Southern Water temporary pumping station to remain on Hastings beach for 'at least 6 months'

A temporary pumping station on Hastings beach, set up by a water company following flooding in the town centre, will remain for ‘at least six months’.

Southern Water placed pumps on Pelham beach after the town centre suffered extensive flooding in January last year and again at the end of October.

On both occasions, Priory Meadow shopping centre was closed off along with other areas of the town centre and homes evacuated as flooding struck following heavy rainfall.

John Bownas, manager of Love Hastings Ltd, said: “I was told on Wednesday by the Southern Water crew in the beach that the pumps are going to be there for 'at least six months'.

“We are now over a year since last January‘s flood, and it’s three months since the October incident, yet we’re still faced with an ugly temporary pumping solution on Hastings beach, which looks like it will now be there well in the tourist season.

“And we are once again still waiting longer than we’d hoped for East Sussex to present its report into causes of the October flood.

However, from Southern Water’s emergency response in October it’s clear that they believed the findings of January’s study were accurate and that the new manhole they’d added to the culvert was one of the main causes of both incidents. Gladly that has now gone.

“The fact they’ve paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation to town centre businesses and homeowners also demonstrates they understand their liability. However, that money only appears to apply to October, and for many businesses it only touches the surface of their losses. To the best of our understanding nobody has yet been compensated for any of the damage caused in January.

“The delay in the county council report leads me to believe they are now investigating a wider set of circumstances to their previous investigation. We’ve certainly raised questions into the operational status of the storm relief tunnel during both events to understand whether Southern Water’s main sewer pumps were operating properly at the time, and if not, whether any faults are fully understood.

“From our current understanding, possible solutions to prevent future floods include reintroducing the emergency outfalls to the sea near Harold Place that were removed around the time the storm tunnel was built, as well as expanding the capacity of the pipe under the beach at Carlisle Parade, and ensuring that Southern Water carry out, proper annual maintenance of all their infrastructure in the local network.

“Thought should also probably be given to making more use of the town’s reservoirs, and looking at other means of holding back rainwater from the town centre during heavy storms.”

A Southern Water spokesperson said: “Payments were made to a number of customers impacted by the flooding and we also arranged alternative accommodation. The pumps are set to remain through the winter and spring on stand by in case of the threat of further flooding.

“Southern Water is working with Hastings Borough Council and other partners to understand the drainage catchment in Hastings and draw up a long term plan to prevent or mitigate floods.”

Related topics: