Gangs are not running riot in Littlehampton

The Littlehampton Gazette’s headline – “Police are not running this town – gangs are” is complete rubbish and nothing more than scaremongering.

Negative headlines sell newspapers and let’s be brutally honest here, the Littlehampton Gazette needs all the help it can to sell what is little more than a weekly advertorial rather than a readable, quality newspaper. The Press Gazette latest circulation figures for the Littlehampton Gazette, shows sales plummeting by  -7.9% on the previous year with circulation now at a paltry 8,988. Drastic times lead to desperate measures with the closure of the Gazette’s Littlehampton offices and a culling of the paper’s reporters.

The Gazette reporter who wrote this story doesn’t live in Littlehampton and could hardly be considered to know what’s really is going on here. Last week he attended the annual Littlehampton Town Council public meeting. I’ve mixed views on the benefits of this type of public meeting as invariably it’s little more than an opportunity for the public to vent at the local authorities, particularly the police.

When a number of years ago I attended the annual town council meeting, I came away wondering what the point of Littlehampton town council is, and indeed, still do. The meeting was dominated by a few vocal locals who complained about cycling on pavements and lack of police action in tackling this supposedly huge and dangerous problem. I left the meeting thinking if all you have to worry about is kids cycling on pavements, how lucky we are to have none of the real crime problems that plague other areas.

In any event, this year’s annual meeting led to one local business owner describing how 12 and 13-year-olds had run through his cafe and threw eggs and he’d witnessed drug dealing outside his business. He concluded by telling the police chief inspector present at the meeting, that in his view  ‘the police are not running this town, but gangs are.’

Cue Littlehampton Gazette, who used this quote as their paper’s front page screaming headline.

While I have sympathy with the business owner’s frustrations and do agree that Littlehampton currently has a small number of youths who are acting in a threatening and anti-social way, we’re still a  long way from the sort of youth gang culture that is destroying other local towns and particularly evident in areas of London.

Personally, I think it’s highly irresponsible of the Littlehampton Gazette to lead with such a negative, scaremongering headline, which I know has already put people off visiting the town centre.

We need to keep things in perspective.

Littlehampton needs a return to high visible proactive policing, which contrary to claims made by Police Commissioner Ms Katy Bourne and Sussex Police’s Chief Constable Giles York who describe bobbies on the beat as being an outdated policing method, bobbies on the beat do work.

The public is always reassured by high visible policing on our streets, which prevents anti-social behaviour. No app or twitter feed or social media platform can take away the important work done by bobbies on the beat.

But please, let’s not elevate these gobby little idiots to the undeserved status of gang leaders. Most of them would wet their nappies if someone were to shout back at them, as I’ve done on occasions when they have created a nuisance in and outside my shop.

 

Whatever the Gazette would like you to believe, Littlehampton remains a safe, welcoming town with the many hard-working, proud people who make our area such a great place to live.

Nothing better proves my point more than a picture of Littlehampton’s War Memorial above, which is lovingly attended to by the council’s contractors and demonstrates all this positive and wonderful about Littlehampton. Surely if gangs were ruling our town this amazing floral display would be impossible?

While we  need to keep pressure on local police management to ensure we get the support from our police and local authorities to ensure that  good and hard work of many is not undermined and destroyed by the few, lets not fall victim to the lousy scaremongering tactics of a newspaper who cut and ran from Littlehampton when their sales declined.


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Will the Environment Agency ever finish Littlehampton’s Flood Defences?

Despite spending in excess of £22.5million on flood defences in Littlehampton Harbour, the Environment Agency still have not completed the flood defence works – and a massive gap still remains in the new flood defence wall.

Hard to believe, that it was back in September 2012, the Environment Agency began constructing Littlehampton’s flood defence scheme. Yet, here we are, early 2017 and Littlehampton still hasn’t been protected from flooding.

Despite assurances made at the start of the project by Environment Agency Manager David Robinson and his colleagues, that their extensive, disruptive  works would ensure Littlehampton was protected from a future flooding event, a large flood-friendly gap has been left in the new flood defence wall.

As you can see in the above picture, a barge was commissioned to complete the works along this side of the River Road’s riverside frontage. My understanding is, that the Environment Agency are holding the landowner responsible for paying for the works to this particular stretch of the riverbank. However, the landowner disputes their liability.

Regardless of who is responsible, surely the sensible approach would have been for the Environment Agency’s contractors to have completed this remaining section of the flood defences while their contractors were already in the river area working on the flood defences and arguing liability at a later date?

Surely the potential costs of clearing up after a flooding event, far outweigh the savings made by leaving a gap in the flood defences? Given that the equipment needed to construct a flood defence wall in a harbour environment are expensive, to say the least – the costs of now returning to bridge this gap will be far in excess of the costs that would have been involved in making good the wall when the EA’s contractors were already in place.

In any event, at the time, the Environment Agency decided to withdraw their contractors, leaving the area with the massive gap you see in the above picture,  leaving a number of giant sandbags, (which can be seen in the picture)to be used in the event of a flooding crisis.

How can a government funded quango spend over £22.5m on creating what were described at the time as being ‘state of the art’ and we’re left with a number of giant sand bags to save the town from flooding?

More importantly, why have the local authorities who were partners in this project (primarily – Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council) remained silent on the situation and not demanded a remedy?

I’ve asked David Robinson, manager at the Environment Agency for an update on what they’re intending to do to bridge the gap and complete the flood defences that were promised.

I have also written to my MP Nick Gibb (Littlehampton MP) asking for his intervention.

I will update the blog with any replies, in the meantime I’d urge you to write to Nick Gibb, MP for Littlehampton to bring pressure on the Environment Agency to undertake and complete their statutory duties.

Nick Gibb MP, can be emailed at:  gibbn@parliament.uk

When I previously raised this issue back in 2016 – this story was taken up by the BBC including featuring on BBC South East News with Sean Killick, BBC Radio Sussex and other media outlets. At the time, David Robinson, Manager at the Environment Agency gave assurances that a permanent solution would be achieved.

We’re still waiting, Mr Robinson.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

Paul

 

 

 

Travellers now occupying Littlehampton Seafront Car Park

Updated – Travellers left Littlehampton on Sunday 27th November and last seen heading along the A27 past Chichester towards Portsmouth area.

Littlehampton’s Banjo Road, seafront car park is now home to a large number of travellers. All vehicles have foreign registration marks, which include a Bentley and other expensive luxury cars.Littlehampton car parkEasy access to the seafront car park as Arun District Council had left the height barriers open. The height barrier installed to prevent such trespasses.

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This Bentley amongst the high quality, expensive cars that have arrived towing large caravans.

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The scene this morning where a large number of travellers have gained entry to Littlehampton’s seafront car park.

I’ve reported on these trespasses before on my blog and I highlighted the complete disregard that Arun District Council take in preventing these occurrences. Illegal trespasses which cost the local tax payer significant money in evicting them as well as the problems created by their presence.

On this occasion Arun District Council left the car park’s height barrier open, which if closed would have prevented their gaining entry.

Sussex Police are on scene with two police cars and a number of uniformed police officers.

Littlehampton travellers

Sussex police officers talking to caravan owners who just arrived in Littlehampton.

Arun District Council bylaws forbid overnight camping in seafront car parks or anywhere on the council’s seafront greensward.


As always, thanks for reading, comments welcome.