, Councillor Adam Cunard was away on business.  

The Committee Chairman, Councillor Bence, refused to allow the Civic Society to make any contribution, but allowed another member of the public to speak, although that person was not connected with any of the parties involved.  It is unclear why this one person, who represented nobody but himself, was allowed to speak, but what was said was in opposition to the petition.  It was then decided that as they still had insufficient information, there would have to be yet another meeting, on 5th December.

That meeting also did not have any experts present and did not gain any further information.  Councillor Wells, of Bognor Regis Town Council was present but was unable to make any significant contribution as the Town Council only owns the building and does not operate the cinema. In response to a further request the Chairman, Councillor Bence, who had spoken at length in opposition to the petition, still refused to allow the presenters, Bognor Regis Civic Society to make any contribution, saying “I am afraid to let you speak.”

The meeting concluded with a resolution “That the petition be rejected and to continue working with the Town Council to resolve the issues.”  It is not clear what the “issues” to be resolved with the Town Council can be, since it is not the cinema operator and has no influence over this. It should also be noted that after three meetings the committee had heard almost independent evidence on the matter at all, and was therefore in no better position to make any recommendation to the Council than it had been at the start.

On 5th September 2012, Bognor Regis Civic Society presented a 10,868 signature petition to Arun District Council, requesting that the Council helps to protect the Picturedrome from the dangers represented by Arun's proposal of a Multiplex cinema on the Regis Centre site.  More on the background to this can be found by clicking here.

The Council passed the matter to their Bognor Regis Regeneration Sub-Committee to gather further information and make a recommendation back to the Council.  Information on this committee's initial deliberations on 16th October can be found by clicking here and here. It will be noted that the Committee failed to receive any outside evidence from anybody, Chairman Councillor Bence pointedly excluding information from "the public," which clearly meant the presenters, Bognor Regis Civic Society.  However, their minutes noted that other parties, including the Civic Society should attend a future meeting "as their input would be valuable."  So they decided to have a further meeting on 7th November.

In the event, that meeting received information from only one person, Councillor Mrs. Daniells, who, although she was a Director of the Company, was unable to contribute very much as she had little to do with the actual running of the Picturedrome.  The operator, Councillor Adam Cunard was away on business.  

The Committee Chairman, Councillor Bence, refused to allow the Civic Society to make any contribution, but allowed another member of the public to speak, although that person was not connected with any of the parties involved.  It is unclear why this one person, who represented nobody but himself, was allowed to speak, but what was said was in opposition to the petition.  It was then decided that as they still had insufficient information, there would have to be yet another meeting, on 5th December.

That meeting also did not have any experts present and did not gain any further information.  Councillor Wells, of Bognor Regis Town Council was present but was unable to make any significant contribution as the Town Council only owns the building and does not operate the cinema. In response to a further request the Chairman, Councillor Bence, who had spoken at length in opposition to the petition, still refused to allow the presenters, Bognor Regis Civic Society to make any contribution, saying "I am afraid to let you speak."

The meeting concluded with a resolution "That the petition be rejected and to continue working with the Town Council to resolve the issues."  It is not clear what the "issues" to be resolved with the Town Council can be, since it is not the cinema operator and has no influence over this. It should also be noted that after three meetings the committee had heard almost no independent evidence on the matter at all, and was therefore in no better position to make any recommendation to the Council than it had been at the start.

PICTURED RIGHT ARE THE SUB-COMMITTEE MEMBERS MAINLY INSTRUMENTAL IN THE REJECTION OF THE PICTUREDROME PETITION

 

COUNCIL MEETING, 9th January 2013.

That resolution was formally put to the full Council by Cllr. Bence, even though he admitted that the matter of whether the Picturedrome and the multiplex could successfully co-exist had not been settled.  In spite of this very important outstanding matter, which they clearly were not concerned about, he and other committee members (pictured right) considered the petition should be rejected.

Strong arguments were presented against this by Cllrs. Nash, Oppler, McDougall, Brooks and Walsh, and Cllr. Nash proposed the amendment that the petition be noted, rather than rejected. These Councillors and Cllr. Edwards voted for this, but it was defeated by the Conservative majority dutifully raising their hands, with Cllrs. English, Holman, Patel and Mrs. Smee abstaining.

Cllr. Oppler then proposed that as there should be more thorough investigation of the matter, it should be referred back to the Sub-Committee to allow a fuller range of witnesses to be called. This amendment was also defeated by the compliant Conservative majority, with Cllrs. Brooks, McDougall, Oppler, Nash and Walsh in favour and none abstaining.

The Council then voted to reject the petition and the motion was carried by the majority Conservative vote, those voting against being Cllrs. Brooks, McDougall, Oppler and Walsh.  Those abstaining were Cllrs. Nash, Edwards and Patel.

Those considering the next election (2015) might wish to take note that the Bognor Regis area members voting to reject the petition were, in addition to those pictured right, Cllrs. L. Brown, Charles, English, Mrs. Hall, Haymes, Holman, both Maconachies, Mrs. Smee, and Mrs. Stainton.  Nobody from east of the river Arun voted for the petition, except Dr. Walsh.

Throughout all this there was talk of "working with Bognor Regis Town Council to resolve the issues," as if this can be some form of substitute for the damage that a multiplex may cause.  However, there was no explanation ‒ and there’s been none since ‒ as to precisely what issues CAN be resolved with the Town Council.  They do not run the cinema and so have no influence on seat prices, films to be shown or anything else. It will be interesting to see if, in fact, such "working with" actually takes place, and what form it takes.

Bognor Regis Civic Society and a very large cross-section of the Bognor Regis public are wholly dissatisfied with the way this matter has been handled by Arun District Council, and we understand that an official complaint is being considered.

16th October, 2013

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Cllr. Bence

Conservative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cllr. Mrs. Brown

Conservative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cllr. Bower

Conservative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cllr. Evans

Conservative

 

Cllr. Mrs Madeley

Conservative

 

Cllr. Hitchins

Conservative

 

Cllr. Dingemans

Conservative