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:
- 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)
- Assured the Works would cost no more than £13.4 million (they’re now at over £22m )
- 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.
- 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.
As always, thanks for reading, your thoughts are welcome, hopefully the problems we’ve had with the comments section have now been rectified.