A long-delayed enhancement scheme for Shoreham Beach is expected to start within the next two months.
Contractors are expected to start the Ferry Road improvement works before September 11, several years after the project was first discussed.
Adur District Council’s head of economic growth, James Appleton, made the announcement at last night’s special scrutiny meeting into the delays (Thursday, July 14).
He said: “The one simple message is Adur District Council last week decided to proceed with the scheme and we are in discussion with the preferred contractor to implement the scheme this autumn, in parallel with the Adur Tidal Walls scheme.”
The district council-led project will include a revamp of the Lower Beach Road car park, as well as hard landscaping of Ferry Road.
The zebra crossing will also be relocated, with the approaches to the Adur Ferry Bridge improved.
Progress stalled during the legal process of acquiring a Traffic Regulation Order for the scheme from West Sussex County Council.
The meeting heard threat of a legal challenge from traders led to the item being pulled from the Adur county local committee (CLC) agenda in September 2014, just 24 hours before it was due to be determined.
An eleventh-hour objection from Greene King, which owns the Waterside Inn, in Ferry Road, also delayed progress.
CLC chairman Janet Mockridge put the blame at the district council’s door, claiming there was insufficient consultation and poor management of the project.
She said: “I would have said it isn’t West Sussex County Council that has delayed it. It is problems Adur council have had.
“I am sorry to say that I think the majority has been Adur because it has had a project manager who has not sufficiently taken a grip of this and pushed it through.”
Mike Thomas, county highways manager for Adur and Worthing, said the issue had been ‘complex’, with due diligence shown from officers and councillors.
But others were critical of the CLC’s handling of the 2014 legal challenge.
In a scathing attack, councillor James Butcher said: “You heard it here first. If you want to stop a CLC from doing anything, just threaten them with a QC and they will back down. It beggars belief.
“My advice to Shoreham Beach residents is if you want to stop this happening again, there are county council elections in May.”
Residents packed the Shoreham Centre to listen to the proceedings, with some questioning interested parties.
David Featherstone, of Emerald Quay, said he had been to numerous meetings in recent months to ask why the delays had been caused.
He said: “We seem to be the victim of the two-tier bureaucracy we are saddled with and I hope one day this can be changed.”
The scrutiny committee recommended a working group be set up to examine whether co-working procedures between the district and county council required improvement.