Are VolkerStevin really deserving of a £14.5 million Sea Defence contract?

The Environment Agency, a much derided government quango, have appointed their favourite contractor, VolkerStevin to construct Littlehampton’s £14.5 million sea defence scheme.

Thus far, this contractor has not only managed to fall seriously behind in terms of its finishing timescales  – the original dates being July 2014 – now expected to be at least March 2015 – but has charged the tax payer for its ongoing failings.

I was made aware earlier this week by reliable source that VolkerStevin’s Contract from the Environment Agency includes no penalty clauses, but allows for VolkerStevin to bill the Environment Agency for its ongoing delays.

If there ever was a reason for the Environment Agency being down-graded to an authority that supervises and issues leisure fishing licenses, then the current costly and incompetent farce now playing out in Littlehampton’s Pier Road is it.

Where possible, I’ve tried to remain positive in reporting on the current construction works. Ignoring, the many health and safety breaches that the contractors have committed, which have been conveniently ignored by the Environment Agency.

Health and Safety breaches which have included breaches in noise levels, dust levels and more seriously lying to us in Pier Road about what we could expect during the building works.

Time now that those of us who care about the future well-being of our lovely seaside town became more aware and more involved in the current ‘do-as-you-please’ contractor scheme operated by VolkerStevin and we demand fair play.

Let’s start (in this post) with the basics.

Ask yourself, would you trust a company who is being paid £14.5 million to build Littlehampton’s sea defence walls when it cannot even construct a temporary fence to protect its own construction site during the works?

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The above is the scene on Sunday, 10th August 2014 showing the entrance to the VolkerStrevin site in Littlehampton. The fencing, unable to withstand the predicted high winds. Ironically, it was the Environment Agency who issued strong wind warnings to us all, warnings which went un-heeded by it’s contractors.

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Fencing blown down in the strong winds in Pier Road.

Of course, you could forgive VolkerStevin and the staff at the Environment Agency if they actually reacted to these fences down, but they don’t. There’s no policing of the site and despite my telephone calls to their Security Company, tweeting their Twitter account and emails to:

  1. Peter Borseberry, Project Manager at the Environment Agency
  2. David Robinson, Operations Manager at the Environment Agency
  3. James Humphry’s, Area Manager, (Solent and South Downs) of the Environment Agency

by 1pm, the fence is still down, unattended and blowing to the potential determinant of public safety.

To be fair, this is Sunday and we shouldn’t expect the senior management of the Environment Agency or their contractors VolkerStevin to upset their weekends worrying about our safety.

Clearly public concerns to senior officials at public bodies should only really be addressed during Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and preferably be made to those staff in the lower echelons of the Environment Agency who can bear the brunt (as they always do) of the public dissatisfaction.

And it’s not just fencing.

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Despite severe Weather warnings issued by The Environment Agency, here is VolkerStevin’s crane (one of two currently in Littlehampton seafront) still standing at full reach being battered by the severe winds.

Surely anyone with even the most basic grasp of health and safety would have ensured that these cranes were lowered in advance of the severe weather arriving? More especially as it was their own client, the Environment Agency who issued the warnings.

Are VolkerStevin the company who have continually demonstrated their inability to erect signs, fences and other feature really the ones who are going to build a sea defence structure capable of protecting this town for the next 100 years?

The pictures that follow are of previous fencing come-downs where again I had to contact the Environment Agency to make them aware the dangerous condition of their contractor’s fencing and signposting.

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Clearly fencing isn’t a strong point at VolkerStevin

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Pier Road’s site lighting junction box floating in the tide courtesy of VolkerStevin.

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More quality security fencing from VolkerStevin.

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The electrics pack hanging in the river.

The longer this project goes on, the more money VollkerStevin get paid.

To-date, they’ve been awarded £14.5million pounds.

Target completion date for this project: June/July 2014.

Target completion date for the Arun View – April 2014 – revised now to November 2014. A much-loved local business closed for the entire summer season.

Revised target completion date for the scheme: March 2105.

Despite the serious failings with this scheme, the Environment Agency’s Project Manager remains in post.

Why?

Please share your thoughts