Chris has stopped his weekly postings, but you can still read his stories here ...
Chris is a Maintenance Surveyor for Adur & Worthing Councils and has been in this post for over 6 years.
Chris first qualified as a Building Surveyor way back in 1987 and has worked for some varied organisations ranging from NHS Property, a large social housing provider in Nottingham, County Council and then finally with A&W. Chris works in a small but essential maintenance team of 2 surveyors, 4 support staff and a part time handyman.
He also works alongside our Capital Surveyors and Civil Engineers.
You can read Chris' archived blog posts on this page below:
We've reached that time of year again where things start to slow down (for some that is) and thoughts are given to the family and loved ones. Whether you believe this to be a time for religious celebrations or that a big fat fella in a red suit coming to pay a visit on Christmas Eve, it is ultimately a time to reflect.
Looking back over the last year's work it's very difficult to remember a lot of the jobs we've done because we've been so busy ... although it has become somewhat easier now because all I need to do is read my blog from the last year and it all comes flooding back.
It's great to see my kids trying their hardest to behave as much as possible in the hope that they're on Santa's good list, not wanting to miss out on the potential presents he may bring, and the thought of spending some quality time with the family is also great.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine the other day who thought that the Councils closed for a couple of weeks. This is not the case and there are many departments within the Councils who work as normal throughout the festive period.
I am quite envious of Santa though because he really only has to work one day a year. I know he's technically overseeing the elves making sure that all the toys are built but he still only has to work one day a year. I've been really lucky in the past and have managed generally to have the week off over Christmas (and pretty much taking this for granted).
But this year I find myself on call over Christmas, so will be the out-of-hours officer for the surveyors on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and then back to work the day after. Even with this being the case I still feel pretty lucky because there are lots of people like nurses, ambulance staff, police and fire services who will have to work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Although we are available all through Christmas, many of our contractors do close, so I have a strange feeling the tools that I carry with me will be getting quite a bit of use in the next week or so.
Finally, I hope that everyone has a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year and that all your hopes and dreams come true whether you spend it with friends, family or loved ones.
Photo: Chris in his Santa hat
Sometimes the smallest of things can mean the most. Things such as my kids putting their plates in the kitchen when they have finished their tea, or someone holding a door open when I have my hands full. Neither of these are essential but make my life easier and enable me to do other things in the time saved.
Some things in my working day are similar to this and some, even though being small, can have a huge impact if not dealt with quickly.
Last week I took my family to see the pantomime Aladdin at the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing. Pantos are always a firm favourite and this time it didn't disappoint. The show starred Rebecca from CBBC (who I have a secret crush on) and Lee from Steps (who my wife has admired for many years), Wishy Washy (who my daughter couldn't stop laughing at/with) and Abanazar who my son seemed to relate to (being the baddy, and with he being nine).
Believe me this has some relevance, it's not just a theatrical review. We received a call one day that the dressing room sinks at the theatre were not draining and it meant that the cast would not be able to fully use them. Now in normal situations this may not be a major issue, but anyone who has used large amounts of theatrical make-up knows that baby wipes just won't do the job. We had one of our plumbers on site quickly and the show went on without a hitch.
Another example of a small change making a big difference is the front reception area at the Shoreham Centre. The flagship site in Shoreham would still provide good service to the community whatever condition it is in. However, the site is heavily used and the décor was letting everything down. The staff are always happy and polite and the reception area looks great with its newly installed Christmas tree, but the customer service area didn't represent the friendly image that is throughout the rest of the building. We decided to redecorate this area and the difference it has made is amazing.
And one more example ... As a society I think that we have now become a lot less relaxed and more aware of time and are constantly whizzing around trying not to be late for our next meeting, the bus or a social event etc. Some of us use watches or our phones and I am sure that some people can be fairly accurate looking at the position of the sun.
To some, however, the public clocks around our town are a necessity. The three-faced clock outside the Guildbourne shopping centre has had ongoing issues for some time with only two of the faces showing the correct time.
We contacted our clock repair company and they advised that the replacing all the motor and wiring to this one face (this clock is wholly electric) would guarantee that the failure didn't continue. These elements were changed in the space of two hours and the clock has been spot on since.
Finally, I dedicate this blog to my wife, who reads it every week. I hope that she appreciates that small things matter ... for when she opens her Christmas presents on Christmas Day and isn't too disappointed.
I am proud to be part of the team I work with. We are always flat out making sure that any problems or defects are dealt with promptly. We not only deal with reactive repairs (immediate repairs), Planned Maintenance (scheduled works planned for the current and future years) and some Capital works (which can be up to the value of £100K), all of these works need to be assessed, ordered, completed, checked and invoices paid.
None of this would be possible if we were not a close and efficient team. We treat each other as equals, each person as important as the next, but all with slightly different tasks and roles.
With this said, our team is losing one of its stars.
Tom Ramshaw has been our hands-on maintenance man for many years. He started working in a team of three people: Tom, Ray and Steve (although Tom and Ray appeared to be inseparable), first becoming involved in our properties back in 2002 when he was working for a local contractor on a fixed term contract to carry out our reactive maintenance.
Photo: Tom, our hands-on maintenance man, is retiring
Following a competitive tender exercise, the decision was taken to bring this service back in-house and thankfully his team transferred to our Adur Building Services section and we contact them to carry out necessary works. Although this was better, it still had its own complications as it was not guaranteed who would attend the jobs when we knew that Tom would be the best person.
So on 1st February 2016 Tom started working for us directly. His work would be programmed by us and he was accountable purely to us. This produced immediate benefits to us as it meant that Tom was available to 'drop things' when needed so that he could react to emergencies.
I am sure that this must have been infuriating to Tom, when he has started doing a repair and we phone him to go somewhere else. It did mean however that our response time to an emergency was cut to minutes instead of the hours or days previously.
Tom would carry out many jobs, from changing washers on leaking taps, repairing or rebuilding beach huts, changing locks and padlocks, carrying out Legionella works, carrying out regular beach patrols (looking for repairs needed along the seafront before they cause bigger issues), hanging pictures and poster boards, carrying out necessary works following a fire risk assessment and so many more things that my head hurts thinking of them all.
Tom has also been our go-to guy for our out-of-hours call-outs, and I am sure that we are responsible for ruining many family occasions and sporting events which he was enjoying before we called him.
I have calculated that during his time Tom would have carried out in excess of 17,000 jobs for us. Now, after all of this hard work and service, Tom has decided it is time to retire, and to be honest I can't blame him wanting to put his feet up for a while and not worry about being up early in the morning.
My final thoughts are - today being Tom's combined birthday and retirement day - it's time to celebrate and thank him for everything he has done over the years. Tom, not only have you been a 'face of the department' where everyone knows you, but a true friend and we will all miss you.
In my family Christmas is a really big occasion (for my wife anyway). She usually starts her shopping in June and usually has Christmas wrapped up (literally) by November.
I am slightly different and prefer the option of hunting for presents on Christmas Eve and frantically wrapping the presents whilst everyone is asleep hoping that Santa doesn't catch me up.
In Worthing though we do have to prepare with military precision.
The trees are usually booked before New Year arrives and we keep track of their progress throughout the next 11 months. It has been known for me to drive to the Christmas tree farm and hand pick the trees.
We usually install three trees around Worthing: one at the centre of Montague Street, one outside the Guildbourne Centre in South Street Square and the third being outside Worthing Town Hall.
The trees are usually about 30ft high and have to be craned into place. We tape the areas off to protect the public whilst the tree is being installed but it is amazing how many people move the tape or duck underneath it to save themselves the additional two second walk. Please don't do this, we are trying to make sure that you remain safe and you are not injured for Christmas Day.
The sunken pits within the pavement that the trees are planted into are about three foot deep and the large timber wedges are hammered into place to make sure that it is straight and upright but more importantly secure.
The tree in Montague Street is paid for by Worthing Town Centre Initiative and donated to the Rotary Club. The Mayor officially opens this tree and this year it will be on 7th December 2018 at 11am.
Photos: Christmas tree going up at Montague Street
We then have to get the Guildbourne and Town Hall trees decorated. This involves the use of a large cherry picker and lots of patience (luckily I don't have to fit them just continually tell the guys that they have missed a bit).
Photos: Christmas tree going up at Worthing Town Hall
I have been asked why we only have lights on our outside trees and not baubles etc. Well, the honest answer is that we have tried in the past and have spent the entire time chasing these up and down the street ... so very heavily tie wrapped lights is the best option.
This year the Guildbourne tree is kindly sponsored by the Discover Worthing team - many thanks because the town wouldn't be the same without this tree.
We also have trees located inside our two main customer centres, with this being Portland House in Worthing and the Shoreham Centre in Shoreham. These artificial trees look a treat and always receive rave reviews. With the presents around the base I think they bring a smile to the little ones that see them. We have had in the past presents go missing from the base of these trees, but can I assure you that these are just empty boxes for show and have not been dropped off by Santa.
It is always difficult balancing between quality and cost as we are always conscious of value for money. I have had it mentioned to me before that they have a better tree in New York - but with this costing £53,000 I would have a hard time justifying this cost!
The important thing for me is that after the 12 months of planning and then the chaos of putting up and lighting the trees that they help start the festive season off and bring smiles to yours and your children's faces.
Welcome back everyone.
Just in case you are concerned that the title of this blog is a statement on my personal circumstances, rest assured not yet, although Christmas is coming and with two small children who knows.
With this blog I am continuing on with the works we are doing to winter proof our properties throughout Adur and Worthing. This week I'm on to the topic of roofs.
You don't need to be a qualified building surveyor to know that a roof is one of the most major component's to a building.
They come in varying sizes shapes and constructions. Within our portfolio of properties we have roofs made of Slate, Clay, Concrete, Lead, Zinc, Copper, Plastic coated metal, Felt, Asphalt, Rubber, Glass Fibre and I am sure there are a couple made of stone.
Sometimes it is easy to diagnose when there is a fault - you look up and you can see a slate or tile loose or missing.
Photo: Tiled roof with missing tile
It isn't that easy though with some of the more bespoke roofs like felt, zinc or lead.
Photo: Asphalt roof surface
It is an endless battle repairing leaks as water appears inside the building and, on many occasions, it is travelling along the deck below and appearing at the weakest point.
But we have to start at the beginning and work our way through the obvious points and then move onto the less obvious. We always find the problem sooner or later.
There is one thing which is forgotten by many and personally I think is more important than the roof and this is the GUTTER.
The gutters job is to take all of the rainwater which accumulates when it rains and channels this down rainwater pipes into the underground drainage system.
This however can also cause us major problems. Throughout the summer, moss, algae, plant matter, seeds, tree debris, footballs and tennis balls can fall in and even our feathered residents can build nests and raise their chicks in them.
When the weather is good and the sun is shining who this about these, well we do.
We have a team who inspect the gutters to all of our larger corporate sites and check the roof coverings and also clean out the gutters all year round.
There are times when this isn't possible when the seagulls are laying and it is way too dangerous to go up on the roof (I have been hit by a seagull before and it
Without ensuring that the water can flow away from the roof areas it can mean flooding into your property and cause much more damage than a simple roof leak.
Photo: Damaged ceiling after a flood from a roof
Throughout the winter we inspect some sites more often such as our crematorium which although has beautifully landscaped areas with mature trees all around, the leaves can block the gutter in a blink so it almost becomes a daily task.
I hope I have explained the importance of gutters, but please only attempt to clear them yourself if you have easy and safe access or you are used to climbing ladders.
It filled me with such pride with how the whole community came together to make the recent Remembrance events across Adur and Worthing the best ever.
A lot of organisation is required for events, most of it done by volunteers - and it was amazing that I think all departments within the Councils did their own little piece to support the events.
I was at Worthing Town Hall on Sunday where more than 4,000 people came together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.
The day started very early for some, with our cleansing teams putting up the pedestrian barriers, sweeping leaves away from the war memorial and marking out the where everyone was to be positioned.
Our facilities guys were ensuring that the security was sorted and that the Chaplin, Mayor and other dignitaries had somewhere to talk from. One of them - Dawson - also dressed up to the nines as the mace bearer.
Our theatres staff installed the PA system to enable as many people as possible to hear the service.
Our comms team were taking photos and recording video so that parts of the service could be posted on social media.
We also had Liz and colleagues in democratic services liaising with all the members of the council and visiting armed services who were essential to the event.
Then there was little old me doing my bit in the clock tower.
I stated off the day at 8:30am and, when I arrived, made my way up to the clock to wait for the 9am strike. Unfortunately it struck 12 - not great!
We have had the strike mechanism repaired but it appears to have broken again. There was only one option - to strike the bell manually.
As I had not done this previously I decided to practice at 10am. All went well so I decided that for the two minutes silence at 11am this was going to be my course of action.
So whilst my family was outside, I was sitting on the floor of a stairwell looking out of a tiny window waving and watching the event come together.
I was amazed at the view you can get from the second floor of the Town Hall (although where I was I had to bend my neck quite a lot to see the military parade.)
At 10:40am I made my way back to the clock tower, and unfortunately this then meant I was completely isolated from the outside world.
The only sounds I could hear was the clock mechanism going 'TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK' and of course my heart beat which was just as loud.
My phone quickly goes on to the Greenwich Mean Time website and then watch the seconds countdown.
It had been agreed with our Beach Office officers that at exactly 11am they would set off maroons on the seafront at the same time as the clock chimes.
At bang on 11am the moment arrived and I start the clock chimes.
For some reason found myself counting to 11 like a four year old and sometimes questioning how many I had done - it's amazing how nerves can affect you!
Thankfully it all went OK. I believe we managed to get the clock and maroons within a second of each other which is the closest it has ever been before.
Soon after I was locking up the tower, handing in the access keys and joining my family for the rest of the event.
I am sure that there are many people that I haven't mentioned who put lots of hard work into this and I am sorry for not mentioning you. The most important thing is we all did our bit for Remembrance.
Photo: The Remembrance Service
Photo: One of the Poppy Wreaths
Well unfortunately the weather has turned and has become a little chillier in the mornings.
I now find myself playing the frost lottery of leaving my house 10 minutes earlier with a view of scraping ice off of my windscreen.
This has obviously led me to getting to work earlier than usual on numerous occasions due to a lack of wintry weather.
The other main issue is that I have now started the thermostat battle with my wife who is always cold and turns the thermostat on full and then in turn I turn it down when I get a chance (hoping she doesn't notice).
This shows how difficult it can be keeping the house at a temperature that suit four different individuals (myself, my wife and two children), think how it must be in an office with hundreds of
The seasons pose problems for us and it is interesting that we are either providing fans and easing windows in the summer and then sealing draughty windows up and fixing heating systems that had been turned off for 6 months in the winter.
Being as environmentally friendly as possible we installed new Building Management Systems (BMS) some years ago to a variety of our corporate sites, such as Worthing Town Hall and Portland House.
This is a very cleaver bit of kit that controls the heating within the building.
There are a number of temperature sensors located around the buildings that constantly test the temperature.
These then tell the BMS where heat is needed and where it is not, the zones all run independent of each other and are controlled by a big control panel located in the plant rooms of each site.
We are lucky that the Town Hall BMS has a computer app built into it so we can change any settings like timings and zonal temperatures remotely.
Sites like Worthing Museum and Portland House don't have this facility so if things need adjusting you will find us siting on the floor of the plant room adjusting the BMS manually.
We recently turned the heating back on at the Museum, which starts with our gas engineers turning the boilers on and then testing and servicing the boilers to ensure that they are both safe to use and running as efficiently as possible.
A fault was found with a fan which extracts the gases from the boiler and it was deemed too unsafe to use.
The part was sent off to be repaired and once this had been repaired it was reinstalled. We then unfortunately found a defect with the BMS system.
These are great systems but unfortunately if anything goes wrong it takes a computer whizz kid (I am sure they must train at NASA) to attend with their laptops and fix it.
Although having no heating at the museum must have aided with the customer experience reminding visitors of the lack of heating last century. It wasn't however that comfortable for the staff.
You will be happy to know that all is fixed and you can visit and receive a warm welcome and not have to worry about frostbite getting you.
Photos: The Building Management Systems (BMS)
I have always tried to make my blogs both interesting and humorous (which is not as easy as you would expect) but this week it will be more sombre affair.
Over the next few weeks there are many events to remember, Halloween, Fireworks Night (Guy Fawkes Night) and a host of Armed Services remembrance events.
I think for many Halloween and Fireworks Night have now become very commercialised and the true meanings of the events has been lost. I am the same though, when I am getting my kids dressed up in ghoulish outfits and putting more make up on them than any face should be able to endure, we all have a great time.
Walking out and about, looking at all the illuminated and highly decorated houses around us whilst having a competition on who can eat the most sweets.
I know that when I was at school history had to have been my least favourite subject. I can’t blame the school or my teachers who would always try their hardest to inject drama or intrigue into the stories to get pupils attention, but when I was 10 I was more interested in playing hide and seek than what Henry 8th had got up to.
Now I am older I realise that history may have been one of my most important subjects as if lessons are learnt it can help with preventing the same mistakes and thus shaping our future. It is for this and many other reasons I am passionate about the Armed Services Remembrance events which are held around Adur and Worthing.
In my youth (well late 20’s anyway) I served in the Military Police; these were great times, the camaraderie, discipline and feeling of serving your community.
Although I never saw active duty abroad I kept in touch with a lot of guys who did, and some never came home.
Throughout our history we have been at war or involved in conflicts which require everyday people joining our armed services and putting their lives on the line in order for us to maintain the society and country we may sometimes take for granted.
There are too many people to mention who work on these events but within the council there are Councillors, senior officers, Liz and Jacqui, Martin and the facilities guys, and even lowly Maintenance Surveyors who work tirelessly on this.
This year, with Remembrance Sunday falling on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War I believe it is more important than ever for people to come to one of our events to show their respects.
We have recently had the war memorials at Worthing Town Hall, Shoreham Town Centre and Southwick Green cleaned, repaired where needed re-engraved to make sure they are looking their best.
Photo: The recently cleaned War Memorial in Shoreham Town Centre
The flagpoles will be dropped and cleaned and the beacon on Worthing seafront will be tested before the day to make sure it works correctly.
Our beach office will be firing maroons from the beach to coincide with the Town Hall bell at exactly 11am.
As usual I will be in the Clock tower making sure that nothing goes wrong with the clock.
You will also see silent soldier silhouette’s appearing around the area.
I would urge you all to come to the memorial events in Adur and Worthing (but if you can’t make it here find one near you).
And remember, we will remember them...
Photo: A close up of the recently cleaned War Memorial in Shoreham Town Centre
Writing a blog every week, I sometimes struggle to decide the subject matter for the next blog.
This one I thought would be easy as the weather had changed quite dramatically. The coat and fleece came out of the wardrobe and the heating even went on for a short while. So it made sense to discuss all the things we have to do in preparation for the winter months and the impending onslaught of rain and possibly snow.
Then the weather changed again and I found myself wearing shorts and t-shirts again. So this idea can wait for a while...
In a hurry I had to think of an alternative subject. After a very busy weekend I sat down and realised how much time I spent dealing with out-of-hours emergencies.
I know I have written about it briefly in the past but it may amaze you to know that there is a dedicated team of staff who are on call round the clock should any incidents occur which pose an inconvenience, danger or risk to the public.
I feel that I am quite lucky because myself and Mark (the boss) only have to deal with corporate issues, such as offices, public buildings, theatres, museum, leisure sites, public toilets, parks, car parks and most of the things around them. As a Council we are also responsible for the housing stock in Adur so there are dedicated Duty Officers from Adur Homes on call who take all the initial calls (corporate and homes) at all times throughout the night and weekends.
They must receive hundreds of calls each month and whenever I speak with them they are always happy even though it may be 4am.
Of the requests that come through to me, some are easy to rectify and others a little more tricky. Most of the issues I deal with involve either getting emergency repairs carried out usually by contacting one of our contractors. Sometimes I have to inform our senior management and keep them in the loop of a situation and progress on repairs.
To give you an idea of some of the issues, in the last weekend I dealt with:
- The intercom at a Changing Places site stopped working
- An unoccupied lift stopped at ground floor and refused to start again
- An unauthorised encampment on one of our car parks
- One of our toilet sites lost lights and two other toilet sites need drainage work
- Some fencing had been vandalised and a bollard removed
- A CCTV camera stopped working on one of our heritage sites
All of these would have posed an inconvenience or risk so we had to get the wheels in motion swiftly to rectify these issues.
I am really proud to be part of the team that deals with call outs, even though they can occur at the most awkward times. They can also be quite time consuming - to date I have never managed to have one of my kids birthday parties without getting a call!
But I know we are making the lives of residents and visitors a little easier by dealing with these issues promptly - and if I was not dealing with them there and them we would have to deal with them on Monday morning anyway!
More next week (but hopefully not the winter weather one!)
Personally I think that I am a bit of a risk taker, whether it be buying a special present for someone and leaving it until the last minute in the hope I can find it cheaper somewhere, driving my car on empty to get to the cheapest petrol station or taking unknown road routes to dodge the traffic. I believe that all of these risks are taken because they provide a benefit to myself and pose very little risk or inconvenience to others.
I am pleased to say though that at the councils we are very risk adverse and have regular meetings to both assess risk and either remove the risk or at least make sure that any risk is covered in case of worst case scenario. Having just completed a NEBOSH Health and Safety course, it made me realise that there is nothing that any of us do that does not pose some sort of risk. This can be from making a cup of tea, getting dressed or even writing a blog.
We are lucky to have a fantastic insurance manager, Chris, who deals with all the insurance related issues for both councils. Looking back I am quite lucky that I have only had to speak with Chris a handful of times in the last few years because claims have been few. That is until recently where there have had a mountain of accident where we have had to claim against others. The majority of these have been motor related, and only this last weekend we had a car fire in our Buckingham Road Multi-story car park. The fire was isolated to the car itself and car park staff and the fire brigade pounced into action and did a sterling job ensuring that it didn't become a larger incident.
We also recently had issues at Durrington Cemetery where a car left the road and drove straight through a metal railed fence meaning that a whole new section of wrought iron fencing has to be made and fitted.
We had an incident where a delivery truck reversed into a large brick wall at Southwick Square car park and we are still in the process of dealing with the drivers insurance company to have the wall rebuilt.
A section of fencing was knocked down when a vehicle drove into it at Heene Community Centre.
And finally a wooden fence was demolished when a driver's foot slipped off of the brake onto the accelerator and ended up in our Southwick cemetery site.
Luckily nobody was hurt in any of these incidents and fences etc. can be rebuilt easily, but it all adds up to lots more work for us.
I am sure that given that the weather forecasters predict that we are due to have an exceptionally cold winter these won't be the last cases that Chris and I have to deal with.
See you next week.
We have various community centres around Adur and Worthing, which provide a vital function. They are central to celebrations such as birthdays and wedding receptions, but also provide a forum for business meetings and community groups to meet up. For some, this may provide their only opportunity to meet and make connections with others.
Although most of these sites are leased to groups outside of the Councils, as the main landlord we often find ourselves carrying out repairs to the main structures.
At Heene Community Centre, for instance, we are constantly inspecting and repairing the roofs. This site has a mixture of old and new buildings with a mix of clay and concrete roof tiles, built up felt and asphalt roof coverings. All of these roofs have gutters which need checking and ensuring that they don't allow water to enter the property. We recently carried out work to one of the external flint walls as a neighbouring property had allowed ivy to grow up it. Although ivy may look nice visually, it literally rips walls apart and in this case left the property unsafe and leaning dangerously. The sections of walling which was at risk of collapse was taken down and rebuilt, and the rest of the wall was repointed to help protect it further for the future.
Photo: The repaired wall after the ivy had been removed
East Worthing Community Centre has been having trouble with the set of doors leading into the centre. These doors were originally constructed of timber which would have been the material of choice at the time, but after many years of use the frames have split and the doors have warped (think how many times your doors at home are used and times that by hundreds, and you will understand why). We are in the process of taking these doors out and replacing them with new bright red powder-coated doors which should last for many years to come.
Photo: One of the new red doors
My last story is about Fishersgate Community Centre, or, as it has recently been renamed, 'Eastbrook Manor Community Centre'. This centre is being run by staff from Adur District Council, and therefore we are responsible for all of the maintenance issues on site. Alan who works there, organising events and also being the public face of the centre, completes many of the smaller repairs and is a great asset.
We recently had to demolish a couple of mono pitch canopy roofs which had been put up against an external brick building many years ago. These roofs posed a risk of collapse which was not acceptable. It wasn't surprising that these came down very easy with just a couple of taps from a big hammer. I think it took longer carrying the scrap to the skip to be recycled than it took to take them down!
Photo: The mono pitched canopy roofs
There has been a lot of investment in this site, with the new 'Shark Park' outside, and the café has now been named Café@Thesharkpark. All the signs are promising that the site will continue to thrive and become the place to be.
As with most things in life, the motto “if you don't use it, you lose it” applies to our community centres. I would recommend you check out what is happening at your local centre and pop in. They are a great way of meeting new friends and finding new hobbies.
This week I was struggling with something to write about, due to catching up with post-holiday calls and emails, and also coming down with a bad case of man flu.
With this in mind I turned to my colleagues in the office for help. I was amazed at the volume of work that is being carried out on behalf of Adur Homes to many of their properties. Below I cover a few of these projects for your interest.
Ben in our Capital team told me about a new pilot scheme, the council has been trialling for a window regeneration programme. The works consist of retaining the existing UPVC window frames but replacing all the glazing, mechanical parts, handles and the like with new.
The results have been excellent and the pilot works have demonstrated that retaining the uPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride) frames instead of sending them off to landfill is not only improving residents homes, but is making a significant saving to the environment and the councils funding for windows.
Window regeneration can make such a difference and at the same time early indications show that there is a potential 30% saving in cost.
New cleaning products especially for uPVC also means that it is possible to make a significant change to the aesthetics of the window frame, whilst the new high performance glass achieves a reduction in heat loss thus helping conserve heat within the property during the winter months. All in all the results are amazing as can be seen below:
Photos: Completed regenerated bedroom window
Photos: Living room window - before and after from indoors
Photo: Completed regenerated living room window from outside
Another project that Roy and Colin (also in the Capital team) told me about is a large scale scheme to replace tenant's kitchens and bathrooms. The first phase which started in September 2016 is nearing completion and this will mean that our contractors would have refurbished over 400 kitchens and bathrooms. These are to various sites including sheltered housing schemes.
Amazingly about 83% of these were completed within 12 days, not bad considering it took me 2 weeks to tile the kitchen at home, and this was only splashbacks! Further works are set to re-start early next year.
Photos: One of the kitchens before
Photo: The same kitchen after
I think the transformation is spectacular and the feedback from the tenants has been very positive.
Finally I move on to Beverley who is our Data & Technical Contracts Assistant. She works tirelessly processing and checking all the utility bills for all of our corporate sites; but also within Adur Homes there are 106 communal ways electricity accounts, 33 gas and water accounts for sheltered housing.
Our utility supplier recently sent their own inspector to read a meter at one of the Adur Homes common ways sites. Checking the billing against previous consumption highlighted this wasn't consistent so I sent out our own maintenance operative to read and take a photo which resulted in credit being processed of £851.94!
I know how difficult it is managing the utility bills for my house, let alone for potentially hundreds of sites and managing to constantly find the best deals and claims refunds whenever possible.
Catch you next week.
Being the father of two small children, this is the question they must have asked me the most.
When they were younger I was able to use the generic “because I said so” which I think every parent has used at some stage, but now this isn't being taken as an acceptable answer to them.
I don't mind as much as I thought I would, as this word is the main one which helps nurture and grow not only children but adults alike.
I used to think that this word was a burden and took up valuable time from doing more important things, but then I thought about how many times I ask myself the same question whilst working. The answer to this was so many times I couldn't count them.
Some answers are simple, we are doing this work because otherwise our contact centre wouldn't work and this would have a huge impact on our residents. Others are more difficult, like why do we replace a vandalised seat located in the street which is being used for anti-social behaviour and has been set alight a few times?
Does this seat provide a service for much needed residents or does it provide an area where residents become distressed about its use?
For virtually all the works we carry out we have to ask the same question of why ...
We are dealing with public money so we have to be sure that not only are we serving the needs of the community, we are not spending it on unnecessary or unwanted things.
Sometimes I ask myself why, not from a financial or ethical standpoint but from a social one being the amazement of the people who seek to destroy all the amenities that we sometimes take for granted. I know I have mentioned some previously ...
I was shocked to find out that on 12th September between 6pm and 7pm some individuals decided that it would be fun to set fire to our toilets located at Monks Recreation Ground in Lancing. The perpetrators of this crime took their time emptying the tissue dispensers in all the cubicles and the bins to build a mound a set fire to them in the gents toilets.
The toilets were completely gutted and all the electric fittings are now a molten mess on the floor. This has left the site unusable to genuine users and all the doors have been sealed shut to protect innocent children from getting hurt. This arson attack is the worst I've ever had to deal with (luckily) and we are in the process of dealing with insurers as to the future of this site.
I have always tried to make my blogs informative and not sound like I am preaching, but I would urge anyone who has any information about this to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting ref 45 18/09, as luckily this time it was only the site that was hurt and not yourself or your children.
Photo: The toilets located at Monks Recreation Ground in Lancing
Photo: The electric fittings that have melted on the ceiling in the toilet block
Photo: The electric fittings are now a molten mess on the toilet block floor
Hi again Everyone.
I'm sure that there must be at least two of you have now started singing the Tommy Steele song ... and the rest of you are (hopefully) intrigued as to what this blog will be about! I'm sorry to say it is not about musical theatre - even though, with having two small children, I have had to consume a lot of it recently, with many, many repeats of The Greatest Showman and High School Musical.
My Crash, Bang, Wallop introduction is actually all about three schemes which we have been undertaking - two of which are being handled by the maintenance team, and one by my colleagues in engineering.
As part of our duties we have to oversee the annual servicing of lots of items of equipment - whether that be boilers, water or electrical testing, and so on. One of these items is the many lightning conductors which we have on site throughout Adur and Worthing. These are predominantly housed in our larger sites such as car parks, office blocks, leisure centres and theatres.
The tests which are carried out assess the conductivity of the installation, ensuring that there is a sufficient earth. In layman's terms, if a bolt of lightning were to CRASH onto a building it will travel through the building and find the nearest earth. This could be anything within the building, but usually it's an electrical circuit - thus probably destroying all the electrical appliances connected and also potentially causing a fire. This obviously isn't a welcome option, so we install lightning conductors. The installation is a metal pole which is fixed at the highest point of the building, connected to an insulated copper strip, and finally fixed into the ground. This means that if lightning crashes down onto the building it will bypass all the electrical circuits and not cause any issues.
Thankfully I am not aware of any direct strikes on any of our buildings, but I am a great believer in 'better safe than sorry'. Following our recent tests, we found that the earth rods had deteriorated to such an extent that we could not guarantee the system would work. We have therefore just installed new Faraday cage systems (look it up on Wikipedia it's fascinating) to 13 sites.
Photo: A lightning conductor on one of our buildings
Some of you may have noticed that the Town Hall bell has been a bit quiet recently (well, very quiet actually, as it has been out of action). The bell which serves the Town Hall clock has throughout its life been reliant solely on a small mercury switch which, although I am sure was the high tech of its time, was very temperamental and usually meant that the chime would have been at least a couple of minutes out every time it tolled! Our clock engineers suggested many options to us - including installing a speaker system which would blast out a chime at the given hour, and we could even change it to mimic Big Ben or Canterbury Cathedral if we wanted. Given our commitment to maintaining our heritage, we decided to keep as much of the existing clock and toller as possible. We therefore installed an electric strike mechanism which still BANGS the bell and is mounted above the Town Hall roof. Since installation (touch wood) the bell hasn't lost even a second yet.
My engineering colleagues are in the process of installing a new set of tennis courts to our Homefield Park site. This exciting project will provide Lawn Tennis Association approved courts for use by the public. The work involved is immense and the transformation is already taking shape. It won't be long before balls are being WALLOPED around the courts.
Photo: Installing a new set of tennis courts to our Homefield Park
I'm back from my holidays, which happened to be both relaxing and stressful. Our first week camping was a bit of a let-down - the weather was pretty poor and the campsite not to our liking. Our second week, however, when we were house sitting on the Isle of Wight, was the complete opposite - calm and peaceful.
These two extremes reflect my job quite well. Some days it can be hectic where there never seems to be a second free to think between emergencies, and then there are other days when I can concentrate on planned or project work.
On returning back to work, I turned on my phone and found 124 emails waiting for me and 48 voice messages. Some of the emails were copies where my boss Mark and the team had dealt with the issues and I was just being made aware or them. I had planned on a day sifting through emails, but it wasn't long before I found one which needed immediate attention: a seat had been set alight by vandals and needed removing, so our contractor was quickly put into action clearing the debris.
I then came across another email, detailing that a section of flint had been removed from a wall at Lancing Manor and was in danger of more serious damage. Luckily, the team had already looked at this in my absence and had arranged for repairs to be carried out.
As I read through the rest of my emails it was apparent that although I was not there the team's workload had not decreased and all my colleagues had obviously been kept very busy - hopefully they were pleased to see me back!
Driving home and reflecting on my first day back, I received an emergency call that a wall had been damaged at Southwick Square car park and was at risk of collapse. I went straight to the site to assess the situation. It appeared that a delivery truck had accidentally backed into the wall, splitting it in half. With the weight of the truck I would have thought that they probably didn't even notice, so it was lucky that a member of the public saw it and took photos.
My contractors arrived on site within ten minutes of my call (we do have some fabulous contractors) and put up temporary barriers and tape. The following day a more secure Herras fence was put up to protect members of the public and also prevent further damage to the wall, and after that the wall itself was removed.
The rebuilding works are being programmed and the costs are being covered by the insurance company so, although an inconvenience, there is no associated cost to the councils.
Suffice to say it was an interesting first day back! I'm intrigued to see whether the rest of the week will be just as eventful, or whether it will less hectic, enabling us to crack on with the numerous programme of works which need to be completed.
More next week ...
With Chris away on holiday (lucky thing!), Mark Whitfield has volunteered to complete a blog whilst Chris is having a well deserved rest with his family.
My name is Mark Whitfield and I am the Safety and Resilience Officer for Adur & Worthing Councils. My responsibilities include health and safety, emergency planning and business continuity. I have worked for the Councils for around four months after previously being at Splashpoint Leisure Centre in Worthing.
While I am still settling in and getting used to the role, one of my first tasks is reviewing our first aid provision for our staff. This has included the defibrillators owned by the Councils which are dotted around our area and can help save people's lives.
The reason why is that defibrillators can deliver the shock needed to resuscitate people from cardiac arrest. This is most likely to be successful when it is given very soon after the onset of Ventricular Fibrillation; emergency service personnel are often unable to arrive soon enough to help a victim.
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are designed to be used by members of the public, and are very effective at guiding the operator through the process of administering the shock. They have become widely available, are safe and easy to use, and will not allow a shock to be given to a victim who does not require one.
AEDs have been used frequently by laypeople with modest training, and many reports testify to the success of this strategy. Operators without formal training have also used AEDs successfully to save lives.
A helpful video from St Johns Ambulance showing how to use one can be found here - not all AEDs are the same but this video is a good example of what to do.
A list of defibrillators available to members of the public to access in an emergency can be found on the link below.
We currently have a number of defibrillators around Adur and Worthing, at locations such as Portland House, the Assembly Hall, Worthing Pier and the Connaught - see photos below.
I am currently working to get the Councils' defibrillators added to the website. In the meantime please take note of where they are (I had a wander around Worthing to track down their exact location and have provided some pictures).
Until next time ...
Photo: Defibrillator location outside the main front entrance at Portland House, 44 Richmond Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HS
Photo: Defibrillator location outside the main front entrance at the Assembly Hall, Stoke Abbott Road, Worthing, BN11 1HQ
Photo: Defibrillator locations are on the central divide at the start of the pier (left) and outside the pier office entrance (right) on Worthing Pier, Marine Parade, Worthing, BN11 3PX
Photo: The defibrillator location is behind a small wall outside the main front entrance at the Connaught Theatre / Connaught Studio, Union Place, Worthing, BN11 1LG
Hi everyone; once again that time has come for me to take my holiday with the family. Myself and my wife work hard throughout the year with the aim of supplying our kids with one good holiday every year. Are we off to the Caribbean, you ask? No, we are going camping for two weeks in Kent. As non-exotic as you can get, it will still be fun spending quality time with the family before the little ones go back to school.
Talking of holidays, Worthing is a popular destination for many people; however not everyone is a responsible tourist.
The Greensward area of Worthing is a hot spot for problems related to visitors, particularly from people who do not have permission to be there. We carry out regular inspections of the timber bollards which protect the land which stretches from the main road onto the coastal path. Usually we find ourselves replacing 20 or so which have suffered from either the weather or vandalism, and some have even left disposable BBQs on them which have burnt the bollards.
Our inspections are basic but very thorough; they tend to involve a very large sledgehammer and someone capable of swinging it 400 times in a day (not me I hasten to add). This year we found a staggering number of bollards which did not provide the security we require and we are in the process of replacing 80.
Another area we find being used regularly is our surface car parks. The engineers have just installed a double set of height barriers to Southwick Leisure Centre to prevent unwanted visitors. This access road posed a risk not only to the Leisure Centre but it was also possible to drive through the car park and gain access to Southwick Rec which is a much larger area. The steel construction and high security locks means the site and park should be safe for quite some time now.
Another area where we have restricted access is onto the prom area in Worthing. This area was used regularly by concession holders and staff to park on but some members of the public would drive in when possible and try to get some free parking although they soon came unstuck once the gates or barriers were raised, and they had to ask to be let out later in the day.
The decision was taken to make our prom a family friendly area and parking is now restricted to a few hours a day to allow for deliveries. With this being the case we found that the flat apron area in front of the Pavilion Theatre was being used instead and the engineers have now installed nice looking bollards around this area making it secure but still able to provide access to the emergency services when needed as they have a special key.
That's it for this blog and I will be back in a couple of weeks' time, hopefully with more news on the works we are doing. Whatever the last couple of weeks of school holidays bring I hope it is fun.
I have just had to walk down to the pier from my office in Worthing Town Hall, which although a nice walk, it was a bit of a struggle with the temperature being in the early to mid-30s it isn't that pleasant wearing a shirt and trousers. I am sure I would have been much more comfortable in shorts and t-shirt complete with the accepted accompaniment of an ice-cream or cold drink. However whilst dodging the holiday makers and kids excited at being by the seaside, I stopped in a bit of shade to cool down briefly. It was then that I started looking closer at everyday things around me and was shocked at how much we deal with as an authority.
I think that the highways areas are the most troublesome and contentious areas I deal with as the highway has so many different owners all with their own responsibilities to maintain.
To give you an example, within the Town Centre, the council looks after some (not all) of the street furniture and fingerposts, advertising boards, bike stands, bus shelters and road nameplates. In addition to this West Sussex County Council own some of the roads and walkways (such as Montague Street which is our main shopping precinct) and are responsible for paving and lighting and street signage, and then the Town Centre Initiative make the Town Centre a better place to visit and shop with signage and special events.
We have many seats located around Worthing and these all have to be checked and repaired when they become old or damaged, with decorating every 3-4 years.
We have many monoliths around the town, some used to advertise events being held at our theatres and museum and other has maps in telling visitors where they are and where to find things. These all need maintaining (such as replacing glass and hinges) and redecorating.
Fingerposts work in a similar way, allowing visitors to find their way around easily pointing them to points of interest such as Worthing Town Hall, the Museum & Art Gallery, public toilets and the train station. We recently repainted all of them around the town centre and even replaced one which was located at the eastern entrance to Montague Street. This fingerpost looked amazing when it went in but since having bikes chained to it daily and the salt sea air it is in need of redecorating (which should happen soon).
Talking of bikes, in an effort to encourage cycling around the town, the donkey bike scheme was launched. It is an ingenious scheme that allows people to hire bikes remotely to enable them to explore the seafront and surrounding areas and if they feel fit a keen enough even go up to the downs. In order to have adequate space to have these, our Engineers have installed many bike racks on the seafront and in other key locations (so if you are out and about please use these to chain your bike to and not my newly decorated fingerposts).
The engineers do far more work than me around the town, carrying out regular inspections of the areas of paving which is owned by us and rectifying any defects found, managing the condition of the bus shelters ensuring that they are safe and clean and installing new road nameplates when the old ones get tatty.
We receive lots of comments from the public about our town centre, some positive and some not so much but all get directed at us as the public believe that if it is in Worthing it must be the responsibility of the council. Rest assured that whether it is down to us or West Sussex County Council we will always investigate. If it is ours to fix we will, and if not we will always pass these comments on.
Well the weather has been a game of two extremes, at the beginning of the week I was wishing the air-con in my car was colder and even a short sleeved shirt seemed to heavy and restrictive. By the end of the week I was running for my coat and changing the windscreen wipers on my car.
If you thought these extremes were hard work for a short time, think what it would be like having to standing still whilst someone throws water at you, the sun burns you all day, rain falls, snow lays and wind blows 24 hours a day for as whole year.
Well that is what our pier has had to endure and has done so since the first pile was driven into the seabed on 12th April 1862.
Photo: The Pier being battered by gale force winds and high seas
The pier has suffered quite badly since then when part was destroyed by gale force winds in 1913 and reopened again in 1914.
A fire broke out in the southern pavilion in 1933 and took 2 years to repair so that the pier could be reopened.
During the war in an attempt to hinder any attacks a 120ft hole was blown in the pier decking near the southern pavilion. The pier was repaired and reopened to the public in 1947.
Since then the council has given the pier all the love and attention that it deserves.
The sub-structure (steel pylons and framing) are inspected by our engineers almost continuously as the sea is very unforgiving and the pier decking is inspected monthly and replaced when necessary. We (surveyors) are responsible for everything else.
Photo: Worn out Pier decking being replaced
The pier has mains electricity, water, foul water and fire alarms installed under the pier and this is all at risk of damage, so inspections and testing is a regular occurrence. Not that long ago the water supply pipe was broken during stormy tides by a large piece of wood that had washed up near the pier. In any other place this would be a simple fix, but being located where it is; the water pipe has a heating element incorporated in it to stop the water freezing during the winter months so we had to replace the whole pipe.
As well as the main structure and the decking there are three buildings, being the café/restaurant on the southern end; a kiosk selling ice-cream, snacks and drinks slightly further down; and an amusement arcade near the centre. These all have cladding, roofs and electrics that have to be monitored.
There is lighting which runs the whole length of both the east and west on the decking which suffers quite badly with the elements and we have just replaced some of the main lamp holders which have been made to match the existing exactly. The Southern pavilion has decorative lighting around the top and these were changed to red, white and blue to show our patriotic side.
Photo: The café/restaurant and Pavilion Theatre at the southern end of the Pier and some of the lighting
The pier has many uses including the landing stage to the side which is used by fishermen.
A centre screen which works as a windbreak and has now been decorated with tinted film to the most southern side and has stained glass panels to the northern side.
Photo: Stained glass panels and tinted film in the Pier windbreak
One of the most spectacular events to be held on the pier is the Lions firework displays which happen in July and November where fireworks are launched from the landing stage around the south side of the pier which attracts thousands of people, well worth a look for on YouTube.
Well I am assured that the weather will be turning hot again by the end of the week so enjoy before the snow hits us.
See also: Worthing Pier
This title will mean different things depending on how old you are. If you are 30+ I would imagine it reminds you of the Carry On films with the humour of Sid James, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams which I have sat my kids down and hoped that they would understand and enjoy the action and humour, but unfortunately not. Within about 2 minutes my 5 year old walked away with my son following about 5 minutes later.
Within Adur and Worthing we have 33 public toilet sites (not including public buildings like Portland House and The Shoreham Centre). Many of these sites have disabled facilities and some have been adapted to 'Changing Places' standards.
Standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability. People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well people with other physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis often need extra facilities to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably.
Changing Places toilets are different to standard accessible toilets (or 'disabled toilets') as they have extra equipment installed such as an adjustable height toilet, wash hand basin and a hoist, adjustable height bed and a shower to enable carers to lift and care for users more easily.
Photo: Changing Places accessible toilets in Worthing - facilities
All these sites demand lots of attention due to the mass use (especially when the sun is out) and in the last year we have raised 463 orders for such things as lights out, toilets broken or damaged, tissue dispensers missing, drainage issues or hand wash units not working. We don't oversee the cleaning of the toilets which would be a mission on its own, but I know the guys responsible for this and I think that they do an amazing job, under the circumstances. I know some of you out there will again comment on how much better these sites were in the 1980s when Doris or Betty would look after the site and be there all day, but unfortunately those days are gone and I think that major improvements on cleaning have been made over the last few months due to a change in the management of the cleaning crews.
UPDATE: Following on from my blog of 28th March, we have now completed the toilet refurbishments at Southwick Cemetery.
These toilets were closed off many years ago and had become quite derelict. The decision was made by Adur councillors to open these up again to provide visitors with these much needed facilities.
The site now has a gents, ladies and fully equipped disabled toilet. The site used to be only for ladies and gents but due to some cleaver redesign and reorganisation, it is now also suitable for disabled users. Rob from our engineers department did a fabulous job designing and arranging for the installation of a new access path. The works internally consisted of new floor tiles, wall boarding, sanitary ware, lighting, doors and redecoration. I am in nature quite a modest person (I can hear some people that know me laughing out loud) but am very proud of how these toilets have turned out considering the mess they were in before we started.
Photo: Southwick Cemetery toilets after their renovation
With all this in mind we are now programming in more works at other locations and I hope that these turn out just as nice. It shows the councils commitment to providing services to the public when other councils are closing toilets regularly.
That's it for this week, but please take care in this weather and drink lots of water.
This week I am talking about a subject which costs every person in the country money without them knowing - VAT.
The 'VAT' which I am commenting on this week is 'Vandalism and Theft'.
It never ceases to amaze me on some of the mindless acts some members of our community get up either for apparent amusement or to make a quick buck.
Hardly a day goes by without a report coming into us about something that has been damaged or stolen.
The obvious and easiest targets are seats, fences, public toilets, signs, glazing and playgrounds but you would be amazed at the lengths some people will go to in the name of fun.
One of the most memorable incidents we have had to deal with over the past few years was at our West Tarring allotment site (photo right) where kids had been getting in every night and destroying the plants and vegetables which were growing. We replaced a large section of fencing with weldmesh which is a heavy duty metal fence and felt confident that this would be the end of the matter.
The following morning we received a call saying that the new fence had been damaged, so I went to site had a look and someone had taken a battery operated grinder to site and cut a new doorway through the fence and continued to trash the site.
Another incident happened at our Beach House Park in Worthing where a couple of men went to the site during a weekend dressed in Hi-Viz clothing and proceeded to remove all of the coping stones to a walled area.
Although they may have been able to sell them for a couple of hundred pounds the cost to replace was in the thousands.
Photo: Coping stones at Beach House Park
These are two of the biggest issues but whatever happens rectifying the damage or loss and smaller incidents may go unnoticed by the public and visitors but one way or another they always cause and inconvenience and cost..
We have a very good relationship with the police who are always willing to step up patrols in areas which have been targeted by thieves or vandals. But the onus must be on everyone to get involved if a crime is being committed.
Now please don't think I am asking anyone to become a 'have a go hero' - far from it, but we all have a social responsibility to notify the police of any suspicious activity.
It shocked me to hear over the last weekend to hear that glass bottles had been smashed on the Splash Pad located near Splashpoint leisure centre.
This water feature is heavily used by children during the summer and the potential risk meant that the feature had to be closed whilst it was cleaned up.
Although a small mindless act it resulted in not only the surface and surrounding areas being swept and jet washed, but the pipework and tank also had to be cleaned out too.
Photos: Splash Pad
With this said, I think that we work well across all departments whether it be our cleansing, engineers, parks or communities teams to reduce the impact of these as quickly as possible.
I have noticed that as I have grown older my tastes and needs have changed quite significantly. Gone are the days of wanting the newest and fastest car I can afford, expensive restaurants and clothes from the designer shops where they offer you a free coffee or glass of wine before you actually try anything on. Nowadays my tastes are much more simple, the fast car has been replaced with a 16 year old 4x4 which, although it works great, does make me the joke of my office with constant jibes about it being a skip. The fancy restaurants have been replaced with a cheeky takeaway every now and then and the designer shops have now become supermarket own brand. These changes have not come about because of any financial constraints (other than having two children), merely my priorities have changed.
Happiness for me is now going out with the family and seeing the smiles on my kids' faces as they start their usual challenges of who can do what the best, whether it is spotting a certain car first, going down a slide fastest or eating their ice-cream quickest. It is for these reasons that I am so grateful living where I do.
There is never a shortage of days out ideas whether it is at Fort Haven watching the boats come into Shoreham Port, Widewater and Plantation watching the surfers, playing football, cricket or rugby in any of the many parks we have or walking along the seafront or around our gardens such as Beach House Park or Highdown Gardens. There are also many organised events which go on weekly within Adur and Worthing, some are free and some carry a small charge. The best for me are the days where I don't have to spend a fortune buying tickets, queue for hours and pay a fortune for food and treats.
We love visiting the parks around Adur and Worthing and many of them have kids play areas and even some now have exercise equipment in them. It is great watching my kids play (even better if they don't want me to follow them around the climbing frame). We often make up a picnic, take a blanket and spend the day playing, watching the sports that are going on or even working out.
Photos: Children's play area in Hamble Rec in Adur and The Gallops in Worthing
A lot of my time is spent looking at fencing around such parks and arranging repairs or replacements where necessary. It is vital that parents know that their children are safe when playing and for dog walkers to know their pets can't run out into the road.
We will be starting the replacement of two lots of fencing this week, with one being at Buckingham Park in Shoreham and the other being Broadwater Green in Worthing.
The fencing to the southern boundary at Buckingham Park has been falling down for some time now and the cost and regularity of repairing it is now becoming too frequent to ignore. The decision was taken to replace the southern section with new post and rail chestnut fencing which will last for many years to come.
Photos: Damaged fencing at Buckingham Park
Although Broadwater Green does not have a play area it is a highly used site for sports, community events and picnics. The existing fencing (concrete post and rails) has now not been made for some years now so we are replacing the southern boundary fence with new timber knee rail fencing similar to the fencing which we replaced at Adur Rec (see previous below - 21st February 2018). The good sections of concrete fencing (if any) will be stored and used to repair any sections which become damaged in the future.
Photo: Broken and missing fencing at Broadwater Green
Photo: the new knee rail fence at Adur Rec
My kids love going along the seafront in Worthing and it's great to see the new concessions which have started, meaning the parade is now a much more vibrant place to visit. A day out is not complete without a walk along the pier for a nice ice cream and maybe a coffee.
So next time you are thinking what to do for the day, pop down to the seafront, collect some shells, paddle a little, have picnic if it takes your fancy and enjoy the sun, happiness for free.
Enjoy, more next week.
Before I start I have to clarify that I know nothing about art.
This is not borne out of a lack of interest - far from it! I have visited many museum and art galleries in the UK and Europe hoping that my creative side which I was sure was there would appear.
I have tried but, to date, find it hard to see the meaning behind many of the old masters works and even some of the more modernistic art forms.
But what I can do is appreciate paint and colour - even if my job as a surveyor means it happens to be attached to doors, windows and various timber, metal or masonry objects, although sometimes creative art and our decorators can merge.
In Adur and Worthing the summer months mean it is the time to open the paint cans and get the paint brushes ready.
This poses many problems as most things we want to paint are in mass use when the sun is out. Not wanting to prevent anyone's enjoyment programming is vital.
We have just started painting the chalets which are located on Worthing parade to the west of Splashpoint Leisure Centre. Some of these chalets are used by private individuals, but some are used as artist's chalets, such as East Beach Studios, where the talented artists paint and display their works. These chalets are quite distinctive as they are painted externally in many different colours. If you feel creative pop down and have a look.
Photo: East Beach Studios on Worthing seafront
Whilst at the studios you may notice that Denton Shelter which is next door is having a major facelift. The shelter had become in quite a bad state of repair due to decay and vandalism, however through lots of hard work the shelter is nearly back to its former glory. Well worth a look.
Another project we have just completed is renewing some of the damaged or broken glazing to the timber centre screen of the pier. These new panels will be covered in opaque tints of various colours and the effect is amazing. When the sun beams through it illuminates the pier decking in the tint colour and makes it look like a rainbow. This project is the brainchild of the Creative Waves Project.
Although not as multi coloured as the two projects above we have also been making the parade in Worthing a much neater place to visit by decorating some of the seating from the Chalets to the Beach Office carefully painting the timber slats and cast iron legs.
Works are due to start soon on the redecoration of the beach huts which adorn the seafront with some being made of timber, some of plastic and some of a pre-finished fibreboard. With over 120 to paint you can imagine this will keep some decorators very busy. A decision was made a couple of years ago to paint the facias in various bright colours and this again adds to the bright and colourful theme currently spreading throughout the town.
I am not going to stretch my imagination that Michelangelo would be impressed by these, but I am hopeful that he would appreciate the time and care given by our decorators in making everything they paint look as nice as possible.
More next week. Enjoy the sun.
Photo: Denton Shelter on Worthing seafront
Now this may sound like a harsh statement to say to your kids, but my mum used to hate waste and always tried as many was as possible to get us to eat vegetables.
I think this was for two reasons, the first being that they were cheaper than meat and that she grew most of them in our back garden.
Throughout my childhood I would do whatever necessary to hide or dispose of unwanted or undesirable foods (particularly vegetables) which were offered to me and never really understood how much love and attention she had put into growing and providing these foods.
Well I am older now and find myself acting and thinking more like my mum every day. I hate wastage of any sort whether it is food, electricity, money or even time and have obtained a bit of a reputation of being slightly frugal (although others call it tight or scrooge like but I don't think I am quite that bad ...).
I had a brainwave one day of starting to grow vegetables in our back garden which my wife was happy with until I drew up plans and she realised that I planned to use the WHOLE garden where not a single blade of grass was to be seen. This obviously didn't go down well.
She then went on the hunt for an alternative and found an allotment site not far from our house.
Well that was the start of a mild obsession where I could, through some hard work, grow my own food which not only tastes great, is available whenever I need it and costs a mere fraction of shop bought.
We have many great allotment sites throughout Adur and Worthing but everyone has the ability to grow something at home whether they have a small piece of land they can use, a patio or decking area, a balcony or even a window sill.
You could go ambitious with beans, potatoes or sweetcorn or there are some tasty things you can grow without virtually any effort at all like carrots or radishes.
The main ingredients you will need is a pot, some compost and seeds and, of course, water.
We all know that water is a valuable resource that we need to conserve and use wisely - what can be better than for food?.
With this in mind we, the Council, is just about to start an ambitious scheme in Worthing to replace all the existing water supply pipes to our West Tarring allotment site.
The existing water pipe which is made of steel and has now pin-pricked in so many areas that plot holders are losing pressure and water.
Another allotment themed project in Adur which has now been completed was the replacement of all the water standpipes to allotment sites. We have replaced the old steel and copper fittings for new stainless steel standpipes which have all the required non-return valves in order to meet with Southern Water regulations.
The scheme to replace 73 units took about six weeks to be completed. When you think that each one had to be hand dug out to a depth of at least 850mm, installed, connected and then backfilled it shows the contractor wasn't messing about.
One last thing to mention is that two vegetable patches to commemorate the start of World War One have been planted at Worthing's Beach House Park and Highdown Gardens.
They go to show how much is possible to grow with such a small space. It also goes to show me that the guys from our parks department and the Worthing Allotment Management team know so much more than me about growing, as these both look amazing.
So to finish my advice would be to just “give it a go” whether small or large it is possible to grow something which you can share with your friends and family. Although mine have no interest at all in my allotment they do however swarm on me when I get home emptying the bags of all the raspberries, peas and gooseberries. I am proud of the fact that although they have little interest, they now know where all the vegetables come from and can name them all from potatoes to courgettes.
Thanks for reading. More next week.
See also: Allotments
Photo: Chris' allotment plot
Photo: Tomatoes and chillies in pots
This week I am focusing on a subject which is very prominent in the news. Since the Grenfell disaster which I am sure touched everyone's heart, we were tasked with ensuring that all properties owned by Adur and Worthing met with the new codes of fire safety. This needless to say created a massive volume of inspections to ensure these codes were met.
As an authority we were found to be 'on the ball' and very few recommendations were received. We however decided that it would be a responsible idea to upgrade and replace systems that may be old and antiquated (although luckily for me I wasn't replaced).
It then fell to us to carry out all of these works. The fire alarm panels were changed in the Connaught Theatre and upgraded to the Assembly Hall, fire doors to our car parks were checked and new seals and door closers were installed, directional signage was replaced and new larger signs were installed, although this again created more work as there appears to be a craze of people removing these and taking them home (similar to the VW craze in the 80s if you are old enough to remember). This now falls to our car park teams to carry out inspections daily and replace any missing signs.
Our theatre sites are getting busier every day and we recently encountered an issue where the fire alarm was activated which caused concern, it appeared that with lots of acts now using smoke machines, when it was turned on the smoke detectors would think that there was a fire. You will be please to know that these smoke heads have now been changed with switchable heads so they can be turned from smoke to heat detection whenever required.
My capital colleagues have been working on a scheme to improve fire safety to our Adur Homes sites and after months in the planning and completion of a successful Tender process, they have commenced works replacing Flat Entrance Doors to various blocks of flats with new fire doors with 30 minutes protection.
Knowing that when I replaced my front door it took me most of a day installing this so as you can imagine 100's of doors will take some time. The contract for these works has the potential to run for five years whilst we carry on a programme across our estate.
Great progress is being made and within the first month of commencing works 60 doors have already been replaced, with 100s more in the pipeline improving the fire safety of residents flats.
I would like my readers to rest easy knowing that everything possible is being done to ensure that all of our sites meet the highest standards of fire safety.
Have a great week.
This week I am going for bust and anticipate losing all my readers, but I feel this is an important story which needs to be told. This blog is about PARKING.
I can already hear the groans and mumblings but this is an important service which is provided to assist residents, visitors and business within the area.
We and my parking colleagues are working flat out carrying out improvements to our multi-storey car parks (MSCP) and I think that most of these improvements go unnoticed.
I know this as whenever I have parked in other towns I don't stop and look around to admire the volume of work that is involved in keeping them running, I just park up and hurry to the shops or eatery of choice.
I personally think for the investments being made in our car-parks and the hourly charges we are exceptional value for money (there go the groans again).
This is a brash statement I know but I recently parked in Brighton and after having lunch and a quick pick up in one of the shops I found myself £15 poorer on parking costs.
I have already written about the new lighting scheme but we have carried out so much more work.
At Buckingham Road multi-storey car park we are in the process of replacing the lifts. One is already in service and the other is due to be completed and put into service soon.
The lift action is smooth and fast but being a bit of a kid at heart I love the red and green LED strips down the doors which show whether the door is opening or closing.
We take the safety of our users seriously and have recently painted the 'nosings' (edges) to all of the stair cases in bright yellow. This marks out the steps and prevents trips and falls (see photo right).
The old antiquated CCTV system has now been replaced with a new high tech digital system which now incorporates remote cameras to the roof top areas.
This has the benefit of being able to monitor the flow of traffic, which is very helpful if a car should break down at an entrance, and also to react quickly should any incident occur and attendance by our staff be needed.
Photo: Monitoring the CCTV cameras
The lift shaft and internal lobby area at Grafton multi-storey car park has now received a makeover which is a stunning transformation compared to what it used to look like.
Photo: Grafton multi storey car parks lobby area and pay station
The lobby area has had new flooring, ceilings and a paint, the inside lift areas have all been decorated and broken tiles replaced and the glazing has now been covered and redecorated inside and out.
Photo: Grafton multi storey car parks lift area
Now these are works that myself and my surveying colleagues have carried out but there is work being carried out daily by the core car park staff. In the past their jobs would be to monitor traffic and deal with complaints and parking related issues, but now they are much more hands on doing whatever they can to make the car parks a more inviting place to visit.
It is very rare now not to see them without a paint brush in their hands or using the new mechanical sweepers and cleaning equipment and I have even caught them cleaning the glass in the fire doors.
They are of course still carrying out their old tasks and on hand to help users I think that these guys (men and ladies) are probably the least appreciated by the public but they are a very friendly bunch so if you see them out and about say hello and admire the work they are doing.
Hi everyone, I’m back. I am amazed and also grateful of the responses I have received since finishing my last blog.
It has been mentioned at work and I have also found myself being stopped in the street asking when the blogs are returning, so not to disappoint anyone here we go again ...
Hopefully you will still read these, or it may be the shortest return in history.
Well I have had a busy few weeks with the start of the summer season and I have too many stories to add into this one blog, but it gives me plenty of ideas for the future.
We have been working hard with our parks department to get some of our parks in tip-top condition as they were due to be judged for the Green Flag award which is awarded to the finest sites and holds a lot of prestige.
We have been making sure that all the fencing, walls, stone copings and signage are all looking their finest and we even had to refit a stepping stone in a pond (although you would need to have 12 foot legs to reach it and my contractor had to wade in and drive home still dripping!)
The parks guys do all of the tricky work though planting and pruning all varieties or plants and trees ensuring the visual effect pleases everyone who see them.
Now having my small allotment, I find managing the weeds in 200 square metres difficult so to manage all the parks at the rate that things grow amazes me. We hope to hear soon on how well we do with the Green Flag and
I will update you later.
Whilst on the subject of parks I had a mystery to solve recently at our Hillbarn Rec site.
A section of grass appeared to be growing faster and more lush than the rest of the site, which after a short time ended up as a muddy marsh.
We thought it could be a underground stream, a broken drain or a water pipe leak but given the size of the site where do you start?
We called our contractors in who started to dig and they found a water pipe with a hole in it, this was then fixed and we thought job done.
Then on checking the water meter we found the dial spinning very fast and thought there must be another leak so we continued digging following the pipe through the ground.
In total we found 6 holes in the pipe all of a uniform distance. It was decided that due to the similarity in the size of holes and distances apart that the damage had been caused by someone putting up a wind break during a picnic or some other outdoor event.
I would suggest to whoever managed to do this should buy a lottery ticket immediately as the chances of hitting the pipe 6 times must be harder than choosing 6 numbers.
That's it for this week and I hope that you all have a great week and that the sun stays with us.
Photos: Beach House Park, Worthing
Photo: Marine Gardens, Worthing
Welcome everyone to my 10th and final(for now!) blog. I have been sitting here thinking about what I could cover this week. Do I do a recap on all the jobs I have covered in my previous blogs? Do I write about future work? Or do I try to think up witty anecdotes about things happening in both my personal or work life?
To be honest I couldn't make my mind up so thought why not do all of them. What also felt right was that I starting my first blog with a bang, my last should be a more calming affair.
It's raining again as I write, (which doesn't help as I am on leave for a couple of days, hoping to prepare my allotment) but I am sure that the sun is just around the corner and we are about to enter what I call 'silly season'.
This is when Adur and Worthing officially opens its doors to our summer visitors who thankfully come in their thousands.
With these numbers, the work we do really kicks into action. It is the time that our contractors can get paint brushes out and start making things pretty. The Parks team work tirelessly making the open spaces look award winning but whilst doing this they find lots of fencing and seating and defects to pavilions that haven't quite held up during the winter months.
Our public toilets open for longer hours and some sites which have been locked off over winter have deep cleans and a coat of paint.
All the works mentioned in my previous blogs have now all been completed - other than the car parks CCTV which should go fully live by the end of the week - but with the start of our new financial year, those projects which have been in the pipeline now get started and the cycle continues.
New projects will start filtering through which will be put on next years 'wish list' to be priced up and feasibility studies carried out on whether they are viable or not.
A fresh job that you may be interested is a refurbishment of the public toilets at Southwick Cemetery.
These toilets were closed off many years ago and had become quite derelict. The decision was made by Adur councillors to open these up again to provide visitors with these much needed facilities.
These toilets were originally built for Ladies and Gents only but these have now been altered to incorporate Ladies, Gents and Disabled users. This is one of our most visited cemeteries and I would hate to visit and then have to turn round and go home if nature calls.
The toilets will have a total refurb including new flooring, ceilings, lighting, sanitary ware and most importantly hot water. It is hoped that this site will be open within the next 3 weeks (although there will be a slight delay in the gents facilities due to planning requirements - sorry!)
It's been great writing these blogs and I hope you found them interesting. Please remember that we don't all drive round in council vehicles and you could probably walk past many of us without knowing who we are or what we are doing. There are many people out there working tirelessly trying to make our towns the best possible for you and visitors.
I hope you all have a great summer.
This has been an exciting week for me personally, with two family members going into hospital for surgery aimed at making their lives better and more comfortable.
One was admitted for open heart surgery where valves were replaced with new mechanical valves during which he also had a pacemaker fitted and the other had work carried out on his ankle where his bones had started to deteriorate.
It amazes me how we are able to extend life and improve the quality of it by using and incorporating new technology.
This is similar to works being carried out to our three multi storey car parks.
The old CCTV system was virtually antique and provided very poor quality images. This would make things difficult for both staff and users of the car parks as if the staff could not see the entries / exits or pay machines they were limited on the assistance they could give from our control centres and would have to attend site to personally rectify the issue.
Although the personal touch is always nice, the decision was made to replace this outdated system and Worthing councillors approved a capital budget to enable works to be carried out.
The old system was analogue and all the data was run through miles of coaxial cable (the same as the TV aerial cable at home). The cameras were black and white and had very little adjustment on the focus so the images were good in one spot but a bit rubbish everywhere else.
The new system is state of the art HD digital which is completely adjustable. Our chosen camera manufacturer was Samsung as they have proven experience in manufacturing electronics and the technology comes with an extensive warranty.
The new cameras are IP digital so we are now able to send the images from our other sites (Grafton and Buckingham Road) directly to our High Street control centre via a secure wireless network. This saves on a lot of cables which in turn saves money on installation and reduces the possibility of video loss due to cable breaks or damage.
The new Wi-Fi system is completely secure and licensed to the Council so no-one externally can either use our bandwidth or break into it the network and view images. You can be reassured that if using our car parks security has been improved and all images collected are protected.
The majority of the work has now been completed with just a few more cameras to go in, but we are already noticing the difference in quality and user friendly features.
I know that there are some people who don't like having CCTV around but in my opinion if I parked my car anywhere I would want to know that I and my car are in the most secure location possible.
Lastly I would like to thank Ben who works in our Capital team for his invaluable assistance with this project. (I nearly forgot to mention, both family members are doing fine and are on the road to recovery).
Photos: One of the new server racks (left) and a new camera (right)
Photos: Two of the new ceiling mounted cameras (left) and the CCTV monitoring screen in the control room (right)
I think that everyone is aware of the need to save energy - and in turn save money.
We have many energy saving devices in my house and I have also been trying to educate my children in the need to turn lights off when they are not using a room - easier said than done! I have also been sneakily turning the heating down although my wife, being a human thermostat, swiftly turns it back up. But as a well-known shop says “every little helps”.
Now this is at my house, imagine trying to achieve this at sites where turning the lights off isn't an option.
We have been working on scheme for our car park sites to achieve as many savings as possible whilst improving the looks of the area. Although cutting the operational running costs was a major consideration there were other issues that would be rectified having this work carried out:
- light pollution
- increasing the light spread within the site to minimise the risk of collisions between pedestrians, vehicles and the structure of the building, and
- to make the sites look more appealing to its users
in my opinion, the chosen system is amazing!
- The LED fittings were retrofit, meaning that there was no need to re-cable thus reducing costs and EVERY light is not only programmable to certain light levels but they are 'smart'; they learn:
- The lights will illuminate at a low level until they detect a vehicle or pedestrian and then they will illuminate to full power
As you drive round the car park the light fittings know how long it will take before your vehicle will reach the next light and activates it automatically
Have you seen the new lights in action yet?
Photo: The new LED lights in one of our car parks and the control unit that turns the lights on and off
Talking of tech, I had an interesting conversation with a member of the public the other day where the general subject was of my working day.
This gentleman regaled stories of how he imagined my work life being, a walnut clad office, a bank of secretaries, typewriters, tea ladies, starting work at 10am with a 3 hour lunch and home by 4pm.
In reality nothing could be further from the truth and the magic of modern technology means that I carry my office in my pocket.
The working day tends to start by 7:30am followed by many phone calls, emails and meetings and site inspections. Work usually finishes about 4:30 to 5:00pm. You may think that's not bad and I would agree as I love my job, but we are also on call 24 hours a day.
There is a rota system so it's not every week but you will be amazed that the calls come at the worst moments!
To date I have not been able to enjoy any of my children's birthdays without spending at least half an hour dealing with emergencies.
Many of the calls come when our sites i.e. leisure centres, public toilets and car parks are opening or closing so many are either from 6am or after 9pm and this can be weekdays or weekends. Some issues are easy to fix but some others can take up most of a morning or evening or in the event of injury or fire I have to drop everything and go to site.
I hope you found this interesting, more next week.
Firstly I need to apologise, I had promised you a lighting special, but this was before Adur and Worthing were miraculously transported to Siberia for a few days. Although I am 50 and I am sure that we have endured worse weather, I struggle to remember when.
We have been working hard to negate as many issues as The Beast from the East and Storm Emma threw at us. Not only was it difficult to move about and get emergency staff to sites quickly some issues were impossible to rectify immediately.
We had numerous reports of water pipes freezing and rupturing both to our parks sites and public toilets and the incoming and outgoing water supplies froze to our Pier and Pavilion Theatre.
The water supply which runs along our pier is fully insulated and has a heat trace cable (which should provide a small amount of heat and keep the pipe from freezing) but this still couldn't keep up with the wind chills of minus 12 and froze solid.
This took 4 days before it thawed and unfortunately once this had happened we found the pipe had ruptured and as I write this, we have contractors working throughout the night trying to repair the leak whilst the tide is out.
Although the pier is one of Worthing's landmarks I must admit it would be much easier to work on if it was inland, although I suppose it would then stop being a pier and more a bridge. The only ways we can access the services below the pier is by either removing sections of pier decking or by using a huge mobile cherry picker which is driven along the beach and lifts the guys to the area of damage.
We also had to shut down public toilet blocks at Marine Gardens, George V, Broadwater Green and Highdown Gardens, 2 no buildings at Buckingham Park and Grafton Bowling alley, where thawed frozen pipes resulted in water leaks, causing damage such as lifted floors, electrical damage and also resulted in a ceiling collapse.
I am grateful to all my contractors who battled with the weather trying their hardest to keep water running (as it should through a tap), repairing leaks and reinstating electricity supplies and delivering temporary heaters when all else failed.
I hope that this has now all passed and that we can look forward the warmer weather although this in turn brings its own challenges with things shrinking, crackling or generally overheating, but that's another story ...
Photo: Damage caused by ruptured frozen pipes
Well what an exciting week I have just had!
It was my daughters 5th birthday and long gone are the parties where a teenager dressed as a Mr Blobby or a princess arrives to play pass-the-parcel. No! My daughter chose to have a yoga party where she was joined by 26 of her friends to spend two hours carrying out synchronised moves and playing team games all in unison without any fuss or palaver.
This led me to think of how our department works as a team.
I am not going to come out with any daft analogies of how we are highly tuned like a Formula 1 racing team, but I personally think we are more like a vintage Rolls Royce with a team of youthful mechanics; the perfect mix of experience and drive to see all projects through to completion.
After speaking to Martyn, our Senior Engineer, I thought it would be nice to share stories of projects the other teams have carried out recently ...
A scheme to enhance the public realm beach access on Shoreham Beach at the southern end of Ferry Road, pictured below, has been completed with joint working between our Engineers and our Parks Dept. The enhancements included the removal of the grass in favour of a beach landscape with native wild flower beds, timber sleeper features, cycle parking and rationalising bin storage.
The scheme was funded between Adur District Council and the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm.
Other recent exciting projects which Mark (my boss!) told me about are two lighting schemes.
You may have noticed that quite a lot of effort is being put into lighting replacement for new LEDs at the moment as this is one of the areas where the councils can make dramatic savings on costs and make the areas more inviting for the public - My next blog will be a lighting special so I will tell you all about these next week.
Last but definitely not least is news from Ben who works under Kevin in the Capital surveying team. Ben has over 18 years of Building Surveying experience and is currently working on several projects for the council.
Most recently, Ben looked after the 40Kw solar panel installation that took place on the top of Portland House to the south and west facing pitch roofs.
The works were completed on time and budget, and the council has been able to reduce its carbon footprint in relation to this building quite dramatically. Following its success, the council is working behind the scenes for its next solar project.
I hope this gives you some insight into what we are doing as a department, although this is a mere snippet of the whole programme of works which we are undertaking on a daily basis.
It's not all about repairing and patching up - this week I'll be looking at the works that are currently being carried out or have been recently completed.
To start, our Connaught Studio cinema site is a much used location and has had old toilets with many original features. In some locations a touch of history in the lavatory would be ideal but on this occasion did not provide a salubrious atmosphere for customers attending for a night out!
A capital spend was approved by Worthing Councillors to upgrade these accordingly. We stripped out all the old fittings, flooring, ceilings, plumbing and electrical fittings and replaced with new. The new flooring and colour contrasting cubicles and concealer panels neatly hide all the pipework and now provide a welcoming area.
Another example of replacing old for new is the York Stone coping stones along Worthing parade.
This was not required as part of an upgrade system but we had found that many of the old weathered copings had been removed by people either clearing away loose or damaged stones or in some instances taking these stones away as mementoes of their visit to Worthing.
I would like to point out that Adur and Worthing both have a large selection of gift shops which sell gifts and mementos which are slightly easier to transport!
We had tried for about 12 months to source weathered York Stone copings of a similar size but as there was nothing suitable available the decision was taken to replace a 100m section of coping stone from George V Avenue, Worthing and replace with new Yorkstone.
This will weather in time and blend in well. The stones which were removed by us will be used to repair defective stones or ones which may disappear in the future.
We have also recently completed a scheme to replace approximately 260 linear metres of the old timber and metal fencing to the perimeter of Adur Recreation Ground in Shoreham. The old fencing was leaning in places and the concrete had started to spall and become dangerous. The new fence not only improves the aesthetics it also makes the area more secure.
And finally, I am pleased to say that the public toilets at our Pond Lane site have now reopened. We found quite extensive damage to the brickwork and joinery etc so it therefore took quite a while to rectify - you can read about what happened at this site in this explosive blog (below).
Photo: public toilets at our Pond Lane - before ... showing the crack around the top of the walls where the whole asphalt roof was lifted into the air by the explosion
Photo: public toilets at our Pond Lane - after the refurbishment
This week my focus is on some of the works we carry out on our parks and open spaces. This is not claiming credit for how wonderful these areas look as the vast majority of work is carried out by our Parks Department - there are many unsung heroes working tirelessly to ensure that Adur and Worthing looks like an inviting and relaxing place to be.
This being said, the works we do is fundamental in maintaining the aesthetics, security and stability for people using these spaces and to prevent unwanted incursions.
Did you know that along our parade from George V Avenue to Sea Lane, Ferring, we have timber bollards which are the size of tree trunks that all need inspecting and replacing whenever they become damaged or broken?
Sometimes they have been knocked over by vehicles, sometimes found to be rotting from the inside out and even on occasions burnt when people leave old BBQs on them without putting them out.
Photo: Timber bollards along our Greensward area
We also install and maintain seating along the Parade, Highway, Town Centre and Parks areas.
These seats provide a relaxing rest for both residents and tourists to admire the views wherever they may be.
We have a variety of seats around the area and these range from 'Cavendish' timber seats located at Highdown Garden, our cemetery sites and Worthing Crematorium, cast iron 'Lionshead' seating along Worthing Parade and 'Phoenix' seats which are made from recycled plastic and have an amazing wood like look to them which are located along the seafront Greensward area, Highways and within some parks sites.
I would estimate that we probably have in excess of 300 seats throughout Adur and Worthing!
Photo: Phoenix seat
We have just completed one project which was a little different; The lych-gate at St Nicolas' churchyard.
Originally built in 1917 and then rebuilt in 1987 following its destruction during the Great Storms, the lych-gate was showing decay at the base of its supports.
Skilled craftsmen dismantled the structure, removed it from site and carefully disassembled it. They then crafted new legs in keeping with the original design and reinstalled into is place.
Photo: The lych-gate at St Nicolas' churchyard
I hope this gives you an insight into some of the work we carry out that goes into our parks and open spaces, so next time you are out relaxing have a seat and enjoy the views.
Next week “What's new?”
Although the vast majority of our work is repairing and replacing broken items, the other side of what we do is preserve items which have been in the custody of the councils for many decades.
These are the War Memorials in Worthing and Shoreham, the Town Hall clock and a new plaque recently installed in Montague Place Worthing. I am amazed at how supportive the residents of Adur and Worthing are during remembrance events and it falls to us to ensure that these monuments are kept as pristine as possible. I spent four years in the TA Military Police during the 80s so needless to say it is this area of my work fills me with such pride and gratitude.
The Monument, outside Worthing's Town Hall, is a permanent testament to the sacrifice made by the members of the community who lost their lives in the First World War. Made by Joseph Whitehead and Sons and paid for by public subscription through the Worthing Gazette the memorial was unveiled by Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson on 11th April 1921.
The dates of the Second World War and a list of the names of the fallen of that conflict were added to the memorial, as have the names of others who fell in subsequent conflicts. We have carried out numerous repairs including replacement of the memorial panels which hold the names of the fallen. We ensure that the whole memorial including the bronze statue, panels and names are all prepare in time for the remembrance events.
This structure was granted Grade II listed status on 27th June 2017 by Historic England. Photo below is of the Worthing War Memorial at the 2016 Armistice Day service.
We recently oversaw the installation of a new plaque dedicated to Second Lieutenant Montague Moore who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1917.
The commemorative stone was unveiled at his birthplace of 13 Montague Place, Worthing (see Google Maps), on Sunday 24th September 2017.
This installation was in the planning for over two years and through negotiations with WSCC and collaborative working with our events, parks and cleansing colleagues the celebration was a great success.
Our other monument is in Shoreham Town Centre and this received an extensive makeover in 2014. The names which had been engraved into the stone had weathered to an extreme and many names had been lost. By looking through archives and detailed photographs it was possible to re-engrave them back into the stone. Did you know that all of our engraving is carried out by hand?
Something Borrowed (we had to borrow numerous records from archives to source accurate detail of lost names)
The last and the most delicate is the Worthing Town Hall clock which is installed in a clock tower above the main roof. It is a marvel of precision timekeeping with hundreds of cogs, springs and screws.
The hourly strike was originally designed to activate on a mercury switch which was a little temperamental to say the least and the strike would usually occur many minutes earlier than expected. This would lead to its own problems during the remembrance events where it needed to strike exactly at 11am! What was the solution? Not what you'd expect ... In this case it involved me sitting in the clock tower with my phone checking the countdown and throwing the switch at the allotted time.
You'll be pleased to hear that we have now replaced the switch with a modern electric Toller and - touch wood - it hasn't struck more than 10 seconds out since it was installed so I can now be outside during the events and not sitting in the roof. All the original parts are still in place so that it still remains original.
The views from the top of the bell housing makes you feel like you are up in the sky which makes for a very tenuous 'blue' I know but the best I could think of.
Last week I commented that Spring was coming, something I soon regretted as Storm Georgina hit our shores and I found myself walking along the parade struggling to stand in one place for more than a minute!
The pier had to be closed due to high winds and it certainly took a battering.
As usual it stood up to everything that Mother Nature could throw at it and the only minor damage was caused to a water supply pipe which runs from the main parade to the furthest southern point of the pier. Although the break was minor, the only way to access this area is via a cherry picker which is driven along the beach, which in turn can have its challenges as these works can only be carried out when the tide is out.
Whilst Storm Georgina battered the pier I found myself fighting my own battle as I fell victim to the flu bug that is going around. At home feeling sorry for myself I was unable to escape from watching hours of soaps on evening TV with my family, I found myself looking at the condition of Albert Square and Coronation Street.
It dawned on me that everyone used the facilities and surroundings but walked around oblivious to the fact that repairs needed doing - unless it caused them an inconvenience - but to me as a professional observer these issues were evident.
Which leads me to my version of the 3R's; Report, Repair or Replace.
Adur & Worthing Councils receive reports daily of repairs that need carrying out from straightforward fixes like leaking taps or faulty lights to more in-depth problems like repairing services to the pier or roof leaks to an industrial unit.
On occasion we are unable to carry out repairs to as the property may not be owned by A&W, rather they're the responsibility of County Council, Parish Council or part of a private residence. In these cases we will always try to pass the information to the respective people to let them know of the issue.
We can't see everything everywhere, that's why we always appreciate when members of the public take the time to report things to us.
A recent report which springs to mind concerned some damaged fencing at our Lancing Manor allotment site. Now - to my shame - I previously never understood allotment holders dread of fence damage until my wife took on an allotment as a family project. Needless to say it wasn't long before the PlayStation and shopping took over the family's interest and the digging and planting became my job, and subsequently somewhat of an obsession!
I went to site to look at the damage and discussed with plot holders of the anticipated thefts and damage that was bound to have happened but to my surprise there was none. The damage to the fence was however a bit of a surprise, someone had visited site and physically removed about a 20ft length of 2m high chain link fencing and took it away with them. The fence is now in the process of being replaced.
Photos: damaged fencing at our Lancing Manor allotment site
So the moral of my story is those 3R's; Report, Repair or Replace. We can't Repair if we aren't made aware of a defect, we may not be responsible for some repairs and some repairs may not be carried out straight away if part of a larger programme, but we will always do our best to ensure A&W looks its best.
Thanks for reading, more next week.
Hi everyone and welcome to my first ever blog.
I don't just mean first blog for Adur & Worthing Councils but first ever in my life! Needless to say I have sought advice from my 8 year old son about what I should be doing ...
I want to use this monumental event (well for me anyway) to tell everyone what works the Engineering and Surveying Dept carry out and where, as unfortunately most of our work goes unnoticed if we have done it right.
We carry out most of the buildings maintenance and repairs to corporate assets (not including Adur Homes) within Adur and Worthing ranging from Worthing Town Hall, Portland House and The Shoreham Centre in Shoreham, through to seafront seating, parks pavilions and public toilets. The list is too long to write but if the council owns it we have probably had some interaction with maintaining it at some point.
We carry out:
- Reactive repairs (when things either stop working or become damaged)
- Planned repairs (where we have identified that major repairs or replacements are required)
- Capital Projects (larger improvement schemes)
As well as the above we also manage the statutory servicing and testing of mechanical plant, electrical services, water testing and weekly or monthly roof checks.
One of the most challenging elements to my work would be rectifying vandalism which I know occurs everywhere, but when you know it affects residents and visitors to the area it is hard to find justification for.
One such event happened on 27th October at our Pond Lane toilets in Durrington. We received a call from the Police informing us that an explosion had been heard at the toilet block and that the fire brigade were in attendance.
It is believed that some teenagers thought it would be a good idea to let off explosives within the gents toilet block.
The blast was of such magnitude that it lifted a whole asphalt roof in the air by approx. 4 inches, blew out the windows and door and even managed to crack a china urinal. Although this would only have taken a second (and I am grateful that nobody got hurt) it has now left the users of the newly installed play area without facilities whilst rebuilding works are being carried out. The list of works got bigger everyday as we discovered damage to the walls and flint work and even cracking to the floors.
We are in the process of refurbishing the gent's toilets which will have new electrics, wall panelling, ceiling, urinals, and lighting and needless to say a new roof and we are hopeful of this site being reopened within the next couple of weeks.
I am really proud of the work we do and the speed that these are carried out as in the event of vandalism, fire or a serious accident we may only have minutes to react.
On a brighter note, the sun is shining (at time of writing!) and spring is in the air, so now starts one of our busiest times of year getting everything ready for the start of summer. Next week I will tell you about some exciting projects we have started or will start soon.
Photo: Crack around the top of the walls where the whole asphalt roof was lifted into the air by the explosion
Photo: Crack clearly visible at the top of the walls and damage to the ceiling after the explosion
Photo: Crack right across the roof and a large area of missing asphalt after the explosion
Photo: Crack in the brickwork after the explosion
Photo: Cracked walls and damaged brickwork around a windows and under the roof eaves after the explosion
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