New council policy for major Chichester events
Chichester District Council is preparing a policy to govern the way major events in the city are considered.
The work is being carried out after concerns were raised about how permission was given for a temporary ice rink in Priory Park over the winter.
At a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, leader Tony Dignum said he knew that a lot of councillors were worried that the decision had been taken by an officer rather than an elected member, adding: “It was a major event, there’s no doubt about that – and it was also a controversial one.”
Few things have divided opinion in the city more than the rink, with some praising it as a success and others believing the park was the wrong place to house the attraction.
The damage to the grass in the park was so bad that the council’s overview and scrutiny committee voted to retain the organiser’s £1,000 deposit to pay for repairs.
The committee asked the cabinet to delay any decision about a future rink until after May’s election, and to ensure that whichever site was chosen next time would be offered at an open-tender commercial rent.
While it was argued that it would not be ‘proper or lawful’ for the council to hold back on processing any application that might come in before the election, Mr Dignum said it was ‘unlikely’ that would happen.
Such applications have to go before planning and licensing committees before they can be approved. While there will be a planning meeting on April 24, no licensing meeting is scheduled until June.
Mr Dignum added: “We are giving this careful consideration and we are looking at the governance arrangements.
“I think, although it’s possible a lightning application may come into the planning committee, it’s unlikely to be settled before May 2 – not impossible but unlikely.”