Pier Road’s most eccentric resident has come under attack from the bureaucrats at Arun District Council.
Ms Samantha Allen, Planning Compliance & Monitoring Investigator has written to Alan advising him that his eccentric, colourful home in Pier Road is adversely affecting the neighbourhood.
She further states that Alan’s colourful property in Pier Road may encourage ‘anti-social behaviour.’
And it’s not just the condition of Alan’s property that has encouraged the wrath of Ms Allen’s bureaucratic pen, she also demands to know why Alan has a toy Dalmatian and Mannequin on display at his property.
“I would ask that you provide an explanation for the unusual items on display i.e. the toy Dalmatian dog hanging out of a first floor window and the mannequin in the top floor window.”
“I should advise you that failure to comply with this request will leave the council to consider action pursuant to Sections 215-219 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).
Arun District Council
In her letter dated 24th March 2015, Ms Allen highlights the fact that Pier Road has had new footpaths outside the shops and properties, resurfacing to the road that ‘matches the colour of the new boardwalk’ and basically says – Alan’s property no longer fits in with the new, regenerated Pier Road.
Double standards, of course.
The pavement that Ms Allen refers to in her letter has been completed to such a poor standard that West Sussex County Council Highways have served legal notices on their contractors to remedy their poor work. In fact,one of the reasons why I still cannot re-carpet my shop, and paint the outside is that we’re still waiting for the Council’s contractors to re-do the substandard work on the pavements outside our doors.
A fact, which has been completely overlooked by Ms Allen.
Neither has the Environment Agency completed their promised ‘post works condition survey works’ for properties in Pier Road affected by the flood defence works. The whole thing has turned into such a bureaucratic saga that I’ve told the Environment Agency that we’ll get on with our improvements without further delay.
Alan and his neighbours have complained about cracks in their walls, which they attribute to the flood defence works, yet they’ve been mostly ignored by the authorities, apart from Ms Allen’s letter.
Readers of my blog and those who follow @pier_road twitter feed will know of the battles I’ve had to get Arun District Council to undertake regular and competent cleaning of Pier Road and the seafront area.
Not to mention the blindingly obvious fact that Arun District Council have an appalling track record maintaining our local features.
Littehampton’s Oyster Pond is a good example of Arun’s ‘Cash and Grab’ philosophy.
If you don’t know the feature – the Oyster Pond is one of Littlehampton’s oldest features, if not thee oldest. Build in the 1870s as storage area for seafood, hence the name – Oyster Pond. It was used to save boats the long sail up to Arundel, which was the main market town for the area. The Victorians then used it as a boating lake and even had an annual swimming gala there. The Pond itself is a marvel of engineering – being filled from the River Arun via underground chambers and pipes.
Today, the Oyster pond is in a sorry state of disrepair as Arun District Council have continually refused to invest in it’s upkeep. The sides of the pond are in a poor and dilapidated stated, the bottom leaks and without the substantial funding now needed to regenerate this feature, it’s unlikely that future generations will be able to enjoy it as we have.
The steps leading into the Oyster Pond are in an appalling state. Ten years ago when I was the concession holder for the Oyster Pond, I proposed substantive restoration for the pond. Arun frustrated my efforts to make improvements, so I left it to them.
Since then, to the best of my knowledge, Arun have made no structural improvements to the Oyster Pond.
Arun’s Concession holders, Mike and Lisa run the pedal boats on the Oyster Pond and do a splendid job with them. However, the pond’s structure is in need of urgent attention something which Arun District Council steadfastly refuse to do.
Far easier to fire off threatening legal letters to a local character about the state of his property than address their own serious failings.
Arun’s Seafront car parks are another example of the council’s lack of ongoing preventive maintenance and upkeep. Despite charging top rates for seafront car parking, Arun infrequently cut the grass.
Seafront car park resembles more of a builder’s yard than a welcoming seafront car park.
How can anyone claim the above surface is suitable for a car park? Arun do and when I complained, refused to accept that the above muddy surface was in any way dangerous.
When I confronted Nigel Lynn at Arun District Council about the state of the seafront car parks, the official reply was that the state of their car parks presented no potential dangers, and Arun confirmed they don’t as a matter of course carry out any annual risk assessments on their car parks.
In my view, they should.
But far from addressing their own failings, easier to try and portray a man who has a sense of humour as being some sort of public enemy.
Laughable to suggest that Alan’s dog is likely to bring the area in disrepute and may increase and lead to anti-social behaviour.
Amazingly, Samantha Allen, Arun District Council’s Planning and Compliance and Monitoring Investigator demands to know why Alan has a toy dog hanging from outside his property, but when travellers illegally encamped on our seafront a couple of years ago, damaging fencing, ploughing up the ground with children riding motorbikes on the promenade and greensward – Arun District Council did nothing.
When I complained about District Council’s lack of enforcement action to Nigel Croad, Deputy Chief Executive at Arun District Council, he told me that he had to consider the welfare of his own officers who would not therefore be confronting anti-social behaviour.
The above anti-social behaviour went unchecked by Arun District Council while they busied themselves undertaking ‘welfare checks’.
Yet this gentleman who has done much to help many good local causes has been targeted by Arun District Council as being someone whose property is likely to cause anti-social behaviour
Of course when it comes to ‘poorly maintained buildings’, Arun District Council are no strangers.
The above picture is of Arun District Council’s housing office located adjacent to Littlehampton Town Council’s chambers. Arun allowed the building to fall into a poor state of repair, boarding up broken windows and doors and leaving this eyesore for a number of years before the town council purchased the building and demolished it.
On the left hand side of the above picture is Arun District Council’s offices, on the right the Town Council’s offices and home to Littlehampton Millennium Chambers.
I had been to three civil ceremonies at the Town Council’s beautifully presented Millennium Chambers and on each occasion, guests remarked at the appalling state of Arun’s building and how it let down an otherwise perfect venue.
Arun District Council were content to let their own poorly maintained and presented offices become a blight on Littlehampton’s landscape, until such time as the Town Council purchased the dilapidated buildings from them, demolished them making way for a lovely remembrance garden.
While I agree entirely it’s vital that business owners and property owners in Pier Road and Littlehampton present their buildings in such a way as to assist regenerating the area. I have some difficulty in accepting that Arun District Council are the ones to enforce change.
Far be it for them to lead by example and if letters are necessary, write without the threats. Far better to create a climate of enthusiasm and mutual co-operation rather than hitting a well-meaning, much loved local character over the head with threats of legal action.
As always, thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome.
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