High St parking may be cut


Following local concerns, East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have confirmed that they are no longer proposing to close the High Street to traffic as one of their Covid-19 emergency measures, as previously reported in Rye News.

The idea had been mooted to aid social distancing as businesses began to reopen and tourists return to Rye in ever increasing numbers. Several objections to closing the High Street came from residents of the Citadel who were concerned about access and deliveries between the proposed closure times of 10am and 4pm.

A busy High Street

Rye News has been led to believe that at a recent meeting with representatives from the town council, ESCC, business owners and Rye Conservation Society the idea of reducing parking along the High Street was raised as an alternative solution, and this might mean the temporary loss of 20 parking spaces in a town with over a thousand parking spaces. This has been done in towns and cities across the UK to aid social distancing as well as allow businesses to utilise the space with additional tables and chairs to serve customers outside.

RCS are supportive of the idea with RCS Chair, David Bookless, saying “There is a clear divergence of opinion between what I could call the road lobby and the green lobby regarding the future of driving, not just in Rye but everywhere. The Conservation Society leans toward a greener approach and, without banning cars, we would like to see fewer of them trying to park into every spare space without much thought for others, and to have the limited road space more equally shared between cars, pedestrians and cyclists”.

An additional suggestion from the RCS is to place planters at selected points down the length of the High Street rather than plastic barriers. One can see such planters being adopted by residents, businesses and community groups to grow plants and flowers – or even late summer and autumn vegetables that can be donated to Rye Food Bank.

ESCC have yet to make their decision and they have about £500,000 available for measures across the county, but it is believed that they want something in place as soon as possible to allow social distancing on the High Street as more visitors return to Rye during the summer.

The idea of removing parking from selected streets in Rye received some support following the publication of the Rye News article on the introduction of parking controls later in the year and one reader commented, “All parking should be removed from the High Street, Church Square, Watchbell St, East / West St, Lion St, apart from deliveries/loading bays and some disabled spaces.

“The whole point of living in or visiting Rye is to admire the period architecture and take in the history. Why on earth does anyone want to blight the landscape with cars and vans and street signs and parking ticket machines?”. This comment garnered agreement from a number of other readers.

In a surprise move, Rye Chamber of Commerce came out in support for the closure of the main shopping street to help with social distancing and support local businesses – though that was Rye in New York and not Rye in East Sussex!

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .

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  1. Presumably the reader quoted in your rather slanted piece above does not live in the roads he or she names. In any event, there’s no parking in Church Square, West Street and Lion Street anyway and Watchbell Street has a residents only scheme.
    This dictatorial approach is then followed up with an entirely personal opinion regarding what Rye residents should be appreciating about the place in which they live. Woe betide anyone who has the impertinence to disagree!

  2. I appear to have been quoted in this article. And I’m delighted if it opens debate.

    Do a Google search of Rye. You’ll mostly see lovely images which paint an idyllic slice of history. You’ll have to make an effort to see the parked cars in a small selection of photos. The vast majority have no vehicles in them. So I can only imagine many are rather disappointed when they come here to see rows of parked Range Rovers, etc, obscuring and distracting from the architecture.

    Honestly, did anyone ever say “Let’s go to Rye and look at the cars!” ?

    I’m not anti-cars. I have a car. I have no desire to park it on historic streets. I have no issue at all having to pay to use a car park away from the centre. And Robert Dalton is correct, I do not live on one of the historic streets I named for the very simple reason I wanted a large garden. But I can absolutely promise you that if I did live on one of those streets I would NOT be demanding a parking space outside.

    Rye Council would do well to look at the running of Totnes in Devon. No chain stores, no cars. It’s cherished for being different. It thrives on individuality. And as a town it makes a huge income.

    And let’s be factual. Many people still visit Rye due to E.F. Benson and the two television adaptions of Mapp & Lucia. Rye / Tilling looked glorious. It still does over the car bonnets. But there weren’t cars and white vans parked all over the streets to distract the eye. We should be embracing those novels and TV series, it supports the economy. Equally we should be making more of an effort to add some humour by celebrating John Ryan and his Captain Pugwash creation. Currently a missed opportunity.

    Joni Mitchell was spot-on with her lyrics “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone … THEY PAVED PARADISE, PUT UP A PARKING LOT”

  3. There are a lot of myths about Totnes presumably formulated by a campaign a number of years ago to keep Costa Coffee out of the town. I was in Totnes last summer and parked in Morrisons supermarket car park in the town centre. Like Rye, there is a Boots the chemist and also an Edinburgh Woolen Mill. And like Rye, no coffee shop chain has opened. Traffic drives up the High Street, although last month it was mooted that it should be shut to all traffic on Saturdays in response to Covid and social distancing demands, and lead by shopkeepers fearful that their customers could be killed by vehicles.

    • I’ve lived in Totnes. I was not a temporary visitor. There were a lot of car free days for good farmers markets, antique markets, etc. And you’re correct, there are days when cars can drive along the main street, but there is NO parking. There have been Double Yellow Lines clearly marked on both sides of the street, apart from loading and disabled parking bays, for a number of years. And the Morrison’s supermarket and car park are off the A385 and not in the historic town centre. They are away from the centre just as Jempson’s is also quite rightly away from Rye’s historic town centre. These are not myths about Totnes, they are the facts. Let’s not muddle them.

  4. ‘Don’t panic! don’t panic’!… you can almost hear Corpral Jones saying running around throwing his arms in the air, then along comes Baldric utering the immortal words ‘I’ve got a cunnning plann’ with a deep in thought expression on his face. But as we know it is likely to end in disaster.

    So with ESCC realising closing The High Street was totally impractical (at least 40 plus comments opposed in the R|N article) please see opinion page Utopian dream or bleak blight June 18th. Now along comes Jone’sy and Baldric suggesting lets take some parking spaces away in the High Street because that will aid social distancing and allow more bicycle parking…it’s been done else where! OK so far so good…or is it really? In most of the towns this has happened they will likely be much larger than Rye (East Sussex) and have wider streets/avenues to accommodate the changes much like Rye New York, USA.

    In the now empty parking spaces made free by Jone’sy and Baldric, they will put planters or another suggestion was apple boxes on lockable wheels, then fill them with plant’s or vegetables to be adopted! The next part of the plan, is in the remaining space, put tables and chairs quite likely on the pavement so customers can eat and drink outside presumably.

    A major part of Jone’sy and Baldric’s plan is they can predict what the pandemic is going to do in the next few weeks, what further Government restrictions could be? and the summer weather?

    At the moment people step off the pavement occasionally into the street when necessary, but as the pavement is now blocked with tables and chairs, it is likely they will ALL have to use the STREET as the major walkway. Whilst the pedestrians are avoiding the pot holes and potential broken ankles (ESCC take note of potential legal action from those that don’t) as they all walk down the street, the whole scenario becomes more hazardous than the one we started with.

    Not looking quite so good now for Jone’sy and Baldric’s plan, put into the mix that these measures are intended to be temporary and therefore any money spent wasted, and at some time between now and October, ESCC intend installation works on the pavements to accommodate parking machines (hopefully not where the tables and chairs or planters are) probable white lining and new signage for Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE).

    Rye is a living working residential town and there will always be a need for deliveries, it is not surprising how hypocritical people can be…commenting on delivery vans and cars in Rye, but it is ok if it is their delivery from Amazon/Tesco etc. or their car. It should be remembered that all of the illegal and selfish parking in Rye is a direct result of the police refusing to enforce the on street restrictions that remain their responsibility until deregulated, passing that responsibility to ESCC CPE team.

    The recent meeting you refer to was the ‘parking stratergy group’ led by RTC which the Chamber of Commerce had been urging them to reconvene, unfortunately it consisted only of a one hour zoom call aimed at getting to grips with an overall parking stratergy for Rye. The specific topic of the article above was only introduced to the meeting in the last few minutes so was never FULLY discussed in detail.

    The Town Clerk asked the Chamber of Commerce to canvas its members on the proposal, it does not appear that RCS did the same; and the Town clerk is aware of the Chambers comments.

    An ill thought out, temporary, half hearted, fudge of an idea, to meet the criteria of spending tax payers money given to ESCC on measures that will have little lasting impact on Rye is not a good plan and is unlikely to increase social distancing.

  5. I really cannot see what a previous suggestion of mine cannot be trialled for a short period,and that is too pedestrianise the high street from Adams too lion street, allowing parking bays only for blue badge holders, and delivery vans, for a limited time, that will free up most of the daily problems of inconsiderate parking,and vans also parking on the pavements on a daily basis,which is unacceptable.


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