This report provides an update to members as to the progress of the works at Littlehampton Town centre and also provides a financial update.
(Cllr Dr Walsh arrived at the meeting at 18:21pm)
In introducing his report, the Director of Growth stated that hopefully members have had the opportunity to have walked down the high street to see the works that had already been completed. He explained that in managing the budget of the project the council had applied a ‘lean’ management process. However, economically, the world is in a difficult place currently and that brings with it additional challenges when fulfilling a project such as this. He confirmed that when issues had arisen, they were flagged up and if they fall out of scope a review was undertaken in order to make a decision regarding continuing to deliver as planned or the council make the changes as needed. Turning to the report he explained that the report detailed some of the issues that had cropped up since the project started. He confirmed that the project was now estimated to cost an additional £250,000 but were not currently expecting any further overspend. To ensure a contingency, the report was also requesting for an additional £150,000 to be placed in reserve. In summing up he stated that some of the underground services had not been properly mapped previously. Until work had started we did not conclusively know what pipework and other services were beneath the pavements or what condition they were in. He then referred members to the recommendations in the report.
The Chair confirmed to members that the contact he had from traders raising issues or concerns had been dealt with swiftly and he thought the Town Centre was looking excellent from the work completed so far. He then opened up the debate and invited members to ask questions or make comment.
One member stated that he was a regular visitor of the Town Centre and he was pleased to report he had not had many negative comments made to him, however, he did state that given the very dry weather we’d had recently that the council needed to be mindful about washing the dirt away from the pavements. It was confirmed by the Director of Growth that built into the maintenance and upkeep of the town centre the pavements would receive a deep clean throughout the year.
Members then raised the issue of graffiti on the new street furniture that had appeared. The concern was that should the graffiti not be removed swiftly that this issue would get worse and that the purpose of the work to upgrade the area would be lost. It was confirmed that the graffiti had already been dealt with and removed. Discussion continued with suggestions made that a dedicated PCSO or Town Warden was needed in order to stop these acts of vandalism along with other more serious vandalism such as broken shop windows. It was felt that should actions not be taken to stamp out this behaviour that people visiting the area would be put off, damaging the tourism opportunities available to the area. The vice-chair confirmed that he had raised these very issues at the Housing & Wellbeing Committee meeting last week and had reached out to Detective Inspector Nick Bowman and the Police and Crim Commissioner Katy Bourne.
Moving the discussion on, the chair reminded member of the recommendations before them. A query regarding the junction of the high street and Arundel Road having been slimmed down was raised to understand why this action had been completed. It was confirmed that this was part of the original design document signed off by members and it was designed to create a loading bay on the southern side of the road.
It was asked if there was a plan to incorporate extra watering of the new trees that had been planted to ensure that they are maintained and cared for until the project is completed and the work to look after these trees is handed over to the council’s parks team. It was confirmed that the contractor had upped the watering regime during the summer months.
Final comments were that members were pleased to have received the report with the extra spend detailed rather than finding out about the additional spend without having been involved.
The recommendations were proposed by Cllr Cooper and seconded by Cllr Dr Walsh.
1) Review the contents of the report regarding progress on the delivery of the public realm phases 2 & 3.
2) Approve the projected overspend on the project of £250k and £150k contingency sum (a total of £400k), to be funded from the creation of an earmarked reserve in 2021/22.