Last week, Rye News ran a piece on the proposed parking changes following a review of the Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) system installed almost 2 years ago and which is due to be discussed by the Town Council this coming Monday, August 8.
The restriction of parking within the town centre has inevitably resulted in one or two hotspots around the edge. Some of these are dealt with in the proposed changes, others, such as Tilling Green and even as far afield as Valley Park, are not.
Some of this is addressed elsewhere in this week’s issue, but in reality this is just tinkering with a problem that has been discussed many times before in these pages and that is simply that Rye is a medieval town with its last major redevelopment in the 15th century, trying to cope with the requirements of the 21st century. Parking meters, residents parking and several miles of ugly doubly yellow lines are just the town planners’ equivalent of putting a sticking plaster on a compound fracture – it might look good for a very short time, but it will not be the cure that is needed.
Surely the time has now come when, for the sake of preserving our ancient town as well as improving the quality of life here both for us and future generations, we need to be adventurous and ambitious in discussing solutions.
In essence the problem is a simple one: i) we need less traffic in the town centre using roads to which it is not suited and: ii) the displaced traffic needs to have somewhere to go that will not unnecessarily inconvenience residents or cause a danger to other road users.
One possible answer to i) is to pedestrianise the High Street from East Street onwards, remove all parking on East Street and on one side of Market Street, both of which could them become two-way streets. This would allow access to the upper streets in the citadel which would be residents parking only. The High Street would become a far more pleasant place with no vehicles (and therefore no lines of parked cars), shopping would be easier there, and other towns that have experimented with this idea have often found a significant increase in trade.
This then begs the question of ii) where would the displaced vehicles go? This, I fear, is going to require some money to be spent – an anathema to all councils large and small. But there are solutions if ESCC and possibly Rother DC are brave enough to embrace them.
At the moment, in addition to metered bays, there are car parks in Cinque Ports Street, the cattle market (although not available for a large part of each Thursday), the station, the Salts, the Strand, Winchelsea Road and Gibbet Marsh. Currently, outside the tourist season, these are entirely adequate. In fact the Winchelsea Road car parks are rarely full and the same goes for Gibbet Marsh which could be made, with upgrading, to cope with far more vehicles than it does now and urgently needs better signposting.
From April through to early September, however, it is a different matter, particularly bearing in mind vehicles displaced from the centre, but again there is a solution. The old lower school site off Ferry Road has been empty and unloved ever since the supermarket fiasco. It is currently designated for housing (but not the much needed ‘affordable’ or social housing) and the developers have shown no sign of wanting to use it. It could be re-acquired by either ESCC or RDC (or both) and is a big enough site to accommodate a large number of cars – in fact if a 2-story car park was built it would probably solve all current parking problems as well, possibly, as providing reserved spaces for any residents who were no longer able to park outside their own homes. The location would put it largely out of sight of the surrounding area yet within a few minutes walk of the town centre – and even fewer minutes if a pedestrian bridge was put across the railway direct from the car park.
Existing CPE regulations together with any additions or changes proposed during the current consultation, should take care of non-residents clogging up residential roads.
The above is just one suggestion. Our readers will doubtless have many ideas of their own but the message here to our various councils must be, be brave, let’s do a proper job once and for all.
Image Credits: Rye News library , Kenneth Bird , Kevin McCarthy .