Littlehampton Harbour’s Waterfront Festival, a huge success

Crowds gathered in Littlehampton harbour on Sunday, 2nd August 2015 for Littlehampton’s Waterfront Festival.

This popular annual event organised by Littlehampton’s Harbour Master, Billy Johnson proved a huge success with visitors. The RNLI treated waterside spectators to a spectacular display of their seamanship and boating skills within the confines of the relatively narrow river Arun.

RNLI Littlehampton Littlehampton RNLI was joined by RNLI Shoreham’s all weather lifeboat, art Tamar which welcomed visitors aboard for a tour of this very impressive vessel.

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RNLI Shoreham’s all weather lifeboat named the Enid Collett after the late donor’s generous legacy funded the boat which costs £2.7million leaving Littlehampton Harbour after allowing visitors onboard for a tour and to meet the patient crew who answered everyone’s questions.

Littlehampton HarbourThere was lots of water-based activities for visitors to enjoy including this amazing water jet which propelled the rider out of the water to seemingly walk along the river.

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Littlehampton Waterfront Festival attracted large numbers of visitors to the area on what was a beautiful day.

Littlehampton RNLIRNLI Littlehampton’s Blue Peter 1, an Atlantic 75 lifeboat showing it’s capabilities within the confines of the relatively narrow River Arun.

Littlehampton RNLILittlehampton Harbour Board Erica Littlehampton Harbour Board’s new workboat Erica strutting her stuff during Littlehampton Waterfront Festival.

Littlehampton HarbourJet Skis in action during the Waterfront Festival in Littlehampton harbour

Littlehampton Littlehampton’s new public realm provided lots of space for viewing the water based activities.

LittlehamptonLittlehampton’s new public realm links up to the recently built waterside walkway providing an off-road route from Littlehampton seafront to the town centre. The new walkway was a joint project between the Environment Agency and their partners, Arun District Council, Littlehampton Harbour Board, West Sussex County Council and Littlehampton Town Council. The scheme was delivered at a total cost of £22.5m and includes a significant new sea defence wall along Pier Road and Arun Parade.

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New and old. The new public realm linking to the riverside walkway which was completed in 2006.

Arun Yacht ClubArun Yacht Club’s dingy sailors were out in force showing off their skills.

Littlehampton Harbour Littlehampton RNLI beach lifeguards were part of the main RNLI display.

LittlehamptonLittlehampton RNLI boats on display.

Sadly, the seaplane which was due to arrive at midday had to cancel at short notice owing to the pilot’s wife being unwell. We hope all is well with her and a picture below of the seaplane landing at last year’s Waterfront Festival.

DSCF4918Seaplane landing at last year’s Waterfront Festival.

Thanks to Littlehampton Harbour Master Billy Johnson and his wonderful staff for putting on another great event.

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Concerns regarding Littlehampton’s Flood Defence Works grow.

Residents of Littlehampton’s West Beach area, have expressed concerns that the Environment Agency’s Flood Works, taking place on the Littlehampton’s East Bank are  putting their homes at increased risk of flooding.

Their concerns have been dismissed by Andrew Andrew Gilham, the EA’s  flood and coastal risk manager, as ‘categorically untrue.’

I share the residents concerns and have previously written about this in my blog posting The Miracle of Littlehampton Harbour

Time will tell, whose right of course, but by then I suspect, it will be too late.

Therefore I’d urge the residents and business owners of the West Beach to commission their own independent survey and demand the EA sits up and take notice of them.

As for Mr Gilham’s assurances that the EA’s flood defence works won’t adversely impact on the other side of Littlehampton harbour – In my experience, assurances made by the  EA count for very little.

A brief snapshot of some of the assurances that we were given by the EA in Pier Road prior to their flood defence works starting include:

  1. Assured that their Flood defence works would take no longer than 6 months and that the disruption to businesses would be minimal.(Works began in September 2013 and we’re now in February 2015 and they’re still not anywhere near completed)
  2. Assured the Works would cost no more than £13.4 million (they’re now at over £22m )
  3. Assured Pier Road was capable of taking the weight of their piling cranes. Residents and traders expressed concerns that Pier Road was too fragile, these were dismissed. However as soon as the works began, the EA realised that Pier Road wasn’t actually strong enough to take the weight of their crane and a specially adapted crane bridge had to be constructed adding an additional £400,000 to the costs.
  4. Assured in the event their works went over the original 6 month forecast, they’d stop working during the busy tourist season, returning in the autumn to resume works.

Regarding number 4, above, the Environment Agency’s Principle Solicitor, Mr Peter Carty actually confirmed this in a letter dated 5th March 2013, confirming this arrangement:

 “Having taken into account of representations made to us (including those made by the local authority) we have timed the works to have the lowest impact on the tourist season.”

Peter Carty, Principle Solicitor, Environment Agency

 

When spring arrived, the EA’s works continued regardless of theses assurances and the EA works continued throughout what should have been the busiest tourist season on record given the amazing weather.

If the local business community and residents cannot trust previous written assurances  from the EA’s most senior solicitor, this doesn’t inspire confidence in accepting Mr Gilham’s assurances that their works won’t adversely impact the West Beach residents.

While recognising that the EA has many great and talented individuals, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and seeing first hand their dedication and commitment to genuinely creating a better environment for all – the EA have failed miserably in Littlehampton to demonstrate how to properly manage and deliver a public works scheme and in my view should be held accountable by the tax payer for the £8m overspend.

Ironically the EA estimate that £9m is needed to complete Flood defences for Littlehampton’s West Beach, yet have already overspent on the East Side by £8m.

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As always, thanks for reading, your thoughts are welcome, hopefully the problems we’ve had with the comments section have now been rectified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Littlehampton Flood Defence Scheme asking for a cash bail out from Arun District Council

The Environment Agency’s Team responsible for delivering Littlehampton’s £14.5 million Flood Defence scheme announced on Friday, (11th April 2014) to Pier Road Traders, that Littlehampton’s Sea Defence project is now overspent.

So much so, that they’re now having to cut back on the public realm enhancements (the landscaping of the scheme), and also asking the tax payer for additional funds to complete the project.

The exact figure of the overspend hasn’t been disclosed.

Reasons for the increased expenditure is explained in an email from the Project Team as follows:

“The contractor’s costs for the public realm are higher than initially anticipated due to the increased programme duration and additional information on work specification provided as part of the detailed design process.”

 

The email advises that savings will be achieved by:

” a revised design has been proposed that adjusts this slightly replacing some of the ‘harder’ elements with additional planting.”

Revised designs will include:

  1. Removal of the bottom two planting terraces in lieu of a planted slope with a steel panel visible at the rear of the planted area.
  2. Removal of 3 areas of timber terracing at the southern end of Reach 1 in lieu of planting.
  3. Replacement of southern steps, adjacent to the service access road, with planting and a shorter section of steps.
  4. Replacement of steps near the lighthouse with a low wall, maintaining a short section of pedestrian steps for access.


“The changes achieve some of the necessary savings, however additional funds are required to deliver the scheme. Arun District Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 14th April will be asked to consider the recommendation of a supplementary estimate to fully implement the proposed enhancements..”

 

This last line in the above paragraph gives rise to further confusion. Is the additional cash being required to deliver the original scheme as consulted and agreed upon. Or, provide funds to construct the revised downsized enhancements?

Essentially, Littlehampton’s Sea Defence Project promised at a cost of £14.5 million and promised to be delivered and ready by early July 2014 is now not only seriously behind in timescales – we’re looking at end of the year before the works are finished and then Pier Road will require works from West Sussex Highways Department, which will most likely result in Pier Road not being open again until early 2015 – but now the local taxpayer will be paying for what could only be described as gross incompetence.

What’s really annoying is just how many hours of our time in Pier Road was spent agreeing on a design for the public realm enhancements – this included quite literally days of our time – including attending workshops, consultation meetings, reviewing draft designs only not to see what we finally agreed on being quite literally altered and reduced in one simple email.

Why did we bother wasting our time?

Why were we so gullible as to believe that this shower of incompetents were remotely interested in how the final Littlehampton’s Seafront would look when in reality anything that was agreed could be instantly altered without any further consultation?

Here’s a brief overview of why this Project is both over-time and over-spent.

1. Engineering/survey flaws.

Despite being repeatedly told by traders in Pier Road many of whom have lived here for over 50 years that Pier Road was unsuitable and incapable of taking the weight of the large machinery needed to undertake the piling works, the Environment Agency’s Project Manager, Peter Borsberry ignored this advice relying instead on surveys by his appointed engineers.

These surveys proved flawed and it was only after a period of 4 month’s inactivity in Pier Road, the Environment Agency’s finally admitted during one of our meetings that a specially adapted crane bridge would have to be constructed incurring an additional £400,000 costs to the project budget.

My view is that the engineering firm  who provided the original flawed survey should be responsible for the costs that resulted in their flawed surveys.

Why should the tax payer have to pay for this gross incompetence?

Let’s not forget that this mistake not only cost a whopping great £400,000 hole in the project budget, but also led to lengthy delays to piling works being undertaken in Pier Road.

2. Timescale Flaws

Again throughout the consultation project, the Environment Agency’s Project team were questioned as to their timescales with traders expressing concern that the project couldn’t be delivered in such a small window.

These concerns were dismissed and the arrogant ‘we’re doing similar schemes all over the country’ became their stock-standard response.

When you look now at the sheer technical problems this project poses, you’d have to be an idiot not to be able to see that the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences could be achieved in as little as six months.

We were told by the then site manager that the piling in Pier Road would take 30 days. This during a consultation meeting. When asked by one of the traders in Pier Road how many piles would be needed to complete Pier Road, this was met with an embarrassing silence.

Who could honestly have any faith in a site manager who tells a group that piling can be completed in 30 days when he hasn’t even worked out how many piles would be needed?

In fact, it took the owner of a fish and shop to tell him how many piles would be needed and dig him out of the embarrassing hole he’d dug himself.

And, the piling in Pier Road is ongoing and has been since January and expected to be completed in May. A total of 5 months.

And we’re expected to pay for this level of competency?

3. Incompetent management

The contract responsible for constructing the scheme’s Site Manager has now been replaced.

I don’t intend to speculate on the reasons why he’s gone, but telling us that he could complete piling in Pier Road in 30 days might give you some idea. In any event, his replacement appears to have achieved more tangible results in the one month or so he’s been here, than what his predecessor didn’t manage to achieve in more than six months.

Why should the tax payer pay for incompetent site management?

4. Grossly underestimating compensation for Traders

Easy to see now why getting a fair deal on compensation was so difficult.

Clearly the Environment Agency hadn’t figured on just how great the impact would be on businesses trading in Pier Road.

Again, these concerns were brought (and continually brought) to the Project Team during the consultation process.

I suggested that the Environment Agency’s Project team undertake a survey of business activity in Pier Road in order to give them a better feel as to just how much their works were likely to cost us in terms of lost business.

These concerns were dismissed and no surveys undertaken – however the Project Team did spend time monitoring the comings and goings of fish in the River Arun and accessing the potential impact that their works might have on sea bass.

As we know now, businesses in Pier Road have been devastated by these works, which are ongoing and these losses are now set to increase seeing as the works will  continue throughout the summer period.

A once vibrant and brilliantly independent business location is now reliant on state-handouts to keep the lights on.

5. Excessive and ever-increasing ‘professional fees’.

What’s become clear with this project is that the Environment Agency is nothing more than a group of walking, talking pen pushers.

Any expertise/professional service  that’s required has to be bought in – and at considerable costs.

Whether it’s to assess trader’s compensation claims, or make a decision as to the type of pile used, the Environment Agency’s Project Team are either unable, unqualified or unwilling to undertake these tasks which then have to be farmed out private practices to provide.

Consequently costs spiral.

Ultimately, we (Pier Road Traders) were led to believe right throughout the lengthy consultation process that the Environment Agency has agreed a fixed cost contract for the works.

It’s unacceptable now that they’ve quite literally cocked up so much that we the local tax payer are not only having to fund their incompetence by way of providing additional monies, but also are seeing what was a somewhat under whelming public realm now being reduced further as they’ve overspent.

I have no doubt that Monday night’s Cabinet Meeting at Arun District Council will approve the additional funding – after all – what choice have they got?

In any event, it’s unacceptable that the public should pay for incompetence.

The Environment Agency will of course blame the weather and any other convenient peg they can hang their problems on. However, what they can’t get away from is that they fact that the fundamental principles behind this project were seriously flawed and data provided by expensive experts has proved detrimental to the costs and duration of this scheme.

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Littlehampton Harbour, views from the Crane

A huge thanks to Eric Smethurst and his colleagues at VolkerStevin for providing me with these super pictures of MV Victress entering Littlehampton Harbour.

MV Victress is owned by Faversham Ships, Holland and is usually based at East Cowes.

These photographs were taken by VolkerStevin’s staff working in Pier Road  from a basket hanging from the crane and give a unique view of Littlehampton harbour, including the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea defences.

These photographs have been taken so all parties involved in the construction of Littlehampton Sea Defences  can monitor the behaviour of a large ship entering Littlehampton Harbour and see what if any impact the new sea defences may have.

Remember to click on the pictures to see an enlarged view.

Littlehampton harbour 1

Littlehampton Harbour’s Pilot Boat enters the harbour to ensure the way is clear.

MV Victress was built in 1992 at Rosslauer Shipyard Elbe as the Lass Mars.

Her length in the water is 74.94m

Littlehampton harbour 2

A quick view of Littlehampton’s sea defence works while the photographer waits for the boat to arrive.

Littlehampton harbour 3

A terrific ‘bird’s eye’ view of the recently constructed crane bridge which is carrying the 130 tonne crane along Pier Road.

Littlehampton harbour 4

A splendid view of Littlehampton’s Oyster Pond. Built at some time during the 1700s.

It was originally used as area to store freshly landed fish and oysters, prior to their being taken by road to their onward destinations. This was in effect a then ‘modern day’ refrigeration until. In 1735, Littlehampton had a new river mouth channel cut and a wooden harbour erected. It was around this time that the Oyster Pond would have been constructed. I had previously thought it was constructed in the 180os, but according to books in Littlehampton library, they record its construction as being in the 1700s. In any event it’s one of Littlehampton’s oldest structures.

Littlehampton harbour 5

MV Victress entering Littlehampton Harbour. As you can see the crane basket was quite literally perched above it!

She has two movable bulkheads giving 7 different stows.

Her main engines are  2 x Cummins KTA19m rated 748kw

And she has a Electric Bowthruster: 100KW to help turn her around.

Littlehampton harbour 6a

You can see one of the ship’s crew members looking up at the crane basket on the left hand side (our left looking down at it)

Littlehampton harbour 6

 

MV Victress passes under the crane basket on route to be unloaded at Railway Wharf.

Littlehampton harbour 7

A great picture showing how high up the photographer is….

The progress with the construction sea defences is now apparent and as you can see the contractors are now steaming ahead. It won’t be long before the South End reach (Arun Parade) meets the North Reach (Pier Road). All piling in these two areas are on target to finish now in May. Good news, as we won’t have the banging anymore.

Littlehampton harbour 10

I think the colours of the buildings in the new East Bank riverside development and really striking and really enhance Littlehampton harbour.

Littlehampton harbour 11

Littlehampton’s Look and Sea! on the right hand side and Arun Yacht Club on the left hand side. Arun Yacht Club also offer visitor’s moorings, so if you’re planning to visit Littlehampton harbour, do call them in advance to book your space.

littlehampton harbour 14

Littlehampton’s iconic ‘red footbridge’ has opened to allow MV Victress make its final maneuver where it will moor alongside the quay.

Once again, many thanks to Eric and his colleagues at VolkerStevin for allowing me to use these pictures and keeping us updated on their works.

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Littlehampton’s Action Boat will not be running this Season.

Sad news – No Action Boat for this coming Season.

Action Boat

Earlier this week I caught up with the guys behind Littlehampton’s popular white-knuckle powerboat rides –  Action Boat  They confirm that owing to the Sea Defence works they won’t be able to run their popular rides this season.

Apparently the problems with access to and from the boat are just too great now that Action Boat’s berthing pontoon has been removed while the sea defence works are underway. They are hopeful that they’ll be back again in action in 2015. But this is a big blow for Littlehampton as this was one of our newest and most popular waterside attractions.

And it’s not just Action Boats that will be affected by lack of pontoon space.

One of the biggest problems facing Littlehampton Harbour this year will be the lack of visitor berthing space for visiting boats.

Littlehampton harbour 8

Last year we enjoyed  a bumper season with visiting yachts many of them arriving as part of ‘Rallies’.

These boats and rallies bring a very welcomed spend to our local businesses – restaurants, shops and bars doing exceptionally well. Each year my own bike shop in Pier Road does well with cycle hire with visiting mariners and we also manage to sell a number of bikes to them.

But with the restricted pontoon space, it’s difficult to see how they’ll all fit in.

And, sadly  the future of the Littlehampton Ferry also looks to be in doubt.

Littlehampton Ferry

Latest update I can get on the Littlehampton Ferry is that the boat is up for sale and the previous operator (Action Boats) has confirmed it won’t be running the ferry as part of their operation.

Again even if a buyer is found it’s difficult to see where a suitable embarking and landing pontoon would be found as the original pontoon has now been removed as has the steps leading to it.

No doubt it’s going to be a difficult season for us as we’ve lost these two very popular attractions.

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