Although usually published a little earlier, Rye News is generally available to read on Friday mornings. That means that this Friday, April 15, which marks the start of the Easter holiday weekend, you are likely to be reading this as queues start to form along the Camber road and, given the forecast for fine weather, the car parks for Camber Sands will be rapidly filling up. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful facility as the Sands on our doorstep, but it comes at a cost.
It is unlikely that the crowds will reach levels often seen in the summer, but nevertheless the weekend will mark the start of that period in the year when we can expect to see long queues of traffic – sometimes reaching from Camber right back to Rye Hill – and when the residents of Camber can expect to find cars littering the verges through the village, parked indiscriminately across driveways and when a morning’s shopping in Rye then requires a substantial diversion to find a way back into the village without spending the rest of the morning in the holiday makers’ traffic jam.
The area has been popular for many decades – there was once even a steam tram that ran from Monkbretton Bridge – but with increasing mobility and the recent trend towards holidaying in the UK, the problem of coping with so many visitors (20,000 or more, some weekends) all descending on the seaside within a time window of just a few hours, has grown worse.
Behind the scenes, however, work has been going on to try to find a solution. Responsibility for the various areas on and around the Sands is divided between East Sussex County Council Highways and Rother District Council (RDC). Our MP has also been closely involved.
In 2014 a plan for the area was produced (for those with time on their hands the 128 page document can be found here) and since then discussions have been ongoing between the agencies. The tragedies of a few years ago, in particular, have concentrated minds.
This year, the intention is to extend double yellow lines back as far as the golf course and civil enforcement will be operating to ensure the restrictions are obeyed. We understand that the ‘level of resource’ (presumably parking wardens and police) can be stepped up when required. Closing the road to Camber entirely is not an option, other than in an emergency, due to the chaos caused elsewhere the last time this was tried. However the Beach Check App and the RDC website will both be monitoring the state of play and potential visitors will be encouraged to check these before attempting to reach the beach. Both these websites will, of course, need to be well advertised to ensure awareness of their presence.
On April 27 there is to be a virtual public meeting (details available from RDC) at which Rother, ESCC Highways, Camber Parish Council, Operation RADCOTT partners and Sally-Ann Hart MP will be in attendance to discuss plans for this year and answer questions. There is every sign that a real effort is being made to improve matters both for locals as well as visitors, but as RDC have admitted, there are always going to be difficulties in accommodating so many arrivals in one day in a small village, but the aim is to minimise the problems caused by the influx as far as it is possible to do so.
Image Credits: Nick Forman , Kevin McCarthy .