Row over civic plan for £35,000 Chichester office floodlights

A row has erupted between Chichester city councillors over a ‘self indulgent’ plan to spend £35,000 illuminating their offices.

Conservative party members on the city council opposed the idea, but were outvoted 11-7 by Liberal Democrat cllrs who felt it would encourage more people into the city centre in the evenings.

Tory cllr Tony Dignum said the decision sends the wrong message to the community at a time of financial hardship.

Instead he wanted the money to be spent building a community hall for the Whyke estate.

“We are not saying never, but this is not the right time,” he said. “It sends the wrong message to the community.

“Is lighting the council chamber really a high priority?”

But chairman of the finance committee, Richard Plowman said steps needed to be taken to support the city’s main employment of tourism by making the city attractive in the evenings.

“It would help encourage more people into the city, particualry in the evening,” he said.

“This has been on the cards for about ten years.

“This is a good time to do it from our point of view, we have got to support the traders and restraunts in Chichester.

“We are hoping it will be the start of illuminating some of the main historical buildings in Chichester.”

The Council House, in North Street has been in the past lit up, but the floodlights fell into disrepair and haven’t been replaced.

In 2008 it was lit up, as shown in the picture, by lighting company Halcrow as part of a training exercise for their staff, which is similar to how cllrs want it to look in the new scheme.

Seven conservative cllrs signed a letter distancing themselves from the decision. They are Peter Budge, Pam and Tony Dignum, Peter Evans, Derek James, and Barbara Rees.

The letter stated: “We hope our Liberal Democrat colleagues will consider postponing their unnecessary project to floodlight the Council House, at least until better economic times.

“We hope City residents will make known their opposition to what, at this time, looks very like self-indulgence.”

The vote was taken at a city council meeting on November 30.