Contractor denies conservationists’ concrete dumping allegations at Brighton beauty spot

Posted On 04 Apr 2018 at 4:00 am

A council contractor has denied claims that workers dumped concrete at a Brighton beauty spot.

The Friends of Woodbourne Meadows accused road contractor RJ Dance of fly-tipping after its workers repaired bollards in Ditchling Road.

The conservation group said that its volunteers had seen the environmental vandalism first hand at Woodbourne Meadows, in Hollingbury.

And the workmen vowed to remove the concrete, the group said, but over a week later they have failed to keep their word.

Councillor Lee Wares, who represents Patcham Ward, which includes Hollingbury, said: “It is outrageous that a council contractor should engage in wilful fly-tipping and acts of environmental vandalism.”

Councillor Wares, who speaks on the environment for the opposition Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council, added: “There must be raft of contract breaches and environmental laws that need to be fully investigated and prosecutions brought where necessary.

“Why was it that when this was brought to the early attention of the council they did nothing? Questions need answering.”

RJ Dance contract manager Jamie Larter said: “A lot to bollards were missing. We replaced 22. Most of them were down the bank along with a load of bumpers and other debris.”

There have been quite a few accidents along the stretch of road in question over the years, he said. And a lot of what was left behind was at the bottom of the 15ft to 20ft bank.

Mr Larter said: “It’s a tricky location. It’s a health and safety nightmare.

“We were trying to recover any bollards that could be recycled. They cost £125 each. They’re plastic but they’re in 200cwt of concrete. We managed to save three or four bollards.”

It meant breaking off the concrete where the bollards were found and bringing the bollards themselves up the bank.

Councillor Lee Wares

Mr Larter said: “We said if you want us to clear all the the stuff there, we would come back with specialist kit to reclaim other material.

“It was stuff that was already down there. We cleared a lot of stuff that wasn’t our spoil.”

He said that he was sending a couple of workers back there to show goodwill, adding: “It’s not a job for a couple of guys with a wheelbarrow.”

Mr Larter said: “We’ve been partners with the council for 16 years. We’re a responsible contractor and always have been.”

The Friends group said that volunteers had worked tirelessly over the past three years to clear the woodland that had become a dumping ground for people’s garden waste, old tyres and parts of cars left from traffic accidents.

They have removed tons of waste and general litter in an effort to restore the meadows for the benefit of residents and to discourage further fly-tipping.

The Friends of Woodbourne Meadows said: “We are lucky to have such a beautiful and bountiful site right on our doorstep where we recently planted over 300 trees donated by the Woodland Trust.

“Woodbourne Meadows contain rare wild plants and two rare species of butterfly on the endangered list where signs of breeding now exist.

Councillor Carol Theobald

“Woodbourne Meadow is not a dumping ground. It is a bio-diverse haven on the border of the South Downs National Park and we will defend it.

“We are pleased to work with our local councillors who take this matter seriously together with our local action teams.”

Councillor Carol Theobald, another Patcham Ward representative, said: “The volunteers of the Friends of Woodbourne Meadows supported by our ranger give a huge amount of their time to our community and have done an outstanding job in conserving this area. It is disgraceful this has happened.”

The council said: “Following a report about alleged fly-tipping at Woodbourne Meadows last Monday we spoke to the contract manager of RJ Dance which was carrying out verge post replacement in the area.

“He was confident that his gang was not responsible but, as a gesture of goodwill, agreed to make arrangements for the gang to return and clear up the area which, unfortunately, is often littered with pieces of verge post, vehicle bumpers and lights and broken bushes caused by vehicles leaving the road and knocking over the posts.

“The posts are being replaced in a bid to reduce this high number of incidents.

“RJ Dance has worked in the city for 15 years. Most of the workforce live locally and take pride in their work and the environment, and we do not believe they are responsible for the fly-tipping.

“However, we have asked the contract manager to instruct the gang to revisit the site, remove any concrete footing blocks from the site and report any evidence which may lead to identifying those responsible.”

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