Now Updated with a reply from Southern Water (follows below main post)
Southern Water have been left looking like idiots this morning (Monday, 19th October) in Pier Road, Littlehampton.
On Friday, 16th October 2015 without any direct consultation or notification to local residents or businesses in Pier Road, representatives from Southern Water laid a number of ‘no parking cones’ along Pier Road announcing that emergency works would take place the following Monday and Tuesday.
Parking was suspended – with dire warnings of vehicles being towed away if they remain parked.
Then on Saturday, a traffic management system was dropped off and left on the pavement in Pier Road.
And then today, Monday morning the contractors duly arrived in Pier Road ready to undertake the ’emergency works’ only to discover that as parking is permitted along both sides of the Pier Road carriage way, double lines being only seasonal, therefore rendering it impossible to close a single carriage way of Pier Road.
They would have known this had their officials bothered to check with local business owners and residents.
A child could easily work out that if you’re going to close one carriage of Pier Road, you’re going to need to suspend parking the entire length of Pier Road, and not just opposite and around the area you need to dig up.
Now that Southern Water have left Pier Road, to return at some undetermined time later to complete their emergency works, this begs the question as to how urgent these ’emergency works’ actually are?
Most of us would assume an emergency being something that requires immediate attention.
Not so when it comes to Southern Water.
But then addressing customer satisfaction is not something Southern Water are renowned for. In 2013 the company received the undesired accolade of being the most complained about utility company in the UK generating a staggering 23,000 complaints in one year alone. They did however, manage to generate pre-tax profits of £156.9m in the same year.
And why are these works necessary?
Pier Road has only recently being opened to vehicular traffic having been closed for almost 2 years during the Environment Agency’s protracted flood defences works.
Therefore it’s extremely worrying for residents and businesses in Pier Road, that despite over £22.5m being spent jointly by the Environment Agency, Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council that Southern Water are now planning to dig up Pier Road’s new surfaces.
To-date, my requests for an explanation from Southern Water as to why these works are required have been ignored.
So, we’re stuck with rumour.
Rumour has it in Pier Road that the reason for Southern Water’s emergency works it that the underground pipe works have been damaged as a result of the Environment Agency’s flood defence works and that flooding is now being experienced in roads behind Pier Road.
Whatever is going on, it’s not good news.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen grim-faced senior representatives from the Environment Agency, Arun District Council and the Environment’s Agency’s contractors, VolkerStevin meeting in huddled groups along the new walkway. Steps have been measured, gradients measured, failing concrete examined and now Southern Water want to dig up part of the recently laid new road.
As for the chaotic nature of Pier Road’s traffic flow I have previously (along with many others) made representations to West Sussex County Council’s Highways officers and senior officers at Arun District Council that re-opening Pier Road without any changes to the traffic flow and management was mistake.
How could anyone spend £22.5m on a massive regeneration programme for Pier Road and re-open Pier Road with a narrower road than previously, allow 2-way traffic and allow parking on both sides of Pier Road?
And as for Southern Water – In September 2015 this company was fined £160,000 with additional costs of £27,000 at Chichester Crown Court in a case brought against them by the Environment Agency. Southern Water had pumped over 40 million litres of untreated sewage into the sea off Worthing.
REPLY FROM SOUTHERN WATER
Southern Water applied to West Sussex County Council (WSCC) for an emergency works order at the end of September, to repair a 9″ main on Pier Road.
WSCC gave us permission to carry out these works on Monday 19 October.
We didn’t apply for a road closure, choosing instead to put up temporary traffic lights as a way of minimising disruption to residents and businesses. In the days leading up the works we notified residents by way of signage and cones – asking people not to park in the area on that date, to allow our workmen access.
SW understands that whilst vital, repairs can cause disruption and we seek to minimise this as much as possible – for example with the use of temporary traffic lights rather than road closures.
Unfortunately when we arrived to carry out the repair, cars were parked along the road, meaning our workmen were unable to put up the temporary traffic lights and therefore could not safely go ahead.
We will be reapplying to WSCC to carry out the works as a matter of urgency and would ask drivers to help us by keep an eye out for any work related ‘no parking’ signs.
PIER ROAD FURTHER OBSERVATION
So, Southern Water’s latest method of communication important information to their customers is via attaching notes to traffic cones, which are intermittently placed outside a few doors.
The statement doesn’t explain why the works are deemed as ’emergency works’ given that very obviously there’s no immediate requirement to fix/repair/replace anything.
Clearly another example of Southern Water riding rough-shod over local residents and businesses. If they’re not pumping untreated sewage into our seas and beaches, they’re abdicating their statutory obligations by sticking notes to traffic cones.
I despair, I really do.
As always, your comments are welcome and thanks for reading.