Rother council leaders have backed plans to replace Bexhill’s popular but faulty seafront fountain with a new, more reliable system.
On Monday (December 2), Rother District Council’s cabinet backed proposals to spend up to £350,000 to install a replacement water feature on Bexhill promenade.
According to council documents, the proposal comes as the existing fountain needs extensive repairs to its pipeworks and underground water tank in order to carry on operating safely.
If funding for the project is approved (requiring a full council vote) the new fountain could be in place by next summer, officers said.
Cllr Deidre Earl-Williams, the council’s cabinet member for tourism, said: “This is obviously a contentious subject due to the cost. It is a huge expense for this council.
“But we have to look at the long picture and it was hugely popular with residents and tourists alike. You only had to look at the children on the seafront, it was probably the most enjoyable thing I have ever seen in Bexhill.
“Whilst I accept it is a huge cost – and we don’t know exactly how much it will cost to put it right – I think we just need to bite the bullet and do it.”
The original water fountain was installed as part of Bexhill’s seafront regeneration project in 2011, which saw improvements made to the area surrounding the Colonnade and the De La Warr Pavilion.
For the last two years, however, the fountain has suffered a series of breakdowns, stopping it from running. In light of this, the council commissioned a series of structural and mechanical surveys to establish what the faults were and their possible causes.
The surveys found the fountain’s underground water tank is leaking and indicate a strong possibility that the pipes that feed the feature and return water to the tank are also leaking.
According to the council, these leaks (in what is supposed to be a self-contained system) added around £10,000 to the council’s water bills between April 2018 and June 2019.
The surveys also saw the fountain closed completely last spring as it was felt the structural integrity of the leaking water tank could pose a risk to the staff tasked with its maintenance.
The council says it has not been advised of any risk to the public or any persons above ground, however, as the concrete structure housing the underground system is stable
In order to repair the system, council papers say, the fountain would need to be almost completely excavated, with new pumps, underground pipes and a water tank installed.
In light of these extensive works, the council is also considering moving the majority of the pumping equipment above ground for easier maintenance.
Indicative estimates expect this work to cost somewhere in the region of £300,000 to £330,000.
The proposals to carry out these works were supported by cabinet members, although final approval will need full council consent.
Cabinet members also called for any new feature to have an eco-friendly design.