Littlehampton Sea Defence Works gets underway.

The first in what I aim to be regular pictorial updates on the Sea Defence Works taking place in Pier Road, Littlehampton.

Week 1

At 5.35pm on Monday, 21st October, Pier Road was closed to vehicular traffic.

Pier Road closedAn eerie quiet descended on Pier Road as the traffic suddenly stopped but this was short lived as a number of motorists decided to ignore the Road Closed Signs, stop, get out of their vehicles, move the cones and then drive through regardless.

This pretty much continued until the following day when the contractors began erecting the heras fencing. Even then some drivers still drove through, but not in the same numbers as the previous evening.

However, no sooner was the road closed and it was open again as the result of a car crash in New Road junction Bayford Road.

Bayford road has now become the alternative route for traffic that would normally travel down Pier Road. Obviously, we can’t attribute the car crash on the traffic diversions, but it resulted in the contractors re-opening Pier Road for a period to allow traffic come down Pier Road while Bayford road was closed. Let’s hope there’s no more such traffic crashes or incidents, as Pier Road won’t be so easily opened in the future now the heras fencing and site infrastructure is in place.

Car accident in Bayford Road LittlehamptonThe traffic collision in New Road where two motor cars collided with each other with the silver car crashing into the Mobile Phone Shop’s window.

With this being the weekend of the bonfire celebrations, I raised concerns that given the potentially large flow of pedestrians that usually come down Pier Road, it would be perhaps a good idea if they left an extra wide gap for these large numbers to pass through.

Sergeant Roy Hodder, our always-helpful local Police Sergeant liaised with the site manager and between them they ensured that Pier Road had sufficient width to accommodate the numbers. Sadly, as events transpired the bonfire and parade were cancelled owing to the awful weather and Pier Road was quite literally void of it’s usual crowds.

I think the increased footway, which pretty much was a single carriage way wide led alot of people into a false sense of security and also perhaps gave a misleading impression as to how Pier Road will be for the duration of the works.

Surprisingly, no one I spoke to, apart from the businesses owners seemed to have any idea of why the road was closed. There seems to be a general unawareness that these works were due to take place.

Despite the awful weather, the Environment Agency have confirmed that they achieved all their first week’s goals and they’re on target.

These goals included:

  1. Closing the roads
  2. Erecting the heras fencing
  3. Completing road surveys and various other works that they’ve been unable to do while the road was open
  4. Preparations began for the new site for Riverside Fish Kiosk.

Our own business in Pier Road (Coastal Cycles) had a welcome boost to our sales with the sale of a fleet of four bikes to VolkerStevin the contractor whose building the scheme.

The bikes will be used by the contractors to cycle to and from the various locations that they’re operating from. Remember, or if you’re already not aware that this Project comprises of a number of areas divided up into  a number of ‘Reaches’ with the main contractors HQ now located at Railway Wharf in Littlehampton Harbour Board’s land.

 Reach 1  – Arun Parade

Reach 2 – Pier Road

Reach 3 – River Road

Environment Agency Bikes for the SchemeRepresentatives from the Environment Agency, VolkerStevin and the directors of Coastal Cycles hand over the new bikes for use during the scheme, which I am delighted to say, are already in regular use.

Week 2

The following Monday morning, work began on placing the heras fencing into its final position in preparation for the main works to come.

Littlehampton Sea Defence worksIt’s hard to describe how different the road feels with this reduced width. The pavement area is now only 2 metres wide something we all argued about during the consultation process as not being wide enough.

There were some shocked faces when they saw just how narrow this pavement is going to be. Remember, it’s going to be like this until June 2014. I can’t imagine the Easter weekend, let alone early summer.

You could argue, of course that this is nothing narrower than the existing pavement as was pointed out to us during the consultation process. However, as we pointed out back – you must measure this against the loss of the opposite side pavement and the fact you no longer side step momentarily into the road to create space for passing buggies, mobility scooters, pushchairs, prams and, how do I say this without causing offense? The wider amongst us..

Pier Road works by Environment AgencyAbove shows just how narrow the pavement really is and I think this is going to be one of the biggest challenges of the scheme – the free flow of pedestrian traffic.

Pier Road Sea Defence worksTo everyone’s relief the Green portable building pictured earlier was removed and is now located by the Oyster Pond. This green building will be the Scheme’s Information Centre and will be manned by Eric Smethurst, the scheme’s public liaison officer. And what a great guy he is. When we were first told by the Project Manager that the scheme would have a Liaison officer, my thoughts turned to bureaucracy personified with a high viz jacket and a rule book. But, Eric is just what’s needed for this scheme. A man whose enthusiasm and laughter is infectious and obviously loves what he does and has enormous engineering experience with projects just like this one.

I’m delighted to say that Eric has agreed to take part in a future  interview with the Pier Road Diaries where we’ll get an opportunity to ask him about his Visitor Information Centre, which incidentally, should be operational early next week, and his role.

Visitor Information Centre for the Sea DefencesThe Green Building located by the Oyster Pond is the scheme’s Visitor Information Centre, manned by Eric Smethhurst who’ll be happy to answer any questions and talk you through the details of how the flood defences will be built. There will also be lots of visuals and useful information.

works in Pier Road LittlehamptonAll the charter fishing boats have now been relocated to the Visitors Mooring area and local firm, Littlehampton Welding LTD have been busy working on the pontoons now that everything is being moved around.

Sea Defence work LittlehamptonThe ‘Nelson Steps’ have now been removed. These being the steps at the back of the Riverside Fish Kiosk and are regularly used by the local fishermen to land their catch to the fish kiosk. I’m not too sure where they’ll land their fish in the future as the whole area will be off limits for some time to come. Knowing Bob (the owner of the kiosk), I’d imagine he’s got it sussed.

Sea Defence Works LittlehamptonI had a very interesting and informative chat with the crane operator/driver who explained that this crane is a ’40 tonner’ and a mere baby to the 100 tonner that is due to arrive in Littlehampton next Wednesday. This larger crane will be used to lift in the heavy duty equipment to drive in the piles

At a previous consultation meeting, Andy Hills from VolkerStevin explained they will be using a ‘Vibro Piling Hammer’, which apparently, despite it’s name reduces the likelyhood of vibration on the surrounding area.

So if you want to see the heavy duty equipment arrive and be installed, next Wednesday (6th November) is the scheduled day for it all too arrive.

Fish Kiosk LittlehamptonThe Riverside Fish Kiosk, Pier Road’s hugely popular Fish Mongers is closed at the moment. This was pre-planned as the contractor needs to prepare the kiosk ready to be moved to it’s new, temporary location opposite the Nelson Hotel.  I spoke to the contractor earlier today and he explained to me although it will be lifted by the 40tonne crane, it won’t be specatularly flying through the air on it’s journey, more of being lifted a couple of mms off the ground and carefully, very carefully swung into position.

Once the Fish Kiosk re-opens, we’ll tweet this to our followers – so please make sure if you want to keep up-todate with all that’s going on you follow the Pier Road Diaries Twitter account @Pier_Road  make sure also you sign up to receive an email to advise you when the Pier Road Diaries are updated. With the scheme now underway, I’m hoping for at least twice weekly photo-blog posts, hopefully more.

All going to plan and on-time?

There’s been criticism that the Environment Agency haven’t yet erected the large banners they’d promised, advertising that all our businesses are open, haven’t yet been erected.

I have to take some of the blame for this as despite Andrew Walker’s (Environment Agency) continued reminders to me about supplying our logos, I’m afraid I didn’t get them to him until the Friday before before the road closed. But, I wasn’t the only one….(you know who you are)

In terms of time-scales.

At our last consultation meeting, we were given a presentation by the Contractor, Andy Hills who outlined the first three week’s programme and without boring you with a blow-by-blow programme, the project is on target, despite the appalling weather.

Can I just say a big thank you to Eric and his colleagues from VolkerStevin and Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency for being so helpful in allowing me to take pictures for the Diaries and also answer my many questions. With this sort of co-operation I should be able to keep you updated with all that’s going on.

And, please do remember, Pier Road is open as usual and there’s free car parking available in the West Green Car Park – just look out for the signs.

Littlehampton

Littlehampton is back to its brilliant best.

The Travellers have left the Seafront and Littlehampton is back to its brilliant best.

With the terrific weather, great winds and school holidays, Littlehampton Harbour is again alive and kicking. This year we’re seeing a huge increase in visitor boats to Littlehampton Harbour, many of whom have sailed from the Netherlands, France and Germany.

Three Brothers Sailing Boat LittlehamptonThe Three Bothers is one of Littlehampton’s most iconic local sailing boats and can be seen moored at it’s mooring just below the RNLI Station.

Sailing in Littlehampton Harbour 3Sailing in Littlehampton HarbourSailing in Littlehampton harbour 5Sailing in Littlehampton 4Sailing in Littlehampton harbour 6Littlehampton HarbourLittlehampton Harbour 3Benny swimming in River ArunBenny swimming in River Arun 2Benny, the Pier Road Diaries dog is back swimming in his favourite place on Littlehampton’s West Bank.

And, our other ‘visitors’ have gone….

Littlehampton Seafront greenswardAs soon as the Traveller’s  left, Arun District Council’s Park’s Department moved in, cleaned up, repaired the fencing and the damaged lawn area.

Arun District Council repair the fencesFull Credit must be given to Arun District Council’s Parks Department for this incredibly quick clean, repair and turn around from what it was.

Damage to Littlehampton Seafront.East Beach Cafe LittlehamptonThe East Beach Cafe – Littlehampton’s iconic Seafront Beach Cafe.

Arun District Council’s Sea Front Car Park Charges

Earlier this year, Arun District Council announced it’s intention to increase the parking charges in Littlehampton seafront. This a popular place for our visitors to park. The increases proposed were to increase the 1 hour charge by double, from £1 to £2.

4 hours will cost you a staggering £7  – thus making parking in Littlehampton’s seafront more expensive than parking in Chichester.

We had the usual mandatory consultation announced in the local papers.

There were of course several sensible, well-made objections from local business owners opposing the increases, but in true form at Arun District Council, where consultation seems to be seen more of a necessary tiresome mandatory process, the outcome was already a foregone conclusion, and  up went the prices.

But it’s not car parking charges that are the only thing that has gone up in Littlehampton Seafront as the picture below shows.

Arun District Council car parkingOK, so Arun District Council increase Littlehampton’s seafront car park charges, but fail to cut the grass. The picture above was taken on the May Bank Holiday weekend, a weekend when the above car park was full of cars – all paying premium prices to park here and this is the state of the car park.

Arun District Counci Car parkingForget the bucket and spade, bring your own machete  when coming to park in Littlehampton’s Seafront Car Parks – £7 for 4 hours in the long grass and uneven, gravely surface.

Surely it wouldn’t take much imagination or forward thinking on their behalf to work out that if you’re going to charge more for car parking, you should at least ensure that the car park is up to a suitable standard?

Combine this with a number of Arun District Council’s run-down buildings and it’s not difficult to see why Littlehampton is failing to attract the numbers it used to.

There was  a time when council’s took pride in their area and environments and full credit must go to Littlehampton Town Council who continually impress with their splendid beautifully maintained buildings and gardens.

What a shame it is that Arun District Council can’t get the basics right.

Arun District Council 3I wonder how much it would cost in consultant’s fees to advise Arun District Council that cutting the long grass might be a good idea in an effort not only to attract new visitors to our seafront, but retain those we so desperately need to keep?

Pier Road Stolen Van

Van in River

On Tuesday, 26th March 2013, Sussex Police Diving Team arrived in Pier Road to recover a Verdant Van which had been stolen some days earlier. The van had been driven into the river at some speed so that it was completely submerged with only a small section of its roof visible at the lowest tide.

Van in River Pier Road

Van being recovered by Sussex Police.

Pier Road Van

Verdant Van finally out of the water. The potential hazard to shipping and leisure craft was quite significant especially given how many sailing boats and large shipping use the river area all year round.

Sussex Police Divers

Sussex Police Divers preparing to enter the water and recover the vehicle.

 

Littlehampton Sea Defences

After  months of nothing…..

Shortly after my last posting in January, the Environment Agency appears to have woken up from it’s winter slumbers.

First, a telephone call from Peter, the Project Manager to one of Pier Road traders assuring us that the proposed sea defences plans are still most certainly on.

Then, a nice Press Release to the local media outlets announcing the government’s commitment to the building the sea defences. Here’s the Littlehampton Gazette’s report on the story:

“Andrew Gilham, Sussex flood and coastal risk manager at the EA, expected it would take around a year to complete all the defences.

He added the construction work had been planned in conjunction with traders in Pier Road, and wouldn’t have an impact on the busy summer season, which many businesses relied heavily upon.”

Gosh, Andrew, my memories of our initial dealings with the Environment Agency were that your Agency were about to ride rough-shod over the interests of Pier Road Traders last year when you took it upon yourselves to decide to close Pier Road without any consultation with Pier Road Traders. This during our the busiest half-term holiday of the year.

I recall that the Environment Agency only postponed their plans to work in Pier Road as you hadn’t got the necessary legal consents in place from the Highways Agency….I recall the ongoing battles with the Project Team who were initially adamant they were going ahead, despite our objections.

Anyway, back to the present – Shortly after Andrew’s Press Release we all received an email from the Project Team notifying of us of an urgent meeting to attend a Consultation Meeting to view the ‘draft plans’ for what is now proposed in Pier Road.

Owing to the short notice time of only four days, I had to rearrange plans so I could make the meeting, only to receive another email informing us as that so few could attend, the meeting had been postponed to the following week.

Which begs the question does anyone in the Environment Agency have any idea how to schedule a meeting?

Then, even more correspondence followed, when we were all forwarded the draft plans for what is now being proposed.

By my calculation, this will be the eight time I have been invited to review Draft Plans the regeneration of Pier Road.

One thing I was impressed with was that finally we were being given an opportunity to view the plans prior to the Consultation meeting. However, any admiration was sadly short lived as I discovered that the Draft Plans lacked any useful detail in respect of measurements, surface finishing, heights and so on.

So I emailed the project team saying that I was concerned that despite assurances to the contrary, the draft plans include a plan to build out into Pier Road, something which we have been assured wasn’t going to happen.

I asked for the revised measurements of the Pier Road to be provided and got an email reply telling me that they wouldn’t be answering this question until 1st March 2013.

But our Consultation meeting is on Tuesday 26th February?

Seems a bizarre waste of time to invite stakeholders to attend a consultation meeting, when prior to the meeting a question is asked in relation to the measurements, or lack of them, only to be told that they won’t answer this question until the week following the meeting?

I don’t really think the Environment Agency fully understands the concept of meetings, so I’ve invested in the following book, which I’m having sent to the Project Team in an effort to save tax payer’s money.

518LUIKKbML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_

Of concern also is Arun District Council’s Funding Pledge for these Regeneration Plans.

Until now, Arun District Council have been saying they’ve pledged £1m towards the Sea front enhancements:. Here’s a quote from Arun District Council’s own Website:

Councillor Roger Elkins, Deputy Leader of Arun District Council says: “In these difficult times, £1 million is a considerable amount of money to pledge. It shows our commitment to the regeneration of Littehampton and realising the visions set out in our waterfront strategy.”

Yet, In this week’s Littlehampton Gazette, as part of the feature covering the proposed Sea Defences:

“Arun District Council has also given £500,000 to be used for a project to enhance the pedestrian section of Pier Road.”

I’m confused here, as I thought Councillor Elkins Deputy Leader of the District Council said it was £1million.

So what is it?

£1 million or £500,000?

Then the Environment Agency are quoting a different figure altogether, with £1.3 Million. Information published on their website, 14th August 2012 states:

“The project will also regenerate the area around Pier Road and Arun Parade in the town as a result of the additional £1.3 Million being provided by Arun District Council to introduce significant enhancements to the Scheme..”

I’ve asked Project Team to explain why the different figures and have had no reply.

A further concern of mine is just how long these proposed works are likely to take.

On THE 29TH November 2011, Arun District Council published a PR Release regarding the Proposed Sea Defences stating:

“the flood defences work is anticipated to start around Autumn 2012 and will take approximately 12 months to complete.”

However, the Project Manager told me during our last telephone conversation that he sees it being completed within 3 months.

So how long is it going to take?

While I’m not an engineer,  I cannot see how any civil engineering contractor could complete what is being proposed for Pier Road in 3 months, let alone 12 months, bearing in mind that this project began in 2010 and we still haven’t seen a final plan?