Bognor’s seafront shelter vandalised to stop rough sleepers

A vandal has taken the law into their own hands to stop a Bognor Regis seafront shelter being used for sleeping.

The vengeful individual wrecked two wooden benches in the shelter on The Esplanade opposite King’s Court.

The site is a favourite location for rough sleepers. Those staying in the shelter had recently dwindled to two or three regulars from a handful previously.

Residents had complained they were urinating in the shelter as well as drinking and shouting.

Arun District Council announced the damage would not be immediately repaired, to stop the shelter being wrongly used.

King’s Court resident Norman Fowles said: “This will give us some respite from what has been going on in that shelter.

“That is a good result. Whoever sawed off the seats has done us a bit of favour, though it was a stupid thing to do.

“We will now have to see what the council will do in the future.”

The law-breaking individual sawed through both benches facing inland.

Mr Fowles said: “Someone must have gone out about 2am, or that sort of time, and sawn the seat up at the back of the shelter.

“I’d say there were three 6ft long pieces of wood taken off.

“All that was left was the concrete moulds of the seat and the backing. The message seemed to be that someone was really angry about what is going on in that shelter.”

Cllr Paul Wells, who represents the area on the district council, said: “The fact a person has taken the law into their own hands is not a step in the right direction.

“But Arun have stalled in responding to the residents. They should have grasped the situation and dealt with it. I am livid with the council for failing the residents.”

The council spokeswoman said: “We do not condone vandalism and have reported the damage to the benches to the police as we consider it to be criminal damage.

“We have been in communication with local residents who have expressed concerns about the use of the shelter for overnight sleeping.

“In view of this, we have decided not to immediately repair the benches, but to review the situation so we can find a sustainable solution for all concerned.”

Council workmen were at the scene soon after the damage was discovered to make safe the sharp pieces of wood and jagged metal left behind.

The problem of the shelter’s night-time use made headlines last July and received more publicity in October.

Residents of King’s Court protested to their district councillors as well as Cllr Paul Wotherspoon, who is in charge of Arun’s environmental services, and the police.

This was followed by a public meeting at the town hall, attended by some 150 people from the flats as well as neighbouring Esplanade Grande and Compass Point, at which action was demanded.

The options being considered by the council were to remove the shelter, change it into a concession or store, install roller shutters or replace it with a shelter unable to be slept in. But no work had since been carried out.