Accusations of dithering over place branding plans for Chichester district

Leaders at Chichester District Council have been accused of ‘dithering’ after asking for more information about setting up a ‘brand’ for the district.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:11 am

In June, the council’s overview and scrutiny committee recommended that a specialist be taken on to come up with a ‘comprehensive place branding and district identity plan’ in an effort to aid post-pandemic economic recovery.

The idea is to ensure the district attracts new business, jobs, tourism. 

But rather than agree the scrutiny committee’s recommendation, a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday (July 6), saw members ask officers to prepare another report on the matter, which will be considered in October.

Chichester. Pic by Steve Robards
Chichester. Pic by Steve Robards

Adrian Moss, Lib Dem leader and chair of the scrutiny committee said: “The message that came from overview and scrutiny was that this is a potentially important exercise to be done for the district to bring everything together.

“It’s not just about one element of the district, it’s about everything. It’s helping us all identify what we are.”

The new report will take into account the brands which already exist – such as the Great Sussex Way and Invest Chichester – identifying any gaps in that branding.

Officers were also asked to estimate what the costs and benefits of the scheme would be – even though the report to the scrutiny committee said the outlay would be between £50,000 and £65,000.

In a statement released after the meeting, Mr Moss accused the cabinet of ‘dithering and wasting officer time’.

He added: “Lib Dems believe that the preparation of a comprehensive place branding and identity plan is critical to ensure that Chichester attracts new business, jobs, tourism and builds the correct housing. 

“As the only West Sussex city or town with a university, we need to get our message out that we are a forward-thinking progressive district wishing to embrace a younger work force with new ideas and initiatives.”

The idea was not dismissed out of hand, though.

Leader Eileen Lintill said it would be ‘a reasonable piece of work to do’.

She added: “Obviously we do need to bear in mind the costs and what benefit we’re going to get from it – and that there are a lot of brands out there at the moment.

“So looking at those and seeing if we can bring them together is really good.”