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December 13 2011

Our old friend Mr Grumpy has once again been having his say on local issues. This time he gives his opinion on the recent improvement works made by Network Rail to the pedestrian level crossing at Tide Mills:

New Pedestrian Level Crossing Gates at Tide Mills between Newhaven and Seaford

At first glance, the New Pedestrian Level Crossing Gates at Tide Mills look to be a great improvement on the old fashioned 'kiss gates' that they have replaced. The new pedestrian gates open fully and would suggest that there is now access to Tide Mills and the Beach for all.

Sadly though, the reality of this is something else. The pedestrian gates on both sides of the track need to be pulled towards you to open them, so anyone who may be disabled and in a wheelchair or buggy, anyone with a cycle, anyone with surfing or fishing gear and families who may have a child in a pram or push chair need to pull these gates back towards themselves, making it all but impossible for such groups of users to open these gates with any degree of ease.

Also, very sadly the execution of this 'improvement work' leaves much to be desired. In fact, the standard of workmanship is nothing short of appalling. 

When you approach the Level Crossing from the main A259 side of the railway line all looks to be good at first glance. That is as long as you take no notice of the 'crazy angle' of some of the fence posts. 

The next clue as to the quality of the work on these new gates is when you look at the bent piece of angle iron holding up the fencing.

The bolt holding the fence wire at the top of this bent piece of angle iron is a further clue as to the quality of this job. The bolt isn't even done up properly. 

However, at least this gate does have two closing springs on it so it does 'self close'. Although, in the frequent gales that are experienced on this part of the coast, that may not always be the case.

Once through this gate you are then confronted with the most amazing piece of 'modern art'. I can only assume that the old bits of iron hung on fence wire from the back of the gate are to give the gate a bit more weight. Quite what the fence wire 'art work' is in aid of is a complete mystery, but it does yet again highlight the quality of this job. 

The quality of the job is again evident when you look at the angle of the concrete fence post that the gate is hinged from. The wood with the hinges on is upright, but only because of the 'wedge shaped' pieces of wood between it and the concrete fence post. And this is a brand new concrete fence post, not an old existing one. Also, how long will it be before the 'cable tie' holding the wood that the gate is hinged on at the top of the concrete fence post slips off the top, it is right on the curve of the top of the concrete fence post. The gate will then probably fall off!! 

The fenced off 'corridor' once through the gate is now wide enough and does provide a good refuge should there be a train approaching. Again, the angle of the fence post is something else. Did no one on this job have a spirit level??? 

On approaching the gate on the Beach side of the railway line it is very evident that this gate is not 'self closing'. Also, again, the angle between the gate and the steel post that it is supposed to close onto is far from correct suggesting that one of them is not upright. 

The reason that the gate on the Beach side of the railway line does not 'self close' is probably because it only has one closing spring fitted to it. I leave it to your imagination if a small child or a dog were to approach this gate as it appears in this photograph. There is nothing to stop them straying onto the railway line and should a train be approaching, I leave the consequences to your imagination. This is a very serious Health and Safety issue and must be addressed immediately.

Also on the topic of Health and Safety, the pedestrian gate on the Beach side of the railway line is far too close to the railway line. Once through the gate you are directly onto the railway track, there is no 'fenced off' refuge' as there is on the other side of the railway line. At least the old 'kiss gate' offered a small area of refuge. Why could this pedestrian gate not have been sited further back from the railway line with a fenced corridor as there is on the other side of the line.

It was recently reported, by Network Rail, I believe, that this pedestrian level crossing at Tide Mills is probably the busiest pedestrian level crossing in the country, so come on Network Rail, let's get this job right before there is a very tragic accident here because of these new gates.

Geoff King
AKA Mr Grumpy of Marine Drive

Do you agree with Mr Grumpy? Have you got something else to say on the matter? Email us at  and tell us your views.