THEY are an traditional sight of the seaside – but the humble deck chair could soon disappear from coastal resorts.
That could be the reality in Bognor Regis, after doubts were raised over the future of a concession operating their distribution on the promenade.
The future of the concession is uncertain, with an operator yet to be secured for the summer.
Arun District Council cabinet member for leisure and amenities Paul Dendle was questioned on the issue last Wednesday by Liberal Democrat leader Francis Oppler.
Mr Dendle warned fewer people had a need for the chairs, which may threaten the future viability of the concession.
He said: “More visitors travel to the seaside by car than public transport. They therefore tend to use their own collapsible chairs.
“If people don’t hire the equipment then there is no business to tender or run. I do not believe it is for council tax payers’ money to subsidise businesses that people do not want or use and are therefore uneconomic.”
Mr Oppler had criticised the ‘poor provision’ of deck chairs in recent years. But last year’s operator, Alan McTernan, invited him to try running the concession himself.
Mr McTernan, who has operated other concessions for six years, said the service was not viable on its own and believed it needed to be shared between concessions to work, along with greater investment in the seafront to attract visitors.
Sue Holmes, head of street scene and leisure services at Bognor Regis Town Council, said the authority was keen to see deck chairs provided but it was not responsible for operating the service.
The town council is reviewing its corporate strategy – identifying projects it would seek to deliver in future, which could include deck chair provision.
An Arun spokesman said the council was disappointed to hear Mr McTernan’s views about viability but was talking to a potential operator for the 2016/17 season.
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