A visit by the Police and Crime Commissioner to Littlehampton town centre has been criticised by her political opponents.
Katy Bourne joined Nick Gibb MP and Arun District Council chairman Alan Gammon on a walkabout in High Street last week to find out what issues affected business people and shoppers the most.
But prominent Liberal Democrat councillors claimed they had been snubbed and that only Conservative politicians were invited.
Dr James Walsh, a county, district and town councillor, said it was a ‘pure stunt’ by the Tories, ‘who have done nothing but cut town centre policing and responses over recent years’.
Simon Vickers, chairman of the Littlehampton Traders’ Partnership, said it was ‘slightly disappointing’ more people were not informed ahead of the visit, and that Tyndall Jones, former owner of David O Jones Sports in High Street, only found out the day before he took part in the event.
But Mr Vickers added that Mrs Bourne and Mr Gibb were doing a lot of work behind the scenes to help traders, and that ‘political grandstanding’ helped no-one.
A spokesman for Mrs Bourne said she was invited by Mr Gibb, who organised the event.
This came as Mrs Bourne faced her own mishap on Twitter. In a tweet about the visit, she referred three times to Adur and Worthing – despite being in Arun.
Tim Loughton, a Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, pointed out the error, saying ‘I think you mean Arun Katy’.
She responded at the time by blaming ‘fat fingers’ and ‘pressing the wrong button’ but since deleted the tweet.
Speaking after the visit, Mrs Bourne said ‘street drinking, aggressive begging and unruly youths’ were top of the agenda for PCSOs and shoppers she spoke to and reassured residents that ‘troublesome hot spots and individuals will be consistently targeted’ while the force recruits more officers.
She said: “We met some very passionate and hard working people who have invested in the town but they are very clear they need the help and support of all agencies – not just the police – if their businesses are to succeed.”
Mr Gibb said he was ‘confident that our concerns and those of the businesses will be taken seriously’ by police officials.