Anger over town centre paving repairs

People have been shocked after town centre pavement repairs, which have already been delayed for months, have resulted in an ugly looking patch of black asphalt.

East Sussex County Council had given assurances that the area would be repaired last October. In the event it was delayed until January.

The delay meant that people had to negotiate around a large barricaded section, in the middle of a busy pedestrianised area of the town centre.

It is understood the new asphalt repair is temporary as the East Sussex County Council contractors did not have the correct materials.

John Bownas, manager of Love Hastings, said: The barriers outside Iceland in Castle Street have now been removed and large sections of asphalt have been left in areas that were meant to have been re-laid with blocks and new paving slabs.”

Enquiries have revealed that Balfour Beatty, the contractor last year awarded the £297million contract to look after repairs to the ESCC highways network, has been forced to once again delay the project to relay or replace hundreds of loose or broken blocks and having slabs in the stretch from Pelham Place through to the old town hall.

Mr Bownas said: “It now transpires that despite having longer to prepare for the works, no checks had been made on the availability of the replacement blocks needed to fill in gaps that had previously been infilled with temporary asphalt.

“As a result, it was only after the company started taking up sections of pavement that they learned several of the original styles of block were no longer made, and a special order has had to be placed to have them manufactured.

“In other parts of the job, it seems blocks of the right size and a similar colour have been sourced, but their smooth surface contrasts with the surrounding original textured design.

“I think we have to file this saga under, ‘You couldn’t make it up’.

He added: “From what I’ve been shown, the plans the crews have been given to show them which areas need repairs are vague to say the best.

"They consist of a few photos of parts of the town centre with a brief line of text each saying things like, ‘This bit outside Lloyds Bank’.

"I think that some chalk marks were put down at the time the photos were taken, but there are so many of these from other highways inspections it’s hard to know which are related to this job… if, of course, they haven’t already washed away in the rain.

“The rain has also shown that this time of year isn’t ideal for this type of work because it seems as if a few areas where existing loose blocks were able to be re-laid have already seen much of the jointing sand washed out.

“I’m also concerned that several sections which I know are included in the project are planned to be repaired by replacing existing broken large paving slabs with new ones.

"On normal pavements this is definitely something we encourage rather than having asphalt sections appear.

"However, in Wellington Place and at the point where cars from Pelham Crescent cross Pelham Place, we’ve asked time and again for the large slabs to be swapped for small blocks or asphalt.

"This is because in areas like these with regular heavy vehicle traffic, unless they are absolutely perfectly laid on the right type of base they will inevitably work loose or break.

“No new start date has yet been given for the works to restart, and in the meantime the town is once again left looking half-finished.

“This is likely to be the same company that ESCC will employ to deliver the proposed £10million makeover of the town in the next two years, so I hope lessons are being learned - particularly the need to plan ahead and to set aside spare stocks of any paving materials used so they can be brought in if future repairs are needed.

"Last year the leader of Hastings Borough Council called for the borough to be given local control of work like this rather than having it be run from the other side of the county, and I have to agree it feels like it would be better if we could manage issues like this locally."

An East Sussex Highways spokesperson said: “We carried out temporary repairs in Hastings town centre in December to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

"We are currently waiting for the correct materials to carry out permanent repairs.

"We are unable to give a date for these repairs as they rely on the delivery of materials, but they will be carried out as soon as possible.”