Scrutiny of issues on the Next Wave project on hold

7/2/12- Bexhill's winter seaside.  The Colonnade
7/2/12- Bexhill's winter seaside. The Colonnade

A DISCUSSION on issues surrounding Bexhill’s controversial Next Wave seafront project has had to be put on hold.

On Monday night, councillors on Rother District Council’s services overview and scrutiny committee met to discuss snagging issues and defects which had yet to be resolved, as well as look at the signing over of the project’s Contract A, which was completed in August and finished £167,372 under the original budget of £1,333,832.

Contract B, which includes works to the Colonnade, the water feature and the hedge surrounding the Metropole Lawn, has yet to be signed off by the council due to defects and snagging issues which Rother hopes the contractor will resolve by March 31.

However the full debate on this subject could not go ahead as Cllr Robin Patten, the Next Wave development’s project manager, was unable to attend the meeting.

Director of services Anthony Leonard told the committee the council would only take over the contract once the outstanding works had been completed and signed off.

The Colonnade has been largely closed for some time as it is suffering from major water leakage - something which has delayed the council’s hope of letting the facility out as a restaurant.

One final repair needs to be made to the water feature, the Metropole Lawn hedge has not established itself and has needed to be replanted, and there are other problems which need rectifying at Bexhill Rowing Club.

Cllr Paul Lendon said: “I am really dismayed that Cllr Robin Patten could not be here and I think this should be deferred. That particular councillor has been torn ragged.”

Cllr Deirdre Williams agreed and said: “There should be somebody else who is fully briefed to take his [Cllr Patten’s] place if necessary.

Cllr Sue Prochak said: “This report suggests that somebody has taken their eye off the ball here,” and went on to say that the quality of some of the workmanship was ‘not good enough’.

She also asked what happened to the project manager, Janice Windle, and asked why Rother had not retained her services.

Mr Leonard said: “We have kept our eye on the ball and not accepted the works under the conditions you see.” He also pointed out Ms Windle had left the council to take on employment elsewhere.

Cllr Williams said: “There should be somebody closer to the ground - somebody in Bexhill. Everybody here needs to understand the amount of anguish and upset this is causing in the town.”

Leader of the council Carl Maynard defended Cllr Patten saying: “His record is exemplary in all regards.”

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Paul Osbourne, said: “Cllr Patten was really sorry he could not be at the meeting. He has been in contact with local Bexhillians and very much appreciates their input.”

The item was deferred.