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' current 2018 blog posts on this page below
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 yorkstone 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 yorkstone 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 chainlink 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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