Environment Agency close Littlehampton’s River Road and install temporary flood defences

The Environment Agency have today installed temporary flood defences in Littlehampton’s East Bank, despite recently spending over £22.5 on building new flood defences.

In what could only be described as a national disgrace, the Environment Agency have now closed a section of River Road in Littlehampton to build temporary flood defences in preparation of tonight’s tidal surge.

Picture – courtesy, Terry Ellis.

Temporary flood defences erected by Environment Agency in Littlehampton’s River Road.

This, the same area where the Environment Agency recently completed a £22.5m Flood Defence scheme, but stubbornly refused to complete a section of the flood defence improvements, citing it was the responsibility of the landowner.  Something the landowner strongly refutes.

Rather than simply press on and build the disputed section of the flood defence wall, arguing who was responsible later, the Environment Agency’s local senior management team including  Mr David Robinson, Environment Agencies Operations Manager (East) and Mr James Humphrys, Environment Agency Area Director – decided instead to leave a gap in the new defence wall.

The gap in the flood defence wall, which poses a series flood risk to local residents and businesses.

Work on either side of the ‘gap’ was completed by the Environment Agency and the landowner, with the area where responsibility being disputed, left unattended and at risk of flooding.

Environment Agency staff working at constructing temporary flood defences in Littlehampton, earlier today – Friday 13th January 2017.

I covered this a recent blog post and asked David Robinson from the Environment Agency as to when he expected this gap to be finally blocked up, he replied by email as follows:

Dear Paul
 
Thank you for your email.
 
Littlehampton is better protected from flooding today than ever before following the construction of the East Bank Flood defences.  You are right that there is one area at Riverside Autos in River Road where the standard of protection that the private defences provide is lower than the new flood wall elsewhere.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to simply carry on the piling in front of the Riverside Autos site when we became aware that it was not going to be developed. 
 
Since September 2015 we have had a robust plan in place to deploy dedicated temporary flood defences which are stored in our Chichester depot.  These defences are similar to those you may have seen in the media during the winter floods of 2015/16 which have been used successfully many times.  We have not permanently installed the barrier at Riverside Autos to allow the current occupiers to continue to operate their business however we will deploy the barrier when the weather forecast and tide levels are predicted to be above particular trigger levels.  We last tested our plan in October 2015 and have not been needed to deploy the barrier at any time since then.
 
As you know, I had hoped to have a permanent solution in place by now but this has not been possible.  We continue to work with the landowners and our contractors to build the defences which I am hopeful will be in place by winter 2017-18.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Dave
 
David Robinson
Operations Manager (East)
Solent and South Downs Area
Environment Agency

 

As you can see from David Robinson’s reply, there is no solution to the problem, but wishful thinking on his part as to when the situation may be resolved.

As you can see in above picture, the Barge (in 2014) working on creating the new flood defence scheme positioned right in front of the gap, but still the Environment Agency refused to give the go ahead to complete this section of the defence wall.

An absolute disgrace.

In the meantime, while Mr Robinson sits on his hands achieves little or nothing, Littlehampton’s river road residents are now facing an ongoing flood risk, temporary road closures, disruption to services.

And who is footing the bill for these additional temporary flood defences? Certainly not the landowner, but the tax payer.

Arun District Council’s refuge contractors unable to empty bins in River Road earlier today owing to the Environment Agency’s road closures.

A tarpaulin carelessly left blocking the pavement forcing a lady with a child and pushchair to squeeze beside a working vehicle.

Temporary Road Closures

The Environment Agency advise that the temporary road closure in River Road will remain in place until 9am, Saturday 14th January 2017 when the road will re-open again.

Littlehampton’s West Beach area

No additional flood defences appear to have been allocated today to Littlehampton’s West Beach area, this being the area that didn’t ‘benefit’ from the Environment Agencies £22.5m flood defence scheme.

Many (with the exception of the EA and their consultants) believe that the construction and enhancement of Littlehampton’s East Bank flood defence scheme, has created additional problems for the West Bank area. The Environment refuse to accept this view point.

Make up your own mind – but ask yourself, how can the Environment Agency be allowed to get away with spending over £22.5m on  a flood defence scheme that now ultimately relies on the crude apparatus pictured below.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Beware bike thieves currently operating in Littlehampton, Rustington and Angmering.

If you own a bicycle and park it in a public place in Littlehampton, Angmering or Rustington, please be extra vigilant.

We’ve had 4 reports of bicycles being stolen earlier this week, Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

Thieves appear to have specifically relatively high-priced bikes including a GT Mountain Bike stolen from outside Angmering Train Station, which was locked with a high security motorcycle lock. A Cube bicycle stolen from outside Barclay’s bank in Rustington and another bike stolen in Littlehampton.

All the thefts reported to us at our bike shop in Pier Road appear to have happened on Tuesday.

Unlikely that the bikes are still in the area, but beware of anyone offering you a high quality bike, at a cheap price.

Bike thefts are unfortunately the bain of all our lives. We regularly hear of owners having their bicycles stolen from outside local train stations, supermarkets including Tescos and Waitrose.

If you see anything suspicious, dial 999.

If you’re a local cyclist, please take extra care when leaving and locking your bike. In my view, it’s shameful that Southern Rail relocated all their bicycle parking to outside of their train stations where thieves appear to be able to operate out of sight and with relative immunity. Those who do approach the train station to ask them to view the CCTV are given little time by the rail company.

Beware also that the majority of bicycles stolen in the area are taken from garages and garden sheds. We strongly recommend all our customers to lock their bikes while parked in their garden shed or garage. Sadly, few do and insurance companies have previously report that over 70% of all bicycles stolen in the UK were unlocked at the time of being taken.

Be vigilant and don’t let some thieving scumbag take your pride and joy.


As always, thanks for reading, 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

 

 

 

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas from Pier Road, Littehampton.

Sadly as I write this final post for 2016, Pier Road’s Mooring’s Tea rooms has closed its doors, with proprietors, mother and daughter Kay and Hannah, heading to Cornwall for a well-earned rest.

There’s no doubt that this has been a very tough year for small independent businesses everywhere. We’re especially lucky here in Littlehampton to have such loyal customers who visit Pier Road and Littlehampton’s town centre and support our network of local shopkeepers (myself included) and restaurant owners.

May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your custom and support and beg of you to continue supporting your local small businesses, wherever you may be.

At times it’s difficult to see how town centres can survive given the fierce competition from online retailers, supermarkets and super-supermarkets that we now have in abundance in Littlehampton – pretty much located on every one of the four corners leading into our lovely seaside town.

Yet, despite it all, there’s a real feeling of positiveness amongst the local business owners that I speak to and on this positive note, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and every good fortune for the New Year.

If you’re spirit’s a bit broken or perhaps you’ve lost faith in the spirit of human nature, may I invite to you take a moment to listen to Kaylee Rogers, 10 years of age from Killard House School in Ireland singing with her classmates their own beautiful and haunting rendition of my favourite all time singer, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Kaylee who is autistic and ADHD has in 3-years gone from a girl who wouldn’t speak in front of her classmates to a powerful solo vocalist.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.