Safety concerns grow in Littlehampton Harbour

Arun District Council’s recently completed new rirverside walkway in Littlehampton is giving rise to serious concerns regarding safety regarding the durability of the walkway’s new safety rail.

When these safety rails were being installed, a local resident in Pier Road who has some degree of experience and expertise with these type railings expressed his concerns regarding their installation. These concerns were dismissed by the Environment Agency’s Project management team and Arun District Council.

Since then the safety railings have continually come loose and the contractors returning on a number of occasions to fix them. Local residents have also voiced concern in the Littlehampton Gazette regarding the potential dangers posed by these railings, particularly risks to children.

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As you can see in the above picture the top two rails have come loose. I spoke to a lady earlier today who said she and others witnessed a 4-yr old boy climb on these railings and somehow  they came undone while he was climbing on them. This she  reported this to Arun District Council to be told that it wasn’t their problem and they weren’t going to repair it as it was the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

Littlehampton harbourThe initial remedy to the safety problem was for someone to come along from one of the authorities and wind some red and white tape around the broken rail while leaving the dangerous gap exposed.

As a week had passed and no one had come to fix the railings, the lady who runs a business in Pier Road contacted the Environment Agency  to see if they were actually going to fix the problem. More especially as we’re approaching August Bank Holiday weekend.

The Environment Agency’s initial response to her was to say that the matter had nothing to do with them, but was the responsibility of Arun District Council.

It was after this ridiculous reply from both Arun District Council and the Environment Agency that I tweeted both parties. You can see the tweets and the replies by following the Pier Road twitter feed.

The power of twitter should never be underestimated and the Environment Agency replied via twitter saying they would get a local crew to look into it.

A few minutes later my lady received another telephone call from the Environment Agency saying they would now get someone out to deal with the problem.

And it’s not just one railing that has failed.

Littlehampton HarbourEvidence of further failings of the safety railing. I understand that this has been like this for a number of days and has gone ignored by the authorities despite their being advised of the problem.

Littlehampton harbourAnother area where the safety railing has gone completely.

Littlehampton harbour

Another area on the top of the walkway over the river where the safety railing has proved defective.

Littlehampton harbourHere again the railing has failed.

This isn’t the first instances of this railing failing. These safety railings have continually failed since the walkway was opened in April 2015. Looks very much like Pier Road’s resident who voiced concerns that these railings were being installed incorrectly was right all along and the highly paid experts from the authorities were wrong.

Both Arun District Council and the Environment Agency should treat failures in these railings with the seriousness it deserves. Children and adults climb on these railings to either get a better view or a better vantage for crabbing.

Yes, adults should supervise their children and ensure they don’t climb on these railings, but they do and will continue to do so as this is human nature.

We need to be assured by the Environment Agency and Arun District Council that the repairs that will be undertaken now permanent and these railings will fail yet again in another couple of week’s time.

Somehow I doubt we’ll get these assurances, but let’s hope we get the problem fixed once and for all.

Update:

On Monday morning, Environment Agency’s Contractor Marshalls have attended Pier Road to repair the broken safety rails.

 

As always, thanks for reading, your comments are always welcome below.

Paul

 

The Miracle of Littlehampton Harbour

Littlehampton Harbour and river is the only harbour in the world to have intelligent water.

The EA’s sea defence proposals only include building on one side of the harbour and river, this being the East Side.

Therefore, full credit must be given to the Environment Agency for working out that the water flowing in and out of Littlehampton harbour via the river mouth will know which side to rise up on (East Side) and which side to avoid (West Side).

After all it would be crying shame if given the £13 million spend on sea defences that the water took it upon itself to flood the side where the Environment Agency haven’t carried out any sea defences.

I mean could you imagine for a moment the red faces at the Environment Agency where in between having to chase off out-of-season fishing men, collecting fishing rod licence fees and consulting tiresome local business owners, the EA were to realise that that everywhere else in the world, water rises on both sides of rivers and harbours. And that as they haven’t as much as provided a token rubber hose in their plans for the West Side of the river and harbour that this side will now be more prone to flooding.

Rest easy dear reader, I’ve no doubt that with the combined great engineering might of the EA Project Team and their expensive consulting engineers at Halcrow, that this potential flaw in their proposed plans hasn’t been addressed.

In fact, there can only be one explanation for this phenomenon:

That Littlehampton river and harbour is the subject of a miracle where we have the only intelligent sea water in the world that can independently discriminate on which side of the river/habour it should rise on so as not to make the Environment Agency and their engineers look silly.

To be fair, a similar thing happened before in biblical times.

Littlehampton Sea defences

Of course, now that we have intelligent water  running through Littlehampton harbour, we can look forward to a bright and prosperous future where given time we could become the next Lourdes, or at a push, Knock in Ireland.

Where we will be welcoming busloads of tired, weary and hungry pilgrims who have come to pay special homage to Littlehampton harbour to witness for themselves this intelligent water.

Littlehampton Sea Defence Miracle

WEEK 5:  INTELLIGENT WATER DISCOVERED IN LITTLEHAMPTON HARBOUR.

Of course, it could be (dare I say it, but I feel I must..) that the Environment Agency haven’t discovered intelligent water in Littlehampton harbour and that their efforts to enhance the East Bank Sea Defences will have a disastrous and potentially fatal effect on the mostly unprotected East Side of the River..

I’m not an engineer but I’d imagine that if you built out and up one side of a fast flowing river bank without making any provision on the other side that this activity would have a deferential effect on the unprotected side?

Some of us with a bit of experience of previous government initiatives, particularly in times of recession, will appreciate the perils of State-led, target driven capital expenditure projects and will dismiss the idea that this is a miracle.

I’d expect disbelievers will face being ostracised as being ‘negative thinkers’ and labelled ‘troublemakers’ finding themselves being denied invites to consultation meetings with all their death-by-powerpoint presentations, dry biscuits and urn coffee and misleading information.

If I were either a resident or business owner located on the West Side of Littlehampton harbour or river, I’d be pretty worried about the increasingly serious risk of getting wet feet and seeing my home and business disappear as one part of the Littlehampton town is pitted against the other as sea levels continue to rise.

Environment Agency Sea DefencesAbove is a picture of the entrance to Littlehampton Harbour taken during Spring Tides. As you can see, the water is almost at footpath level. Now look across the river at the other side where the river is already flooding over the existing sea defences. The Environment Agency Sea Defence Plans – cost circa £13 million will not include any work to the other side.

I don’t think you need to be an engineer, coastal or otherwise, to work out that by dramatically building out the existing wall, and significantly increasing its height, these actions will have an equally dramatic effect on the other side.

LittlehamptonYou can see from the above picture that the East Side (right hand side) is already significantly higher than the West Side. If you look again at the picture above this one, you’ll see that the area where the two people are walking is flooded. The size of the area that’s flooded is quite remarkable.

I going to question why £13 million of tax payers money is being spent to build a wall on one side, and nothing on the other?

I asked this question previously at a consultation meeting with the EA Project Team and Arun District Council Officers back in the Autumn of 2012. We were assured by the Project Manager that there was no problem with this arrangement, and we were promised to be shown some mock-ups of how the water would flow. Talk of University students and mock-ups in tanks followed. But of course, to-date we’ve been shown nothing.

Time will tell, of course, whose right.

But I cannot see how building a wall on one of side of what is now regarded as the UK’s fastest flowing river without taking any remedial action to the other side, could be classified as sea defences, unless of course, you disregard the West Side completely as being unworthy of being defended or this is a simply another government project to build out way of recession.

No more building roads and houses. The former is too anti the ‘green’ agenda. The latter too reminiscent of greedy developers and banks, so instead let’s build some walls on one side of the river at a whopping great cost of £13 million and call it sea defences.

A bit like going out wearing only one shoe..

Littlehampton Pier Road returns to normal.

27th October, 2012.

As promised by the Environment Agency, they have completed their initial exploratory works in time for the arrival of half-term and Pier Road and its surrounding environs are now free from any road works.

What was apparent during the recent road works was the problems with traffic management.

As you can see in the above picture, courtesy of Andy Cooper of the Beach Hut, Littlehampton, the Northbound Carriageway has been closed to vehicular traffic to allow exploratory work to be undertaken.

Quite sensibly, as part of the traffic management plan, parking was suspended opposite and just ahead of the road closure to allow traffic flow past the vehicles that were already stopped waiting at the temporary traffic lights.

It’s fairly straight forward and simple, or at least, you’d imagine it would be. But what happened in reality was a significant number of drivers ignored the ‘No Parking’ notices and parked there at the junction outside 47 Mussel Row, which lead to traffic chaos as they blocked the path of oncoming traffic.

Even the local police, Sussex Police got caught in the ensuing chaos caused by the motorist parked up ahead who has blocked traffic flow by ignoring the temporary parking suspension notices.  (Photo courtesy of Andy Cooper, Beach Hut, Pier Road).

As you can see, entrance in and out of Clifden Road is also blocked, which caused even more choas than usual.

When Arun District Council were phoned to dispatch traffic wardens or CSOs or whatever it is they’re called now, two promptly arrived only to tell us that there was nothing they could do as they temporary traffic regulations were unenforceable!

The solution was for a number of traffic cones to be laid along Pier Road where the offending motorists are parked in the above picture.

The reaction of the illegal/inconsiderate parkers/motorists was to remove the traffic cones from the road and place them on the pavement and then park there oblivious or unconcerned as they brought Pier Road to a standstill.

Pier Road Regeneration Plans on Hold?

As we’ve come to expect, after a number of high-profile publicity announcements by Arun District Council and the Environment Agency regarding their proposed £12m Flood Defences and Pier Road Regeneration, silence.

When the silence became so deafening, I decided to email the Chief Executive of Arun District Council, Nigel Lynn  to ask for an update.

Here is his reply:

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Dear Paul,

Further to my email below, I have now received further information from my officers and reply to you more fully.

Arun is very aware of the importance of early communication with local people and businesses, particularly if there could be a direct impact on them as a result of the work when it is on site.  We very much appreciate the time and effort that has already been put to this project by a large number of local people and businesses and we look forward to continuing this over the coming period of this project 

 As time has moved on, Arun has called on the Environment Agency (EA) to convene a Project Board meeting to discuss progress and timescales for the project.  This is happening next week.  Last year/early this year the EA and Arun District Council were giving an indicative commencement date for the enhanced flood defence project as around Autumn 2012.  This indicative date has always been subject to the EA securing all the funding and other approvals necessary.  I expect next weeks meeting to confirm where the EA are with obtaining final approval for the project and its funding from their national board and where they are with the detailed design work, planning application and other statutory approvals as far as they may be needed. This will allow the EA and Arun to provide a factual update and future plan of action to the public and local businesses ASAP.

 The start on site of this major project (including the Arun funded enhancements) will of course be advised well in advance of it happening and there will be more information made available to the public as soon as we are able to get greater clarity on dates from the EA and their engineering consultants.  The Project, and especially the enhancements, are considered very important for the regeneration of the town and the Council is firmly committed to working with the EA to deliver them.  You will be aware of the substantial funding that the Council has already allocated and we look forward to progressing with the work as soon as it practicable.

 I hope that this information is helpful by way of an update.

 Yours sincerely
Nigel Lynn

Chief Executive

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I asked the same question to the Environment Agency, and here’s their initial reply from Peter Borsberry, Project Manager. Environment Agency.

Dear Mr Power,

Thank you for your email.

Last month we received technical approval for the project and despite the economic climate, we have managed to secure the significant funding to start the next phase of the scheme. This phase, known as the implementation phase, includes developing detailed designs, carrying out site investigations to inform the design, and purchasing the sheet piles that are required for the scheme.

We will be undertaking further Ground Investigations to obtain information about the soil conditions below Arun Parade and Pier Road to determining the physical properties of the soils and chalk. These investigations are vital for the final foundation design for the new flood defence wall. This will in turn allow millions of pounds worth of steel sheet piling for the project to be ordered and manufactured in readiness for the project’s start on site. The works are planned to start when most of the schools holidays are over in early September and will hopefully be completed by the end of October.

Over the coming months we will be contacting landowners, local businesses and other organisations to ensure we are taking into account any concerns they may have about the works that will be carried out along and adjacent to the riverside .

I hope this is sufficient information for the time being, as we are only beginning the detail design phase of the scheme and we are still formalising our plans.   

 Regards

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Mr Borsberry’s reply raised a number of serious concerns:

  1. What they’re proposing would surely involve/required traffic flow alterations, which could include road and footpath closures.
  2. The timing of these works, scheduled to begin early September when the ‘schools holiday are over’, demonstrates a very poor knowledge of Pier Road’s visitor profile. For once the school’s return, Pier Road becomes busy with a whole new wave of visitors eager to enjoy what’s viewed by many as the last month of summer before the clocks go back.

I emailed Peter Borsberry again to ask for specifics in relation to his proposed works, specifically, was he planning road closures, what would be the likely environmental impact regarding noise etc.

Here’s the reply:

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Dear Paul,

Thank you for your email.

Survey work to locate buried services is likely to take place in week commencing 3rd September.  We anticipate that when the survey work is being undertaken along Pier Road and a one-way traffic system will be required.  However, this should only be for a relatively short period of time, approximately 1 day maximum.  These works should not generate any noise disruption. 

The proposed programme anticipates that intrusive works are likely to commence along Pier Road week commencing 10th September and be completed by 21st September.  The works will comprise two cable percussive holes with and one cone penetration test hole. 

As a minimum, a one-way traffic system will be required for the entire duration of the intrusive works in Pier Road.  A full road closure is not anticipated at this stage. 

It is likely that the footpath in Pier Road adjacent to the River Arun will be closed for the intrusive works.  However, efforts will be made to keep this open when possible. 

 A hand dug inspection pit will be undertaken at each location initially.  A breaker / concrete corer may be used to help facilitate excavation of these pits.  If a breaker is employed it will generate some noise.  Due to the presence of multiple services along this corridor of the road, it is also likely that additional inspection pits will be undertaken to positively identify buried services.

 Cable percussive drilling is required to get through the upper ground (approximately 10m) and into the top of the chalk.  It is anticipated that cable percussive drilling will take between 2-4 days.  Some of the activities associated with the cable percussive drilling will generate noise.  However, the noise generated will be intermittent and associated with the percussive part of the drilling and the in-situ testing only. 

The work will be confined to the hours of 8am to 6pm.  Noisy activities will be limited to between 9am to 6pm.  Appropriate fencing and signage will be used for the traffic management system and security of equipment left overnight.  Reinstatement of the exploratory locations will be undertaken as soon as is reasonably practicable after completion of the intrusive works. 

We will do our best to minimise disruption to you during this period.

The contractor is developing their risk assessment and method statements.  These can be forwarded with the traffic management plan in due course if required.

Regards

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My fears/concerns were well-founded.

Essentially, Mr Borsberry was planning to create one-way traffic flow in Pier Road and also close off the footpath nearest the river-side to allow his ‘investigative’ works to take place.

So, no consultation with either business owners or local residents in Pier Road that the Environment Agency were planning some pretty major changes to their road layout for over a month during one of potentially the busiest month of the year.

Here’s a reminder of what the Chief Executive of Arun District Council, Nigel Lynn, promised in his email (copied above):

“Arun is very aware of the importance of early communication with local people and businesses, particularly if there could be a direct impact on them as a result of the work when it is on site.  We very much appreciate the time and effort that has already been put to this project by a large number of local people and businesses and we look forward to continuing this over the coming period of this project

Clearly in this instance there has been no ‘early communication’ in fact no communication at all would have been forthcoming had I not asked what was going on. And as for ‘…particularly if there could be a direct impact on them as a result of the work when it is on site‘. The fact that the Environment Agency intended to essentially turn Pier Road, Littlehampton into a one-way traffic flow for a few weeks and close off the pavements without as much as a nod in our direction makes a mockery of this claim.

My understanding of the Highway’s Act makes it mandatory for anyone planning to undertake pre-planned works (as opposed to emergency works) to notify the public in advance and obtain licences and permits from the Highway’s Agency.

So, I contacted West Sussex County Council’s Highway Agency to see if they had granted the Environment Agency permission to alter traffic flows, close off pavements etc.

The Highways Department informed me that the Environment Agency would be legally required to make an application for permission for their proposed works.

Highways, confirmed that no Section 50 Application had been lodged by any party in relation to proposed traffic alterations for Pier Road.  They also confirmed they were unaware of the Environment Agencies proposed works.

Here is what the Highways Agency state in their ‘Notes for Applicants for a S50’ in relation to timescales:

In order for the Highways Agency to comply with its statutory duty, all applications must be submitted for Standard works at least 2 months in advance of commencement of the proposed works.

When I contacted the Environment Agency again asking why they hadn’t applied for the necessary permissions, they informed they had, however they finally agreed that they had actually only just done so, following my calls to The Highways Department.

Note their plans is to begin works in a couple of weeks time, when the law states they must give at least 2 months notice.

Here’s their email reply:

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Mr Power,
Following your telephone call this afternoon, I will request Peter calls you immediately upon his return to the office.
With regard to your concerns about applications for undertaking site investigation I can advise you of the following; we have been in discussion with West Sussex County Council Streetworks department, (Darren Pring), who has forwarded us the necessary Section 50 NRSWA Application forms for a ‘Streetworks Licence’Pack 1’ (New Road and Streetworks Act, 1991 Section 50 refers). We have the forms for River Road, WSCC Application Ref, 00002261, and Pier Road/Arun Parade WSCC Application Ref 00002259. The desiganted Highways Inspector on these forms is Shaun Prior.
Regards
Andy
Littlehampton East bank Senior User

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It’s shocking, and in my view, entirely unacceptable that a Statutory Public Body such as the Environment Agency can believe they can ignore their statutory obligations in relation to these proposed works.

Also unacceptable is the fact that Arun District Council’s senior officers have sat on their hands and essentially left them to it.

Representatives from Pier Road Traders are due to meet representatives from The Environment Agency and Arun District Council at 6pm on Thursday, August 30th 2012 to discuss matters.

I hope we can look forward to some proper consultation where we can all mutually work together in Pier Road and Littlehampton’s best interest.