Will Littlehampton voters be encouraged to vote in May 2017 West Sussex County Council elections?

On 4th May 2017, West Sussex County Council elections will take place.

Historic voting patterns in Littlehampton for this election show declining voter numbers, begging the question, how many of us will be bothered to turn out in May to vote?

Littlehampton has two seats on West Sussex County Council with the town being divided into two separate Wards – Littlehampton Town and Littlehampton East.

Currently, Liberal Democrat Councillors Buckland and Walsh have been elected to these two seats.

Here’s how both Wards turned out in the last two West Sussex County Council elections, which took place in 2009 and 2013.

Littlehampton Town Ward –

Currently held by Councillor Ian Buckland, Liberal Democrat.

Ignoring spoiled votes, in 2009 West Sussex County Council elections, 2639 Littlehampton Town voters turned out to vote. This dropped sharply in the 2013 WSCC Elections when 2151 Littlehampton voters turned out to vote.

A drop of 488 Voters – turnout down 3.7%

Littlehampton East Ward

Currently held by Councillor James Walsh, Liberal Democrat.

A similar picture of falling voting numbers for Littlehampton East Ward where in 2009, 3384 voters turned out compared to only 2829 in the 2013 West Sussex County Council election.

A drop of 555 Voters – turnout down 5.9%

In neighbouring East Preston and Ferring, the turnout dropped a whopping great 9.3%. In fact, throughout the West Sussex County Council area, voting numbers turning out to vote are down. Chichester North seeing the biggest fall, turnout down 12.1.%

The Conservative Party continue to control West Sussex County Council which have done since 1997. However in the 2013 election their majority was cut from 13 seats to 10 seats. UKIP gained 8 seats in addition to their existing 2 seats to take over as the official opposition party from the Liberal Democrats who overall lost 11 seats.

We’ve yet to know who will be putting themselves forward for election in the West Sussex County Council elections, which will take place on 4th May 2017. However, what’s clear is we need fresh faces who can inspire and motivate, challenge and will vote in the interests of the residents they’ve been elected to serve, and not the ideals of whatever party they represent.

I’ve witnessed councillors giving impassioned speeches at various council meetings against council proposals/planning applications and then to vote for the very proposals they’ve objected to as they’ve been instructed by their political party which way to vote.

What benefit is this sort of representation to the local communities who turn out against the odds to vote for them?

Interested in becoming a County Councillor

West Sussex County Council are holding a County Council candidates event for anyone considering becoming a WSCC Councillor on Monday 27th February, 2017 at West Sussex County Council offices – 6pm to 9pm at the address below:

West Sussex County Council
County Hall
West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RQ


As always, thanks for reading, your comments always welcome. The comments section should now be open to taking your comments having previously been out of service. Again apologies to those who tried to post comments and were unable.

 

Littlehampton new swimming pool and leisure centre given the go ahead.

Great news for Littlehampton residents and visitors to our beautiful seaside town. Councillors at Arun District Council have unanimously agreed Arun District Council’s (ADC) to build a new Leisure centre including a  new 25 meter swimming pool.

Littlehampton’s new leisure centre will be located at the existing Sea Road site with the new building being built on the site of the existing Sport’s Dome, thereby allowing the existing swimming pool, gym and cafe to continue to operate during the building works.

Facilities at Littlehampton’s new Leisure Centre will include:

  • 25 metre pool
  • Learner pool with a moveable floor
  • Gym – circa 450 m2 giving up to 85 stations
  • Spinning Studio
  • Cafe
  • Multipurpose meeting room
  • Dome will be replaced with a 4 court sports hall
  • 2 flexible studios that will be able to accommodate many of the activities that take place in the existing sports dome.
  • new facility will be DDA Compliant.

New facility will not include a 50 metre swimming pool.

Some will be disappointed that the new facility does not include a 50metre swimming pool, however Arun advise that this wouldn’t be possible as the costs of constructing one would increase the project costs by an estimated £3m and the subsequent running costs would be considerably higher.

Dome users will have no facilities while works are underway

Unfortunately current users of the Dome will see this facility taken away as the new building is being built on this part of the site. Arun advise that Freedom Leisure are currently working on ways of providing alternative facilities.

Littlehampton Residents Concerns.

Some residents had worried that the new facility would be located in North Littlehampton, however Arun District Council have now decided that new facilities will be located in the existing site, which is great news for Littlehampton’s seafront.

Tree felling.

Others have worried that the new facility will require trees to be felled in Littlehampton’s Mewsbrook Park and Ruby Gardens. Although some trees will have to be felled to allow building works, Arun advise that will take place outside of the nesting season and will be kept to a minimum. They also promise to replant trees to replace those felled.

Impact on the Aqua Youth Centre

Apart from what Arun describe as some small alterations to the layout of the Aqua Youth Centre, Arun advise that this much-loved and tremendous local sailing facility will continue to operate as normal.

Building works begin in Spring 2017

Building of the new facilities is expected to begin as early as Spring 2017 and completion by April 2019.

Arun District Council are giving assurances that works will not disrupt existing leisure facility users and current car parking arrangements and access will be  maintained.

The new facility is expected to cost £15million and Arun are a little unclear as to how this will be funded. They state that funding will come from:

  1. Capital receipts
  2. Borrowing (which Arun describe as ‘prudent borrowing’.
  3. Grant from Sport England

Arun have yet to have grant funding from Sport England approved,  and it’s unclear if they’ve actually yet applied for a grant, yet this is still classified as a funding source. Somewhat worrying, as what happens if Sport England reject their grant application?

Who pays then, and more importantly, how much?

Although this is very much welcome news for Littlehampton and Arun residents, we should all keep a close eye on the project’s progress to ensure that what’s promised is actually delivered.

Once the new facility has been built, Arun advise that the old facility will be demolished and the area turned into a public space.


As always thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

 

 

Will the Environment Agency ever finish Littlehampton’s Flood Defences?

Despite spending in excess of £22.5million on flood defences in Littlehampton Harbour, the Environment Agency still have not completed the flood defence works – and a massive gap still remains in the new flood defence wall.

Hard to believe, that it was back in September 2012, the Environment Agency began constructing Littlehampton’s flood defence scheme. Yet, here we are, early 2017 and Littlehampton still hasn’t been protected from flooding.

Despite assurances made at the start of the project by Environment Agency Manager David Robinson and his colleagues, that their extensive, disruptive  works would ensure Littlehampton was protected from a future flooding event, a large flood-friendly gap has been left in the new flood defence wall.

As you can see in the above picture, a barge was commissioned to complete the works along this side of the River Road’s riverside frontage. My understanding is, that the Environment Agency are holding the landowner responsible for paying for the works to this particular stretch of the riverbank. However, the landowner disputes their liability.

Regardless of who is responsible, surely the sensible approach would have been for the Environment Agency’s contractors to have completed this remaining section of the flood defences while their contractors were already in the river area working on the flood defences and arguing liability at a later date?

Surely the potential costs of clearing up after a flooding event, far outweigh the savings made by leaving a gap in the flood defences? Given that the equipment needed to construct a flood defence wall in a harbour environment are expensive, to say the least – the costs of now returning to bridge this gap will be far in excess of the costs that would have been involved in making good the wall when the EA’s contractors were already in place.

In any event, at the time, the Environment Agency decided to withdraw their contractors, leaving the area with the massive gap you see in the above picture,  leaving a number of giant sandbags, (which can be seen in the picture)to be used in the event of a flooding crisis.

How can a government funded quango spend over £22.5m on creating what were described at the time as being ‘state of the art’ and we’re left with a number of giant sand bags to save the town from flooding?

More importantly, why have the local authorities who were partners in this project (primarily – Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council) remained silent on the situation and not demanded a remedy?

I’ve asked David Robinson, manager at the Environment Agency for an update on what they’re intending to do to bridge the gap and complete the flood defences that were promised.

I have also written to my MP Nick Gibb (Littlehampton MP) asking for his intervention.

I will update the blog with any replies, in the meantime I’d urge you to write to Nick Gibb, MP for Littlehampton to bring pressure on the Environment Agency to undertake and complete their statutory duties.

Nick Gibb MP, can be emailed at:  gibbn@parliament.uk

When I previously raised this issue back in 2016 – this story was taken up by the BBC including featuring on BBC South East News with Sean Killick, BBC Radio Sussex and other media outlets. At the time, David Robinson, Manager at the Environment Agency gave assurances that a permanent solution would be achieved.

We’re still waiting, Mr Robinson.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

Paul

 

 

 

Travellers now occupying Littlehampton Seafront Car Park

Updated – Travellers left Littlehampton on Sunday 27th November and last seen heading along the A27 past Chichester towards Portsmouth area.

Littlehampton’s Banjo Road, seafront car park is now home to a large number of travellers. All vehicles have foreign registration marks, which include a Bentley and other expensive luxury cars.Littlehampton car parkEasy access to the seafront car park as Arun District Council had left the height barriers open. The height barrier installed to prevent such trespasses.

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This Bentley amongst the high quality, expensive cars that have arrived towing large caravans.

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The scene this morning where a large number of travellers have gained entry to Littlehampton’s seafront car park.

I’ve reported on these trespasses before on my blog and I highlighted the complete disregard that Arun District Council take in preventing these occurrences. Illegal trespasses which cost the local tax payer significant money in evicting them as well as the problems created by their presence.

On this occasion Arun District Council left the car park’s height barrier open, which if closed would have prevented their gaining entry.

Sussex Police are on scene with two police cars and a number of uniformed police officers.

Littlehampton travellers

Sussex police officers talking to caravan owners who just arrived in Littlehampton.

Arun District Council bylaws forbid overnight camping in seafront car parks or anywhere on the council’s seafront greensward.


As always, thanks for reading, comments welcome.

Littlehampton Town Centre Drunks

Anyone else had enough?

On Saturday 5th March 2016, I shopped in Littlehampton town centre as I regularly do.

However my visit was marred by the ongoing drunken arguments and abuse by Littlehampton’s town centre resident drunks.

If you visit the town, you’ll be familiar with them.

They cluster in areas, drinking, swearing, spitting and fighting.

Their behaviour isn’t just unacceptable, it’s criminal.

Yet, despite the very obvious ongoing public order offences committed by these people, Sussex police seem reluctant to do anything about them.

For example, I attended a meeting last year where the problem was discussed by the authorities including Katy Bourne, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner. One of the solutions was to involve the homeless charity ‘Stone Pillow’.

Actions such as arresting and prosecuting offenders didn’t seem to feature on the agenda.

It was all about ‘working with these people to achieve positive outcomes’, we were told.

I wonder if I’d stood up at the meeting and directed at Ms Bourne and her colleagues some of the verbal abuse that many of us have been subjected to in the town centre, would she been so keen on working with me to achieve positive outcomes?

Wonder how she’d cope with being called a ‘ f….ing fat, ugly bitch, as one of my partially-sighted relatives was called recently when she accidentally  strayed into the path of one of our town centre’s female drunks?

Needless to say, my relative now shops elsewhere.

As for the view that these people are somehow homeless.

These people all live in well-appointed accommodation in and around Littlehampton, paid for by the local tax payer. One things for sure,when they’re not causing bother in the town centre, they’re making a great success of it where they live.

Of course their well-heeled landlords,  most of whom don’t live in Littlehampton, are far enough away to be not bothered by their tenants anti-social behaviour.

Ask yourself, why is it these drunks aren’t plaguing Rustington town centre, or Arundel town centre?

It’s because Littlehampton is where they’ve been housed.

Littlehampton has long being the favourite dumping ground for Arun’s social problems.

And as long as the out-of-town decision-making Councillors continue to grant planning permissions to Littlehampton landlords to turn family-sized homes into bedsits, this problem will continue.

Across the road from my home, I once witnessed a woman being dragged by her hair by a drunken man who then forced his way into the property where she lived (a HMO) by shoving his fist through the glass.

At the time this particular HMO was home to a number of serious undesirables.

It was late at night. My partner and I phoned the police, who to their credit arrived within minutes, arrested the offender, while the woman was taken to hospital.

We gave a statement at the time only for the perpetrator to be released the following morning without being charged. The police didn’t think of telling us and the first we knew was when the man began stalking us outside our front window. This went on for a number of months with no police intervention and harassment included late-night drunks urinating in our doorway, our car vandalised, beer bottles thrown against our wall along with some pretty vile verbal abuse being directed at us.

It ended when he and his friends left.

The offenders were in control all the time. Just as they are now in Littlehampton town centre.

These people don’t just cause problems in town centres; they blight lives and communities.

Arun District Council have finally announced a solution to the problem.

An alcohol ban for the town centre.

But didn’t they previously introduce an alcohol restriction zone, which has been mostly unenforceable owing to lack of resources?

I imagine it will be as successful as their folly in employing dog poo enforcement officers who managed to go a whole term without issuing any penalties.

Yet, Arun District Council hailed it a huge success.


As always, thanks for reading, please do make any comments below and remember to sign up to my Littlehampton Live Newsletter here.