“Shut your business and take a holiday…..”
Was the shocking advice from Peter Borseberry, Project Manager for the proposed Flood Defences for Pier Road’s Littlehampton.
I sat there shocked as he gave his update for the proposed Sea Defences for Littlehampton during last week’s meeting at Arun District Council.
During this meeting, Pier Road Traders were told:
- Pier Road, Littlehampton will be closed for the duration of the works to build the new sea defences.
- There may, where possible be a provision to include a pavement for pedestrians, but this cannot be guaranteed, rendering Pier Road closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
- There is no timescale for the proposed works, but the Environment Agency hope it to be completed within 6 months.
- The important thing is that Fish movements in the River Arun are monitored to ensure that there is as little impact on their habitat and movements as possible.
- Properties in Pier Road could be potentially damaged by the works. Thus far, the EA seem to have overlooked the fact that so many of Pier Road’s properties have basements.
- Viewing Platforms to be erected for the public who can marvel at the works being done.
Then we had a bizarre invitation that it might be ‘best to consider closing your business and taking a holiday…”
I got the impression that the welfare of the fish was being put before those of the tax-paying public and business rate payers.
For example, Peter explained that it was an important task of the Environment Agency to accommodate the fishes needs in the River Arun and that their work shouldn’t impact on them.
Compare this to the treatment of those of us who either live or have businesses in Pier Road.
To date, neither the EA or Arun District Council has as much as commissioned something as simple as a traffic survey, residents survey, or local business survey in order to understand Pier Road’s local geography and needs.
Far better to stand watching the fish rather than undertake something that could potentially save businesses from going bankrupt.
But in my experience, Councils don’t do ‘reality’ well. They prefer to see everything through the prisms of a carefully appointed, invariably overpaid ‘consultant’ than confront what’s actually going on outside their own doors.
Important tools such as a well-thought out Traffic Management Plan, get overlooked in the rush to adhere to form-filling duties as opposed to actually creating a safe and sensible management of road closures.
In my view, the impact on closing Pier Road for such a prolonged period will have a devastating impact on businesses not just in Pier Road, but also Littlehampton Town Centre as traffic chaos and gridlock will result in less visitors coming to either area and shopping and visiting elsewhere.
The potential disastrous impact of this development could be greatly reduced if the work was carried out, riverside, than roadside. That way Pier Road and Arun Parade would remain in some way open to traffic.
I must say I was grateful for the support of Councillor Paul Bicknell who made a point of insisting that the EA build into the Contract of Works a Clause stating that a footpath be maintained open in Pier Road throughout the proposed period of Works and Councillor Dingemans’s suggestion to offer free parking nearby in the Pay and Display Car park.