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.
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 .