VOTE: City group upset at the slowness of canal work

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Lack of progress on landscaping work around Chichester’s historic canal basin was condemned at a meeting in the city.

District councillors heard the project, financed by contributions from developers, was being managed by West Sussex County Council, which owns the canal.

The district’s overview and scrutiny committee was told by Dr Linda Boize, representing the Southern Gateway Residents’ Association, that no-one seemed to be taking responsibility for delivering the agreed objectives.

Dr Boize said in a written statement the first phase of the landscaping, on the north side of the basin was eventually completed in 2010, after delays arising from additional, unforeseen works being needed, and also the redoing of substandard work.

On the south side, vehicle parking had significantly and regularly increased in the previous pedestrian-only area, creating a horrible muddy mess and danger from manoeuvring vehicles to pedestrians, electric buggy users, cyclists, dogs and children.

“Over the past two years, I have taken this matter up with the county’s rural operations, to no effect,” she said.

Cllr Alan Chaplin said he was not happy with progress at the canal basin on a variety of issues.

“We accept that the county council is the lead authority, but that basin is a key element of the city, and you cannot discount other agencies – ourselves, the canal trust and the local community.”

Another committee member, Cllr Clare Apel, called for more pressure on the county council.

The committee was told no trees had been planted in special planters intended for them at the basin, and shrubs and plants had been put there instead. Money did not stretch far enough for trees, so something was found to put in there instead.

A committee report responding to written questions submitted by Dr Boize said the first phase of landscaping work was completed in accordance with an agreed framework.

The next phase would be funded by money from the developers of the nearby Osbornes site, but this had not yet been received.

A contribution of £50,000 was to be paid to the county council to enhance and maintain the ‘public realm,’ including tree planting. An artwork would be commissioned to the value of £25,000.

Committee chairman Cllr Stephen Quigley said these were county council issues, and the district council was unable to speak for the county. Members agreed a senior district council officer should discuss Dr Boize’s concerns with her in more detail.