Santa's garage completed

ONCE upon a time Seaford Rotary Club stored Santa’s Christmas sleigh in a garage at the Mercread Youth Club. It was towed around the town initially by member’s cars and later by a van loaned by the Clearview shop in High Street. Then it all started to go wrong, the garage was required by the Youth Club and the shop stopped trading. Just a minor problem which should have been easy to solve, but it wasn’t.
Luckily the Club had been left a legacy, part of which was used to purchase a car for the Club suitable to do the towing. This however meant that the garage requirement doubled and both the sleigh and the car led a nomadic life for several years.
A Rotarian, let’s call him Mike, suggested replacing the trailer which carried the sleigh, and the vehicle, with an electric float which would halve the garaging requirement. A firm which undertook conversions of milk floats was identified and a dialogue commenced. It should have been easy, but it wasn’t.
While work to purchase a converted float was underway the search for suitable garaging increased in tempo and eventually a site on which a garage could be built was identified. It should have been easy, but it wasn’t. The legal side of the land purchase went reasonably smoothly mainly thanks to a Rotarian, let’s call him Mike, who arranged for an Eastbourne firm of solicitors to undertake the conveyancing work without charging. It should have been easy except the vendor kept changing his mind. It was also necessary to obtain planning consent to build a garage of the size required before completing the land purchase. Accordingly, the team appointed a surveyor to arrange that and to prepare the necessary documents to seek tenders for the building work. The team breathed a sigh of relief as it would now be easy, but it wasn’t.
Four weeks later the team parted company with that surveyor and appointed a new one. Now everything would be easy but it still wasn’t. The second surveyor was much better and did not charge for much of the work. Planning consent was obtained, tenders sought and eventually a building contract was let. Now it really would be easy, but it wasn’t.
The team discovered something called the Party Wall Act and one member, let’s call him Jim, built up some expertise on the detail of that document. Eventually all the necessary notices were served and another hurdle was overcome. Now it really should be easy, but it wasn’t.
While all this was going on another member of the team, let’s call him Frank, had been volunteered to be Contract Administrator and was in regular touch with UK Power Networks to provide power to the garage. That really should have been easy except every time Frank contacted them they quoted a different price. Eventually a final price was agreed and then it should have been easy. It would have been except for the lead time UK Power Networks required to appear on site.
By this time, the garage was constructed except for the door which also should have been easy, but it wasn’t. Ever since the plans had been drawn up to purchase the float there had been an aim to be able to lift the sleigh off the float flat bed for eleven months of the year so that the ‘green’ vehicle could be used for other activities. Initially that was to have been part of the contract when the float was being purchased but a design which also met health and safety standards could not be achieved.
Another member of the team, let’s call him Barry, was however not prepared to give up and had an ambition to design a system of pulleys so the sleigh could be hoisted off the float within the garage.
While that sounded relatively easy it meant that an up and over door would not be suitable and after much searching a door which slid on runners was finally identified. Surely now everything would be easy, but it wasn’t. Supply of the door also carried a long lead time but with careful planning it should have been easy to arrange for the door to be installed and connected once all the electrical works were complete, except that the door arrived quicker than expected and was fitted and tested with the aid of a generator. This meant that until the power was available it had to be opened and closed manually. That should have been easy, but it wasn’t as a key piece of the track quickly broke.
Frank meanwhile was on site for EDF to connect the meter, UK Power Networks having completed their work. That really should have been easy except EDF said the installation as left was not suitable for them to complete their work. That little obstacle was overcome which meant that our electrician, let’s call him Ken, could undertake all the internal electrical work.
Meanwhile, Barry and a friend had designed a system to hoist the sleigh off the flat bed of the float. Having taken great pains to design and make something fit for purpose that really should have been easy, and surprise surprise, it was.
Another Rotarian, let’s call him Geoff had sorted out insurance for the garage which meant our storage guru, let’s call him Tony, could install racking to move all our paraphernalia and the ‘green’ electric vehicle’ from its temporary home of the Scout’s garage in Chichester Road to our new splendid premises.
All that remains now is to arrange for the official opening after which the team can start work on the next project of the Seaford Rotary shopping mall with John Lewis as the flagship store.
That really will be easy!

posted: Monday, 1 May 2017

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  • Sandra Lockyer (Queen Victoria Hospital, E. Grinstead)
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