IN response to the article ‘Town’s £22.1m defences pleases minister’ (Gazette, December 18), it would have seemed appropriate if the minister for the environment had announced his visit to Littlehampton on Tuesday, December 16, rather than being swept in and out as if he was on some kind of secret mission.
I am sure that if he had announced his coming, I could have arranged an interesting walk along the west bank of the River Arun for him, so he could have witnessed the erosion of our coastal banks taking place and to meet the locals who are really worried about the threat of flooding, with no help from those who could do something about it, especially with the announcement from the Government of a £2.3bn flood defence programme, but not a penny for the west bank.
Then again, he may not have enjoyed it so much if local councillors and the public had been made aware of that announcement and then the other announcement of the cost of the east bank project, which has now become £22.1m and not the original £14m that it was meant to be, if my memory serves me right. So where has the added £8.1 million come from?
Don’t get me wrong, the east bank defence works and the enhancements should be applauded and this project, once finished, should attract many visitors from far and wide, but don’t be fooled or wear rose-tinted glasses, as there are other complications lying in the depths, like the increase in tidal surges that boat owners and business people who use the river are concerned about, but feel that their voices are not being listened to.
There are also reports that the river-users feel the river has now picked up speed and some say it is faster than the River Severn. This lack of listening, or is it ignoring people, is the same over on the west bank – those who live and work there have noticed the rise in water levels since the installation of the east bank flood defences and, when questioned about this, the Environment Agency has stated to me that all the necessary tests undertaken before the east bank project even took place were done in a tank!
I personally think they forgot about Mother Nature, as she throws the best curve ball ever!
West Sussex and Littlehampton town councillor Ian Buckland
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