Fight still on for free parking in Bognor Regis

Campaigners for free parking in Bognor Regis claim their fight is still on.

They said the rejection by Arun District Council of a scheme to enable motorists to stop in the town centre without paying was irrelevant.

The town’s civic society, its chamber of commerce the TBI business organisation have joined forces to battle for some of the £2.7m the district council received from the new Butlins lease and the £500,000 from Sainsbury’s to be put towards enabling motorists to park for free. More than 3,000 names have been collected on a petition supporting the scheme.

Civic society deputy chairman Hugh Coster said the proposal which was put to Arun’s councillors last week was an invention by the district council.

The society has made a written complaint to Arun’s chief executive, Ian Sumnall, that the detailed idea it made three months ago had been ignored.

It claims Mr Sumnall wasted the time of council officers and members by exploring a scheme with a totally different form of funding.

“Unsurprisingly, the scheme he invented received no support from anybody,” said Mr Coster. “Mr Sumnall knew this would happen because he was warned of it in a letter.”

He described Mr Sumnall’s actions as a charade which had unnecessarily cost council taxpayers a significant amount of money.

The society has made a Freedom of Information request for full details of the costs associated with last week’s decision.

“When you include all the officer and councillor time that has been wasted, it could come to quite a significant sum,” Mr Coster said.

An district council spokeswoman said a response will be given by January 24, 2011.

She said: “But we can say that there were two meetings held to discuss the matter and, as far as we’re aware, no extra cost in terms of officer and councillor time was incurred as a result of these.”