River Arun debris a ‘threat to life’ claims sailor

Fishermen and landowners have complained about the state of the West Works
Fishermen and landowners have complained about the state of the West Works

FISHERMEN and councillors have raised their safety fears over ‘derelict moorings’ in Littlehampton which they say are an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

Fisherman Gary Edwards said he fears for the lives of his crew and other people navigating the river at night.

During a meeting of the Littlehampton Harbour Board on Monday, he told the committee that he encountered sizeable chunks of wood, which had broken away from the aging wood work and pilings at the West Works, causing a serious hazard for boats traversing the Arun.

Mr Edwards said: “There was a piece of wood floating around in the harbour that was over 20ft long with bits coming off it.

“It’s very hard to navigate through this when it’s dark or foggy. My fear is that one of us is going to lose our lives if it’s not sorted.”

Arun district councillor Tony Squires, who is part of the Littlehampton Harbour Board, agreed with Mr Edwards’ concerns.

Cllr Squires said that more investment was needed to improve the West Works and address the mounting safety concerns.

“At the end of the day we have got to grasp the nettle and get the work done,” Cllr Squires said. “The planks are all falling off bit by bit by bit. It’s been a bodge job of repairs to keep it up with a couple of grand here and a couple of grand there.”

He said that the harbour needed to get to a ‘much better state’ to encourage more people to the town.

“It’s not just about the harbour board, it’s about the economy of this town,” Cllr Squires added. “I hope we’ll get on with serious plans to renew the West Works.”

Harbourmaster Billy Johnson said the harbour board had recovered a number of large pieces of debris from the river, as well as a range of floatsam.

However, he said he was ‘confident’ in the harbour boards’ moorings.

Mr Johnson said: “I am confident that the harbour board’s moorings are in sufficient repair to ensure there are no shedding of moorings.”

But he admitted the moorings on the West Bank were in a ‘very dire state’. He promised to look into the matter.

The board’s chairman, councillor Nigel Peters, stressed the River was by no means the worst river in the country and that every step is being taken to improve it.