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.