Update on Littlehampton Sea Defences

An update on Littlehampton Sea defence works.

Piling Works in Pier Road and Arun Parade

Piling works in Pier Road are now completed. The last pile in Pier Road was driven in successfully yesterday evening and we can look forward to a quieter environment and a welcome break from the noise of the piling works.

There is however, one small gap in Arun Parade junction with Pier Road where piling will continue. This gap had to be left until last for engineering reasons. However, it won’t take long and then the Piling Crews – two of them will be moving to the River Road area.

If you’ve visited Arun Parade recently you’ll have seen that the actual flood defence wall is taking shape as the capping has been built along quite a long stretch of the Parade.

Littlehampton Sea Defence Construction 1

The finished height of the wall is causing lots of concern and comment as to it being too high. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about this. This height was advised by the Environment Agency and Arun District Council throughout the consultation period. I have some reservations as to where the height indicators were measured from, but anyway, we’re going to be looking at a very major wall structure in Arun Parade and Pier Road which is why Arun District Council who are responsible for designing and funding the public realm for these works have to get this right. If they don’t, Littlehampton residents and visitors and future generations will be looking at an almighty eye sore wondering how this was ever allowed.

We’ve already seen the budget for the public realms having to be increased by £600,000 – £297,00 actually paid into the pot with a further £300,000 being kept in reserves.

However, even with these increased budgets, the public realm provisions have been cut back. The main feature being lost was the beautiful steps leading to the beach at the Harbour Park end of Arun Parade and the planting arrangements going from attractive tiered levels to a simple all-in slope.

So, we the local Arun tax payer are paying more for less

We all need to be vigilant now. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure that Pier Road, Arun Parade and Littlehampton harbour’s future isn’t blighted by complacency, naivety and a misguided belief that Arun District Council actually deliver on anything they promise.

Of note at our last Trader’s Partnership stakeholders meeting – the contractor building the public realm informed us that they’d only just received the actual plans from Arun District Council and that they’d have an actual quotation for the works available by middle of June.

So what’s gone on here then?

We were actually promised that Pier Road and Arun Parade would be finished by July. Then we had the wet-weather excuses and so forth. But now we learn that the public realms haven’t even been quoted on and we’re at the end of June.

How can anyone honestly expect us to believe that this project, that was due to finish in July, could have actually finished on time when here we are last week in May 2014, and Arun District Council have only NOW completed their plans as ask the contractor to provide a quotation for them?

Are we really meant to believe that Arun District Council had intended to provide the contractors with a final plan for the public realm at the end of May for it to be quoted for and built by 27th July some 8 weeks later?

There’s no doubt that the Environment Agencies contractor VolkerStevin has come in for some harsh criticism. Some of it, well deserved. Which one of us could forget the evening that VolkerStevin’s Site Manager, a man who previously told us he was an old hat at piling works and had never had a previous job run overtime – tell us that it would take 30 days to pile Pier Road when in fact it’s taken almost five months. When you see the complexity of the engineering and the logistics of the build, it’s easy to see why it took them 5 months. In fact, they should be congratulated for achieving this in 5 months, but why did their site manager say 30 days?

Anyway, easy to forget or overlook good old Uncle Arun when lambasting VolkerStevin.

It’s not VolkerStevin who have created a wish-list and a grandiose plan that now can’t be funded, it’s Uncle Arun and we shouldn’t let Uncle Arun sit quietly in the corner hoping that we’ll throw all our apples at VolkerStevin.

Since the previous VolkerStevin site manager (referred to above) has been relieved of his post and a replacement appointed, we really have seem remarkable results. His replacement is a no-nonsense, amenable, get-the-job-done guy who gets my vote of confidence.

We’re lucky to have him.

With this in mind, I do think that we can now start to believe what we’re being told in relation to schedules and end dates.

What’s happening in River Road and the Arun View

If you’re a twitter follower of @Pier_road you’ll have seen I tweeted pictures of the road closures that came into force on 27th May. Essentially, River Road is now closed from just outside the ‘red footbridge’ to numbers 1-5 Riverside Walk and this section will remain closed until October subject to meeting the current works schedule.

Access still remains to the Arun View Public House and The Steam Packet and it’s important to remember that the Steam Packet Public House and restaurant remains fully open and operational.

The Arun View unfortunately has had to close its main restaurant and bar are but the front bar will remain open (where possible) during this period. Works will be underway in the Arun View as the flood defence construction includes building in front of this property (riverside) and actually inside in one area. The good news is that the Arun View will re-open bigger and better than before and we can all look forward to being welcomed back to this hugely popular, successful and friendly restaurant and bar sometime hopefully in September/October.

I’m currently photographing Reach 6, this being the one you can see down by the river Arun along the Littlehampton by-pass. It’s an interesting area as the contractors have begun digging out what appears to be a lagoon. Andrew Walker of the EA has kindly agreed to answer all my questions and give a technical overview of what’s going on here  and what will the finished area look like. I know this has been of concern to a number of you as you’ve come into my shop to ask what’s going on here.

All for now, remember to sign up to regular updates for the blog by using the right hand side subscription box and don’t forget to follow @Pier_road on twitter for more regular updates and the ongoing task of forcing Arun District Council to actually deliver on their promises.

 

 

 

 

Littlehampton’s Stage By The Sea Officially Opened.

After long delays, Littlehampton’s newest seafront attraction The Stage By The Sea was opened earlier today, Sunday 11th May 2014 by Littlehampton’s Mayor Councillor Joyce Bowyer.

Littlehampton Stage By the Sea official opening 1

Littlehampton’s Mayor Councillor Joyce Bowyer and Littlehampton Town Councillor Malcolm Belchamber speak at the today’s opening. Councillor Belchamber was the host for today’s event.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 8

Crowds gathered to watch the official opening and just as the ribbon was about to be cut, the sun came out, which hopefully is a good omen for Littlehampton’s Stage by the Sea.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 4

Littlehampton’s Stage by the Sea’s blue ribbon cut marking its opening.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 12

Members of the Edwin James Festival Choir waiting to take the stage and make history by being the Stage By The Sea’s first performers.

Littlehampton Stage By the Sea official opening 3

The Choir’s performance got an enthusiastic response from the crowd and it was interesting that despite the awful winds, the sound was clear and beautiful. The Stage By The Sea has been designed to allow microphone-less performances and the designers say that is a key feature of the shell-like structure. However, during today’s opening microphone’s were used.

Edwin Jones Festival Choir Littlehampton Stage by the Sea

Some members of the Edwin James Festival Choir performing earlier.

The Choir will be performing their “Darling Buds of May Concert” at St James The Great Church, East Ham Road Littlehampton on Saturday 17th May, 2014 together with their friends from Ontario, Canada  from the Addison Women’s Choir.

Tickets are £8 and the concert begins at 7.30. Full details on their website.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 6

There was no doubt about it, 9-year old “JD” from Wick, Littlehampton, a previous winner of “Wick’s got talent” stole the show with his own unique dance routine. Written and performed by himself, JD really won the audience over.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 7

“JD” ending his routine to rapturous applause.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 9

Folk singer, Mal entertained the crowds with his one-man folk performance his music which has very beautiful and melodic with a Celtic theme.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 11

Mal singing at the opening of Littlehampton’s Stage By The sea.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 5

Littlehampton’s Stage by the Sea is located in the old Banjo Road Gardens. During today’s official opening, the audience were not allowed to go onto the grass. However, I’d imagine this was done to the fact that the turf had only been laid late this week and will need time to establish itself.

Winning Design for Littlehampton's Stage By The Sea

Winning Design for Littlehampton’s Stage By The Sea

The structure itself differs somewhat from the original artists impression as the two shell-like structures are not seamlessly joined together. Neither can you walk over the roof as was originally described.The two shells have instead been created independent of each other, divided by a lower grass walkway. On the sea-facing side there is a smaller shell-like structure which has been created as a (fairly small) seafront shelter.

The location itself, Banjo Road Car park has raised some eyebrow’s locally as this location doesn’t really allow much of on an area for an audience to gather without the necessity for closing the coach car park. However, it certainly looked great today with the sun shining down of the stage and the wonderful performances.

The Stage by the Sea can be booked for your own event via Arun District Council’s Website here

It will be interesting to see how this latest ‘quirky’ Littlehampton Seafront feature goes down with the locals and visitors.

But today at least, the sun shone and those of us who attended enjoyed some splendid performances and were reminded of the wonderful talent we have living amongst us. Regrettably I had to leave before the end of the acts and I apologise for missing out the other two final acts performances.

Littlehampton Stage by the Sea official opening 10

A couple watching Mel’s folk music performance.

DSCF4705

The somewhat controversial longest bench structure provides an excellent vantage point for the new Stage By The Sea.

Latest Update from Littlehampton’s Sea Defences

Last week, the crane was successfully positioned on its new Crane Bridge, which will now carry it along Pier Road.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 2

The week got off to a flying start as the first batch of piles were driven into the River Arun in the Pier Road stretch. Above, the crane sitting proudly on it’s new crane bridge which as you can see, part of which, rests on the piles.

Littlehampton sea defences 1

The Crane on its new platform beginning the piling works in Pier Road.

Littlehampton Sea Defences paddler

A paddler getting a closer look at the construction of the Environment Agency’s flood defence scheme in Littlehampton. From the above picture, you can see the piling works in the Pier Road reach are making considerable progress.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 4

The second part of the crane bridge arrived earlier in the week and this has now been assembled in front of the original bridge allowing the crane to move forward to begin on the next batch of piles.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 2

Welders working on assembling the new section of the crane bridge.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 6

Once this new section of the crane bridge was completed, the crane drove forward into its new position further along Pier Road. Work is now underway to remove the section of the crane bridge that the crane was sitting on, which will then be positioned in front of this section, thus allowing the crane to ‘leap frog’ along Pier Road.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 3

The structure in front of the crane bridge is the piling gate, which has to be assembled to allow the crane position the piles into the gate so they can be driven accurately into the river bed. It’s easy to see why this won’t be a quick job.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 5

The area behind the piling is back-filled with aggregate.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 7

The first pile in the next batch is positioned and once in place the piling gate will then be fixed to it allowing the other piles to be carefully positioned. When all the piles in this gate are successfully driven home, the now redundant section of the crane bridge will be positioned on top of them thus creating the next platform the next gate and so on until they reach their final destination in Pier Road where they’ll marry up with the riverside walkway.

Littlehampton Sea Defences 8The vibro hammer drives in the pile to it’s first position and the pile is then driven home with the banging hammer. The one that you can hear most days now. While not a particularly welcoming sound, it is good news as when you can hear it, you know the work is underway. The Contractors estimate that piling should be completed in Pier Road sometime in May.

Littlehampton flood defences 1

Above, the piling gate has now been assembled and is in place to allow the crane position the next batch of piles.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 3

Appearances can be misleading and while Pier Road gives a great view of the works in progress, it doesn’t show the actual progress that well. The above stretch of piling has been achieved in super-quick time.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 4

As you step back on the West Beach side and take in the view, you can see just how much progress has already been achieved in the Arun Parade Reach.

Pier Road Littlehampton

Above picture illustrates the increased height of the flood defences. On top of the piles will be a concrete capping, railings thereby increasing its height even further. As you can see this will impact on the views looking out from the restaurants once the scheme is completed.

It’s vital that the enhancements to ‘soften’ the impact of this wall is successfully created, otherwise Pier Road and it’s roadside environs will be looking at a concrete wall for its future.

Apologies that I had no blog update last week as the Pier Road Diaries have moved severs. A couple of technical hitches have now been sorted out and we’re back on track.

As always, thanks for reading and following.

If you’re not already on our email list, please remember to enter your email address on the top right hand corner of this page and you’ll get updates emailed direct to your email inbox as soon as they’re published.

You can also follow Pier Road Diaries on twitter @Pier_road.

 

 

A Giant 160 tonne Crane has arrived in Pier Road

At the moment, work is ongoing to ‘rig’ the gigantic 160 tonne crane that has just arrived in Pier Road, Littlehampton ahead of next week’s scheduled piling works.

This massive crane is so big that it had to be transported in sections. The caterpillar tracks are so big (weighing approximately 7 tonnes) that each one had to be transported separately in their own 40ft articulated trailer. Crane in Pier RoadPictured above is one of the two 40ft articulated trailers needed to transport the caterpillar tracks, which have come all the way from Austria and have been built especially for the new crane.

Crane in Pier Road 2Unloading one of the two giant caterpillar tracks, which weigh approximately 7 tonnes. Just looking at the size of the articulated trailer needed to transport each one, gives you an idea as to just how big these are.

Crane in Pier Road 3You get some idea of the enormity of these tracks in the picture above.

CraneThe crane pictured above, which itself is an impressive size at 60 tonnes is being used to ‘assemble’ or rig –  to give the procedure its correct technical term – the 160 tonne crane.

Crane in Pier Road 4The Track is then lined up and fitted to the main body of the crane.

Crane in Pier Road 5Here you can see the second crane working on rigging the giant 160 tonne crane, which when fully rigged will have the potential to reach over 70 metres. Although the engineers advise that they don’t anticipate needing this full range.

Largest craneAll fits together like a giant lego set.

largest crane everIn the foreground you can see the ‘jibs’ which go to make up the main arms of the crane. These are white tubular space frame parts and there are different jib arrangements depending on the work being undertaken.

This amazing crane has the potential to lift a mass of 140 tonnes with only a very short reach, say 4 metres. Given the relatively narrow working conditions in Pier Road, it’s easy to see why this crane is needed.

The sheet steel piles which will be used to build Littlehampton’s Sea Defences are a staggering 20 metres in length and weight over 4 tonnes each. The crane is expected to reach about 50 metres while holding a pile.

Largest Crane at night 2A picture (above and below)  taken earlier tonight (Thursday, 7th November) of the crane in Pier Road.

Largest crane at nightAs always, a big thanks to Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency for sharing the technical information with us.

If you get a spare moment, then do pop down to Pier Road to see this crane in the flesh. Rigging is still ongoing and it’s fascinating to watch.

We’ve been advised that piling works starts next week.

Pier Road replies to an attack by Littlehampton business owner, Paul Wakeman in this week’s Littlehampton Gazette.

In what must be a first, Mr Paul Wakeman, proprietor of Bah-Humbug Sweet Shop in Littlehampton has written a letter attacking Pier Road Traders.

A clearly disgruntled Mr Wakeman, opens his letter with the following statement:

“In the middle of the summer, I went to Arun District Council and sat for five minutes with a chief staff member who closely explained what is going on.”

This in reference to the Sea Defence and Regeneration scheme currently being undertaken in Pier Road.

He continues his letter as follows:

From what I understand, the business [sic] have already agreed compensation while the work goes on

The fact is that compensation has not been agreed with businesses in Pier Road and is currently the subject of ongoing negotiations, which at the time of writing, are regrettably becoming increasingly fraught and distressing.

The second fact is that Arun District Council are not responsible for handling compensation claims, the Environment Agency are. And accordingly, staff from Arun District Council have not been involved in compensation meetings with Pier Road Traders

Therefore, Mr Wakeman’s source at Arun District Council has no real knowledge of what has or hasn’t been agreed.

But for the sake of clarity, at the time of writing this post (Sunday, 27th October) Compensation arrangements have not been agreed with businesses in Pier Road.

Neither is compensation as clear-cut as Mr Wakeman likes to portray.

The Environment Agency are bound by law as to what, if any compensation they can offer when their works impact on businesses. The legislation that provides a mechanism for compensating businesses is The Water Resources Act. A  bureaucratic and demanding piece of legislation that was created in 1990 on the basis of compensation being paid for what would be emergency repairs.

Consequently, the Act lacks any real redress for businesses that find themselves as we do in Pier Road in the midst of a major pre-planned capital expenditure programme.

The first thing to note with this legislation is that it only covers loss that can be attributed to the actual works and this loss is confined to loss of profit, not loss of turnover.

Thus, for example, where a business can demonstrate that it has lost £10,000 worth of business in one month, the business will not be repaid the loss of £10,000 worth of business, but the loss of the profit element of that £10,000.

Given that we are all still in a period of unprecedented recession, and consequently our profit margins have suffered continuing decline, this can mean that rather than be reimbursed the £10.000 (or whatever the loss of turnover amounts to), we will instead be reimbursed only the element of profit loss. This stipulation is different from all other compensation schemes, where turnover is repaid.

A business could submit a claim for a loss of £10,000 revenue in one month only to find their being offered  a few hundred pounds by way of compensation.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of all our businesses and without sales revenues – as opposed to simply the profit element – we’ll die a quick and painful death.

It’s not difficult to see that with such a dramatic and sudden loss of cash flow, it won’t take long before businesses close and staff loose jobs.

Neither does the compensation scheme cover employees loss of earnings. As many of Pier Road businesses are restaurants and cafes, staff rely on tips from customers to boost their incomes.

But the problems don’t end there.

The Act also contains a provision that requires claimants to prove that they have mitigated their losses. And the Environment Agency have been quite clear in spelling out what this means in real terms, and I quote them by saying we have been instructed in writing where necessary to – WORK LESS HOURS.

They’ve also made it clear that they will not be paying for our staff to ‘do nothing’.

So, the reality is – that on an ongoing basis we have to demonstrate continued mitigation of our losses, which means we have to continually assess our business costs and cut where appropriate, which could include cutting back on staff hours, job losses and even closing our businesses altogether.

Yet, Mr Wakeman writes in his letter:

If Pier Road traders are worried about their trade they would have been compensated for and  could end up a bonus as they still do not know what loss of figures they could could suffer, if any.

In reality, Pier Road Traders and their staff are facing an extremely uncertain future and while the Environment Staff are working as hard as they can to support us during this period, they are however bound by the Water Resources Act, which dictates how and where compensation can be paid.

Hopefully with the continued support of our loyal customers, the cutting back of staff hours, staff positions and the closure of businesses won’t happen, however this will ultimately be dictated, not by compensation, but by the continued support of our customers.

Mr Wakeman’s letter is extremely unhelpful as it suggests that regardless of what business we do in Pier Road during the scheme’s works, we will still be in business with the same number of staff.

This is simply not true.

It’s somewhat ironic that the £14m Regeneration scheme taking place outside our door is in fact potentially  jeopardizing the very livelihoods of those that the scheme seeks to protect.

The next incorrect statement Mr Wakeman makes in his letter is as follows:

“..while the work goes on it will be done as quickly as possible out of summer trading hours and there are fines for not carrying out the work who don’t need the final dates.”

Again, Mr Wakeman’s ‘senior council member’ had mislead him as The Environment Agency are prohibited from imposing fines on their contractor’s in the event they run overtime. I’m surprised Mr Wakeman’s source at Arun District Council wasn’t aware of this, as the Environment Agency’s Project Manager has stated this on a number of occasions during our Consultation Meetings, which incidentally have been ongoing since 2010 and have lasted far longer than the five minutes it has taken Mr Wakeman to reach his conclusions.

Regarding not working outside of summer hours and peak periods, as claimed by Mr Wakeman.

Pier Road is not expected to re-open before June 2014, with Arun Parade not expected to re-open before August 2014.

These periods cover Spring, Easter and pretty much all of our summer trading period.

Mr Wakeman’s next statement is as follows:

“The road on the corner opposite the nelson was amended at their request, just to help.”

Again, this is incorrect.

During the consultation period (ongoing since 2010 with 6 weekly meetings between the scheme providers and Pier Road Traders), various draft plans for the scheme’s enhancements, which Arun District Council are responsible for were presented at the meetings for discussions.

The first Draft Plan included a proposal to reduce the width of the existing road outside the Nelson Hotel by over 4 meters.

Those familiar with this junction will appreciate that reducing the width of this road by such a huge amount, will potentially cause serious danger to road users and will not allow two relatively large vehicles to pass each other safely when travelling in opposite directions.

As this is a consultation process, the safety of the road was discussed. Our concerns were well founded as during a simulation exercises of traffic flows, it was apparent that what we had said was correct – two large vehicles could not pass each other at all, at this junction, let alone safely.

According the Draft plan was amended to create a safer junction for all as opposed to the appeasement measure claimed by Mr Wakeman.

Mr Wakeman then goes onto say in his letter:

“They have been given free car parking for the time it takes to complete the works and for their customers.”

While we are very grateful to Arun District Council, particularly Councillor Norman Dingmans who suggested and offered a free parking area for Pier Road customers, it must be balanced against the fact that Arun Parade, which provides all-year-round free parking for all seafront visitors will not be open until August 2014.

And far from us having additional free parking in the Pier Road area, there is considerably less free parking for all visitors to our area, whether or not they are customers of Pier Road businesses.

The free parking area opened up by Arun District Council in the Windmill Car Park can be used by anyone, not just Pier road customers.

Mr Wakeman concludes his letter by saying:

“Think yourself lucky, traders in Pier Road, you are paying nothing towards this.”

Mr Wakeman would do well to remember (or perhaps be aware) that the shop he currently trades from is only possible as a result of a previous Regeneration programme by Arun District Council, of which he and his fellow town centre traders have not been required to pay for.

Typically, businesses and residents don’t pay directly for regeneration projects such as the one taking place in Pier Road. However, we all pay for these projects through taxation.

We are all looking forward to the new Pier Road and may I take this opportunity to thank: Andrew Walker (EA), Peter Borseberry (EA), Roger Spencer (Arun District Council) for the enormous support they have been to us here in trying to so hard to mitigate the impact that this scheme will potentially have on us.

Thankfully the positive, constructive relationships we have built with these people cannot be undone or reduced in any serious way by Mr Wakeman’s extraordinary, and wholly inaccurate outburst in our local newspaper.

May I finish with a heart-felt plea, on behalf of us all in Pier Road, please do continue to support us. As I said earlier, our business well-being and the future of our staff will not be determined by over-bureaucratic, wholly ineffectual compensation schemes, but on the continued support of our loyal customers.

To whom we are all grateful to.