Littlehampton’s Flood Defence completion celebrations cancelled owing to Flooding fears!

You couldn’t make this sort of stuff up.

The Environment Agency and Arun District Council have now officially cancelled their planned celebrations, which were due to take place to celebrate the completion of Littlehampton’s Flood Defence Scheme.

The reason?

Flood risk – as a result of the Environment Agency leaving a great big gap in Littlehampton’s new flood defences.

In correspondence seen by the Pier Road Diaries (received anonymously), Sir Phillip Dilley, Chairman of the Environment Agency and Councillor Andy Cooper Chairman of Arun District Council were due to preside at a completion ceremony in Arun District Council’s Civic Centre on Monday, 28th September 2015.

Invited guests were promised a presentation on Littlehampton’s Flood Defence scheme by James A Humphrys, Area Manager for Environment Agency, South Downs and Solent and his colleagues from the Environment Agency on the scheme followed by a buffet lunch ending off the day with a tour of Littlehampton’s Flood Defence scheme.

In what can only be described as an embarrassing cock-up  for both the Environment Agency and their partners at Arun District Council, both parties have now cancelled the celebratory event owing to fears that Littlehampton’s River Road may flood. And River Road is acutely at risk during the period the period 29th – 30th September 2015 when exceptionally high tides are predicted.

This would be the day after the big wigs and their invited guests had munched their way through a finger buffet provided at the expense of the tax payer while listening to self-congratulatory speeches on how marvelously they’ve all performed.

In his cancellation letter to his invited guests, James A Humphrys explains that the Environment Agency are predicting exceptionally high tides (as part of a 17 year cycle) during the period – 29th to 30th September. These high tides are caused by atmospheric low pressure and could, Mr Humphrey’s warns that owing to a gap in their flood defences, there may be localised flooding in River Road.

He offers reassurance in his letter advising that contingency plans are now in place, which may include the closing of part of Littlehampton’s River Road and the erection of temporary flood defences.

Regrettably, under such circumstances, Mr Humphrys advises that they’ve had no alternative but to cancel their celebrations.

So while the big-wigs lament the loss of another tax-payer funded free round of sarnies and vol-au-vonts, the bigger question remains is how has the Environment Agency spent £22.5m on building flood defences that now clearly are unfit-for-purpose?

Littlehampton Flood Defence SchemeAbove: The gap in the flood defences left during the building and completion of Littlehampton’s new Flood Defence Scheme. Hard to believe the Environment Agency could have left without addressing this gaping gap.

Littlehampton Flood Defence SchemeThe gap can be seen in the above picture nestled between two residential developments.

To the right of the gap you can see the original flood defences being rebuilt by the Environment Agency’s contractors. While the new buildings on the left have had their own flood defences built and strengthened by the property developer.

Littlehampton Flood DefencesAbove: Environment Agency contractors working on rebuilding the flood defences in this area, but specifically left a gap in the new flood defence wall.

Littlehampton Flood Defence SchemeHard to imagine how a decision was arrived by the Environment Agency to leave this exposed section unaddressed. It is this gap, which has led to their celebrations having to be cancelled.

Littlehampton Flood defencesA terrific new stretch of flood defence was completed by the Environment Agency to the right next to the gap.

The Environment Agency have previously been criticised for leaving this area so vulnerable and exposed. The Littlehampton Gazette covered local business owner and resident Mr Boyce’s concerns in a feature published on 23rd February 2015 entitled:  “Littlehampton Flood Defences has a gaping hole in it”.

Mr Humphrys concludes  his letter by saying it would be ‘inappropriate in a celebration event in Littlehampton in these circumstances.’ But he does say they’re proud of their achievements and they’re working towards a long term solution for River road.

Little comfort for Littlehampton’s River Road residents who now face potential road closures and are at risk of flooding, ironically as a result of lack of flood protection, despite the EA spending over £22.5m on building state-of-the-art flood defences.

In my view, it’s entirely unacceptable that given that the Environment Agency and their partners, Arun District Council have jointly spent in excess of £22.5m (original budget set at £14.5m) they have failed in their primary objective to prevent flooding in Littlehampton and we now must resort to relying on emergency temporary flood prevention measures (aka sand bags) and road closures. Were the Environment Agency and Arun District Council subject to the same intense scrutiny such as education and health establishments are, both organisations would be deemed unfit for purpose and placed in special measures.

I wonder when the Environment Agency and Arun District Council will get around to forewarning the residents and business owners of Littlehampton’s River Road and West Beach residents at Ropewalk?

The predicted exceptionally high tides, which are posing this flood risk are due to take place on 29th – 30th September 2015.

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As always, your comments are welcome which you can add below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SONY DSC

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

 

Does this look like it’s suitable for disabled access?

With over £14.5 million pounds of your hard earned money being spent ‘regenerating’ Littlehampton’s Pier Road (and surrounding environs) you’d imagine that the least the Project Manager, Peter Borseberry could achieve would be a suitable ramp allowing disabled people enjoy a boat trip in our lovely harbour?

(remember to click on the pictures to blow them up for a closer look)

Disabled Access

Regrettably not. Take a look at the new ‘disabled compliant’ ramp that leads to the pontoons where you can take a charter boat, fishing trip, ferry trip or a scenic tour.

By any stretch of the imagination, I think it would be hard to imagine pushing your loved one up or down this monstrosity let alone doing it on your own.

The Environment Agency dispute this.David Robinson, Operations Manager for The Environment Agency in the South East assured me when we met earlier this week that the above steps are fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.

Disabled access

Here’s the steps from a different angle. These photographs were taken close to ‘low tide’ but the tides at the time of the photographs are on what’s known as ‘neaps’. On Spring tides, the angle will be substantially more acute making the ramp even steeper. Make sure you strap your loved ones in their chairs, say your goodbyes and hope that Mr Robinson and Mr Borseberry have got it right.

Disabled access

This new ramp, which we’ve been assured is fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995  is due to open in January 2015.

Disabled access

A long way up even for the fittest amongst us. Remember this ramp will be used by divers and fishermen carrying diving equipment or pushing it in trailers.

Personally, I don’t believe this ramp complies with the requirements or even the Disability Discrimination Act and if does, then the Act needs to be amended.

Apologies, the add comments field is still problematic. Please email your comments or thoughts to pierroad@live.com

Thanks for reading.

Paul