Saturday 27 September 2014

Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park construction starts in Eastbourne

Construction of the Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park has started in Eastbourne, East Sussex, with site clearance and piling works.

The 5.5 acre business park is being created by economic development company Sea Change Sussexwith support from Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council.

The construction work is being carried out by Buckingham Group Contracting, a £300 million turnover, family/owner-managed building company.

The project will bring new economic life to a disused site in prestigious Sovereign Harbour, 2.5 miles east of Eastbourne town centre, by attracting expanding businesses and providing local jobs.

The first development on the Park will be Pacific House (shown below) – a 2,300m² contemporary business centre.

Pacific House will be able to accommodate up to 70 firms as amix of small or medium sized businesses or, alternatively, one or two large companies.

These could be start-ups, established local firms, companies from outside the area or a combination of these.

The units available range from 58m² to the entire building, which will be able to accommodate up to 300 employees.

Pacific House is scheduled to be completed next summer, 2015Sea Change and its agents are taking letting enquiries now, with several firms already expressing interest.

The rest of the Innovation Park offers a range of potentialsites for further commercial properties to be developed which could bring total development up to 10,000m² including Pacific House.

Anyone interested in either offices within Pacific House orother developments on the Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park should contact one of Sea Change’s agents:

Richard Harding, Bray Fox; 020 7629 5456
Chris Broome,; 01273 738383
Alex Hobbis, Hobbis &; 01424 423626


Further details:  For more about Sovereign Harbour Innovation Park and Sea Change’s broader development programme for East Sussex,

For Buckingham Group, see

For further media information & images, contact Tariq Khwaja from PR agency
TK Associates on or 01932 224 212

The great cycling debate rumbles on... But why can't we all work together for the decent majority?

Every day as I return home from work or often later in the evening after returning from the Town Hall after representing my fellow constituents at a variety of civic engagements, I remain thankful that I live in Sovereign Harbour with its fresh sea air, close proximity to our wonderful seafront and coastline, stunning marina views, bustling waterfront life and miles and miles of wide pathways that we can walk around with our faithful hound, allow the children the freedom to scooter or rover boot or cycle around as a family - great for our health and never ending opportunities to get out and enjoy our wonderful surroundings!

Like many of my constituents, I get out and enjoy our Harbour and Seafront on a daily basis on foot and on cycle and for the record, you can cycle on the inner Harbour walkways, the promenade from the lock gates to the Martello Tower and for part of the North Harbour promenade in addition to the designated cycle paths along Harbour Quay, Pacific Drive and Atlantic Drive - you must not however cycle over locks and bridges or in front of the busy waterfront restaurants. When I walk I look out for others and often exchange a polite greeting and I apply the same courtesy and care when I cycle without any incident around the Harbour throughout over ten years of living here. Cycling on the designated seafront cycle lane between the Water Treatment Works and Fishermans Green is a somewhat different experience where both walkers and cyclists tend to become very territorial, some cyclists often firing along at higher speeds and pedestrians of all ages often wandering around seemingly oblivious to the fact that they have strayed into the cycle lane, in fact it's not uncommon to find people throwing balls for their dogs right across the path of an oncoming cyclist - why does something intended to provide safe distinction for both user groups so often lead to defensive behaviour and a lack of courtesy and awareness that exists on the shared areas around the Harbour?

I have talked to residents as I have survey canvassed during the last year throughout Sovereign Ward and I have listened to Council officials, members of our local Police force and Neighbourhood Panels, I have read letters from those concerned and those in favour but I am proud to have been one of the Councillors who voted for the relaxation of the bye law which currently prevents cyclists from using much of the seafront promenade because I believe in our town being accessible for the enjoyment of all residents of all ages at all times and I know that the vast majority of people who do actually use the promenade on a regular basis are decent people who are quite capable of respecting others and getting along without incident. 

That said, I do believe that whilst the matter is being considered by the Secretary of State there is more we can be doing as a council to address some valid concerns about seafront cycling. The previous Conservative administration planned to widen the promenade at its most narrow section between Splash Point and the Pier by installing a board walk and I believe that these plans or something similar should be revived and I also believe that the CCTV that made it possible to identify those who knocked the little four year old girl down near the Pier a few months ago should be expanded to help provide evidence if a minority do choose to disrespect the majority of law abiding citizens. Furthermore recently revised powers to tackle anti-social behaviour introduced by the Government should make it possible for the council to send a strong message that mis-use of our local environment will not be tolerated and that action can be triggered by both the council and the police to deal with offenders. Personally I would like to see a policy of a hefty fine and confiscation of the culprits cycle publicised as a deterrent and the Council's Neighbourhood First team used more widely and equipped with body mounted cameras to help monitor the promenade for the benefit of all, perhaps supported by community cycling speed enforcement in a similar way that has been successfully trialled in some rural villages with speed cameras enabling Police resources to be used in a more targeted way on the rare occasion that there is an incident.

However in recent days two petitions have been started and circulated by the Sovereign Harbour Residents Association and circulated amongst Neighbourhood Panel committees, inviting people to vote against cycling on the both the seafront and around Sovereign Harbour. I share disappointment being expressed by some residents who don't feel that the SHRA have a mandate as an association to do this without consulting all residents more widely, indeed cycling has not been raised as a concern at either the last SHRA annual meeting in May this year or any I can remember before that. Indeed looking at the twitter feeds of those behind these petitions, it appears that this is more the personal view of a small number of people and I think it would have been more appropriate that if they felt so strongly about the subject, they launched the petitions as individuals rather than under the guises of the SHRA and through the Neighbourhood Panel.

As a Sovereign Ward Councillor I have worked very closely with the SHRA committee on a vast number of issues and I think that together we have achieved a great deal which has helped make Sovereign Harbour the wonderful place it is today with such a largely bright future. On this matter though I think it could have been handled better and I would urge them to reconsider withdrawing using their SHRA and Neighbourhood Panel positions to promote it until residents views can be more widely understood. I would far rather work with them to see that the decent majority of residents are not prevented from enjoying our beautiful surroundings and that a tiny mindless minority who may seek to spoil life for all are sent a strong message and dealt with firmly.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cllr Warner calls for crackdown on violent crime following spate of cycling related incidents

Following the relatively recent vote to begin the process of relaxing inadequate bye laws which prevent cycling on Eastbourne's seafront promenade, taken by a majority of Councillors on both sides of the chamber of Eastbourne Borough Council there has been a spate of violent crimes involving cyclists.

First the little girl who was knocked down near The Pier, after which the two cyclists involved sped away and only came forward to answer for their actions after being identified on seafront CCTV footage. Then last week an elderly gentlemen was badly beaten up following an autication with a thug on two wheels. Additionally there have been incidents where cyclists have come off worst against motorists.

Now I know that opinion is deeply divided on whether cyclists should be able to join pedestrians on our promenades but the fact remains, the bye law is still currently in place but it has done nothing to prevent innocent people becoming victims of violent crime. 

That is why during the full council meeting held earlier this evening, I called on fellow Councillors who serve on the JAG Committee (the Joint Action Group which brings representatives of the emergency services together with various agency partners) to work with the Community Safety Partnership to urgently draw up plans to crack down on this type of violent crime.

Regardless of whether the bye law is relaxed next year or not, I believe it is vital that the sense of community which the decent majority demonstrated is so alive and well in Eastbourne following the tragic Pier fire, is not threatened by a mindless minority of individuals who think it perfectly acceptable to treat others with such disrespect. I will be keeping up pressure for this minority to receive a very clear message, you are not welcome in Eastbourne!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

East Sussex roads to benefit from a major increase in investment to tackle pot hole menace and increase the number of full resurfacing projects

Following the recent approval of it's annual budget, East Sussex County Council has recently approved additional* expenditure totalling £57.25m for improvements to the county’s highways. This is made up of the following amounts:
·        £15m per annum of capital expenditure for resurfacing over the three years 2015/16 to 2017/18
·        £5m per annum expenditure targeted at the improvement of our unclassified roads over the two years 2014/15 & 2015/16
·        £750k per annum additional revenue budget for pothole repairs over the three years 2014/15 to 2016/17
* These sums are in addition to the £15m per annum that the County Council is investing in the current financial year and in 2014/15.
County Councillors and Town and Parish Councils were last week sent a draft list of over 400 roads that ESCC are proposing to resurface over the next two years. This totals over £40m including the additional investment for unclassified roads. 
As well as additional investment for resurfacing, the County Council approved an additional £2.25m of revenue budget (£750k in each of the next three years) to help improve response times for pothole repairs. This additional revenue budget will enable pothole repairs to be carried out quicker, and from April ESCC will endeavour to repair all potholes within 28 days.
In response to concerns raised by myself and others about the quality of pothole repairs, the expectation is that from April, the vast majority of repairs will be properly cut out and permanent repairs carried out. There will be occasions when temporary repairs are appropriate; where safety dictates a road closure or a repair at night, or where ESCC have plans for more substantial repairs or resurfacing in the near future. 

On the subject of temporary pothole repairs, the Council's contractor has been instructed that from now all ‘temporary’ pothole repairs should be spray-marked with the letter “T” so those temporary repairs going forward should be obvious to all and will be logged in our Control Hub as temporary with plans identified for a permanent solution. 

In the case of local roads, I will be updating readers of this blog with planned resurfacing works as and when I hear about them. On the subject of Hammonds Drive and Birch Road which I reported last weekend, these have have received temporary repairs but have now been scheduled to be resurfaced so I hope that this will draw a line under the historic problems in this area.

Residents and motorists can report highway concerns via the ESCC Website at or you can also report it viaTwitter which not only increases awareness of probem areas to other motorists, thereby hopefully reducing the risk of potential unnecessary damage to their cars but you also receive real time confirmation of what they intend to do about it, you can report issues via a Twitter at @esccroads

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Raising resident's concerns over Halfway House near Primary School

Parents of children at Pevensey & Westham Church of England Primary School have been expressing concern about plans to open a halfway house for homeless people and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics in an end of terrace house in Westham High Street.

The plans by Kingdomway Trust are to provide a project called 'The Bridge' in which six men, who are part way through their rehabilitation process will be given the opportunity to prepare for a fully independent life and you can read more about their aims and ambitions by clicking this link to their website:

On Monday evening, the 10th March, local resident, Kevin Balsdon arranged a public meeting for local residents and concerned individuals to come along and hear about Kingdomway Trust's plans and to have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposals. The meeting was well run and it was clear that the organisers have very sincere intentions, intentions which I think most people would wish them well with in the hope that the individuals who might use the project, are able to complete their rehabilitation and change the course of their lives for the better.

I attended in my capacity of a father to my ten year old daughter and as a local Councillor representing Sovereign Harbour and Langney Point. Whilst Pevensey & Westham Primary School is located in the neighbouring Pevensey & Westham area, I and many of the people I represent in Sovereign Harbour and the surrounding area have the privilege of contributing to village life through the education and afterschool activities that our children participate in at this traditional village Church school.

A number of concerning points came to light during the public questions. Whilst the organisers have participated in the successful night shelter scheme in Eastbourne, where churches take it turns to provide a rotational single night's shelter for homeless people from the coldest of the winter weather, this ambitious project will be the first it has undertaken on a continuous basis and it is intended that residents will remain in the house for up to two years until rehabilitation is complete. Furthermore whilst they have a preferred selection criteria, the organisers were unable to guarantee residents that those who apply to be part of the project would A) not have a criminal record or B) not be on the register of sex offenders and despite these potential and serious risks, 24 hour supervision is only likely to be provided for the first six months with a team of volunteers providing on call support thereafter.

I addressed the meeting on behalf of parents of pupils to say that whilst I didn't doubt the sincerity of the organisers' intentions, with so many young, vulnerable and impressionable young people within close proximity of the intended location of the house, this was the wrong location to be trialling such an ambitious project. Furthermore I have written to Wealden District Council who will be considering if the application is legal by the 8th April and I have also written to the Associate Head Teacher of Pevensey & Westham Primary School to encourage him to do the same.

At this stage, due to the size of the plan, Wealden District Council only have to consider if the plan is a legal application and if they do that, no formal public consultation need take place and the project will become a reality with the very real risks that entails. If the council can be convinced of the danger, they could ensure that the plan has to go before a full planning committee and face the level of scrutiny it warrants. If you would like to make your views known, you should write to:

The Head of Planning & Building Control
Wealden District Council
Council Offices
Vicarage Lane
East Sussex
BN27 2AX


Saturday 15 February 2014

Fairness for Sovereign Harbour Residents proposed in Council Motion

Residents of Sovereign Harbour have long been concerned about how money raised from the Harbour Charge is spent. Currently the two largest proportions of the money raised are divided between the Environment Agency and Premier Marinas with the smaller remaining portion being spent on administering the charge to residents via Sovereign Harbour Sea Defences CIC (formerly Sovereign Harbour Trust).

I was invited to join the board in 2011 and took up this offer (which is not related formally to my role as one of your local Councillors), in order to give residents a voice on the board and gain a better understanding of how it works. I have consistently used this platform to call for more transparency and have also supported calls for Sovereign Harbour Residents Association to be offered the chance to nominate a further Director, effectively doubling resident representation on the board. I would furthermore like to confirm that whilst Directors are permitted to claim a small allowance to cover their time and travel costs to meetings, I have chosen not to claim this preferring to see this as a further opportunity to put something back into the community in which I live.

One of the things that frustrates me most is the way the agreement was drafted and I believe that whilst Eastbourne Borough Council fulfilled its statutory obligations as the local Planning Authority in permitting the development of the Harbour, in common with the loose conditions which have permitted huge volumes of residential properties without community facilities, it should have accepted a moral duty to ensure that any agreement formed to collect a charge to maintain sea defences, was drafted in such a way that this charge was applied fairly amongst residents who benefit from the work and that revisions to future charges was able to be scrutinised properly. 

Since I and my fellow colleagues Cllr Philip Ede and Cllr Gordon Jenkins were elected in 2011, we have worked hard with the current Council Officer team, County Councillor David Elkin, landowners and developers to rectify the situation with regard to community facilities. The Master Plan process, whilst not yet delivered, demonstrates this commitment and will deliver only minimal further residential development along with a Community Centre, further Restaurants, Bars, Shops, public open spaces, a bus link which will lead to an improved bus service and the creation of a Business Park to boost jobs and the creation of businesses on the area.

However, the recent further increase in the Harbour Charge, dictated by Premier Marinas demonstrates that there is still much more to do. We must reach a point where residents can see fairness applied to the charge made for maintaining our sea defences. We must be confident that any further money being used by the Marina Company is of benefit to residents and not as is perceived by some, being used to subsidise a commercial business. Whether this agreement continues to run until it ends, or is renegotiated early for any reason, I believe that any future changes must be seen to embody fairness so I have tabled a motion that will if supported by all members of the council, lead to officers working up proposals and advice on how this can best be achieved.

The motion reads:

'This Council accepts that residents have every right to feel that they were failed from the outset and for them to consider that fairness was not at the heart of the agreement which sees a charge put on Harbour residents alone to maintain sea defences. Furthermore, members will instruct officers to look into how best this council can contribute to righting the historic wrongs and ensure that fairness is at the heart of any new agreement in future'.

See my You Tube introduction to the motion here:

Fellow Ward Councillor and Harbour resident, Cllr Philip Ede will be seconding the motion and Sovereign Harbour Residents Association will have a Committee representative speaking in favour of the motion at the meeting. Residents and members of the public are welcome to attend and have the opportunity to address members as well. If you would like to speak you need to make your request known to the Democracy Team by emailing them at no later than midday on Monday 17th February.

Following the recent extreme weather it is clear from the pictures below that our coastline requires constant maintenance to ensure that our homes remain safe and it is my belief that most reasonable people don't mind contributing to that maintenance provided the charges we pay are seen to be fair. I hope very much that this motion if passed will lead to greater fairness for residents.

Cllr Patrick Warner
Conservative Member for Sovereign Ward
& Chairman of Scrutiny
Eastbourne Borough Council