Stand up Comedians and Arun District Council’s Mrs Brown’s Boys.

The Pier Road Diaries have been trawling through some of Arun District Council’s Credit Card purchases, which includes this gem, purchased on the 8th March 2009 courtesy of the local tax payer-

Arun District Council public spendingTotal cost £9.24.

Acquired during the twilight years of Arun District Council’s Chief Executive’s Ian Sumnall whose tenure was certainly nothing to laugh about.

Mr Sumnal arrived at Arun District Council circa the 1970s where he remained there until reaching retirement in 2011 and has the dubious honor of leaving Arun exactly as it was when he first arrived in 1970.

I wonder if Mr Sumnall qualifies for some sort of Heritage Preservation award?

Salary for Mr Summall Chief Executive Arun District Council – £115,000 per year.

Off now enjoying retirement with a final salary pension.

Certainly there’s no need for history lessons for the local school children. In Arun,  we’re still living in a replica of 1970s Britain complete with overhead telephone lines, electric cables, grass car parks and no complicated bus timetables, as there’s only two services a day.

The only real progress the area has seen has been for the Council to declare some years ago that Littlehampton’s motto was to be ‘Progress’ – and erect a small sign to this effect on Littlehampton’s seafront.

No wonder comedy writer and actor Ronnie Barker choose Littlehampton to holiday in. The area is alive with material for stand up comedians.

On a more serious note, the fact that Arun now requires so much regeneration speaks volumes about what didn’t go on here for the past 30 years or so where a self-serving council of mad swivel eyed loons have ensured that underground telephone lines and electric cables are still a forthcoming election promise.

Forget potholes, finished roads would be a novelty.

Personally, I’d have booted Mr Sumnall and his coherts out circa 1980s with the introduction of the package holiday and the electronic calculator.

It was at this time when faced with substantial falling visitor numbers that Arun should have realized that the traditional visitor that Arun had so heavily relied upon, were no longer going to visit in sufficient numbers to sustain our candy-floss economy.

Any responsible, forwarding thinking council would at this point have realised that the days of hanging out a plastic Mr Whippy Cone between the months of April and September wasn’t enough to compete with the cheaper and much more enjoyable alternative of a an all-in package holiday in the Costa Del Sol.

Visitor numbers fell in their thousands.

But Arun District Council failed to do anything at this time to attract alternative visitors to our beautiful area.

It was an opportunity missed and one that had lead to fatal consequences for Arun keeping up with other neighbouring tourist destinations.

It’s a competitive market and while other Local Authorities were busy working on plans to attract all-year-round outdoorsy types, Arun was doing all it could to deter them.

No council resources were spared as Arun erected as many “NO” signs as it possibly could pandering to the ‘swivel eyed loons with their over-developed sense of entitlement who continually objected to opening up the area to outdoor activities.

I kid you not, when I say that the mere sight of teenagers flying a kite on the seafront public greensward is enough to send some of Arun’s elderly retired affluent residents into a frenzy of letter writing in the local papers.

When Arun announced it’s intention to allow cycling on Littlehampton’s seafront promenade it drew record numbers of letters of complaint from local residents. One correspondent warning that Littehampton’s Seafront Promenade would become awash with ‘cycling tourists’…

Perish the thought. Middle aged affluent cyclists spending their money in our B&Bs, campsites and restaurants.

Consequently, draconian bye-laws that would make even Robert Mugabe envious were dreamed up by unimaginative Councillors and enforced by seasonally appointed Sea front police officers who set about the task of ensuing any healthy aspirations were quickly and painfully stamped out.

Arun’s message was clear.

No Cycling – No Rollerblading – No Kiteboarding – No Windsurfing – No dingy Sailing – No Walking on the sand dunes – No, No, No.

Then Mr Sumnall retired.

A new Chief Executive has been appointed – Nigel Lynn.

I’ve met Nigel and have been impressed by his visions for a brighter more outdoor orientated Arun District. He’s also a man clearly uncomfortable with the notion that a CEO’s job is  for life and he’s here to do a job, as opposed to his predecessor who simply grew old behind a desk.

In my view, he’s just what Arun needs.

Cycling is now allowed on Littlehampton’s Seafront promenade, Bognor Regis and there are some very exciting plans being muted about for the Littlehampton’s West Bank  area.

But then along came the thorny  problem of  The Windmill Cinema.

Nigel Lynn, Arun’s Chief Executive stands accused by many residents and councillors (those of the mad swivel eyed loon variety) that Mr Lynn, together with Councillor Dendle and the CEO of Inspire Leisure under the directions of Arun’s Council Leader, Mrs Brown – conspired to ensure that the decision to close the Windmill’s cinema went through without any of that tiresome public consultation that the Public Sector detests so much.

Just as I was hopeful that we’d got rid of the stand up comedian, it now looks like we’ve got our very own version of Mrs Brown’s boys.


A sad farewell to Peglers of Arundel

Further fatalities from the world of Independent Retailing.

With regret and sadness, I see that Peglers of Arundel have been forced to close their Outdoor Shops by a Bankruptcy Petition by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs.

Since the Tories and Liberal Democrats have come into power, I must say HMRC have been anything but supportive of independent businesses. Periods of grace that were previously offered under the Labour government were swiftly revoked as the Tories and Lib Dems clambered to increase tax receipts.

Postponing or deferring VAT payments is one way that struggling independents have weathered the ongoing economic storm. When HMRC, acting on the instruction of Chancellor George Osborne, removed this facility, it has had a catastrophic impact on many independent retailers.

Peglers on the HillI’ve very fond memories of our shopping expeditions to Peglers where you were always assured of a warm, friendly welcome with the most knowledgeable staff you could ever hope to find.

When in 2006, I set off to ride from Land’s End to John O Groats on a traditional, 3-speed Dutch bike, it was Peglers I visited to source my gear including sleeping bag, stove, foods and maps as well as lots of useful and helpful advice which made passage planning all that more easy.

Later, I bought a number of Kayaks, live jackets and paddles from them and again their advice and help was first class.

A family business, Peglers was known not only for the quirky names of its Arundel based shops – Peglers Below the Knee, Peglers on the Hill, Peglers Round the Bend – but for being an independent outdoor shop run by outdoor enthusiast who lived and breathed the products they stocked and sold.

Peglers round the BendOriginally, the ‘shop’ was set up in the families front room where they sold sleeping bags, climbing boots and tents from the lounge floor – they quickly established a reputation for stocking quality out door products and their business quickly grew.

In Littlehampton, Peglers was the first and only name amongst the youth looking to source kit for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Many of these ‘youths’ will now have their own children, and I’m sure will remember with nostalgic fondness visiting Peglers Below the Knee, to try on a range of boots eager and anxious embarking on their first outdoor expedition.

You just don’t get that sort of buzz drop-click shopping on the Internet.

A notice posted on the Climbing Forum and a similar Notice in their window announced the sad news:

Peglers has been forced to cease trading by a petition to bankruptcy by the crown / HMRC effective 10/05/2013.

The Partners have asked us to post this as a means of contacting the climbing community they’ve been part of for the last 25 years.

We are sorry to be gone, pleased to have made many friends across the shop counter and to have climbed with some of you on both rock and ice over the last 30 Peglers Ice Fests.

For anyone that has goods paid for but not delivered please reclaim the money through your card provider or if that is not possible please write to :

The Administrator
Peglers Mountain Shop
69 Tarrant Street
West Sussex<
BN18 9DN
Thank you and take care.

Dave and Richard

This week we learnt that the retailing giant AMAZON has received in excess of £2.5million in subsidies from the UK taxpayer – in fact it’s subsidies exceeds what it pays in corporation tax despite exceeding £7 billion in sales in the UK alone.

Yet, it’s not Amazon that HMRC (aka the Taxman) is going after, but a small, quality independent retail store in Arundel.

In our business, The Dutch Bike Shop – we have paid more tax as a small bicycle shop based in Littlehampton that StarBucks in the UK.

Starbucks with an a turnover of £400million paid no Corporation Tax.

While we, a small independent bicycle shop in Pier Road, Littlehampton paid corporation tax on a small profit generated by a turnover of less than £250,000.

Let me say that again.

A small bicycle shop in Littlehampton with an annual turnover of less than £250,000 pays Corporation Tax on the profit we make.

Starbucks with an annual Turnover of £400 million – pays no Corporation Tax as it claims it cannot make a profit on these figures.

A small bicycle shop in a town of 16,000 people pays more in Corporation Tax than Starbucks do in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile –

Amazon with an annual Turnover of £7 billion gets £2.5 million in Government subsidies.

Peglers a local independent business gets forced into Bankruptcy by the Tax man.

Over the years, the contribution by Peglers to the exchequer both in business rates on the 3 High Street shops they leased, together with the National Insurance contributions they made on their staff – not mentioning the number of people who Peglers employed, all adds up to a substantial contribution to the well-being of the local and National economy.

Something is very wrong.

This county is now run by supermarkets, bean counters and bureaucrats.

I wish Dave and Richard all the very best in working things out and hopefully securing the bright future they deserve.

From us all in the independent retailing world, good luck and thanks.

Paul Power

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Mad Swivel-eyed Loons..

Nationally, a storm has blown up.

It goes like this.

A senior Tory was asked within earshot of a number of journalists (you’d imagine he’d have more cop-on..) what did he think of the 116 Tory MPs to defy the prime minister and vote in favour of an amendment regretting the absence of an EU referendum in the Queen’s speech.

The said Senior Tory then allegedly said:

“It’s fine. There’s really no problem. The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad, swivel-eyed loons.”

Obviously, given that West Sussex is a Tory dominated area with all our Councils, Town, District and County Councils being Tory run, as we all our MPs being Tory, it must follow that we’re in the land of “mad swivel-eyed loons”.

Imagine being part of a major political party and being referred to as not just a ‘loon’, but a mad swivel-eyed one must be pretty irritating.

And obviously the concept of tautology, is lost on this Senior Tory, who being a Senior Tory, will no doubt have enjoyed the best private education that money can buy.

Meanwhile I’d imagine all those Tory activists – you know the ones who spend their lives supporting their party, fund raising and leaflet campaigning must be pretty mad at this.

Not a great week for David Cameron and his party.

Locally here, UKIP gained 10 seats in the recent West Sussex County Council elections.

Something ironic when you remember David Cameron’s recent ill-fated description of UKIP as being “a bunch of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.”

Now they’ve turned on their own….

Leisure Strategy Meeting Arun District Council.

Now that the irritating business of the local elections are over, Arun District Council’s ruling Tory Party can get on with deciding the future of Littlehampton’s swimming pool and Windmill Theatre.

The previous meeting was dramatically postponed only hours before it was due to start when Arun District Council’s Chief Executive Nigel Lynn, announcing that a substance, which may have contained asbestos had been discovered while work was being undertaken in the council’s chambers.

Many locally, suspected the council were using the asbestos gag as a way of postponing what are some very difficult decisions, until once the local County Council elections had taken place.

The local view being that Arun District Council wouldn’t want to make unpopular decisions that may loose them votes. In any event, Asbestos wasn’t found, which hardly came as a surprise as by Law Arun District Council were obliged some years ago to undertake an Asbestos Survey of their building. One could safely assume that this survey would have been thorough and that if any hint of Asbestos was present, it would have been discovered back then.

In any event, Arun District Councillor, Paul Dendle, the councillor in charge of leisure and tourism and whose brief includes the Swimming pool and  leisure facilitates, took to the Littlehampton Gazette, to assure the local population that postponing the said meeting, wasn’t a conspiracy (his words, not mine) and that it was a sensible precaution to save guard all our well beings.

Councillor Dendle subsequently secured the lowest of all the Candidates when he stood for West Sussex County Council in the recent County Elections. Polling only 462 votes and coming behind the Labour Party (512 votes), Liberal Democrats (526 votes), with Ann Margaret of UKIP being elected with 1044 votes.

Tonight’s  meeting,   which is widely expected to be over-subscribed by irate local voters angry at seeing much loved local leisure facilities threatened with either closure or relocation, will be broadcast live by Arun District Council.

Arun District Council must be congratulated for this initiate to broadcast live the Council meetings, and I hope in the future, they may include many more full council meetings.

You can view the proceedings live here.

Arun District Council’s Sea Front Car Park Charges

Earlier this year, Arun District Council announced it’s intention to increase the parking charges in Littlehampton seafront. This a popular place for our visitors to park. The increases proposed were to increase the 1 hour charge by double, from £1 to £2.

4 hours will cost you a staggering £7  – thus making parking in Littlehampton’s seafront more expensive than parking in Chichester.

We had the usual mandatory consultation announced in the local papers.

There were of course several sensible, well-made objections from local business owners opposing the increases, but in true form at Arun District Council, where consultation seems to be seen more of a necessary tiresome mandatory process, the outcome was already a foregone conclusion, and  up went the prices.

But it’s not car parking charges that are the only thing that has gone up in Littlehampton Seafront as the picture below shows.

Arun District Council car parkingOK, so Arun District Council increase Littlehampton’s seafront car park charges, but fail to cut the grass. The picture above was taken on the May Bank Holiday weekend, a weekend when the above car park was full of cars – all paying premium prices to park here and this is the state of the car park.

Arun District Counci Car parkingForget the bucket and spade, bring your own machete  when coming to park in Littlehampton’s Seafront Car Parks – £7 for 4 hours in the long grass and uneven, gravely surface.

Surely it wouldn’t take much imagination or forward thinking on their behalf to work out that if you’re going to charge more for car parking, you should at least ensure that the car park is up to a suitable standard?

Combine this with a number of Arun District Council’s run-down buildings and it’s not difficult to see why Littlehampton is failing to attract the numbers it used to.

There was  a time when council’s took pride in their area and environments and full credit must go to Littlehampton Town Council who continually impress with their splendid beautifully maintained buildings and gardens.

What a shame it is that Arun District Council can’t get the basics right.

Arun District Council 3I wonder how much it would cost in consultant’s fees to advise Arun District Council that cutting the long grass might be a good idea in an effort not only to attract new visitors to our seafront, but retain those we so desperately need to keep?