Regeneration of Bognor Regis is working, the chair of the town’s regeneration sub-committee told the ‘doom and gloom mongers’.
The work of town centre manager Toyubur Rahman, who is not due to be replaced when his contract ends after more than four years in the post, was one of the main topics of discussion on Monday night (September 24).
The Business Improvement District (BID), which was established in April and will be managed by a board of 12 directors, has decided to take a different direction and will be exploring alternative ways of delivering its business plan.
Councillors talked about the positive steps Bognor Regis has made in massively reducing shop vacancy rates and improving the appearance of the town centre.
Phil Hitchins (Con, Aldwick West), chair of the Bognor Regis regeneration sub-committee, said: “If someone has read through these papers they can see regeneration is working and those doom and gloom mongers should read this to see what is going on.”
He added: “With the limited budget things are going in the right direction and it’s something we should be pleased about.”
Success stories outlined by Arun district council officers included improvements to London Road, Station Square, the railway station itself, and special events held in the town such as Aerial Birdman, Victorian Christmas and last year’s temporary ice rink.
Members of the sub-committee praised the work of Toyubur over the last four years.
Gill Brown, leader of Arun District Council, said: “I think we were very lucky to have someone of Toyubur’s calibre. He did a really good job of promoting Bognor Regis.”
She hoped the BID would continue in the same vein ‘because he left them a really good legacy’.
John Charles (Con, Barnham), cabinet member for planning, added: “They have got rid of a man who has done an exceptional job and I think it’s appalling.”
Ricky Bower (Con, East Preston), chairman of Arun’s development control committee, said: “I have to say that those who are responsible for his departure I hope have not shot Bognor Regis in the foot.
“It would be a great shame if any of this would revert to how it was like ten or 20 years ago.”
Pat Dillon (Con, Pevensey) added: “I’m really upset with the fact he has been treated the way he has.”
But he also said it was important everyone worked together to help improve the town.
Matt Stanley (Lib Dem, Marine) said: “I firmly believe our town and traders and community are more than one person and I do think the board and the people running it are very capable people.”
Mr Hitchins responded: “The BID has got a good future. It’s regrettable the person who made it has got the sack. It’s another era like everything else.”
The meeting heard how negotiations were underway about the last two empty units in The Arcade being occupied.
Councillors also discussed anti-social behaviour in the town and the role of the new community warden appointed by the BID earlier this month.
Stephen Reynolds (Con, Hotham), mayor of Bognor Regis, described how he had stepped in to break up a fight outside the railway station days before.
He said: “Its worrying we are going to have to police our own town.”