After considering a report on options for improving accessibility of the beach at Bognor Regis at its meeting of 23 September 2021, the Environment and Neighbourhood Services Committee resolved that a report be brought back to the next Committee Meeting on 17 November 2021, where a Working Party be set up, with Membership and Terms of Reference provided by Group Leaders in advance. This report seeks authorisation to establish the Working Party, bringing together Group Leaders’ recommendations for membership and proposed Terms of Reference.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Engineering Services Manager introduced his report to the Committee.
Councillor Stanley proposed an amendment to the recommendations, which was that 1 (f) would be changed to ‘Chair of the Working Party: Cllr Worne’. This was seconded by Councillor Thurston.
Following a brief discussion Councillor Stanley, with the agreement of the meeting and the Seconder, altered his amendment to 1 (f) to ‘the Chair of the Working Party would be elected at its first meeting’.
Following a vote, the altered amendment was CARRIED.
Councillor Stanley proposed an additional amendment to the recommendations, which was that 2 (a) would be changed to ‘An invitation be extended to Bognor Regis Town Council Access Group for three representatives to join the Working Party (without voting rights)’. This was seconded by Councillor Thurston.
Members then took part in a full debate where the following points were raised:
· There were people with varying mobility requirements that were part of the Bognor Regis Town Council Access Group, and extending the invitation to an additional person would help to gain varying views.
· Increasing the size of the Working Party could make it too large and make it difficult to make progress.
· Opinions from people living outside of Bognor should also be taken into consideration as people from across the District would travel to the site.
· The Working Party needed to look objectively at making the beach accessible.
· The Working Party should be kept small and the representatives could feed in the views of other people.
· Increasing the Working Party by one person would not make it much larger, but it would be good to have the views of other people.
· The Working Party was put together by the Group Leaders who consulted with Members.
· If Membership of the Working Party was not increased, they could invite guests to input and give opinions.
The amendment was put to the vote and there being an equality of votes, the Chair used his casting vote against the amendment, which was LOST.
The substantive recommendations (with amended Committee names to reflect the recent change) were Proposed by Councillor Edwards and Seconded by Councillor Chace.
1. The establishment of a Bognor Regis Beach Access Working Party be supported based on the following terms:
(a) Terms of Reference – to consider the issues surrounding the provision of an access to the beach for the disabled and elderly persons in Bognor Regis and to examine the options available for such an access
(b) To determine what part of the beach to improve access to (waterline or shingle etc) and to consider options for geographic location
(c) The Working Party will report to Environment Committee,
(d) Size of the Working Party – 6 Arun District Councillor seats with two further seats (without voting rights) to be offered to the Bognor Regis Town Council Access Group.
(e) Nominations to the seats – Cllrs Worne, Needs, Brooks, Staniforth, Edwards and English - to be confirmed by the relevant Group Leaders immediately if the proposal is accepted by Environment Committee.
(f) The Chair of the Working Party would be elected at its first meeting
(g) Proposals for the allocation of seats if vacancies occur – to be for the relevant Group Leader / Bognor Regis Town Council Access Group to fill the vacant seat as appropriate and this information to be reported this to the next Environment Committee meeting
(h) The Working Party will take the form of a Task & Finish exercise and conclude in not more than 12 months from the date of the first meeting.
(i) Timescale for the work to be undertaken – the first meeting of the Working Party will be in Spring 2022 with the site visit timed appropriately for sufficient daylight at around the time of Low Water.
(j) Presentation(s) will be made by officers as soon as possible to enable the Council to progress with any recommendations it supports.
(b) The suggestion be made to Bognor Regis Town Council Access Group that Cllr Goodheart be one of the two Group representatives should they choose to accept the invitation – this and the second representative to be confirmed by Bognor Regis Town Council Access Group.
(c) Review its terms of reference at its first meeting or thereafter and recommend any change back to Environment Committee
(d) Make any recommendations to Environment Committee based on the Terms of Reference – it will have no decision-making authority
(e) Meet in private unless it agrees that it will work to the Meeting Procedure Rules at Part 5 of the Council’s Constitution. Meetings will be held virtually until such time as the Working Party considers that ‘in person’ meetings are appropriate and then they shall be held in Bognor Regis Town Hall; and
3. Consideration be given as to how to approach similar issues in other locations if they have not already been resolved