‘Stop bleating about so-called consultation’ Tories told on sunken garden plans

Bognor Regis' sunken gardens
Bognor Regis' sunken gardens

The Tories have been told to ‘stop bleating about their so-called consultation’ on plans to redevelop the sunken gardens.

The Lib Dem cabinet agreed earlier this month to ditch a project put in motion by the previous Tory administration for the green space and nearby Hothamton car park.

Environmental consultancy LUC was tasked with drawing up plans for a multi-use park, but a consultation on the designs, due to be held in early June was postponed.

Then the Lib Dems announced they would cancel the contract and plan to develop three options solely within the blueprint of the sunken gardens and Hothamton play area, which retains the split levels, before going out to consultation with the public.

At a full council meeting last week (Wednesday July 17) several Tory councillors criticised the Lib Dems for cancelling the consultation.

John Charles (Con, Barnham) felt the new park as designed by LUC would have ‘been an attraction in itself’, adding: “I want to know how they have got the right to stop it in the first place.”

Mike Clayden (Con, Angmering and Findon) added: “The last administration got us to the point where we were almost about to have a consultation and all of a sudden we are not having a consultation. Why do we not just have a consultation?”

Elaine Stainton (Con, Felpham West) described how the previous Tory administration had held a consultation on project designs, then called the linear park, which ‘the people of Bognor Regis overwhelmingly liked’.

Grant Roberts (Con, Arundel and Walberton) asked why the Lib Dems were ‘scared to put it out to a full consultation’.

But Matt Stanley, cabinet member for technical services, pointed out how just 19 people had said they liked the linear park designs during the Tories’ consultation, adding: “There’s more than enough evidence that the people of Bognor Regis want to retain the Hothamton sunken gardens.”

Tony Dixon (Ind, Aldwick East) criticised the Tories for going ahead on the basis of 19 people supporting the plans. He said: “That was their basis for spending £300,000. It’s wrong and they should not have done it.”

Meanwhile Hugh Coster (Ind, Aldwick East) said it was not a true consultation as the public had been given just one option, while the only information on offer was a ‘bunch of pictures’.

He felt the Lib Dem approach of putting together three different options was ‘much more sensible’. He said: “The previous administration does not seem to have recognised what consultation actually means.”

He described suggestions by the former Tory council leader Gillian Brown that the linear park plans had been overwhelmingly approved as ‘absolute nonsense’.

Cllr Coster told the Tories: “Stop bleating about their so-called consultation.”